Friday, December 23, 2011

Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine V - A Pictorial














For my other writeups on Imperial Treasure Cantonese, please refer here, here, here and here.

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cova Pasticceria




Popped by Cova Pasticceria for dinner one evening since we were in the vicinity and everywhere else was packed. Started in 1819 in Milan and originally patronised by the crème de la crème of society, Cova has expanded to a few countries in Asia to cater to those who seek "the high life" (albeit if only temporary).
And the decor is telling. Dark wood coupled with European style overhanging lamps that throw off warm light and well designed cornices greet you as you step into the cozy space that Cova occupies. Simple yet elegant.



Complimentary Bread



Mushroom Risotto

For $30++, I had expected something more substantial than a miserly thin layer of risotto which I finished in 2 mouthfuls. And to compound matters, the risotto was a little overcooked for my liking.



Seafood Spaghetti

The seafood spaghetti fared a little better though I did think that the spaghetti wasn't al dente. I liked the light tomato based sauce and the fresh seafood but as with the risotto, portions were pathetic.



Lamb Rack

I didn't get to try this but from observation, portions were still small.



Peanut Feuilletine

And for dessert, a tiny piece of peanut feuilletine about a third the size of a regular slice of cake you would get at the likes of Starbucks, Coffeebean etc. To give it credit, the feuillentine was nicely thin and crisp while the chopped peanuts provided a nice crunch to the whole dessert. There wasn't much to go around though.


Bill

A miserable meal for 3 cost to the tune of $130, which is ridiculously expensive in my humble opinion. Portions were pathetic and two people with average appetites would have been able to polish off all the dishes with ease (we resorted to MacDonalds after the meal). Food quality hovered around average to slightly above average but the prices (and portion size) definitely do not warrant a revisit. Also, service lacked warmth and I didn't feel invited at times. Maybe we are just the wrong target audience.


Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:3.5/10

Overall:6/10

Address: #01-20A Paragon Shopping Centre

Contact: 6733 0777

Opening Hours: Daily: 9am – 10pm

Website: http://www.pasticceriacova.it/

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mong Hing Teochew Restaurant II

Another long overdue post. Caught up with a couple of friends over dinner at Mong Hing, a Teochew restaurant at Keypoint and where I once had a pretty good dinner before.



Prawn Rolls

The heh zhor was decent - Lean meat with pockets of fats and bits of prawn. Crisp but not too oily. Good for many bites, especially with the sweet plum sauce.



Homemade Beancurd

This certainly didn't look like beancurd, not with the circular shaped, golden brown exterior. And honestly it didn't quite taste like tofu. The texture was more like Thai prawn cakes, just a lot less dense and "fluffier" so to speak. Definitely not smooth and silky, the way I like it. The only giveaway was the taste, which had a distinctive beancurd taste. Although I like tofu, this is something I will definitely not order again.



Prawns with Deep Fried Pumpkin

At $24++ for 6 prawns and 6 pieces of pumpkin coated with flour and deep fried, this was a joke. The prawns were drenched in sweet and sour sauce, which masked the natural flavour of the prawns. Total waste of prawns. The pumpkin however, were sweet and not too bad as a filler.



Stir Fried HK Kailan

Decent with a tinge of wok hei but lacking in dried sole fish. Wouldn't hurt to give a little more, would it?



Braised Goose

The goose was good - not too dry and well braised with the sauce not coming across as too salty.



Bill

We ended the meal with yam paste (orh nee) but I failed to get a shot of it. It was good but could have done with a little more fragrance. The infrequent bits of unevenness made for a nice smooth, yet inconsistent texture.

The 5 of us chalked up a bill of about $133. Not too expensive but quality of food seems to have dropped since my last visit. Maybe I should just stick to the likes of Huat Kee or Liang Kee or maybe I should give Mong Hing another chance.



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

Overall:6.5/10

Address: #01-18/19 Key Point, 371 Beach Road

Contact: 6223 4588 / 6538 2282

Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 6 – 11pm

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

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) Restaurant



Lee Kui has been around for a long time and to date is still a popular dining destination for families seeking out Teochew food.




The Place & Menu

The interior is nothing to hark about, coming across as simple with fold-able steel frame chairs that hark back to the 70s and 80s. Reservations are necessary unless you want to show up really early at maybe 530pm?



Stir Fried Kailan with Deep Fried Sole Fish

We started off with this simple but delicious dish. The vegetables had a nice tinge of wok hei without being overcooked while the sole fish were crisp and came in rather big pieces. Nice!



Braised Duck

The braised duck was served in large slices which I personally liked but it did come across as a tad too dry and lacking in fragrance. Kudos to the addition of braised peanuts though, which I thought was nicely tender and well simmered.



Prawn Balls

The heh zhors were decent - lean meat with prawns that wasn't excessively oily. Good for many bites! However I wouldn't rate it fantastic as I've had much better ones.



Yam Paste

One of the hallmarks of Teochew cuisine, the yam paste or orh nee, was smooth but inconsistencies could be made out in the texture, which probably meant it was hand made and not machine produced. Fragrant, topped with a huge chunk of pumpkin and didn't come across as overly sweet. Nice!



Bill

Dinner for the 3 of us including 3 coconut drinks cost almost $81, which is on the high side if you ask me. Food quality is above average but at this price point, I can easily have more portions of equally good food, if not better food, at other Teochew restaurants. And do note that this place is cash only. I probably won't be back, not when there are better and cheaper Teochew restaurants around.


Ambience:6/10
Service:6.5/10
Food:6.5/10 (7.5/10 for the orh nee)
Value for money:6/10

Overall:6.25/10

Address: 8/9/10 Mosque Street

Contact: 6222 3654

Opening Hours: Daily: 11am–2.30pm, 5pm–10pm

Sunday, November 27, 2011

12 Inch Pizzas & Records



I've always been a fan of Timbre's pizzas so when they came a knocking with an invitation to try out their latest offering, 12 Inch Pizzas & Records, I gladly jumped at the opportunity.




The Place & Menu

The restaurant is located on the 4th floor or V Hotel, a newly opened hotel directly above Lavender MRT and opposite the ICA. Getting up to the 4th floor can pose quite a problem as the hotel requires you to scan your card in the lift before you can select your desired floor. However, there is apparently a fireman's lift which doesn't have such requirements so you might want to consider utilising it.
The alfresco dining area occupies a huge section; one that's at least twice as large as the indoor dining area (which is very noisy and not conducive for conversations in my humble opinion). Sitting alfresco allows you a view of the neighbouring and distant buildings (ICA is one of them) and the blue skies that pervade the emptiness in between.
Interestingly, the menu comes in the form of a record, back from the days when gramophones were still in vogue. Catchy, really.



Seafood Chowder

Nothing like a bowl of good soup to get things going. But unfortunately, the soup was lacklustre. A little too diluted without the creaminess of chowder and richness of seafood. Forgettable.



Cheese Fries

I actually love cheese fries but this was disappointing as well. The cheese was a little too watery for my liking and lacked the "gooeyness" I was expecting. Credits to the fries though, which were of a nice thickness and decently done.



The Cranbellies

With absolutely no affiliation to the Irish pop group, "The Cranberries", this pizza was one of the many with names playing on various song titles and group names. What I particularly liked about this pizza was the nice comforting taste it brought to the table. Mild cranberry sauce coupled with pork belly, cheese and a nice thin and chewy pita like base and topped with slivers of crunchy green apple. Not your conventional pizza but I love it!



Goodfellas

Shrimps, sweet garlic butter, curry leave sauce, cheese and topped with crispy egg and cereals - sounds like a mish mash of ingredients but in reality, a combination that worked well! Sandwiched between the cheese and pita like base was a generous layer of sweet garlic butter while the crunchy shrimps (probably soaked in alkaline water) were topped with crunchy cereal and fluffy egg swirls (just like the kind you would find in fried fish soups). Delicious! However, too much of it made me nauseous because it did come across as very oily. So eat in moderation or share!



Tutti Frutti

Our first dessert came in the form of a 12 inch pizza as well but well, I'm not complaining. A layer of chocolate sauce beneath the cheese, sprinkled with fruits and topped with copious amounts of whipped cream. Not exactly the healthiest dessert, but it tasted interesting - Slightly savoury from the cheese but predominantly chocolatey. If you can't accept chocolate together with cheese, I would suggest you not to try this.



Deep Fried Ice Cream

Our other dessert and the only one in the current dessert menu that wasn't a pizza, the kid friendly deep fried ice cream. I didn't think too much of it though as the flour was too thick and hard for my liking. Also, the coconut ice cream encased within tasted really artificial. I would skip this in a heartbeat.

Overall, I had a wonderful and belly bursting lunch. Though the sides were merely pedestrian, the focus should be on the wonderful pizzas, which Timbre has grown to be associated with. On this note, I would like to thank Timbre for the invitation once again!


Ambience:6.5/10
Service:NA
Food:7.5/10 (Only for the pizzas. 6/10 for the sides and 5/10 for the fried ice cream)
Value for money:NA

Overall:7/10

Address: Level 4, V Hotel

Contact: 6296 1622

Opening Hours: 6:30 am - 10:00 pm (Mon - Sun)

Website: https://www.facebook.com/12inchPizzas

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Tastings Room



Had the opportunity to drop by The Tastings Room one Saturday afternoon by virtue of an invitation. This newly minted restaurant's selling point is that it has suggested wine pairings (by the glass or bottle, if you so wish) on the menu to go along with each individual food item as well as an extensive wine collection that wouldn't cost you an arm or a leg to sample. And it's helmed by Executive Chef Elvin Chew, the current president of the Singapore Junior Chefs Club (SJCC).




The Place & Menu

The Tastings Room is hidden along the perimeter of Marina Square, sandwiched between Qiji and a Vietnamese coffee house. Its location isn't what I would call prominent and it probably attracts more lunch time office crowds than weekend crowds in my personal opinion. The place is simply done up with a "cafeish" vibe and a seemingly well stocked wine cellar at one corner. Take the booth seats if you can.




Truffle Mushroom Puree Soup ($8.90) & Smoked Vine Tomato Soup with Seafood ($9.90)

We started off with the mushroom soup, which had loads of mushrooms and a rather heady taste due to the inclusion of truffle oil. However it did seem a little watered down and lacked any real oomph I would have liked in a mushroom soup.
The tomato soup fared much better though. Light and not too tangy with a hint of smokiness coupled with morsels of fresh seafood. Rather appetising.



Heirloom Tomato Salad ($13.90)

Visually arresting with its vibrant colours but unfortunately didn't quite live up to expectations taste wise. The balsamic dressing was a little overwhelming while the buffalo cheese didn't come across as sufficiently soft yet firm.



White Truffle Salted House Fries ($9.90)

Nice and thick with a nice strong smell and taste of truffle oil. Pity about the frying inconsistency. Some were done just right while others tended towards the charred side.



Egg Royale ($15.90)

I'm honestly not a big fan of smoked salmon, or any variant of salmon for that matter. However, the egg royale was surprisingly good. Well smoked salmon (still a little too salty for my liking though) soaked in rich and buttery hollandaise sauce, sitting on a well toasted piece of bread. Very good!




Poached Eggs in Red Wine Hollandaise ($16.90)

I loved the fact that the egg yolk was liquid but bemoan its tastelessness! However, the sauce more than made up for the flaw - buttery goodness that was so familiar and comforting. Add a well toasted bread to the list as well as crispy bacon and you get something which I wouldn't hesitate to order again (But please work on the poached egg).



Sous Vide Pork Belly with Crackling Skin ($26.90)

Food preparation involving Sous vide, where food is vacuum packed in bags and cooked for a long period of time in a water bath, is seemingly the up and coming approach favoured by many professional restaurants in Singapore. The Tastings Room has hopped onto the bandwagon as well and to give it credit, the pork belly was good. Insanely crackling crispy skin coupled with tender but rather fatty meat for that heart stopping guilty indulgence. The rose wine apple sauce lent a gentle sweetness to the dish, which was rather refreshing in my humble opinion.



Confit of French Duck Leg (Price not available)

The duck confit came across as a little too dry and tough although the meat spotted a nice reddish hue. The sauce was a saver though - mildly sweet with tangy overtones. Overall still a decent dish.



Miso Glazed Sea Bass ($25.90)

The sea bass tasted a little overcooked and had a strong miso taste (probably too strong!) on top of a mild peppery intonation. Not exactly my cup of tea but decent nonetheless.



Vanilla Creme Brulee ($8.90)

We started our desserts with the vanilla creme brulee, which was less than ideal. The first thing that hit me when I took a mouthful of the pudding, was the strong egg taste. And it definitely didn't help that the layer of sugar was a tad too thin and came across as flimsy. The only consolation was that the creme brulee used real vanilla beans and not vanilla essence.



Chocolate D24 Durian Cake ($9.90)

I love durian but this dessert honestly didn't work for me. The durian, though rich and relatively fresh, was way too dominant in flavour and I couldn't make out any chocolate taste at all. The sponge was also a little too dry and I could make out ice chips in the durian puree, which definitely wasn't ideal.



Molten White Chocolate Fondant with Ice Cream (Price not available)

The white chocolate fondant wasn't quite what I was expecting as the texture seemed more like madeleines than your typical fondant. The oozing white chocolate was extremely sweet and the strong orange zest from the fondant itself wasn't enough to balance the sweetness out. The strawberries and blueberries did help a little though. Personally I didn't think that chocolate ice cream was a good pairing with the fondant. Rich chocolate + more chocolate just makes me queasy. Maybe vanilla would have been a better bet.




Wine Pairings

Overall, I appreciate the effort by The Tastings Room to allow consumers easy and affordable access to wine pairings with their food which would be good for novices like myself. However, the quality of food was a case of hits and misses and generally, the brunch dishes fared better. I personally wouldn't go back for lunch or dinner but would consider doing brunch. Prices fall flatly in the mid range and a 3 course dinner for 2 would probably cost in the vicinity of $120 - $150 (inclusive of tax) with a glass or two of wine each.

Thanks for the invite!


Ambience:6.5/10
Service:NA
Food:6.5/10 (7/10 for the brunch items)
Value for money:NA

Overall:6.5/10

Address: #01-08, Marina Square

Contact: 6338 1829

Opening Hours:

Sun–Thu: 10am – 10pm

Fri–Sat: 10am – 12am

Website: http://www.thetastingsroom.com/