Sunday, January 27, 2013

Summer Pavilion Part III - A Chinese New Year Invite

The year of the Dragon is set to make way for the Snake in 2 weeks and I had my first Lo Hei (捞起) session compliments of a lunch invitation from The Ritz Carlton Singapore.

Golden Crab Roe & Sea Urchin Yusheng

Instead of the usual, boring slices of raw fish, Summer Pavilion uses golden crab roe and sea urchin, which gives it a nice creamy texture and a mini burst of fishiness. Pretty good but can't say I'm terribly impressed.

Doubled Boiled Cartilage Soup with Fish Maw

It's interesting that the word "shark" is missing from this dish. But having said that, I can't be sure if this is really shark cartilage soup or the word has been omitted on purpose due to negative environmental connotations. Nonetheless, the soup came across as light and savoury but the fish maw was a little too soggy for my liking. And I still didn't appreciate the layer of sediment lingering on my tongue after a few mouthfuls.

Braised Sliced Abalone with Dried Oyster & Black Moss in Beancurd Sheet

The dried oyster spoiled this dish for me as I dislike dried oysters quite a fair bit. To make matters worse, the beancurd sheet was a little too limp for my liking. But to give it credit, at least the abalone was reasonably sized and cooked just right, with the gravy coming across as savoury and not too starchy.

Steamed Sea Perch with Fungus and Vegetable

Visually contrasting with a rose petal served alongside a piece of fresh, snow white sea perch, this dish was simple and well executed.  Firm, sweet flesh coupled with a generous garnishing of chopped garlic and spring onions, served on a bed of crunchy greens.  I wouldn't mind seconds.

Braised Special Fish Noodles with Shredded Chicken, Ginger & Onion

I'm actually quite a big fan of fish noodles and the best ones I've tried in Singapore used to be from the old Hai Tien Lo @ Pan Pacific Hotel (It is still around but has undergone a major revamp). This offering from Summer Pavilion wasn't quite in the same league but still pretty tasty. Only tiny issue I had was that the noodles were a little overcooked, causing them to be a tad too soft without much bite.

Chilled Black Glutinous Rice Topped with Coconut Ice Cream

And finally a chilled black glutinous rice topped with coconut ice cream to end off the meal - nice and not to sweet. Personally appreciated the tiny bit of orange compote atop the ice cream to help balance the sugar intake.

Thanks to Ritz Carlton for the invite!

ps: If this meal's food quality is anything to go by, I'm sad to say that Summer Pavilion's standards have slipped quite a few notches from a couple of years back when I used to patronise them.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 8/10
Service: NA
Food: 6.5/10
Value for money: NA

Overall: 7.25/10

Address: Ritz Carlton

Contact: 6336 9093

Opening Hours:

Lunch from 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. (a la carte & dim sum)

Dinner from 6:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. (a la carte)


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ruth's Chris Steak House

The idea was to do a comparison between our long time favourite steak house, Morton's, and the relatively new entrant to Singapore's F&B scene, Ruth's Chris. And so one Saturday evening saw the both of us dropping by Ruth's Chris for dinner.


Located where Restaurant Bologna used to be at Marina Mandarin Singapore, the interior hasn't changed much since the days of Bologna - crisp table clothes coupled with leather backed seats and wooden panels adorned with art. The window seats offer you a view of a huge water feature wall and of course the warmth of natural sunlight (if you arrive early enough). This place is decidedly more "upclass" and stifling than Mortons, which I personally like for its casual, convivial atmosphere.To be fair, the place was pretty much empty save for another 2 tables besides ours. So that could be a contributing factor to the "over attention" from the wait staff.

Complimentary Bread

Just your regular soft baguette served warm, nothing like the onion loaf from Mortons. But still something decent to keep your hunger pangs at bay whilst you await your orders. Morton's 1, RC 0.

Sizzlin Blue Crab Cakes

A little dry on the outside but moist within, the crab cake was chock full of crab meat and topped with capsicum, which gave it a nice contrasting flavour and texture. Personally I thought it was nice just that the crab taste was a little lacking. I'll rate this as a tie with Morton's as I really liked the use of capsicum here. Morton's 1, RC 0.

Petit Filet Oscar Style

The petit filet was 210g, which was a decent size considering I ordered it "Oscar Style", which simply meant an addition of asparagus and a lump of crab cake smothered in Bearnaise sauce (all for a mere $15++ extra). Now if only Morton's had such an option. That aside, the steak boasted tender, juicy meat that was a little crisp along the edges and well seasoned with salt. Very good! I'm gonna have to go with RC on this one as the filet marginally edges out the filet mignon from Morton's. And it definitely helps that RC has the option of an add on at a reasonable price. Morton's 1, RC 1.

Barbecued Shrimp

The BBQ shrimp were crunchy and decent sized but still a little smaller than what Morton's serves up (even after the downgrade in size). But what it lacks in size, it makes up in quantity (10 shrimps vs 6 from Morton's). The sauce reminds me of a creamy, garlicky concoction that has a mild burning sensation towards the end probably due to the copious amounts of garlic. In short, either you love it or you hate. And we loved it. But as Morton's Shrimp Alexander is vastly different, I am hard pressed to determine which dish has the edge. Morton's 1, RC 1. 

Crème Brûlée

This is apparently a signature of Ruth's Chris. Though good, it wasn't anything I would go out of my way to order again. The vanilla bean custard base came across as creamily smooth whilst the caramel top was nicely and evenly torched. Portions are good for 2.

Warm Apple Crumb Tart

Huge, nicely sweet yet tart Granny Smith apple slices encrusted by a moist, fragrant tart shell and topped with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream. Only minor gripes I had was that the tart was a little too soft for my liking and that the apple slices were a little too big for comfort. Having said that, this was still an excellent dessert and we preferred this over Morton's Upside Down Apple Pie. Morton's 1, RC 2.  


Portions are a bit smaller at Ruth's Chris but prices are slightly cheaper, as compared to Morton's. Even so, dinner for the both of us (without any drinks) cost to the tune of $285. Food wise, based on the dishes we tried, Ruth's Chris has a slight edge. However, factor in the more casual, laid back ambience and service of Morton's and its a tie. But maybe you think otherwise?

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7.5/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 8/10
Value for money: 7.5/10

Overall: 7.75/10

Address: 4th Level, Marina Mandarin Hotel

Contact: 6336 9093

Opening Hours:

Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm

Dinner: 5.30pm – 11.00pm


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Tim Ho Wan 添好運, Hong Kong

Another whirlwind trip to Hong Kong for the weekend to take advantage of the "winter" weather as well as to indulge in some food therapy. And our first stop was at Tim Ho Wan (添好運), branded the cheapest one Michelin star restaurant in the world. To avoid the crowds, we decided to patronise the less popular IFC outlet in the early evening (about 430pm).

Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumpling

The shrimps were crunchy but the skin was a little too thick and stodgy for my liking. Still decent nonetheless.

Steamed Pork Dumpling with Shrimp

This 燒賣 was relatively good - fresh sans the rancid oil taste but watch out for the huge proportion of fat meat.

Glutinous Rice Dumpling Wrapped in Lotus Leaves (古法糯米鸡)

Fragrant and tasty, the only thing that's keeping me from ordering this again is the copious amount of oil. I value my health, thank you.

Steamed Spare Rib with Black Bean Sauce

Not a fan of steamed spare ribs so didn't try this. Can't say it was wildly popular though.

Pan Fried Turnip Cake

Oily oily oily. That was the first thing that went through my head when I took a bite of the turnip cake. And it wasn't crisp on the outside or smooth on the inside. But still better than your average dim sum place.

Vermicelli Roll Stuffed with BBQ Pork

The oily exterior aside, the chee cheong fun was actually quite good. Translucent skin sheltering a mildly sweet stuffing of BBQ pork. Best eaten when hot.

Baked Bun with BBQ Pork

The undisputed star of the day and probably one of the most "famous" dishes of Tim Ho Wan. The humble Baked Bun with BBQ pork. Crusty and subtly sweet on the outside with oodles of lush, gooey BBQ pork within. Delicious!

Deep Fried Beancurd Skin with Prawns

Another extremely oily dish. And a disappointing one at that. The skin was soggy and limp and even the crunchy prawns weren't enough to salvage the situation.

Although I paid the bill, I vaguely remember the actual cost of it. But I think it hovered around HKD 440 (SGD 70) for 7 adults. Not too expensive by any standards but food quality isn't great and definitely not deserving of the 1 Michelin star. Only the Baked Bun with BBQ Pork stood out and although I am a fan, I think I'll be sticking to Lung King Heen during my next trip to Hong Kong in February. 

Final Verdict:
Ambience: 6/10
Service: 6/10
Food: 6.5/10 (7.5/10 for the baked bun with BBQ pork)
Value for money: 7/10
Overall: 6.375/10

Address: Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station (Podium Level 1, IFC Mall) 中環香港站12A鋪(IFC地庫一層)

Contact: 2332 3078

Opening Hours: 9am-8:30pm daily