Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ah Yat Seafood



Had a go at Ah Yat Seafood at The Village after reading about its recent opening in the papers. Actually there wasn't much of a choice, with only 3 eating places available and one of them didn't even bother to acknowledge our presence even though we stood at the entrance for a couple of minutes and the place was relatively empty.




Exterior, Interior & Menu

The place is typical of many seafood restaurants - brightly lighted, cramped with tables and a hotbed of noise pollution. And surprisingly, the place was packed for such a wayside location which is hardly accessible by public transport.



Deep Fried Beancurd Cubes

This was more of an appetiser and though I liked the simplicity of it, the dish wasn't much to shout about. For one, the beancurd skin was too a little too thick.



Roasted Meat Combination

We waited 45mins for this dish all because the waiter forgot to log it in. And guess what? No one had the decency to tell me anything or apologize. It was only through overhearing the conversation between the waiter and another waitress regarding my order that I learnt what transpired. Service grievances aside, this roasted meat combination probably ranks as one of the worst I've tried this year. The duck reeked strongly of fowl taste with lots of oil to boot while the char siew was rather fatty with a gross oily aftertaste. Even the chicken was very oily and tasted very bland. Seriously disappointing with a not too wallet friendly pricing ($20++) to boot.



Broccoli with Crab Meat

You can't really go wrong with vegetables so no complaints about the broccoli. I liked the crab meat sauce though, which came across as not too starchy with strands of crab meat in it. Mildly savoury and complemented the broccoli relatively well.



Bill

I don't reckon $57 for a 2 pax dinner is anywhere near value for money for food of such quality. Add to that the less then stellar service and I am seriously better off taking my money elsewhere.



Likes: Nothing
Dislikes: Service recovery is terrible, food quality needs to improve

Final Verdict:

Ambience:6/10
Service:5/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:5.5/10

Overall:5.625/10

Address: #01-01 The Village, 241 Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim

Contact: 6265 8218

Opening Hours:

Lunch - 11.30am - 2.30pm

Dinner - 5.30pm - 10.30pm

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Imperial Treasure Jing Chuan Hu Yang



Was scouring the Suntec area for a quick dinner fix one late evening and chanced upon Imperial Treasure Jing Chuan Hu Yang. Having had a good experience at its cousin, Imperial Jade Teochew Cuisine some time back, we decided to give this place a shot.



Interior & Menu

Located within the ring of food outlets that surround the Fountain of Wealth, Imperial Treasure Jing Chuan Hu Yang serves up dishes from 4 different regions in China - Beijing, Sichuan, Shanghai and Yangzhou. The restaurant's interior is very similar to what you would find in a typical Crystal Jade restaurant that seem to be springing up just about everywhere. Hey, even the menu looks similar.



Yang Chow Fried Rice

I used to stuff myself silly with yang chow fried rice from the Chinese takeaway just down the street from my apartment, which was operated by this old Chinese lady, when I was studying overseas. Reason being, it was simply wonderful and I just couldn't get enough of it. Imperial Treasure's rendition looked the part, smelt the part but missed the mark. First and foremost, the all important char siew was replaced by chicken cubes - a sign of cost cutting? Secondly, the rice lacked the wok hei taste and came across as a tad too oily. To top it up, the whole dish tasted rather bland. Definitely not a dish I would order in a hurry again.



Spinach with Garlic

Nothing special about this dish, just your normal average stir fried spinach with a healthy dose of garlic.



Steamed Beancurd with Ham & Prawns

For $12, I thought that this dish was overpriced with its less then generous servings of ham and prawns. There was quite alot of beancurd though, which was soft and slithery - very much like 豆腐花. The gravy didn't contain too much starch but came across as rather bland. For something already so bland like tofu, the gravy should have been more robust in my humble opinion.



Glutinous Ball with Sweet Wine

To be honest, this is the first time I'm eating something like that and I'm not sure its exactly my cup of tea. Mixed in with the tiny glutinous balls were grains of rice which made the whole dessert rather interesting for the first few mouthfuls. After that the strong taste of the rice wine kicked in, overwhelming me completely and I had to raise the white flag.



Souffle Egg White Ball

Its been quite a while since I last had this dessert so I was kind of looking forward to it. Imperial Treasure's offering had banana slices and red bean filling in it with a spongy like texture hinting of egg white. Nice but excessively oily. Every bite brought forth a secretion of oil from the skin. Definitely not for the health conscious.



Bill

To be fair, the food was quite decent and I am inclined to think that standards hover around that of Crystal Jade's lower tier restaurants like La Mian XLB, Kitchen and the likes. Prices are about the same as well (2 of us spent about $48 for dinner), which probably puts it in direct competition with the above mentioned CJ restaurants. Given a choice, I guess it all boils down to convenience.



Likes: Nothing
Dislikes: Nothing

Final Verdict:

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

Overall:6.5/10

Address: #B1-011 Suntec City Mall

Contact: 6339 3118

Opening Hours: Daily: 11.30am - 2.30pm, 6pm - 10pm

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jia Wei



Had the opportunity to partake in a food tasting session at Jia Wei (家 味), which literally means taste of home, courtesy of the folks from Grand Mercure's marketing department. Opened in December 2007 and occupying the premises of the former Thai inspired Beads Restaurant, Jia Wei is helmed by Chef Lee Tuck Seng, who has over fourty years of culinary experience with several culinary awards under his belt.



Interior

There is the option of taking the escalator or lift up to the second floor, where Jia Wei is situated. The restaurant's interior is reminiscent of a classical, not too elaborate Chinese restaurant with its round tables, parquet flooring, low ceilings and Chinese ornamental displays.



Dim Sum Appetiser

This dish wasn't on the Christmas menu that we were supposed to sample but no complaints about the extra food though.

Personally I thought that the Siew Mai had too much fat meat in it which resulted in a rather strong pork taste that fell wayside of the fine and exquisite ones I've had at Royal China and the likes. On the other hand, I appreciated the prawn and scallop dumpling which saw fresh and crunchy prawns enveloped in a translucent green skin and topped with a slice of savoury scallop. In the middle of the scale was the prawn and mango roll which carried a faint (too faint in fact) sourish tinge from the mango coupled with the fresh prawns. Its relatively thick skin discounted the experience quite a bit for me. As for the deep fried prawn wanton, it was comfort food. Fresh prawns wrapped in crackling wanton skin.

Overall, a rather oily dish to kick start the dinner.



Turkey and Ham Fresh Fruit Salad

No Christmas meal would be complete without turkey so the menu started off with a turkey appetiser, which is quite a surprise really, especially when you seldom see turkey in a Chinese restaurant's menu. Honestly, I found this dish rather lacklustre as compared to the one I had just a week ago at Braise. I know the preparation methods are different but comparisons are naturally inevitable. Jia Wei's offering was a little too dry and a tad too salty for my liking. However, I must complement the idea of pairing the turkey up with wasabi sauce and fruits, creating a myriad of flavours - saltiness from the turkey, sweetness from the fruits and a touch of 呛.



Jia Wei Superior Shark's Fin Soup in Hot Stone Pot

This is the second restaurant that I'm having shark's fin served in a hot stone pot, with the first being Taste Paradise. The purpose of serving soup in a stone pot is to keep the soup hot/warm for a much longer period of time, so as to maximize drinking pleasure. This soup was a tad starchy, almost creamy smooth in texture yet light on the flavours. The fins were of quite a size and came bundled with crab meat, beansprouts and the likes.



Pan Fried Fillet of Pork Spare Rib with Special Sauce & Grilled Special Rack of Lamb with Chinese Wine

The lamb was on the original menu but most of us opted to swap it with the spare rib. Fortunately for me, I had the luxury of trying both (with some friendly persuasion of course). My piece of pork rib was 50% meat, 50% fats, which was a turn off really. I spent more time trying to slice away the fats then enjoying my piece of meat. However my dining companions seemed to have gotten much leaner cuts so I was probably just unlucky. And the special sauce didn't exactly wow me. It was just sweet, probably from some infusion of honey.
Surprisingly, the lamb was quite good - tender sans the overwhelming lamb taste that I personally have a disdain for. If only we knew.



Braised Bai Ling Mushroom with Broccoli

If I didn't know any better, I would have thought that the main focal point for this dish was the broccoli because of the small serving of what looked like Shimeji mushrooms, which brings me to the question - Where are the Bai Ling mushrooms? That aside, this was a very simple dish which offered no surprises. I liked the copious amounts of dried scallops though - salty and adding flavour to a rather ordinary dish.



Homemade Noodles with Prawn and Conpoy

Honestly, this dish just didn't do it for me. The noodles tasted like a thicker version of kway teow and carried some bite but it failed to absorb the essense of the gravy, which by the way, was rather bland. I would have prefered a more robust sauce especially when the prawn, though crunchy and meaty, failed to carry much sweetness in its flesh. Overall a rather average rendition in my humble opinion.



Chilled Lemon Jelly

I have a low tolerance for extremely sour stuff hence the dessert wasn't exactly my cup of tea. Not that the jelly was sour. On the contrary, it was pleasingly sweet and wobbly of course. It was the lime sorbet that had me cringing with every mouth. What was interesting was the addition of diced apricots and raisins - the first I've seen in such a dessert. Still, a no go for me.

The above Christmas set dinner cost each pax to the tune of $98++, inclusive of a glass of red or white wine. There is a 30% discount if you opt for the set from Monday to Thursday. I would like take this opportunity to thank Grand Mercure, especially Keane, for this invitation.



Likes: NA
Dislikes: NA

Final Verdict:

Ambience:7/10
Service:NA
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:NA

Overall:6.75/10

Address: 2F Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel, 50 East Coast Road

Contact: 6340 5678

Opening Hours:

Lunch: 12noon - 3pm

Dinner: 6pm - 11pm

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thai Pan Part II

Yes its back to Thai Pan at Changi Village again after a rather acceptable experience just a couple of weeks back. My parents were keen to try it out after I casually mentioned about Thai Pan's restored olden clubhouse interior in a conversation and so there we were, on a wet Sunday night.



Butter Squid

Purportedly one of the signature dishes of Thai Pan and one that I didn't get to try the last time round, the butter squid was interesting in the sense that it was coated with a thick layer of butter and egg yolk, very much like those you would find in butter prawns, albeit being soft and mashed.



Thai Pan Jade Tofu with Chicken Floss

The tofu was soft but not exactly silky and had a very strong egg taste, which was fine by me. But it got a little nauseating after a while. A very simple comfort dish.



Olive Fried Rice

They don't have the $1/bowl promotion for the olive rice on weekends so we had to get the standard $6 version, which was good for 2 pax. The rice was well fried with a rather strong olive taste that came across as rather moist. Coupled with a mildly sweet minced meat sauce, this dish was a hit with all of us. Just don't consume too much of it because after a certain point, the queasiness kicks in.



Broccoli with Crab Meat

The last time round, this dish stole the limelight with its not overly cooked broccoli and mildy starchy and savoury gravy. This time round however, the gravy was a tad too coagulated, resulting in a semi sticky solution that clang on to the broccoli. Still decent though.



Honey Chicken

I don't know what made us order this dish, but its probably got to do with it being listed as a recommendation on the menu. The chicken was tender but didn't exactly taste out of the ordinary. The sweetness index on this one is quite high though so if you have a low tolerance for sweet stuff, you might want to avoid this.



Bill

The food isn't expensive, at $44 for a 3 pax dinner. However I don't think the quality is really evident. Granted, all the dishes are still palatable and decent but I definitely won't make the long trek down. Service is decent but the place seems rather short handed especially on busy weekend evenings.



Likes: Nice place, reasonable pricing
Dislikes: Food quality can be better

Final Verdict:

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

Overall:7/10

Address: Civil Service Club Changi Clubhouse, 2 Netheravon Road

Contact: 6448 9827

Opening Hours:

Lunch: 12pm - 3pm

Dinner: 6pm - 10.30pm

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sentosa Food Trail Part III - Braise



Braise - A collaborative effort between Loh Lik Peng of Hotel 1929 and New Majestic Hotel and Chef Sebastian Ng of Ember Restaurant that opened in March 2008. Helmed by Chef Desmond Lee, who had stints at Raffles Hotel, Saint Julien and the now defunct Fig Leaf as well as an attachment with celebrity Chef Gordan Ramsay, this modern European restaurant offers classic French food with a modern lift.




Interior & Complimentary Bread

Sitting pretty on the 2nd level of an old monorail station along Palawan beach, Braise plays neighbour to Amara Sanctuary's Silk Road of the Sea, which is located on the ground floor. The interior of Braise is nothing short of breathtaking, offering a splendid view of the surrounding Palawan beach through floor to ceilings windows throughout the entire place - very reminiscent of a green house actually. Temperatures are kept to a comfortable low through the use of powerful airconditioning. Essentially the place offers the best of both worlds - bright and cheery with a view in the comfort of an airconditioned environment.

The complimentary bread was served warm and had bits of herbs in it, coming across as crusty on the outside while soft on the outside. Overall a mildly flavourful piece of dough that saw me asking for seconds.



Pressed Duck and Potato Terrine with Mix Greens and Balsamic Onion

Wrapped up with a flimsy layer of lettuce, the duck had a lightly salted smokey aftertaste that went well with the smoothness of the potato. Subtly pleasing to the tastebuds but not exactly my idea of a fantastic appetiser though as it failed to open up my appetite.



Pan Seared Foie Gras, Lentils Fricassee and Red Wine Sauce

I would gladly sacrifice my health for another piece of this foie gras. Though smallish, the foie gras was pan seared till the exterior was a tad crisp yet remaining soft and quivery on the inside. Equally outstanding was the lentil stew with red wine sauce which lent its savouries to the foie gras and created one of the best foie gras dishes I've had this year.



Turkey Breast, Braised Vegetables, Honey Spiced Sauce

Turkey, especially the breast portion, tends to be associated with toughness. However Braise's rendition was, on the contrary, surprisingly tender without losing its fibrous texture. A pity the sauce was a little lacklustre, coming across merely as a little sweet from the honey.



Venison with Braised Vegetables, Cassis Sauce

Believe it or not, this is the first time I'm having venison in a non Chinese restaurant and I am suitably impressed with what Braise presented. Well seasoned and grilled till the meat retained but a nice pinkish hue, it tasted rather similar to a well done piece of steak, albeit more tender. Buttery overtones carrying a pepperish tinge complemented the sweetness of the meat and left me lamenting about the portion size. The only gripe I had about this dish was the sauce, which tasted like cough syrup to me.






Tout Chocolate Combination

Comprising a scoop of chocolate ice cream topped with chocolate balls, a slice of chocolate cake and chocolate mousse on a biscuit base, this dessert didn't exactly involve much aesthetics and looked rather haphazard if you ask me. However, I must say that I enjoyed it quite a bit. The chocolate ice cream was smooth and more bitter then sweet (great for those who don't like too sweet stuff) with the chocolate balls giving it an extra crunch. The sponge layers on the cake were moist and compact while the chocolate layers gelled everything together for a nice and simple chocolate cake. As for the mousse, it had a nice bitter hazelnut taste on a crunchy biscuit base.



Vanilla Creme Brulee, Figs, Passion Fruit Sorbet

I thought that the creme brulee was quite decent save for the fact that the sugar layer was overly thick. Made from real vanilla beans, as evident by the black vanilla seeds in the pudding, this dessert didn't overwhelm with its sweetness and had a smooth and almost creamy texture. The passion fruit sorbet provided the sourish contrast to the pudding's sweetness, allowing for a more varied taste sensation.



Bill

Lunch for 2 almost broke the bank at $93 after a $4 discount from some promotion that Sentosa is currently running in which diners will be reimbursed for their entrance fee to the island if they dine at certain F&B outlets. Having said that, I see this amount as money well spent for the quality of food, ambience and service. A revisit to this charming little restaurant beckons. This time under the moon's pale glow of course.



Likes: Ambience is great, food quality is evident
Dislikes: Can be troublesome to get there, not cheap

Final Verdict:

Ambience:8.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:7.5/10
Value for money:7/10 (Lunch only)

Overall:7.625/10

Address: Level 2, 60 Palawan Beach Walk

Contact: 6271 1929

Opening Hours:

(Mon-Sat): Lunch: 12pm - 3pm

(Mon-Sun): Dinner: 6.30pm - 10.00pm

(Sun Brunch): 11.30am - 3.00pm

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