Sunday, May 30, 2010

California Pizza Kitchen IV

I've always been quite a fan of California Pizza Kitchen so when they politely asked if I would like to try out their new menu, I simply couldn't say no. So there I was, on a hectic weekday evening, decked out in my Sunday best, hungrily awaiting the onslaught of food.



Moroccan Chicken Salad

One of the latest entries into CPK's salad lineup is the Moroccan Chicken Salad, which comes with a bagful of ingredients such as Moroccan spiced chicken breast, butternut squash, avacado, beets, cranberries, just to name a few. It does sound like a healthy albeit weird combination but I personally found it interesting with the myriad of texture and tastes. But it did get to a point where I didn't exactly know what I was eating due to the mish mash of flavours. If only they had it in smaller portions (half size is still too big in my humble opinion).



Sonora Egg Rolls

Apparently Sonora is a state in northwestern Mexico, which explains the Tex Mex vibe I got from eating the egg rolls. Crisp wanton skin wrapped around grilled lime chicken, roasted corn, black bean salsa, cheeses, roasted mild chillis and the likes - Nice blend of creaminess and a mild corn taste. The ranch dressing was a little like tartar sauce with a bit of spice from the bottled Cholula hot sauce.



Kung Pao Linguine

CPK's interpretation/add on to the traditional Chinese Kung Pao chicken, throwing pasta into the equation. The result? An interesting combination of east and west. The chicken slices were coated with egg and lightly fried. Throw in nuts, the quintessential dried chillis (more for presentation than spice honestly) and Kung Pao sauce and you have something simple yet delightful. It would have been better if the linguine was cooked a little firmer.



Peking Duck Pizza

One of the signature pizzas of CPK and probably the most unusual I've tried so far, the Peking duck pizza had an overdose of hoisin sauce this time round as compared to what I had on my previous trip. Nonetheless, it managed to maintain the chewy and flaky texture of its crust coupled with crispy wonton skins, duck slices and shiitake mushrooms (both of which I failed to notice, probably due to the thick sauce). So who's up for a western take on the peking duck?



Pesto Chicken Pizza

This pizza came in the form of a thin crust. Unlike the thin crust pizzas served in Italian outfits, CPK's version is considered an inbetween. Thinner than your regular thick crust pizzas yet thicker than your usual Italian thin crusts. Taste wise, the pesto base was reassuring with the sundried tomatoes but honestly quite a boring pizza - no twist or turns to entice me to take another slice. But maybe that's because I'm not a huge pesto fan.



The Meat Cravers Pizza

The first thing that hit me when I took a bite of this pizza was that my digestive tract had too much sodium going into it and I was reaching out for my glass of water in an attempt to dilute/neutralise it. While it may sound like a joke (yes it is!), the pizza as a whole was really quite salty probably due to the combination of salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage and bacon. I am a carnivore, but in this case, less is more. Thankfully the crust was nice and the cheese gooey. And of course for that glass of water beside me.



Tiramisu

To be fair, the tiramisu was decent, but not the authentic Italian kind I was more exposed to. For starters, the alcohol wasn't quite prominent and the mascarpone reminded me more of ice cream. Instead of the usual cocoa powder, shaved chocolate was used. Very palatable and best eaten without any preconceived notions of how a tiramisu should taste like.



Chocolate Souffle Cake

No oozing chocolate (which was a disappointment really), but still enjoyable nonetheless with its dense chocolate concentration as well as the nice thick chocolate sauce drizzled over it. Let's not forget the huge scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Sinful comfort food.



Red Velvet Cake

What's interesting about this cake is that the the addition of beet into the mixture gives rise to the layers of red sponge, which is frosted with white chocolate and vanilla bean cream cheese. In reality however, it didn't taste too much out of the ordinary, very much like white chocolate cake with a nice creamy finish.

Many thanks to CPK for the invite and their kind hospitality.

See my previous entries on CPK here, here and here.


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

Overall:7/10

Address: #01-42 Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road

Contact: 6836 0110

Opening Hours: Daily: 11.30am-11.30pm

Website: http://www.cpk.com/

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ubin First Stop Restaurant

Changi Village is probably one of the last remaining rustic, laid back places in Singapore and from the gateway to Pulau Ubin. So it is not surprising that many seafood places have sprouted up at this seaside enclave over the years, one of which is Ubin First Stop Restaurant where we opted to have lunch at one sunny weekday afternoon.



Interior

This seafood place is sandwiched between Changi Village hawker centre and the open air carpark and is reminiscent of an old kampung with its main structure elevated on low concrete stilts. The open air kitchen sits in a small seperate shack just outside the stairs leading to the dining area. Very nostalgic.



Soup of the day

This was a simple winter melon soup (if I remember correctly). A tad bland and a little oily. But easy on the palate.



Stir Fried Kang Kong

Nicely fried with a hint of wok hei. Not too limp from overcooking as well. Just watch out for the overdose of fiery chilli. But then again, it could be that none of us at the table had a high level of tolerance for spiciness.



Fried Fish

The fish was deep fried and drenched in a semi viscous salty gravy but still managed to maintain a mild crispiness on the exterior. Flesh was relatively fresh and firm and quite an enjoyable dish overall.



Thai Style Fried Chicken

Too much flour, too much thai sauce, rendering this dish rather unpleasant. The taste bud killer sauce also ensured that there was no chicken taste of whatsoever, just a glob of flour laden piece of unidentifiable meat.



Deep Fried Prawn Ball

Another flour obsessed dish - so fluffed up until I had problems locating the real prawn meat. Okay I am exaggerating, but 50% flour and 50% prawn just isn't funny. It was so gross that none of us wanted past our fair share of this dish, which meant leftovers.



Bill

The set lunch cost the 5 of us about $51, which isn't too expensive honestly. But factor in food quality and I'll probably take my chances at Macdonalds instead. Rice was free flow though, if that's any consolation.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:6/10
Service:6.5/10
Food:5.5/10
Value for money:6/10

Overall:6/10

Address: 57 Lorong Bekukong

Contact: 6546 5905

Opening Hours:

Monday to Thursday: 11.30 - 2pm & 5pm - 11pm

Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday 11.30 - 11pm

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

Monday, May 17, 2010

Miyabi II

It was dinner at Miyabi again. We didn't have a reservation but as they had just opened for business, we managed to snag a table in the main dining hall without much difficulty. The interior was quite simply done up with 2 side stalls for teppanyaki and the rest of the area for ala carte dining. Nothing too spectacular.


Interior & Menu


Chawamushi

The chawamushi was not very smooth, leaning towards a firm custard like texture instead. Flavour wise, the egg taste was apparent but did seem a little bland overall. Still decent though.


Sushi & Tempura Combo

I can't deny the aesthetic attractiveness of the sushi but found the rice to be rather loose and lacking in vinegar. The relative freshness of the raw seafood made it more bearable though but probably not something I would order again.
The tempura batter was a little too frilly for my liking but on the upside, it wasn't overbearingly thick and the prawns were sizeable. Decent enough.


Sirloin

Apparently there was a promotion going on for the sirloin, which could be done either teppanyaki style or grilled with teriyaki. We chose the former and opted for it to be done medium. Although the meat came a little overcooked, it was still tender and juicy, which was rather surprising. That said, it wasn't sweet and I could only make out the strong taste of the garlic. Rather disappointing.



Bill

Food quality was average but definitely better than the likes of Sake Sushi. However, pricing is slightly steeper as well, at about $120 for the 3 of us. I definitely won't be back in a hurry.



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

Overall:6.75/10

Address: Second Storey, Plymouth Wing, Raffles Town Club

Contact: 6357 3335

Opening Hours:

Lunch – 11:30am to 2:30pm (Daily)

Dinner – 6:00pm to 10:30pm (Daily)

Website: http://www.rafflestownclub.com.sg/03_w&d_miyabi.html

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine II

Prior excellent meals throughout the months at various Imperial Treasure outlets paved the way for it to be the venue of choice for our annual Mother's day celebration meal. And to mark the occasion, we travelled far east to one of the chain's esteemed Cantonese outlets, where yours truly have had the pleasure of dining at on previous occasions.



Interior

In all honesty, we didn't exactly get very good seats, squashed right at the front of 2 private dining rooms. But at least it wasn't part of the main dining area, which of course meant more privacy and less environmental noise, or din if you would like.



Special Shark's Fin Soup

I am not sure if this was on the menu, but it was recommended by our captain. Please allow me to express how fantastic this soup was. A huge whole piece of fin resting in a rich, lightly milky stock that didn't threaten to overwhelm. Pure unadulterated goodness and we finished the soup, down to the last drop. For the record, it was $60++/serving.



Roasted Platter

This wasn't your usual roasted platter as we opted to include suckling pig alongside the usual roasted goose and pork. And to be honest, the roasted pork was a little bit of a let down with its high fat content even though the skin was unbelievably crisp.
On the other hand, the roast goose was excellent. We had opted only for breast meat but even so, the meat was tender juicy with the flavours permeating right through the meat.
Now suckling pig can be a little tricky as alot tend to have an overwhelming porky taste. But not this one. Crackling crisp skin with a thin layer of fat beneath, it was just to good to resist, especially when dipped in the accompanying sweet sauce.



Sauteed Scallops with Truffle Oil

One of my must have dishes whenever I visit, the scallops with truffle oil were served up in individual portions ($7++ per piece) this time round. Very fragrant with a hint of earthy truffle oil taste in the egg white coupled with a huge, tender yet firm piece of scallop; seconds would have been great.



Homemade Beancurd

The homemade beancurd wasn't exactly my idea of a fantastic dish, but I personally thought that it was better than quite a fair bit of Chinese restaurants that I've eaten at. A mashed layer of spinach sandwiched between two pieces of savoury and soft egg beancurd - Very palatable, especially with the generous sprinkling of mushrooms alongside.



Sauteed Frog Leg in Chinese Wine

It's been quite some time (probably years!) since I've had frog leg and I'm glad that my reintroduction to this delicacy was a positive experience. The meat was tender yet firm, carrying a bit of a bite while the "soup" was lightly milky with a nice rice wine fragrance and taste.



Vermicelli with Goose Web

We opted for this to be done Thai style which meant a tangy, mildly peppery rendition topped with a nice strong blend of lemongrass flavouring for the vermicelli, which remained springy while retaining a little moisture. Good! I am not a fan of goose web though so I shall reserve my comments.



Custard Buns

Although Peach Garden's custard buns still rank as the best I've tried in Singapore so far, Imperial Treasure's offering comes in a close second. Oozing custard with egg yolk sediments. Nice! Would have been topped my list if the egg yolk was a little saltier.



Durian Pudding

Durian desserts are aplenty nowadays and most Chinese restaurants would have a durian dessert in one form or another. Imperial Treasure was no exception but their durian pudding stood out from the crowd with its richness coupled with a smooth gelatin texture. Almost like the real thing, save for the texture. Best eaten chilled.



Bill

What can I say? A fantastic dinner with a matching price to boot - $600 for 5 pax. Worth every cent. Service was good as well which was a sweetener I guess. And we struggled to get our bottoms off our seat after the dinner. Now how good is that?



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:8/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:7.5/10

Address: #01-02 Crowne Plaza Hotel, 75 Airport Boulevard

Contact: 6822 8228

Opening Hours:

Mon–Fri
11.30am–3pm, 6pm–11pm

Sat–Sun & PH
10.30am–3pm, 6pm–11pm

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Harbour Grill & Oyster Bar II



Its official. The 40 year F&B veteran of Hilton Hotel, Harbour Grill & Oyster Bar, will close come 15 May 2010 to make way for the renowned Iggy's. It was only fitting that I paid this esteemed restaurant a final visit before its swan song.



Amuse Bouche

We started off with a rather mundane amuse bouche of smoked duck breast with mango. Dry duck meat sans a heavy smoked taste didn't bode quite well for this dish but the tangy and crunchy mango strips did liven things up a little.



Complimentary Bread

An assortment of olive bread, cheese bread and the usual bread sticks came in the complimentary bread basket. Nothing too fancy but being served warm was definitely a plus.




Maine Lobster

This appetiser was actually done in 3 ways - served with tarragon ice cream, with caviar and with sour cream. The tarragon ice cream was relatively interesting with its smooth texture and mellow finish, masking the taste of the lobster salad. The caviar laden morsel of lobster was succulent but a tad overly salty sans the fishy undertones. Sour cream made the last serving of lobster nicely tart and appetising. Great way to start off the dinner - if only portions were bigger.



Caesar Salad

The mundane caesar salad was, well, mundane. Save for the fact that the vegetables were fresh and crisp, topped with poached egg, tender chicken slices, crisp bacon strips, non greasy croutons and cheese shavings. Can't go wrong with this dish.



Baked Cod Fish

I was pleasantly surprised with the baked cod, whose flesh was very tender, fine and full of richness. Very well executed in my humble opinion. The accompanying sauce was a tad sweet and had a lingering hint of ginger. Nice!



Prime Rib

They finally cut down on the salt content and my prime rib was a nice medium rare with a nice charred crusting along the edges. Tender, succulent with a nice natural beefy goodness. Certainly not the best that I've had, but pretty close.




Grand Marnier Souffle

One of Harbour Grill's signature, this dessert had a significant alcohol presence infused within the delicately firm souffle with a high egg content. And I am still of the opinion that the scoop of orange sorbet was a little out of place with the souffle. But that's just me.



Petit Fours

Macarons, marshmallows, chocolates - what's not to like? A nice simple way to end of the meal.



Bill

We had an enjoyable dinner, accentuated by the great personal service and the charming ambience. Price wise, it hit us for about $176 for 2pax, which is a little on the steep side. However, having said that, it was money well spent, for the food, the company and of course the fond farewell to this historical restaurant.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:8/10
Service:8.5/10
Food:7.5/10
Value for money:6/10
Overall:7.5/10

Address: 3F Hilton Hotel

Contact: 6396 5493

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 12noon - 2.30pm, 7pm - 10.30pm (Closed on Sundays)

Closes 15 May 2010