Sunday, April 27, 2008

Equinox Restaurant



Had dinner at Equinox Restaurant - the much acclaimed restaurant perched right at the top of Swissotel The Stamford, on the 69th storey no less, which at 226m, gives it one of the highest vantage points in Singapore. Famed more for its bird's eye view than its Asian and Western cuisines, Equinox has consistently made it to various Singapore restaurant publications as one of the top restaurants in Singapore nevertheless.





View from the top & Interior

From the moment you step out of the express elevator, the panoramic backdrop of Singapore's urban landscape greets you through floor to ceiling windows. The amphitheatre styled restaurant is tastefully designed with subtle oriental influences through the use of wood and overhanging red Chinese lanterns. The world slows to a crawl in this elegant restaurant, giving one a sense of space and serenity, perfect for a laid back dinner.



Stamford Tower Cocktail & Complimentary Bread

The complimentary bread looked really appetising with lots of variety but the truth of the matter was, it was lousy. Most of the bread was dry and hard and probably the only decent one was the bun with sugar and cheese but even then, it was too sweet. It definitely didn't help that the accompanying butter was rock hard as well.



Cappucino of Wild Mushrooms

The soup sure didn't look enticing, especially with the seemingly charred black slice of toast atop. But to give it credit, it tasted decent but did come across as a tad too oily for my liking. There was definitely nothing wild about the taste and I can probably get better mushroom soup elsewhere at a fraction of the price. (I'm not sure how much it costs because it comes with my degustation menu, but being Equinox, you can be sure it isn't going to be cheap).



Roasted Japanese Scallops

Plain bland would be most apt in describing the scallops. Huge as they were, they were neither sweet nor juicy. Interestingly, straddled in between pieces of scallops were scallop lookalike soft and wobbly pieces of Boudin Blanc, white sausages made from pork without the blood, which had a faint liver taste. So in actual fact, there were only 3 pieces of scallops, all for a whopping $28.



Tian of Mud Crab and Avocado

Just a little background on the word Tian. Its actually a square or rectangular French casserole dish originally used for baking. Fanciful names and aesthetics aside, the mud crab and avocado was decent, with the rawness of the crab not overpowering. The bits of avocado in between provided a refreshing change from the monotony of the crab.



Roast Foie Gras Escalope

I shuddered as I took my first bite of the foie gras. First there came shock and then disappointment started to set in. It was neither soft nor wobbly! I am really appalled at such standards. However, I must say that the honey cake that came alongside was spongy and actually made the foie gras bearable.



White Miso Glazed Cod

I've always liked cod fish and Equinox's rendition of the cod was quite good, with the flesh being soft and smooth yet firm enough to retain its form. However I did find the drizzled white miso sauce a little too sweet which made me nauseous after a while. Thank god for the greens that came with it!



Tenderloin of Beef 'Rossini'

Done up medium rare as per my request, the beef was absolutely disappointing. Dry and tough doesn't even begin to describe it. Portions were small and it lacked the sweetness and beefy taste that all decent beef should have. What more can I say?



Hazelnut Chocolate Bar

I liked this quite a bit. The chocolate bar was quite smooth yet not too rich with a nice crunchy biscuit base. Accompanying the chocolate bar was a nice scoop of mint ice cream which I don't usually like, but this one was light and sat very well with me.



Sweet Temptation - Milk Chocolate Orange Gateau, Fig and Sangria Gelee & Yoghurt Sorbet, Contemporary Apple Tart & Nougat Chips, Araguani Chocolate Cream & Vanilla Chantilly & Coffee Granite

Overall the dessert platter was decent. For starters, the milk chocolate orange gateau was rather interesting with the chocolate gateau hinting strongly of orange. Quite a nice combination in my humble opinion.
I didn't quite take to the fig and sangria gelee though, as I'm not exactly a fan of fig or sangria. And the texture of the gelee (jello) reminded me of hardened "kuay" then anything else. The yoghurt sorbert was alright though but nothing fantastic.
The contemporary apple tart's biscuit was a tad too hard and dry but the apple cubes were nice without being too sweet or sour. Having said that, it wasn't exactly wow for me.
The highlight of the dessert platter has to be the Araguani chocolate cream. Topped with vanilla chantilly (cream) and coffee granite, this combination proved to be rather interesting when everything was mixed together. Bitter and sweet altogether. The addition of chocolate balls to this dessert gave it a nice crunchy texture as well.



Bill

Expectations, expectations, expectations. That's what it all boils down to. Seriously, the food isn't bad, just that I had high expectations of it with all the hype and of course the steep pricing, standing at just over $310 ($177 after 50% discount) for 2 pax. Service is good but honestly, the food's not worth returning for. For the view and ambience, maybe.



Likes: Good service, fantastic view
Dislikes: Average food, expensive

Final Verdict:
Ambience:8.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:5.5/10

Overall:7/10

Address: Level 69, Swissotel The Stamford

Contact: 68373322

Opening Hours:

Lunch (buffet): 12.00pm to 2.30pm (Mon to Sat)

Brunch: 11.00am to 2.30pm (Sun)

Hi-Tea (buffet): 3.00pm to 5.00pm (Mon to Sat) / 3.30pm to 5.30pm (Sun)

Dinner (a-la-carte): 6.30pm to 11.00pm (Mon to Sat) / 7.00pm to 11.00pm (Sun)

Website: http://www.equinoxcomplex.com

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Auntie Kim's

My second foray into Korean food - a very late dinner at Auntie Kim's one weekday night. I've heard many good things about Auntie Kim's and since my last visit to Nul Bom was less then ideal, I thought it would be nice to explore new Korean places.



Interior

Located within a row of shophouses along Upper Thomson Road, Auntie Kim's interior is rather smallish and elegant with its dark wooden tables set against light coloured walls. Korean music lingers in the background and service is extended by waiters in black suits and waitresses in traditional Korean costumes.





Side dishes

I didn't find any of the side dishes particularly outstanding or lousy for that matter. There was the usual kimchi, beansprouts and anchovies which I'm beginning to feel that they taste almost the same everywhere. But as mentioned before in my entry on Nul Bom, I do appreciate the variety.



Yookgae Jang - Spicy Beef & Scallion Soup

This dish looked really really spicy with its intense reddish colour. However, that was just a facade. Even someone who can't really take spicy stuff, like me, could take it without so much as breaking out in sweat. I personally found the soup rather bland and the beef slices were a tad too tough and overcooked for my liking.



So Jungsik - Hotplate Beef

The beef was overcooked but still decently tender probably due to it being thinly sliced. I found it too sweet for my liking but maybe that's how Koreans eat it. I like the few strands of golden mushroom that came with it though, crunchy and breaking the monotony of just chewing through meat.



Dessert

This came complimentary and I honestly don't know whats in it. To me it was just a chilled drink which reeked strongly of Cinammon. Definitely not my idea of a sweet ending.



Bill

We paid about $35 for a rather filling dinner (thanks to the sides) but after having tried out Korean food for a second time, I still dont find myself taking to it. Is it just me or have I been ordering the wrong things or going to the wrong places?



Likes: Good service, not really expensive
Dislikes: Food not suited to my tastebuds

Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:7/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:6.625/10

Address: 265 Upper Thomson Road

Contact: 6452 2112

Opening Hours: Daily: 11am - 3pm, 5.30pm - 10pm

Monday, April 21, 2008

Curry Favor



Had a craving for Japanese curry so dropped by Curry Favor's newly opened outlet at Novena Square for dinner. Curry Favor, which has its flagship outlet at Stamford House, purportedly dishes out one of the best authentic Japanese curries in Singapore and South East Asia. Quite a statement I must say.




Exterior, Interior & Menu

The interior is simply done up with ample distance between tables which allows for limited privacy. Not that it was really necessary as the place was quite dead on a Saturday evening, with only 4 tables occupied.



Rosu Katsu (Pork) Curry

Curry Favor offers the flexibility of ordering half portions for certain dishes, which caters to small eaters or people who tend to opt for a lighter meal. The half portion of Rosu Katsu came with about 5 slices of succulent and not overly deep fried pork chops and a regular serving of rice. With a name like Curry Favor, it is rather obvious that the curry should take centre stage. And this is where it falters, well almost. The curry was light and sweet ( a little too sweet in fact) but didn't posses the wow factor. It lacked the fragrance as well. I would say its very decent but certainly not the best in Singapore or South East Asia.



Filet Pork Stewed Curry

This was a full sized order and honestly, the amount of pork fillets in it didn't justify the price. There seemed to be more potato cubes and carrots than pork fillets. Sure, the fillets were tender and full of bite and the curry thick and lightly sweet. But as with the Rosu Katsu, the curry lacked the oomph factor and fragrance, although I must say I did enjoy the overall dish quite a bit.



Bill

A rather filling but hardly satisfying dinner for 2 cost about $35 ($30 with $5 discount). Filling because there's a lot of starch in the dishes, rice, potato and curry. But having said that, food quality is still reasonably above average but prices could drop a notch or two. It does help that service is good as well.



Likes: Decent food, good service
Dislikes: Can be a little pricey

Final Verdict:
Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:6/10

Overall:6.5/10

Address: #03-26/27 Velocity @ Novena Square, 238 Thomson Road
#01-08/09 Stamford House, 39 Stamford Road

Contact: 6255 2395 (Novena)
6883 1087 (Stamford House)

Opening Hours:

Mon-Thu & Sun: 12pm - 10pm

Fri & Sat: 12pm - 11pm

Website: http://www.curry-favor.com

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sweet Salty Spicy Food Market & Thai Canteen



Had lunch at Sweet Salty Spicy Food Market & Thai Canteen (SSS for short), a newly opened modern Thai restaurant in the western regions of Singapore. Set up by Chef Christopher Miller of Poppi and helmed by Chef Richards, who trained under Chef Peter Bowyer from Sailors Thai in Sydney Rocks district fame, SSS aims to fill the gap between Thai fine dining restaurants and Thai chain outlets.




Located along serene Upper Bukit Timah Road, SSS, which is one of the new kids on the block, resides towards the end of a row of shops also known as The Rail Mall. The interior is simply done up with shelves of Thai sauces and condiments on display together with fresh local produce of herbs and vegetables. Hanging fruits at the entrance add to the down to earth market feel of the place.



Hot and Sour Soup with Prawns, Straw Mushrooms and Aromatics

Notice that the name mentioned prawns. However, there was only 1 prawn, albeit of a rather large size. Bone picking aside, the soup was light yet sourish and hits you before you even know it. Its not so much the chilli kind of spicy but the wasabi kind of 呛, which has been known to reduce grown men to tears. Although I'm not one for spicy stuff, I liked this soup quite a bit.



Wagyu Beef Skewer

At $5.50 a skewer and 2 mouthfuls, this is one expensive piece of beef. However I must admit that the beef was excellent. Tender and succulent with a tinge of sourish herbs taste complementing the natural beefy flavours of the meat - all these without being done medium rare.



Sweet Barbeque Pork in Thai Spices with Fresh Vegetables

This dish is very much akin to our local char siew except that it was much drier with an unidentifiable lightly sweet yet salty spice taste. With the meat being dry, it naturally got tougher and more chewy, which isn't necessarily a good thing, especially for people with weak teeth like myself. Still a relatively decent dish overall.



Roast Duck with Flat Rice Noodles in a Fragrant Thai Herb Broth with Bean Sprouts and Fried Garlic

First impression, this dish looked like a typical bowl of duck meat kway teow. Interestingly, the broth reminded me of the gravy used in lor mee, albeit of a much sweeter version. The duck slices were nice and chewy but the rice noodles, though silky and smooth, tended to clump together.



'Pat Thai' Stir Fried Thai Rice Noodles

This has got to be one of the best Pat Thai I've eaten in a long long while. A tad chewy and moist, the Pat Thai was fried with dried shrimps, beansprouts and huge prawns, exuding a nice fragrant aroma when served. Another plus point was that the noodles didn't clump together even when the dish turned cold. Probably the only gripe I had was the sweetness of the dish, which was a little excessive for me personally.



Black Sticky Rice with Caramelised Coconut and Coconut Cream

For those who have eaten enough of such dishes, you would probably know that this is essentially Pulot/Burbur Hitam. And although I dont really fancy it, I must say that this one was quite appetising, not too starchy but could do with a lot less sugar.



Coconut Custard Tart

Served up with a dollop of fresh cream, the tart looked limp and tired, much to my disappointment. However it wasn't half as bad as it looked, tasting pretty much like egg tart with a layer of sweetened coconut. To be fair, it was actually quite nice but it might have been better if served chilled.



Bill

Honestly, $50 for the spread and quality isn't expensive. However portions aren't big so hearty eaters might need to order something extra from the ala carte menu. I'm not sure about the portions come dinner time but prices tend towards the higher end during that period. Think $12 for a plate of Pat Thai. SSS isn't the cheapest Thai food place nor the best, but for the prices, its worth it.



Likes: Good food, free parking
Dislikes: Can be a little pricey

Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:7/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:7/10

Address: 392/394 Upper Bukit Timah Road, The Rail Mall

Contact: 68772544

Opening Hours:

(Mon-Fri): Lunch: 11am-2pm, Dinner: 6pm-11pm

(Sat, Sun, PH): Lunch: 11am - 4pm, Dinner: 6pm-11pm