Sunday, February 24, 2013

Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine VIII

Another CNY gathering at Imperial Treasure, this time with a couple of my friends on a weekday evening.


Interior


Appetiser

It used to be walnuts but probably due to cost cutting measures, the appetiser has been changed to cashew nuts. Still good though, just not as good.


Salmon Yusheng

And the obligatory yu sheng to toss for good fortune in the year of the snake. Decent with a nice citrus taste to it but pretty expensive for a for a 6 pax portion ($39++).


Old Yellow Cucumber Soup

The old yellow cucumber soup (老黄瓜汤) came served in a yellow cucumber with its center partially scrapped out and was choke full of mushroom and chicken slices. Very tasty and a great way to start off the meal.


BBQ Combination

We opted for a combination of roast duck, BBQ pork and roast pork for this platter. Apparently geese is now a rare commodity in Singapore as AVA has banned their import, hence the choice of duck.

While the roast pork had a crackling skin coupled with a nice fat to meat ratio, the BBQ pork wasn't quite my cup of tea as it was salty instead of sweet and the meat was a little too soft for my liking. The roast duck was good as well, coming across as moist with a crisp layer of skin.


Sauteed Scallops with Italian White Truffle Oil

My absolute favourite dish but this time round, the truffle oil seems to be a little lacking and scallops sizes have shrunk while prices have shot up. Definitely not a good combination! But still good and something I would definitely splurge on.


Sauteed Beancurd with Mushroom

Whilst I appreciated the generous amounts of mushroom and the savouriness of the beancurd, it wasn't as silky as I expected it to be. But still one of the better beancurds out there. 


Pea Shoot with Bamboo Shoot

A simple yet well executed dish with the pea shoots not overcooked and the bamboo shoots crunchy.


Bill

Inclusive of 4 desserts to share, the total bill for the 6 of us was about $372, which is honestly a little pricey. But food quality is still apparent though standards seem to have dipped a little. I'll probably drop by after Chinese New Year to see how things fare then.


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

Overall:7.25/10

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/

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Imperial Treasure Part VII - A Chinese New Year Eve Dinner

Somehow I always look forward to the annual Chinese New Year Reunion dinner with my family and this year was no exception. Scarred by the rip off dinner at Golden Peony the previous year, we stuck to our familiar Imperial Treasure Cantonese @ Crowne Plaza.


Fatt Choy Salmon Fish Yu Sheng

My 6th Yusheng (鱼生) of the year thus I wasn't too enamoured by the prospect of tossing (and consuming) another one. But what I liked about this one was that there were strips of pomelo and yam for that nice burst of flavour and that the whole concoction didn't come across as cloyingly sweet. 


Double Boiled Superior Shark’s Fin with Chicken

Contrary to what the name suggests, this was more like chicken soup with shark's fin. Light chicken broth sans the herbs with a limited serving of wispy fins and a generous portion of chicken meat. Can't say I appreciated it very much though it would have done very well as a chicken stock.


Roasted Duck Combination

The roast duck was essentially quite good - Crisp skin coupled with succulent meat. Kudos to the soy sauce chicken as well, with plump and juicy bites layered with a mildly salty flavour. 


Steamed Soon Hock Fish with Soya Sauce

I'm rather picky with fish and this one was executed quite well. Fresh, firm flesh drizzled in light and salty soy sauce. Simple yet well done. 


Sauteed Canadian Empress Clam with Vegetable & XO Sauce

Crunchy (and healthy) celery stir fried with chewy Canadian Empress Clam in mildly spicy and savoury XO sauce. Wonderful dish but would have preferred to have this with steamed rice.


Braised Goose Web & Dried Oyster with Black Moss

Now I'm not a fan of goose web or dried oysters so no comments on either. But the black moss had a vermicelli texture to it, raising doubts about its authenticity. Just for the record, China has banned the export of black moss or  髮菜 since 2000 and most commercial black moss uses some form of a starchy material as a substitute.


Noodles with Lobster

A signature dish of Imperial Treasure and apparently a rather controversial one at that (there were some complaints in the press about the exorbitant pricing of this dish some years back). Well, controversy aside, the lobster noodles were nothing short of excellent. Dainty yet springy noodles served up with a generous serving of fresh, crunchy lobster meat. I must definitely make it a point to order this the next time I drop by Imperial Treasure.


Red Bean Cream with Lotus Seed

And we ended off with the mundane red bean cream with lotus seed, which was surprisingly quite good. The read beans weren't mashed up and I could make out the huge beans that went into making this soup. A good way to end off but if I had my way, I would have ordered the durian pudding.


Bill

In general, the food was quite good, save for the mild disappointment with the shark's fin soup. And the lobster noodles definitely stood out. The place was packed to the rafters but thankfully we had a private room so naturally the ambience and service was better, though our waitress did seem a little green at times. But all in all, a great dinner for 5pax at just over one grand. Expensive? Definitely. But hey, its Chinese New Year after all. 

Happy Snake Year everyone!


Ambience:7.5/10 (private room)
Service:7/10
Food:7.5/10 (8.5/10 for the lobster noodles)
Value for money:7/10

Overall:7.25/10

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, February 10, 2013

Morton's of Chicago Part X

A couple of entries ago, I posted a mini comparison between Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Morton's. The result was a tie (well sorta). And in the interest of fairness, I decided to drop by Morton's with a couple of friends on a Saturday night just to ascertain that nothing had changed since my last visit.

We had the use of the private boardroom so it was a quiet respite from the almost market like atmosphere in the main dining area  (the place was packed and everyone was just yakking away).


Broiled Sea Scallops

I still love this appetiser. Huge, succulent scallops broiled and wrapped in bacon. The sweetness of the scallops sing in unison with the saltiness of the bacon - nothing short of awesome.


Jumbo Lump Crab Cake

At $40 a pop, this was one rather expensive lump of crab meat. But it was as good as I remembered it to be. Generous chunks of moist crab meat without coming across as too fishy. But honestly I still prefer the one from Ruth's Chris with its capsicum.


12 Oz Filet Mignon

We ordered the largest cut of fillet mignon - 12 Oz and the execution was quite shoddy in my humble opinion. We requested for medium but only the fringes were done medium and the meat got progressively rarer towards the center. But to be fair, the meat was still tender and juicy, just not as tasty as I remembered it to be.


Signature Cut Prime New York Strip

The star of the evening was undoubtedly the 20 Oz  New York Strip. Strangely, this was done to a perfect medium and all of us were hankering for more of it. Tasty and juicy meat coupled with little charred bits along the edges. Absolutely wonderful.


Shrimp Alexander

The shrimps have shrunk a wee bit but you still get 6 reasonably big and crunchy shrimps. The white wine butter sauce was creamily smooth and savoury but the paella was seriously undercooked and tough. I certainly didn't appreciate biting into rock hard grains of rice.


Chilean Seabass Fillet a La Nage

It's the first time I've had fish at Morton's and I must say the seabass was quite a delight to consume. Smooth and oily with chopped tomatoes atop to balance out the oiliness of the fish. I did find the portion size a little small for $77++ though.


Chicken Christopher

Lightly and evenly breaded, I found myself being drawn to the Chicken Christopher for its excellent texture (not soggy) and taste (no rancid oil). Simple, home style comfort food.


Morton's Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake

It's now official. The ice cream that is served alongside this legendary Morton's dessert is from Haagan Dazs, which of course holds a certain level of quality. The hot chocolate cake was as I remembered, crusty with a viscous molten center. Decadent!


Upside-Down Apple Pie

Maybe I've been spoilt by Ruth's Chris's Warm Apple Crumb Tart, as all of a sudden Morton's Upside Down Apple Pie seemed to have lost its allure. Sure, it was still good - granny smith apple slices plus golden raisins in a sweet yet sour combination. But somehow it didn't quite match up.


Raspberry Souffle

Light with a slightly gooey center, the raspberry souffle rounded up the desserts. Not that I could make out any raspberry taste though. Served with a dish of clotted cream.


Bill

Dinner for the 6 of us cost just a shade shy of $840. Service was great and food in general was competent, with top marks going to the scallop and the New York Strip. However, the overall feel I get is that quality has dipped a wee bit, especially after the takeover by Landry's. Now Ruth's Chris does seem like a better proposition.


Ambience:8/10 (private room)
Service:8/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:7/10
Overall:7.5/10

Address: 4th Storey, Mandarin Oriental Singapore

Contact: 6339-3740

Opening Hours:

Bar
Monday - Saturday 5pm - 11pm
Sunday 5pm - 10pm

Dining Room
Monday - Saturday 5:30pm - 11pm
Sunday 5pm - 10pm

Website: http://www.mortons.com/singapore/

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Royal China Part VI

Dropped by Royal China for lunch with a few of my colleagues during the seasonal break. It has been ages since I last dined at Royal China and I was eager to see if standards have kept up with the growing competition. 


Interior

The decor is still a calming blue contrasted with white tables and chairs for that almost soothing effect (helps when the place is packed and the noise level goes up a few decibels).



Roast Pork

One dish I can't resist ordering, especially when having dim sum, is the humble roast pork. Think crisp skin belying a succulent, mildly salted cube of meat with a reasonable proportion of fat (I personally like the fat to meat ratio to be about 1:4). But Royal China's offering was downright disappointing. Sure, the skin was crisp, but it was way too charred and there was a lingering bitterness with every bite. It definitely didn't help that the pork taste was a little overwhelming.


Prawn Dumpling

At least the prawn dumplings (虾饺) were decent. Mildly elastic, translucent skin wrapped around fresh and crunchy prawns.


Steamed Scallop Dumpling

This was palatable with the fresh scallop topped with what looked like caviar (but without any discernible taste), sitting on a bag of mushrooms. Not particularly outstanding as the flavours were quite muted and honestly all I could make out was a generic raw vegetable taste.


Fried Beancurd Skin with Prawns

Crackling crisp skin enveloping fresh, crunchy prawns. What's not to like? Just watch out of the excessive oil.


Shark's Fin Dumpling Soup

I thought the soup base was quite refreshing with a herbal tinge but I couldn't quite make out the fins within the flimsy dumpling skin enclosure. Pretty good still. 


House Cheong Fun

3 rolls of cheong fun (豬腸粉). 1 stuffed with scallop, 1 with prawns and 1 with BBQ pork. And to be honest, neither stood out. The rice roll didn't come across as silky and the flavours were all rather bland. Still edible though.


Mushroom & Chicken Porridge

I wasn't expecting much but the porridge was really quite a let down. For starters, it wasn't smooth and flavours were also lacking. Someone pass the soya sauce please. 


BBQ Pork Bun

A little too much flour but the BBQ pork wasn't too sweet or runny. Pretty decent.


Pan Fried Carrot Cake

I thought the carrot cake was another let down. Oily, barely smooth and bland. I wonder what possessed me to order this right from the start. 


Egg Yolk Bun

As with the BBQ Pork Bun, the flour was a little too thick but the real disappointment was in the egg yolk filling, which didn't capture the contrasting saltiness and semi coarse texture of the yolk. In short, a total waste of money. 


Pork Dumpling

The Siew Mai was pretty good - Fresh, crunchy prawns mixed in with a reasonable proportion of fatty meat and topped with a wolfberry (to lessen the guilt maybe?) sans the overwhelming porky taste.



BBQ Pork Puff Pastry

I thought this was probably the best dish of the afternoon. Flaky pastry stuffed with mildly sweet and starchy BBQ pork filling. Only thing lacking was the buttery aftertaste that I personally like.



Egg Tart

First looks, the egg tart didn't come across as appetising and indeed, it wasn't great. The pastry was flaky but lacked the buttery aftertaste and the custard filling was minimal.



Bill

After a 15% credit card discount, the 4 of us chalked up a bill of about $147. Not too expensive but food quality seems to have nosedived since my previous visit over 2 years back. Service was competent but rather stiff and lacked warmth. In my humble opinion, Royal China needs to really buck up in the face of such intense competition and relook its food quality and service or risk being a has been. Gone are the days when there was only a handful of competent Chinese restaurants serving dim sum. And it's best if Royal China recognises this.


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

Overall: 6.5/10

Address: #03-09 Raffles Hotel Arcade

Contact: 63383363

Opening Hours:

Lunch
Monday to Saturday - 12.00 noon to 3.00 pm
Sunday and Public Holiday - 11.00 am to 2.00 pm

Dinner
Daily - 6.00 pm to 10.30 pm

Website: http://www.raffles.com/singapore/dining/royal-china-at-raffles/