Sunday, August 31, 2008

Le Bistrot



Was in the mood for a lazy and peaceful brunch late one Saturday morning so decided to skip town and head to Le Bistrot at Kallang, a bistro purportedly featuring classic and inventive French cuisine and of course a brunch menu at seemingly reasonable prices (the main draw).



Interior

Le Bistrot boasts a rather quaint yet cozy interior with wooden paneling and cushions to go along with the co joint seats. There are floor to ceiling windows and even part of the ceiling is made from glass, allowing sunlight to flow through. Very much like a homely greenhouse with bulbs hanging from the ceiling.



Toasted Bread

You get to choose your choice of spreads for the bread, ranging from apricot jam to chestnut jam, all self service from the wooden shelf thats sits in the centre of the room. I appreciate the choice of jams and certainly the quality of the bread, which had a muffin like texture - a tad chewy and porous. Only bone I had was that the crust was a little too hard, but at least it was served warm.



Marinated Artichoke Salad & Mixed Fruit Soup with Mango Sorbet

Artichoke seriously isn't my cup of tea hence I didn't quite take to the salad. The mango sorbet was refreshing and came served with diced rock melon and pineapple cubes for added texture and taste.



Viennoiserie

Viennoiserie, or French for Viennese Specialities, include stuff like croissants, Danish pastries etc. This particular one was a chocolate croissant I believe. Nice and flaky without the lingering oil stains on the fingers. The chocolate filling wasn't too sweet or hard, which probably meant it hadn't been lying around in the open for too long - a good sign definitely.



Omelette with Smoked Spicy Pork Sausage & Omelette with Nurnberger Pork Sausage

The omelettes were a little runny yet smooth without being too heavy on the milk, which equates not nausea inducing, for me at least. The spicy pork sausage (addition of $3.50) didn't exactly wow me with its limp chilli taste and non existent smokiness. I thought better of the Nurnberger sausage(addition of $4) though, which was mildly salty with a slightly uneven texture, making it a nice accompainment to the omelette.




Hot Chocolate

Its one of the few times I order hot chocolate in favour of coffee/tea and I must say it came as a surprise to me when we were served a small pack of valhorna 61% cocoa chocolate, a pot of heated milk and one pot of molten chocolate. The idea is to place the piece of chocolate in your cup and pour in your desired amount of molten chocolate or milk to suit your tastebuds. Please remember to stir of course!



Bill

$57 for a 2 pax brunch tends towards the expensive side especially when there wasn't really much to eat. But I must admit that the environment is rather relaxing and no crowds are a big plus. Service is good as well but I doubt I'll be back for brunch, not unless they drop their prices.



Likes: Good service, crowd free
Dislikes: Pricing a little on the high side

Final Verdict:

Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:7/10

Address: #01-03 Singapore Indoor Stadium

Contact: 6447 0018

Opening Hours:

Tue-Sun: 11.45am - 2pm, 6pm - 10pm

Sat & Sun: 10am - 2pm

(Closed on Mon & PH)

Website: http://www.lebistrot.com.sg/

Addendum: Le Bistrot has since increased its brunch prices to $26+/pax.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shang Palace



Its been a while since I last stepped into Shangri-La hotel (the last time being the IISS about a year back) and what better way to revisit than a leisurely dim sum meal at its flagship Chinese restaurant, Shang Palace. It definitely helped that Shang Palace was offering a 30% discount on all its dim sum items from now till 31st Dec 2008 for its first dim sum seating (10.30am - 12pm).



Exterior, Interior, Menu & Tea Selection

Located at lobby level of this highly regarded premium hotel, Shang Palace's recent facelift sees a more contemporary and posh interior with elements of tradition through the usage of red crystal chandeliers amidst flowery wall panels and black wooden door arches. Is it just me or are alot of the Chinese restaurants starting to look alike?
What I found rather ingenious was the tea menu. Instead of the usual book like menu, the names of the various teas were inscribed onto colour coded sticks and placed in a container. Merely a novelty, but at least it beats flipping through pages.



Custard Bun

Fast becoming one of the quintessential items on my dim sum list, the custard bun got the meal off to a great start with its piping hot and sinfully rich custard mixed with sediments of egg yolk, all contained within a soft and slightly chewy bun. I would have liked it better if the custard to bun ratio was lower, ie. decrease the amount of flour or increase the amount of custard. There's the issue of its minute size though.



Shanghai Pork Dumpling

I was utterly disappointed with Shang Palace's rendition of this classic Shanghainese dish. The skin was a tad too thick while the gravy came across as thick and oily. After popping one XLB into my mouth, I couldn't bear to eat another one.



Fried Spring Roll

This spring roll was rather different from the commonplace ones that you get elsewhere. Instead of vegetables, you get egg white and crab meat as a filling. Not that it made much of a difference honestly. The oil taste from the crisp skin overwhelmed everything. Not that egg white or crab meat had much taste to begin with though.



Shark's Fin Dumpling Soup

At $8 a bowl, the fins were ample but of very low quality. I like the fact that there were bits of scallops in the dumpling and that the soup was very light on the palate.



Deep Fried Beancurd Skin Roll with Prawns

The fried beancurd skin roll or 腐皮卷 came stuffed with prawns, spotting a nice crisp exterior that wasn't overly fried. However, it did come across as a tad too oily.



BBQ Pork Custard Bun

This dish was essentially pineapple bun stuffed with char siew (叉燒菠蘿包). I personally liked this quite a bit as the bun was soft and not too sweet while the char siew was plump and juicy. The sweetness from the char siew permeated through, which made for a nice but extremely high in calorie snack.



Siew Mai

Very much like the siew mai I had at Peach Garden, Shang Palace's offering had small chunks of prawns in it as well. There was a noticeable absence of the overwhelming pork taste that plagues alot of siew mais but I did find the salt level a little high.



Scallop & Lobster Roll

I don't quite remember the name of this dish but it tasted to me like Har Gao, which wasn't really what I was expecting. The lobster shreds were minimal, not to mention tasteless and the whole thing was mainly prawn paste (I believe) and a small piece of scallop.



Har Gao

The Har Gao skin was excessively thick and became gross when cold. Not even the crunchy prawn filling could save it after we left a piece to cool for about 10 minutes. However, when eaten hot, its still rather decent overall.



Four Treasure Flour Roll

Fancy names aside, the flour roll aka chee cheong fan, was smooth, silky and not too thick. I could only make out char siew and prawns in the filling so I'm not sure where did the 4 treasures come from. One of the better chee cheong fans I've had in a long long time.



Century Egg Porridge

$10 got me a bowl of congee that's probably three quarters the size of those you get for $3 at food centres. Topped with thin slices of crispy dough fritters, the porridge had a generous amount of chicken shreds and century egg. But I did think that the chef was a little too liberal with the salt.



Mini Egg Tarts

A disappointment really. The mini egg tarts were, as the name suggests, mini and the pastry was a little too flaky. No buttery undertone that I personally like as well. The custard filling could also have done with more sugar. $4.90 for 3 is really a rip off.



Bill

It was really an expensive dim sum experience, at $113 before discount and $87 after a 30% early bird discount for 2 pax. Overall I thought that the dim sum lacked finesse, and pales in comparison to places like Royal China or Yan Ting. Service was good but pacing of the dishes would be much appreciated - all my dishes came in the space of 10 minutes. I highly doubt that I'll be back, not even with the discount.



Likes: Nice place
Dislikes: Expensive even after the discount, dim sum lacks finesse, can be difficult to get there if you don't drive

Final Verdict:

Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:6.5/10 (7.5/10 for the custard bun)
Value for money:5.5/10

Overall:6.75/10

Address: Lobby Level, Shangri - La Hotel, 22 Orange Grove Road

Contact: 6213 4473

Opening Hours:

Lunch: 11.30 am - 2.30 pm (Weekends start at 10:30 am)

Dinner: 6.30 pm - 10.30 pm

Website: http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property/singapore/shangrila/dining/restaurant/shangpalace

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chin Lee Restaurant



Made the trip east to Chin Lee or 深利美食馆 for dinner with my parents after seeing it in appear in a couple of television programs and writeups with regard to its good food and reasonable prices.



Interior & Menu

Located just below a block of flats at Bedok North, Chin Lee's reputation was evident as the place was packed on a Sunday evening and families without reservations were asked to wait or turned away. The air conditioned interior was simply done up like any traditional Chinese restaurant except that they offer two private rooms which can be booked in advance.



Fish Maw Soup

Tasting suspiciously like shark's fin soup ( I wish!), the fish maw soup didn't come across as too starchy and had quite a sizeable amount of crab meat in it. The fish maw wasn't too soggy and overall I found it quite a good dish.



Stir Fried Kailan

Found the vegetables very normal but I did think that the restaurant was a little too generous with the garlic, which made the vegetables a little bitter. Still, I can't complain for $6 though.



Homemade Beancurd

I thought that the beancurd was comfort homely food, with its silkiness and softness and of course the copious amount of minced meat atop. However it lacked the smokey savoury taste that I like. Still a good eat nevertheless.



Coffee Pork Ribs

Served up in an aluminum foil, the coffee pork ribs was a recommendation by the waitress. The aroma of coffee was strong but surprisingly, the taste was rather mild. Honestly I thought that the pork ribs were a little too dry and hard for my liking. Very edible, but certainly not a must order dish.



Orh Nee

Interestingly, Chin Lee's rendition of this ubiquitous Teochew dessert was a much darker shade of brown than what I usually eat, which I suppose is attributed to the addition of gula melaka or brown sugar. The texture was also compact and glue like, yet very smooth and not too sweet. Definitely one of the best Orh Nees I've tried so far.



Bill

A satisfying dinner for 3 set us back by almost $62, which is very reasonable for the quantity and quality of food. Service was efficient and I dare say that this is probably one of the better air conditioned cze char stalls around. Chin Lee is a gem indeed. Just remember to make your reservations.



Likes: Food is quite good, reasonable prices
Dislikes: Packed with people

Final Verdict:
Ambience:6.5/10
Service:6.5/10
Food:7.5/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:6.75/10

Address: Blk 115 Bedok North Road #01-285

Contact: 6449 5454

Opening Hours:

Mon-Fri:
Lunch: 11.30am - 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.00pm - 10.30pm

Sat, Sun & PH:
Lunch: 11.30am - 2.30pm
Dinner: 5.30pm - 10.30pm

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yan Ting Part II



After a most wonderful dim sum experience at Yan Ting barely 4 months ago, I was back for a much anticipated revisit.



Interior

The interior needs no reintroduction, remaining as grand and comfortable as I remembered it to be.



Amuse Bouche

The amuse bouche this time round was a tiny little red octopus sprinkled with sesame seeds. I don't really fancy octopuses but this one wasn't that bad tasting. Crunchy and a little sweet. A nice start.



HK BBQ Platter

I had requested to change the soya chicken in the platter to roast pork, which did seem like a good idea. The pork was nice and salty with a very crisp skin. However I did find the proportion of fat a little too excessive for comfort. Aside from that, I thought the duck was quite good - crispy skin and a tad chewy without being too dry. The BBQ pork, or char siew, didn't wow me though, coming across as crunchy (how weird!) and a little too dry. At $16++ for a platter of mini size me pieces of meat, its really a no brainer to avoid this dish the next time round.



Egg Tarts

One of the highlights from my previous visit, the egg tarts were comparatively a little lacklustre this time round. That's not to say that it wasn't good though. The pastry was still excellent, flaky and buttery with a nice aroma. Would have preferred a heavier dosage of butter in it though. Coupled with the not too sweet custard, it made for a delectable snack.



Yam Croquette

The yam croquette had a filling of chicken and mushroom with a very crispy exterior. The yam taste wasn't overpowering which was a plus but I did find the whole thing to be rather oily. Definitely not something I would want to order again. Not for this run off the mill rendition.



Steamed Mushroom Roll

A rather interesting dish and a first for me. The steamed mushroom roll was essentially golden mushroom wrapped up with spinach and drizzled with egg atop to achieve a criss cross pattern. Personally I thought it came across as nice and light and very healthy of course.



Fluffy Radish Pastry

Personally I thought this dish was quite good - fluffy and crisp on the outside with strands of soft and piping hot radish on the inside.



Char Siew Pastry

Undoubtedly the pièce de résistance of my previous and current visit, the char siew sou suffered the same fate as the egg tarts - inadequate butter in the pastry. But still good nonetheless, with the char siew bits plump and tasty without being overbearingly sweet.



Siew Mai

A staple in any dim sum menu, I found the siew mai relatively good with a much higher proportion of lean meat that didn't overwhelm on the pork taste. On this occasion the siew mai did seem a tad too dry on the outside though, making me wonder if it had been left out in the cold for a period of time.



Ha Kao

The Ha Kao or prawn dumplings truly exemplify the phrase, simplicity at its finesse. Fresh, succulent and crunchy prawns shrouded by a thin translucent skin that promised to be light on the palate.



Xiao Long Bao

Even at $4 a pop, I couldn't help but order the XLB. Such was its draw. The skin wasn't too thick and amazingly managed to hold onto the copious amount of soup within. When a hole was made at the side, the flavourful juices literally gushed out. Only gripe I had was that the meat did seem a little too soft.



XO Cheong Fun

One of the few dishes that I didn't find outstanding at all, the XO Cheong Fun was like stir fried Hor Fun with all the bells and whistles. Someone please remind me never to order this dish again.



Bill

The 3 of us spent about $150 on dim sum ($50/pax), which is rather expensive honestly. But take away the order of the BBQ platter and the price drops to a more reasonable $32/pax. Service is impeccable and I'm very sure I'll be back again very soon.



Likes: Good food, good service, good ambience
Dislikes: Very pricey

Final Verdict:
Ambience:8/10
Service:8/10
Food:8/10
Value for money:6/10

Overall:7.5/10

Address: St. Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road

Contact: 6506-6888

Opening Hours: 11.45am to 3.30pm, 6 to 11pm

Website: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis/property/dining/attraction_detail.html?propertyID=1533&attractionId=1001144009