Sunday, January 29, 2012

Golden Peony II - A Chinese New Year Eve Reunion Dinner

Breaking "tradition" to have our reunion dinner at Golden Peony this year instead of the de facto choice of Imperial Treasure Cantonese @ Crown Plaza, we were intrigued by the rather interesting fusion menu on offer and that proved a key determinant in skewing our votes towards Golden Peony.




The Place & Menu

The place isn't big and tables stretched out all the way along the lift corridor - something unheard of in any of the restaurants I've been. They probably want to capitalise on the CNY crunch and squeeze in as many tables as possible or to cater to guests who are staying at the hotel. Either way, I'm glad we didn't have to sit outside.




Our Evening's Entertainment

To be honest, this is the first reunion dinner I'm having that comes with live entertainment - a zither and erhu player as well as a cameo appearance by the God of Fortune who handed out gold chocolate coins and ingots (they tasted horrid though).



The Tidbits Box





Fortune Lobster, Salmon & Snow Pear Yu Sheng

There is a small spoonful of lobster shreds that is mixed into the yu sheng but unfortunately I couldn't make out any of it after the frantic tossing. I personally thought that the slices of pear gave this dish a nice refreshing and crunchy twist to it. Also I loved the crackers (黄金) which had a fresh and deliciously crisp texture; no rancid oil taste that's for sure! All in all, one of the best yu sheng I've had in the last few years.



Mini Buddha Jumps Over The Wall

A classic Chinese favourite, the Buddha Jumps Over The Wall had the broth and the ingredients served separately, which allows you to decide how much broth you want with your abalone, shark's fin and all the other premium goodies. Although the abalone was sizeable and quite nicely prepared and the fins were of decent quality, I had an issue with the broth, which was tasty but overly salty.



Baked Bacon Wrapped with Kurobuta Rib

Although I could make out the bacon, it didn't quite feature in the dish as much as I would have liked it to. That's not to say that I didn't like this dish as a whole though. The piece of Kurobuta pork was tender and moist with a mildly sweet and salty flavour from the garlic sauce. In short, a very well executed piece of char siew.



Baked Fillet of Sea Perch with Teriyaki Sauce served with Stewed Japanese Organic Ramen

I didn't quite take to either the baked sea perch or the organic ramen. The sea perch was bland and very nausea inducing due to its slightly sticky texture while the ramen was soft and limp. And where's the teriyaki sauce?!



Braised 'Live' Prawn filled with Homemade Beancurd served with Baby Spinach

This dish was an absolute disaster. First of all, the prawn was tiny, unfresh, overcooked and had that sediment texture. Talk about 'live' prawn. Gosh. And to make things worse, the beancurd wasn't smooth and the accompany baby spinach tasted like it could do with a lot less salt.



Double Boiled Snow Pear with Longan and Papaya
& Golden Fried 'Nian Gao' with Sweet Potato and Taro

Any hopes of a nice sweet, chilled dessert went down the drain when I tried the double boiled fruit mixture. Honestly, it didn't work for me as I couldn't quite accept the sourish undertones. Reminded me of something turning bad or chao sng. At least the nian gao (年糕) was better. Crisp on the outside with a chewy and gelatine inside - nice and not coyingly sweet even when drizzled with the chocolate sauce. On a foot note, it is considered auspicious for Chinese to eat nian gao as it symbolises promotion year on year (年年高升).



Bill

At $172/pax for a disappointing 6 course dinner, it is nothing short of a rip off. Service was good and I enjoyed the live music performances but that's where the compliments end. Quality of food, for the most part of it, was hovering around average and definitely not something I was expecting from a 5 star hotel restaurant. Definitely not a good way to kick start the lunar new year! Lesson learnt? Stick to the rigorously tried and tested - Imperial Treasure Cantonese @ Crown Plaza.

For my previous writeup on Golden Peony, see here.



Have a prosperous 2012!



Ambience:7/10
Service:7/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:5/10 (I would have given a 2/10 if it wasn't CNY)

Overall:6.25/10

Address: 3rd Floor, Conrad Singapore

Contact: 6432 7482

Opening Hours:

Mon–Sat: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm

Sun: 10.30am – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm

Website: http://conradhotels3.hilton.com/en/hotels/singapore/conrad-centennial-singapore-SINCICI/amenities/restaurants-golden-peony.html

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pierside Kitchen



Taking advantage of a free Saturday evening, we decided to have dinner at Pierside - a rather well established eatery under the Marmalade group of restaurants.





The Place & Menu

Just across the shore from the towering Marina Bay Sands, Pierside Kitchen occupies a corner of One Fullerton, playing neighbour to Chinese restaurant, Jing. There is an option of alfresco dining or a rather dim air conditioned interior. We opted for the former as the weather held out fine but it was the view that proved to be the deal clincher.



Complimentary Bread

Served piping hot, the complimentary bread was small but simple. And the butter melted effortlessly, which made for a nice stop gap measure against hunger pangs.



Hokkaido Corn Chowder

Smooth and creamy with a light hint of corn and a dash of pepper to accentuate the flavour, the chowder had bits of sweet corn in it to give it that nice crunchy texture. Pretty decent if you ask me.



Pan Roasted Foie Gras

It's been a while since I've had decent foie gras and Pierside didn't disappoint. While I wouldn't go as far as saying that it was great, the foie gras was respectable by many measures. A little crisp on the outside with a relatively smooth and quivery inside sans the overpowering gamy taste. Best eaten with the accompanying prune.



Crispy Duck Confit with Celeriac Puree

Crisp skin coupled with pinkish, chewy meat - no complaints really. But somehow the duck confit came up short in taste, coming across as a little pedestrian. Still a decent eat nonetheless.



300 Day Grain Fed Braised Beef Cheeks

I personally didn't quite take to the risotto that came alongside the beef cheeks, finding it a little too soft for my liking. The beef cheeks however, were reasonably tender and flavourful, with the only issue lying in the small portion size. The obligatory greens came in the form of a single stalk of asparagus chopped into half and topped with pepper and salt. Overall a decent eat.



Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter Mousse

What I liked about this dessert was the fact that it tasted like one of my favourite snacks, Reese's peanut butter cups! The mousse had a very strong taste of peanut butter (not so much salted caramel) and sat on a crunchy hazelnut base. Accompanying it was a nice dollop of vanilla bean ice cream and a few slices of caramalised bananas. Only recommended for those who really like peanut butter.



Banana Creme Brulee

The banana creme brulee looked different from your regular creme brulee in a bowl/cup. It was rectangular and flat, with the less than quivery custard sandwiched between 2 layers of perfectly torched caramel. Adding weight to the dish were banana slices that were a little charred along the edges and a scoop of mascarpone ice cream. All in all a rather nice dessert!



Bill

With dinner for 2 hitting about $190, I wouldn't say it's anywhere near cheap or reasonable. And I am not sure the quality and quantity of food justifies the pricing. For me, it's probably going to be a one time off meal at Pierside.

Happy Chinese New Year 2012!



Ambience:7.5/10 (If you sit outside when the weather is nice and cooling)
Service:7/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:7/10

Address: #01-01 One Fullerton

Contact: 4380400

Opening Hours:

Lunch: Monday – Friday 11:30pm to 2:30pm

Dinner: Monday – Thursday 6pm to 10:30pm, Friday and Saturday 6pm to 11pm

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

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine VI

And yes, back once again for dinner at Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine @ Crowne Plaza Hotel.



Appetiser



Double Boiled Shark Bone Soup

Big enough to share between 2 people, the shark bone soup was richly flavourful without coming across as too strong and nausea inducing. The layer of sediment on my tongue was also kept to a minimal, which was definitely good.



Sauteed Scallops with Italian White Truffle Oil

I might sound like a broken record but I just love this dish. Decent sized, perfectly sauteed scallops surrounded by luscious egg white and immersed in white truffle oil - a great combination of taste and smell. Polishing an entire plate by myself is definitely a walk in the park!



BBQ Platter

Not being content with just roast goose alone, I opted for the platter, which which with a selection of roast pork, BBQ pork and roast goose. The BBQ pork or char siew, came across as insipid at first but somehow or rather, the taste slowly grows on you and it actually tastes better without the sauce that was drizzled over the entire platter.
What can I say about the roast goose except that the meat was deliciously tender and moist under a layer of crisp skin without coming across as too gamy.
However the roast pork was a little disappointing. The skin wasn't as crisp as I expected and the memory of an oily aftertaste that came about after every bite is still etched in my mind. What has happened?!



Sauteed Beancurd with Mushrooms

A staple in my diet, the smooth, silky beancurd had a nice savoury taste to it with a layer of dried spinach sandwiched in between. Topped with mushrooms for that additional woody flavour. Nice!



Durian Pudding

For desserts, we had the durian pudding - Chilled and rich with chunks of durian flesh in it. Nothing short of an excellent ending to our meal and a very fattening one at that.



Bill

I don't harbour any illusions that $130 for 2 pax is anywhere near cheap. But the food is worth it. And that's all that matters, isn't it?


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

Website: http://www.imperialtreasure.com/

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Tung Lok Signatures



Enticed by the AMEX 1 for 1 set menu at Tung Lok and the prospect of catching up, a couple of us met up for dinner at The Central's Signatures (TLS for short) outlet for dinner one evening. I've actually never been a fan of Tung Lok as I've yet to experience really good food at any of their outlets, including their much touted Humble House.



The Place

Located on the 2nd floor of The Central and immaculately done up to exude an air of oriental poshness, Tung Lok Signatures stands out from the crowd of eateries that crowd the area. Tables are spaced at a relatively comfortable distance and full length windows allow a great view of Clarke Quay and the Singapore river.



Flame Traditional-style Boiled Shark’s Fin Soup with Chicken

Gimmicky flames aside (due to the lighting of wax at the side of the bowl), I thought that the broth was excellent - flavourful yet light on the palate. Fin portions were reasonably substantial with bits of chicken to balance out the texture.



Pan-fried French Foie Gras with Crispy Beancurd Skin served on Pancake

Playing on the concept of Peking Duck, TLS's take on the pan fried foie gras involved serving the foie gras (with a layer of peking duck sauce on top) together with a crackling piece of beancurd skin and wrapped over using a rectangular piece of thick crepe. I honestly thought that it was an interesting concept but I did find the foie gras way too gamy for my liking. And that honestly killed this dish for me.



Steamed Soon Hock Belly with Minced Ginger

The soon hock was fresh but a little lacking in natural sweetness. One other gripe too. Being the belly, it had tons of bones which made it a pain to consume.



Crispy Kurobuta Pork Cartilage in Chili Sauce served with Deep-fried Bun

This dish seemed promisingly at the onset but didn't quite dazzle. The pork cartilage was coated with flour, deep fried and drenched in chilli sauce that was similar to chilli crab gravy, just a lot less spicy. The meat was tender but somehow I couldn't get past my psychological barrier to stomach the gelatinous cartilage. I liked the deep fried bun though.



Braised Japanese Handmade Noodles with Lobster Meat and Vegetable

Alongside the shark's fin soup, this was probably the best dish of the evening. Springy and robust noodles with minimal portions of lobster meat and a nice, savoury gravy. And of course, the obligatory 2 stalks of vegetables.



Chilled Grapefruit Shaven Ice topped with Ice-cream served in Pomelo

I was hoping for a sweet ending to my meal. But what I got was a cold, bitter dessert, which pretty much sums up how we felt at the end of the meal. But to be fair to the grapefruit, I'm just not a fan.



Bill

With the AMEX 1 for 1 promotion, 6 of us clocked in at almost $352 for dinner. Service was good but food left much to be desired. Even with the promotion, I'm not sure I would want to fork out almost $60 a head for food of such quality and portions. And with this meal, I have officially closed the chapter on Tung Lok, never to return.


Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:6/10

Overall:6.5/10

Address: The Central #02-88

Contact: 6336 6022

Opening Hours:

Lunch: 11.30AM – 3.00PM (Mon to Sat)
11.00AM – 3.30PM (Sun & PH)

Dinner: 6.00PM – 10.30PM (Daily)

Website: http://www.tungloksignatures.com/index.php