Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Dining Room



It all began with a simple phone call. The phone call that got us a reservation at The Dining Room at Resorts World Sentosa, which opened to much fanfare less than 2 weeks ago.



Interior & Menu

Billed a fine dining Chinese restaurant, The Dining Room is located on the second floor of the invite only Crockford Towers. Reservations are highly recommended as entry into the hotel is restricted and only if your name appears on the security list will you be allowed in. Apparently the restaurant doesn't take walk in customers. The dim sum menu is very limited (think less then 10 items) and while the ala carte menu offers slightly more choices, it is still limited by any standards.



Charcoal Roasted Pork

The would be highlight of the meal (or so I thought), was the charcoal roasted pork. In reality, it was nothing but a joke. It didn't carry any smokiness stemming from cooking with charcoal nor was the skin crisp or salty enough. I would expect such standards from the roast pork stall in the wet markets, but at an upclass Chinese restaurant? I really don't think so. It definitely didn't help that portions weren't exactly generous.



Steamed Siew Mai

A tad too soft and salty was what I thought of the siew mai, dashing any hopes of redemption for the roast pork. Disappointing!



Steamed Har Kow

The prawns were overly salty while the skin was so thick that it tasted gross after the har kow had cooled down. Which leads me to wonder why the copious amounts of salt in both the siew mai and har kow. An accident or a masking technique?



Steamed Scallop Dumpling

As with the har kow, the prawns in this dish were overly salty as well. I could see the scallop but couldn't make out any taste as everything was just overwhelmed by salt. At least the skin was reasonably thin though.



Steamed Xiao Long Bao

If you like the XLBs from Ding Tai Fung, you might like the ones here as both taste similar. The quality control on the XLBs were suspect though, as some had fluids gushing out while others were barren. Depending on your luck, the XLBs may prove to be quite decent.



Wagyu Beef Cheek

Served with carrots and vegetables, the wagyu beef cheek was nothing fantastic - overly soft without any bite. The gravy tasted like any run off the mill beef dish gravy. Palatable but not something I'll order again even though I love my beef.



Baked Char Siew Puff

With such a dismal repertoire of dishes prior to the char siew puff, I had lost all hope of unearthing any gems in this restaurant. And I'm glad I didn't place any hope on this. Sure, the pastry was flaky with an ever so slight hint of buttery goodness, but there was an inordinate amount of fat meat in the puff, which made it nausea inducing and definitely didn't do my health any good.



Bill

It was a unanimous decision. $155 for 5 pax for such hawker centre quality food was totally absurd. And to top it off, we weren't exactly full after the lacklustre dim sum session. Service was good but waiting time for our food could have been shorter. In conclusion, all the hype was for naught and I will not be back in a hurry unless the restaurant bucks up on its food quality.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:7/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:5/10

Overall:6.25/10

Address: Level 2 Crockford Towers, Resort World Sentosa

Contact: 6577 8899

Opening Hours:

Breakfast: 6:30am - 10:30am

Lunch: 12:00pm - 2:30pm

Dinner: 6:30pm - 10:30pm

Website: http://www.rwsentosa.com/language/en-US/ShoppingDining/Dining/DiningTheDiningRoom

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nara Japanese Restaurant II

Fresh from the memory of a very decent meal at Nara a couple of weeks back, I revisited on a weekend evening since I had a voucher to utilize within a limited time frame.



Pitan Tofu

Let me first qualify that I am no fan of century egg so this appetiser grossed me out quite a fair bit. Chilled with a dollop of roe sitting prettily amidst a century egg gravy with bits of the egg itself, it was mildly nauseating. Definitely not my cup of tea.



Gyo Somen

One of the reasons why I returned to Nara - the Gyo Somen or fish noodles. Extremely springy noodles immersed in a lightly salty broth that drew part of its flavour from the smoked duck, which this time round was a little lacklustre in my humble opinion. Still very palatable nonetheless.



Nara Special Maki

I loved this the first time I had it. The wasabi taste was slightly stronger this time round but all in all, still good. The portions did seem a wee bit smaller though.



Bill

After a $20 voucher discount, it was down to almost $39 for 2 pax, which is still reasonable I guess. But too much of Gyo Somen can make you really sick, so I'm staying off Nara for a bit. Till next time!



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

Overall:6.875/10

Address: 10 Maju Avenue

Contact: 63820905

Opening Hours:

Weekdays: 11.30am – 2.15 pm, 6pm – 10.15pm

Sat & Sun: 11.30am - 10.30pm

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ivins



I have no idea how we ended up at Ivins, especially for someone like me whose tolerance level for spiciness is severely inadequate. Which of course made my exposure to Peranakan food pretty limited. Anyway I digress.



Interior & Menu

Situated in sleepy Jalan Leban, just off Sembawang Hills Road, Ivins' main outlet is at Binjai Park in the Bukit Timah area. I didn't know what to make of the decor except that it had hints of peranakan influences, as per what I had observed from my lunch trips to the Joo Chiat area. And for a restaurant located in such a secluded area, it was impressively packed with people even at 8pm on a weekday night.



Ayam Buah Keluak

As spicy as it looked, it was actually a stroll in the woods, even for me. The chicken pieces were chunky but I did think that the meat seemed a little dry while the gravy had a tad too much water. Still, nice when eaten with rice.



Bakwan Kepeting

This crab and meatball soup was reminiscent of a light yet flavourful Teochew styled soup with tong cai that I personally like. The meatballs were huge but had a little too much bounce in them whereas the soup suffered from an overdose of oil. Barring which, made for a very decent soup.



Nyonya Chap Chye

I've never had a good impression of chap chye (mixed vegetables) simply because most of the time, they turn out soft and all mashed up. This one was no exception. Well except it wasn't as mashed up as I expected it to be. And yes, the prawns added colour (not much taste though).



Honey Pork

Thinly sliced, the honey pork was as the name suggests, pork coated with a thick layer of not too sweet honey. Palatable but nothing too fancy in my humble opinion.



Bill

I wasn't too stuffed after dinner and I certainly didn't expect to be, considering we paid about $36 for 3 pax. Food quality hovers around a decent cze char stall's standard and prices are similar. Service was a little lacking but no complaints though as there is no service charge or GST levied.



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

Overall:6.5/10

Address: No. 4 Jalan Leban

Contact: 6451 4622

Opening Hours:

11am to 3pm (Lunch)

6pm to 10pm (Dinner)

Closed on Thursdays

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

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wendy's



One of America's most loved fast food outlets, Wendy's, has opened in Singapore and credit goes to the Kopitiam group, which aims to open up 35 Wendy's outlets in our tiny nation in the next 10 years. The first outlet is located in the central business district - Lau Pa Sat and seats in the air conditioned area are limited so you will probably have to sit al fresco or within the premises of Lau Pa Sat. Honestly, that isn't a bad idea given that the interior of the eatery was smokey from the cooking and I could make out flies buzzing around. Talk about hygiene.




Triple Cheese

Wendy's beef burger patties come in square cuts, which is nothing more than a gimmick in my humble opinion. I had the largest burger on the menu - the 3/4lb triple cheese and honestly it wasn't as huge as I expected it to be. Think a cheeseburger from MacDonalds with 3 slices of beef. In case you balk at the comparison, please let me assure you that even the taste is similar, stemming from machine processed beef patties. Only the buns differ. Give me Carl's Junior anytime.




Spicy Chicken

This honestly tasted like a poor rendition of KFC's Zinger burger. For starters, the piece of chicken was smaller then that of the Zinger. And there wasn't much spiciness to speak of. The chicken essentially tasted limp and cold. Most disappointing!



Bill

We queued for 10 mins just to get our meals from the very cramp eatery, only to be disappointed with the food quality, which is miles apart from the Wendy's I tried in America. And prices are definitely more expensive then your usual MacDonalds or Burger King here in Singapore. Will I be back? Without a doubt, no.



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

Overall:6/10

Address: Lau Pa Sat, 18 Raffles Quay

Contact: NA

Opening Hours: Daily 7.30am – 10pm

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

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Hand Burger



Yet another new shopping centre, yet another burger joint. With it's wildly successful outlet at Raffles City Shopping Centre, The Hand Burger has decided to open up a branch at the new 313 @ Somerset, which is the latest addition to Orchard Road's lineup of shopping malls.



Interior & Menu

The eatery is located at B2 of the shopping mall with its decor revolving around the extensive use of wood and of course mirrors to make the interior seem much bigger than it really is. Tables and seats are reminiscent of school canteens' long communal dining tables and benches. The menu isn't extensive, offering just over 10 different burgers. That's specialisation for you.



The Works Burger

As the name implies, this has all the bells and whistles thrown into it. Think "The Handburger Original" with onion rings, bacon strips and mushrooms. Absolutely terrific sounding if I may say. But hype/expectation usually precedes reality. First and foremost, the bacon strips were a little too hard and dry for my liking while the buns were blackened on the flat surface and probably had a little sweet onion jam on it but I would have preferred it lightly crisp along the edges. As for the beef patty, I appreciated the bits of fats present, which lended a nice chewy texture. However, the patty was overcooked, a little too dry and lacked the inherent beefy sweetness (It's supposed to be a sirloin cut!).



Side of Fries

Thumbs up for the skin that came along, which I personally like. But the fries were too soggy and didn't seem particularly fresh.



Bill

Service was decent but that could also be due in part to the lack of crowd on a Saturday afternoon. The burgers are not worth the premium in my humble opinion as they are neither big or particularly great. In short, I am not impressed and I won't be going back in a hurry. One thing I don't quite understand is the fact that they charge 10% service yet I am suppose to go to the counter to make payment after my meal? Is it merely a gimmick to increase the bottomline of the restaurant?



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

Overall:6.375/10

Address: B2-17/18/19, 313 @ Somerset & B1-77/78 Raffles City

Contact: 6509 6214 & 6334 4577

Opening Hours: Daily 1130am - 10pm

Website: http://www.thehandburger.com/

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Nara Japanese Restaurant



Nara, with its original location at Goldhill Centre, has opened up a new outlet at Serangoon Gardens, to tap onto the revitalisation of the dining scene in the area. Helmed by Chef Ben Teo, who has almost 20 years of experience serving Japanese cuisine, Nara apparently has its fair share of loyal supporters.



Interior

The outlet at Serangoon Gardens is hidden in the back row of shophouses just a door or two away from Ministry of Steak. The place isn't big and can probably accomodate 30 odd people or so. Seats are spaced a little too close for comfort but at least you won't get to elbow your neighbour or eavesdrop on their conversation.



Nara Special Maki

This came at the recommendation of the manager (I believe) of the restaurant and with toppings of flying fish roe (tobiko) draped over soft, sticky sushi rice flanked by pieces of anago (which is alot finer then unagi), I found it delightful, especially with the light mayonnaise sauce that harboured a hint of wasabi.



California Maki

Usually the simplest stuff pose the most difficulty in making and California Maki is one such dish and I have had my fair share of really bad ones in Japanese restaurants in various countries. Nara's rendition was surprisingly decent (to me at least), with the rice very light and hinting of vinegar, coupled with the crunchiness of the cucumber and of course the flying fish roe (tobiko).



Shake Teppan

I'm not a big fan of salmon but at least this one was well grilled without the strong fishiness that I personally dislike. Of course the not cloyingly sweet sauce helped as well.



Nara Special Beef

Granted, the tenderloin was tender and definitely a pleasure to chew on, especially with the bits of fried garlic sprinkled all about. However I did find the sauce a little too sweet for my liking so perhaps they could cut down a little on the sugar. And $18 for a rather small plate of beef isn't exactly cheap.



Sukiyaki Nabe

Though chock full of ingredients, I wasn't too taken with this Japanese version of steamboat as it didn't seem out of the ordinary. The stock was flavourful but a little too sweet for my liking. I guess it all boils down to personal preference.



Tempura Soba

I didn't try the soba, but from what I gathered, it was, well, soba. I did try the tempura though and found the flour a wee bit too thick though it didn't retain much oil and seemed relatively light on the palate.



Gyo Somen

This is the first time I'm having fish noodles in a Japanese restaurant. I usually have them in Chinese restaurants that they come in a much thicker variant. Nara's rendition looked like mee kia, albeit way more springy with tons of bite. I appreciated the pieces of smoked duck breast that provided the necessary salt intake as well as the lingering smokey taste. Very good! A pity $15 doesn't get you much so you might want to order 2 bowls if you are hungry.



Bill

It has been quite some time since I last had Japanese food and Nara was a decently good choice to begin the plunge back in. Dinner for 3 cost almost $119, which isn't too expensive, considering the quality of food and the decent service (which did seem a little inexperienced at times). Nearby Sushi Tei now has a serious rival to contend with.



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

Overall:7/10

Address: 10 Maju Avenue

Contact: 63820905

Opening Hours:

Weekdays: 11.30am – 2.15 pm, 6pm – 10.15pm

Sat & Sun: 11.30am - 10.30pm