Friday, July 31, 2009

Canele Patisserie Chocolaterie Part II - A Pictorial

After a disappointing dinner at L'Entrepot, we had desserts at Canele, which were way better.



Canele @ Robertson Walk



Strawberry Tart



Jupiter



Macaron Burger



Bill

I have a few shots of other desserts from Canele here and here as well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

AOBA Hokkaido Ramen



Braved the mad crowds to visit ION Orchard over the weekend to check out the various new to Singapore shops and more importantly, the gamut of eateries that this upscale shopping mall claims to offer. AOBA caught my attention because of the persistent queues forming even during after lunch hours plus the fact that my stomach was rumbling when we walked past it.



Interior

The place isn't big, with a seating capacity of about 30 people or so, which probably explains the queue. Tables for 2 are spaced uncomfortably close, so any notions of having private conversations can be thrown right out of the window.



Fried Tofu

It was never my intention to order the fried tofu, but since it carried a 50% discount, cheapo/greedy me conveniently added that to the order. And it was average at best. The skin tasted limp but still palatable.



Ebi Mayonnaise

Small prawns coated with a thick layer of flour, deep fried and drizzled with copious amounts of mayonnaise - a recipe for unhealthy eating. But I'm a sucker for the prawn and mayo combo so this dish turned out fine. Decent but not outstanding. And pretty expensive at that (1 small prawn, $1).



Shoyu Tontoro Ramen

The ramen reminded me of the traditional Chinese yellow egg noodles, albeit a little thinner, chewier and sans the alkaline taste. The broth had a strong taste of pork but came across as a wee bit too salty and too much of it can make you woozy. The pork slices were relatively tender and soft while the egg was nicely done without the yolk being too soft. Portions are small for the price ($16.80++) though.



Shio Scallop Ramen

The scallops were rather tasteless to begin with and while the ramen was of the same variant as my tontoro ramen, the broth was much lighter and free of any pork taste.



Bill

2 bowls of ramen and 2 small sides cost us to the tune of $47, which is rather expensive given the quality in my humble opinion. The long queues to get a table and to pay for our meal as well as cramp dining spaces definitely do not make things better. But for those who are interested in trying AOBA out, they have another outlet within Manpuku at Tampines One.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:6/10
Service:6.5/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:6/10
Overall:6.25/10

Address: #B3-25, ION Orchard

Contact: 6509 9394

Opening Hours: Daily: 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm

Desserts after that at Arinco King (#B4-60) were alot better and it formed the highlight of my meal at ION.






Chocolate Sand ($3.50)

Very light chiffon topped with fresh cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup and almond bits - Very good. Only grouse? It's a buy and go stall, no sitting areas.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

L'Entrepot Bistrot



I read about Chef Suffian Zain, who relinquished his position as head chef of renowned fine dining restaurant, Iggy's,to join L'Entrepot, a new casual bistro by the Esmirada group serving up classical French food. And that was good enough reason to give the newly minted restaurant a shot.




Interior & Menu

Aptly located at Clarke Quay, along the Singapore river (entrepot is French for warehouse and is a place where import and export activities take place), L'Entrepot's al fresco and indoor dining area is seperated by a pedestrain walkway. While the al fresco area offers a venue to take in the sights and sounds of the Singapore river, the indoor area doesn't have much of a view to offer. It is however, a rather cozy place with a seemingly huge wine cellar showcasing dozens of bottles of wine.





Stuff that I didn't try



Lobster Bisque

Apparently a must try at L'Entrepot and one that garnered rave reviews in a certain newspaper, the lobster bisque was disappointing to say the least. As with any lobster bisque, there were a few small cursory pieces of lobster flesh but the soup was rather watered down and lacked richness. The puff pastry, though flaky, wasn't buttery enough in my humble opinion.



Angus Rossini (Pan Roasted Angus Tenderloin, Mashed Potato, Duxell Mushroom, Pan Fried Foie Gras, Red Wine Sauce)

The tenderloin came in 2 chunks, both done medium rare as per request. Although the meat was relatively tender, it did seem a little dry and void of the beefy taste that most beef lovers would appreciate. The mushroom duxell(e) came sandwiched between the 2 blocks of beef and tasted rather bland and watery - not exactly ideal. As for the foie gras, it was thinly sliced and decently soft and quivery on the inside. I understand that it was better then the foie gras dish some of my dinner companions had ordered as appetisers.



Bill

On my part, the bill came up to about $47 after a 20% discount ($59 without discount), which is rather expensive for the quality of the food. We were so disappointed that we made the decision to adjorn elsewhere for desserts. Service was decent but that's not good enough reason for me to want to return. I had definitely expected more from Chef Suffian Zain.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:7/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:6/10
Overall:6.625/10

Address: 3E River Valley Road, #01-02 Clarke Quay

Contact: 6337 5585

Opening Hours:

Lunch: Daily 12pm - 2pm

Dinner: Sun - Tue 6pm - 11pm, Wed - Sat 6pm - 2am

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Men Tei



Had a craving for ramen but didn't fancy jostling with the mad crowds at Santouka or Marutama nor was I particularly willing to pay in excess of $15 for a bowl of ramen. Enter Men Tei, which I came across while reading some forums online. Its selling point (to me at least)? All bowls of ramen go for $13 nett.



Interior & Menu

Located on the ground level of Robinson Centre along Robinson Road in the Central Business District (CBD), Men Tei occupys a small space that is simpley done up and seats probably about 20 pax tops. The menu occupies a single sheet of paper (6 different types of ramen) so if you are looking for variety, this place is probably out.



Shio Ramen

You have the option of specifying the "doneness" of your noodles, ranging from normal, hard or extra hard. I didn't know that until after my ramen was served so I am assuming they gave me the normal option. I thought that it was a little too soft but at least it retained a little chewiness. The ramen broth honestly wasn't very robust and I couldn't quite make out any pork taste. Simply put, it was just salty but light. The egg was quite well done - quivery without being overly soft while the yakibuta (3 slices) was tender and flavourful.



Spicy Tonkatsu Ramen

Although the spicy ramen looked the part, it actually wasn't that bad and that's coming from someone who has a low tolerance for spiciness. As with the Shio ramen, the broth wasn't very robust but the yakibuta and tamago were equally good.



Bill

For the price, I honestly think its value for money given the quality of the ramen. Service is decent as well and best of all, there is no queue when you dine there on weekday evenings (they do not open on weekends or public holidays). The same can't be said for weekday lunch though. Men Tei also provides a delivery service to nearby offices for those who crave ramen but are too busy to step out.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:6/10
Service:7/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:7/10
Overall:6.75/10

Address: #01-01, 61 Robinson Road, Robinson Centre

Contact: 6438 4140

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday - 11am to 3pm, 6pm to 10pm. Closed on Public Holidays & Weekends

Website: http://www.men-tei.com/

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Soprano



I've always had a thing for reclusive enclaves like that of Portsdown, with its lush greenery and quaint little restaurants that lead you away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And the area welcomes its newest tenant, an Italian restaurant specialising in pastas going by the name of Soprano (which in singing terms is a voice that has a vocal range that spans 2 octaves - roughly middle C to Soprano C) that opened just 2 weeks ago. Maybe the restaurant aspires to soar to great heights?




Exterior, Interior & Menu

Located along Portsdown Road just opposite the building that houses Pietrasanta and cooking academy Palate Sensations, Soprano's sizeable compound comes with its own mini carpark, lawn and pool (not sure if it belongs to Soprano though). There is an option of al fresco seating or indoor seating, with the former perfect for chilling out on a cooling/windy afternoon or evening and the latter a life saver on warm days (the air conditioning seemed to be at a minimum when I was there that afternoon though).



Complimentary Bread & Appetisers

The appetisers consisted of baby onions, onions and a mixture of button mushrooms, olives and capsicums - all of which provided a nice way to start off the meal. The bread on the other hand, wasn't served warm and tasted like ordinary baguette, albeit much denser in the center. Nothing impressive.



Bruschetta

I am actually quite perplexed by the amount of salad that came with the bruschetta. It formed the bulk of this dish save for generous helpings of halved cherry tomatoes atop 2 slices of ciabatta bread. Shouldn't the bread take center stage here? That aside, the ciabatta was toasted to a crisp and sprinkled with olive oil and fine salt granules, giving it a nice resounding texture marrying the sweetness and plumpness of the cherry tomatoes. Given the price ($9), not something I would order again though.



Linguine Aragostina

For $15 a pop, this was a steal honestly. You get 2 halves of a baby lobster served with al dente linguine in a robust and spicy (check out the cut chillis) tomato base sauce. If you prefer other sorts of pasta besides linguine, the aragostina option is also open to spaghetti. They need to fix the problem with the baby lobster though. It wasn't stale but it wasn't exactly fresh either, coming across as a little fishy.



Ravioli Ai Funghi Porcini e Tartufo

This was a cream based pasta and tended to be rather overwhelming after a few mouthfuls. But that wasn't to say that it wasn't good. The ravioli skin was not too thick and came with cheese and spinach stuffing (you can choose what stuffing you would like) in a sea of thick fragrant creamy gravy. I personally thought that the porcini mushrooms tasted great as well - crunchy with a nice woody taste.



Tiramisu

There was something different about this tiramisu. The mascarpone cheese was really yellowish in colour, probably due to the excess addition of egg yolks. I couldn't quite make out any substantial difference though except it being more dense then usual. The sponge to mascarpone ratio was rather lopsided in favour of the cheese. Whatever sponge fingers there were at the bottom was soaked in weak coffee, which meant that this was a teetotaler's rendition. Overall a decent dessert.



Profiterole

The profiterole was complimentary of Soprano and came stuffed with milk chocolate mousse drenched in chilled liquid white chocolate. I am a sucker for such stuff and honestly this is the first time I'm seeing a restaurant in Singapore serving profiteroles drenched in chocolate, which is the way they do it in France. Simple decadent! I wonder how much this goes for though because desserts are not listed on the menu.



Bill

$52.80 for 2 pax isn't expensive given the portions of food and decent quality (save for the baby lobster). Throw in reasonably good service and a charming environment and you have a serious contender in the portsdown dining scene. Prices for most pastas hover around the $15-$16 range and lets hope they keep it that way. There is also no GST, only service charge, which is definitely a plus and don't be shy to ask for tap water.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7.5/10 (They need to do something about their air conditioning though)
Service:7/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:7/10
Overall:7/10

Address: 7 Portsdown Road

Contact: 64722100

Opening Hours: Daily: 12noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.00pm

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ju Chun Yuan 聚春园



Spring Ju Chun Yuan - a collaboration between Far East Hospitality and Ju Chun Yuan, which is known for its Fuzhou cuisine in China. Apparently the boss of Far East ate at the restaurant in China and was so impressed by the food that he decided to bring it to Singapore, lock, stock and barrel with no modifications done to suit the Singaporean palate. And Ju Chun Yuan's claim to fame? It's purportedly the birth place of the extremely pricey and decadent "Buddha Jumps Over The Wall" (佛跳墙).




Exterior, Interior & Menu

Aptly located at Far East Square, Ju Chun Yuan is housed in a conserved Chinese courtyard complete with traditional frontage and a tiled roof from ancient Chinese times as well as bamboo shoots flanking the walkway that leads to the restaurant. The interior however, is modern Chinese with a touch of class and sophistication.





Three Delicacies "Min Appetizers" Combination


The first of the three delicacies - Cashew nuts lightly coated with sugar to give it a mild sweetness and sheen. Nice and crunchy and I happen to have a weakness for cashews so this suited me just fine. The second delicacy was essentially winter melon strips dipped into orange syrup. The strips had a nice crunch and tasted mildy sweet with a zesty tinge of orange. Great as a snack. Third was the cucumber slices that had a mild and sharp spicy taste to it. Not a big fan of cucumbers though, so I didn't venture past my first piece.



Pan Fried Cod Fish with House Recipes

According to the waitress, the house recipe contained about 10 different spices in it and I was sold, especially when you throw cod fish into the equation. But honestly, it didn't quite pan out as expected. Sure, the sauce was mildly sweet and very light but the batter coating on the fish slices was a little too thick and I couldn't quite make out the texture of the cod nor the sweetness of the flesh. Disappointing.



Braised Beancurd with Vegetables Served in Fuzhou Style

Beancurd is comfort food to me and I like it done in any way, well almost. I don't exactly know what fuzhou style tofu entails but this dish tasted like normal braised beancurd (红烧豆府) to me. Average but edible.



Braised "Lychee" Minced Pork with Water Chestnut

I opted for this dish because I was intrigued by lychee, water chestnut and minced pork together in 1 dish. It turned out to be a most unwise decision. For starters, the minced pork comprised mostly fatty pork and carried an overwhelming pork taste. The lump of chestnut in the center of the meat ball added a nice crunch to it while the drizzled sauce tasted sweet, very much like those you would find on sweet and sour pork (咕噜肉). There was no taste of lychee whatsoever.



Fried Rice with Minced Shrimp and Egg White Served in Fuzhou Style

As aesthetically pleasing as the fried rice looked with its homogeneously egg coated grains of rice, it fell short in taste. There was no discernible wok hei taste and the whole dish lacked any flavour to the extent of being bland. Still edible though as the rice was soft and moist with reasonable servings of chopped prawns and other condiments. One thing I realised was that the rice seemed more steamed then fried. The restaurant probably steamed it for quite a bit before doing a fast fry with minimal oil.



Cold White Fungus with Osmanthus Syrup

A light and sweet cold white fungus dessert with floral connotations from the osmanthus to end off the disappointing meal. As average as it gets.



Fuzhou Yam Pudding

I had been dying to try out Ju Chun Yuan's rendition of my favourite dessert, yam pudding, ever since it was billed as one of the best by local media sometime back. On hindsight, I should have known about the overhyping that plagues most local media these days. Though the yam pudding was smooth, it retained little moisture, making it a tad dry. It wasn't fragrant either, probably due to the minimal or lack of lard. What was different was the addition of sesame seeds, which really boils down to personal preference.



Bill

Dinner for 2 cost to the tune of $71, which isn't expensive for the quantity and variety of food. However, quality is suspect, which does make $71 seem a little over the top. To be fair, it may be because I am not used to authentic Fuzhou cuisine like the way they do it in China? Either that, or they really need to work on their food.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:6.5/10
Overall:6.75/10

Address: #01-01, Far East Square

Contact: 65362655

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 11.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm Closed on Sun & PH)

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