Monday, December 31, 2012

Ember Part VI

It was a pretty last minute decision to have lunch at Ember and that explained the less than ideal seats (and photographs) we got. But nonetheless, lunch at Ember is always a happy time as the restaurant has never failed me in terms of consistency and service.


Complimentary Bread

What can I say? Excellent as usual. But as I was nursing a sore throat, I limited myself to seconds.


Pan Roasted Scallop with Parma Ham, Citrus and Tarragon Vinaigrette

Good, but still a little soft in my humble opinion. Would have ordered my usual foie gras but wasn't in the mood for any liver.


Pan Seared Chilean Seabass with Mushroom & Smoked Bacon Ragout, Truffle Yuzu Butter Sauce

Although the Marinated Cod with Black Miso, Sweet Peas and Herbed Potatoes is the one that usually runs out, I personally prefer the Chilean Seabass for its technique and outstanding flavours. Never fails to put brighten up my day although I'm not much of a fish lover.


Crispy Caramelized Pear Tart with Homemade Baileys Ice Cream

It was a toss up between the apple tart and the pear tart for desserts but we ordered the latter as we preferred a flaky, buttery ending to our meal as opposed to a flaky, caramelized one. I just wish they made this available in ala carte for lunch. 


Bill

$93 for a great meal for 2. Worth every cent. I'll definitely remember to make my reservations early.

For all my other reviews on Ember, see here, here, here, here and here.


Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:7.5/10
Value for money:7/10
Overall:7.25/10

Address: Hotel 1929, 50 Keong Saik Road

Contact: 63471928

Opening Hours:

Mon-Fri:

Lunch: 11.30am - 2.00pm
Dinner: 6.30pm - 10.00pm

Sat:

Dinner: 6.30pm - 10.00pm (Closed on Sundays)

Website: http://www.hotel1929.com/

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Other Eats, Shanghai

小杨生煎


We went to the outlet along Huang He Road (97 黄河路) and it was quite packed on a Saturday morning. Skip the soups and go straight for the 生煎包, which were crisp at the bottom and boasted a slightly elastic skin, enveloping a generous lump of meat and soup. I don't exactly remember how much the 生煎包 goes for, but I believe them to be in the range of 5-6 CNY (SGD 1 to 1.20) for 4.
 
佳家汤包


Right across the road from 小杨生煎 is another iconic Shanghai eatery, 佳家汤包 (90 黄河路). As the name suggests, this place is famous for their 汤包 aka 小籠包. And they are good. Though the skin isn't as thin as the ones from 鼎泰豐, the filling is a clear winner here, especially if you like a rich, porky taste. And price wise, 佳家 definitely takes the cake, with 12 汤包 going for a mere 13 CNY (SGD 2.60).

鼎泰豐



Comparing Singapore and Shanghai's 鼎泰豐, I am inclined to think that the outlets in Singapore edge out its Chinese counterparts in terms of quality. However, the Shanghai outlets serve a couple of seasonal hairy crab dishes which are value for money in my humble opinion.

东方既白


The name might sound vulgar but this "brother of KFC" (肯德基兄弟) actually serves up quite decent and value for money set lunches. For 28 CNY (SGD 5.50), I got a huge chicken drumstick, minced meat rice, a soup and a soya bean drink.

Park Hyatt Shanghai (上海柏悦酒店)


View from our diplomat suite on the 88th Floor


The food at Park Hyatt Shanghai was surprisingly good, especially their Eggs Benedict @ 100 Century Restaurant, which is made to order during breakfast. I liked the complimentary diamond benefit of the passion fruit tart and a bottle of wine as well.  All in all, a great stay and a great trip!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

蘇浙匯上海 - A Pictorial

We were hosted to dinner at 蘇浙匯, which according to our host (my friend), is one of the better places in Shanghai to try out authentic Shanghainese cuisine. 



All this for 3 pax, including a pitcher of watermelon juice. Total cost? Approximately 950 CNY, or about SGD 187. Special thanks to my friend for the wonderful treat!


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service:6.5/10
Food: 7/10
Value for money:NA

Overall: 6.83/10

Address: 卢湾区淮海中路283号香港广场南座3楼

Contact: 4001081717

Opening Hours: 11:00~23:00

Website: http://www.jade388.com/su/index.aspx

Sunday, December 16, 2012

La Brezza Part II - An Invite

Had an invitation to try out La Brezza's festive menu and being the cheapo ever grateful person that I am, unceremoniously accepted.


Interior

The restaurant used to sport a Mediterranean theme and menu, but has since switched to serving up Italian cuisine in a more sombre yet sufficiently casual environment. The lights are purposely kept dim to induce a relaxing atmosphere.


Complimentary Bread


Martina Franca Style Cured Pork, Baby Onion, Chanterelle Mushroom

The cured pork was nice and dry without coming across as too salty whilst the chanterelle mushrooms were savoury but a little too soft for my liking. 


Asparagus Soup, Black Truffle Cream, Toasted Sicilian Almonds

I am a huge fan of asparagus and truffle but somehow this dish was let down by the execution. There was just too much truffle cream in it to actually make out the taste of asparagus. All I could taste was the richness of the truffle cream, which would have been well and good if this dish was black truffle cream soup. But the end product was still undeniably tasty, courtesy of the truffle cream of course.


Homemade Tagliatelle, Cold Water Lobster, Lobster Cream, Fennel

Aside from the tagliatelle being a wee bit overcooked (probably due to how thin it was), this dish was great. Fresh and crunchy lobster coupled with a nice yet not dauntingly rich lobster cream base. Seconds anyone?


Pan Fried Seabass "Crazy Water" Style Braised in Tomato, Endive, Sea Salt Water

Acqua Pazza or "crazy water" in Italian, apparently originated from the fisherman on the Neapolitan coast who used sea water together with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil to sautée their catch. I appreciated the story and found the fish quite interesting in the sense that it tasted uncannily like the pan fried version of Teochew styled steamed fish (weird I know!). The lightness of the sourish, mildly sweet broth all pointed in that direction and it was a little surreal eating this. 
 

Sicilian Style Sauteed Veal Chops, Garlic, Anchovies, Pasley, Artichoke Gratin, Potatoes, Onion

Ironically, the star of this dish wasn't the veal but the artichoke gratin, which was nothing short of excellent. Crisp with a cheesy overtone, I finished every little bit of it. That's not to say the veal wasn't good though. It was well sautéed and firmly tender. However the topping didn't quite cut it for me and I resorted to scrapping it off.


Almond Cake Macerated in Rum, Espresso and Chocolate Mousse

And to round up the dinner, we had the Diplomatico, which wasn't anything outstanding but provided a nice bitter sweet ending to the meal.



Festive Cocktails

And four post dinner, specially concocted drinks for the festive season.Many thanks for the invite!


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7.5/10
Service:NA
Food: 7/10
Value for money:NA

Overall: 7.25/10

Address: Level 2, St Regis

Contact: 6506 6866

Opening Hours:

Breakfast, 9.00 am - 11.00 am, Saturdays & Sundays

Lunch, 12.00 noon - 2.15 pm, Daily

Dinner, 7.00 pm - 10.30 pm, Daily
Prosecco Sunday Brunch, 12.30 pm - 2.45 pm, Sundays

Website: http://www.stregissingapore.com/labrezza

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hurricane's Grill, Sydney


Hurricane's Grill - One of Sydney's most popular dining chain and strongly recommended by friends and strangers alike. And the nearest outlet to our hotel was 20 minutes on foot away, more than sufficient to "walk up" an appetite.


The Entrance

Located at the Harbourside Shopping Centre right along Darling Harbour, Hurricane's is so popular that you need to make a reservation at least a couple of days in advance (not bad for a chain!) or risk standing in (a long) line for a table (That was the scene we witnessed after our dinner). If you are aiming for the prime slot of around 7pm - 9pm on Saturday evenings where you will be able to view the fireworks display on darling harbour, please book way in advance. 


The View From Our Table

 We were lucky to be blessed with wonderful weather - plenty of sunlight and temperatures of around 22 degrees Celsius. Naturally we asked to sit outside and were greeted by excellent views of the picturesque city skyline and cockle bay. And of course by our little furry friend.


I Spy With My Little Eye

The seagull that never gave up. Constantly watching. Constantly waiting. Haha....


Grilled Chicken Breast

Charred along the edges and slathered with BBQ sauce, the chicken breast was tender but somehow didn't quite gel with the sauce. Maybe it's the texture. Also, some parts of the chicken were a little too charred and I could make out the bitterness amidst the sweetness of the sauce. Can't say I'm a big fan but still a very palatable dish overall.


Steak & Ribs

I was greedy so for the steak and pork ribs combo. The 200gm short cut sirloin was done medium as per my request and the came across as tender and juicy. However I couldn't quite make out the inherent beefiness or any saltiness for that matter. Simply put, a rather bland piece of steak.

But the undisputed star of our meal and the restaurant is definitely the ribs (in my case, pork ribs). This is the reason why so many people, locals and tourists alike, queue up for a table here. Fall off the bone tender meat with bits of crispy charred goodness and coated in their signature thick, sweet yet smokey BBQ sauce with a tinge of tartness probably from a dash of lime juice. Absolutely delicious! I was initially skeptical but I'm truly convinced. And just for the record, I developed a sore throat after eating the ribs but I will gladly do it all over again. Some call it gluttony. I call it an appreciation of good food ;)


Bill


The pork ribs single handedly pull this meal to great heights. Okay, the great view and weather definitely helped as well. And it wasn't really expensive by Sydney standards, at AUD 77.40 (~SGD 100) for a filling dinner for 2. I'll definitely be back for more!


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 8.5/10 (if you get the outside seats)
Service: 7/10
Food: 6.5/10 (8.5/10 for the pork ribs)
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 7.25/10

Address: Shops 433-436, Level 2, Harbourside Shopping Centre (Other outlets available. See website)

Contact: 02 9211 2210

Opening Hours:

Monday to Saturday 12pm till 3pm for lunch

Monday to Saturday 5pm till late for dinner

Sundays & Public Holidays - 12pm till late

Website: http://hurricanesgrill.com.au/