Sunday, June 29, 2014

Spruce Part II

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My last entry on Spruce was about 5 years ago and as I remember, food quality was merely average save for the beef burger. After all these years, it was time to see if things had changed.

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Brunch was a cheerier affair (as opposed to my initial dinner dining experience), with sunlight poring into the cafe and soft music playing in the background. Unlike 5 years ago, it didn't feel as stuffy and unwelcoming, probably due to the apparent difficulty in securing a reservation back then (I still think its a deliberate hype to get people interested in the place as the place wasn't exactly full when I dined there).

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Spruce Mac & Cheese

The Mac & Cheese sported an unevenly baked top (one side was pale and the other was golden brown) coupled with a mildly creamy macaroni center. I personally liked the crunchy cheese bits but would have liked the cheese to be gooey. Overall a very average rendition.

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The Tuna Burger

I honestly wouldn't had known that the patty was made from tuna if not for the name of the burger; The tuna taste was seriously lacking. I appreciated the touch of crispiness on the surface of the patty though. An average at best burger and not something I would ever order again.

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Spruce Signature Burger

One of the main draws of Spruce, it's namesake burger. And it was as good as I remembered it to be. Well, almost. The moist patty was done medium as per my request with a nice uneven texture and a natural beefy taste. Topped with cheese, bacon lettuce and pickles (I personally like how the sourness of the pickles cuts through the semi molten cheese), it made for a great eat. Only gripe I had was the bun, which could do with more grilling and probably some butter. Oh and the fries were a little limp.

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American Apple Pie Ala Mode

We were informed that the apple pie was one of the best sellers at Spruce. And it was difficult to understand why. For starters, the back crust was way too thick and lacked the oven baked taste that I personally like. Also, the apple slices were rather bland and things might have been better if raisins were thrown into the equation. Truth be told, apart from the rather generic vanilla bean ice cream, the only thing that I found palatable was the lumpy biscuit crumble that sat under the ice cream.

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Brunch cost the both of us just over $81 which wasn't really that expensive per se but factor in the quality of food and the value for money factor tumbles a few notches. Honestly the only thing that I liked about Spruce was it's burger, nothing else. Service seemed to have gone down a bit over the years. Will I be back? Maybe after a long hiatus but only for the burger.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 6/10 (7/10 for the burger)
Value for money: 6/10
Overall: 6.5/10

Address: 320 Tanglin Road, Phoenix Park.

Contact: 6836 5528

Opening Hours:

Weekdays: 10.30am - 10.30pm

Weekends: 9am - 10.30pm


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lung King Heen 龍景軒 Part III, Hong Kong

And we were back at Lung King Heen, barely 4 months after our last visit. But it was just the 2 of us this time round and owing to a very late reservation, only a table in the inner sanctum was available and gratefully accepted of course.

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Okay we still managed to catch a view of the harbour but the lighting was just weird. 

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Chef’s Signature Appetiser Selection (3 Varieties)

We had the BBQ Suckling Pig, BBQ Pork with Honey and Roasted Goose with Plum Sauce. The BBQ pork was excellent; Thickly sliced with a perfect meat to fat ratio without the texture coming across as too soft or dry. On the other hand, the roast goose was a little bit of a dampener. Less than crispy skin coupled with rather gamy taste made for a comparatively lacklustre offering as opposed to that of Yat Lok.
The suckling pig rounded appetisers up on a high note, sporting a crackling crisp skin served with a thin layer of sweet mantou and hoisin sauce.

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Baked Whole Abalone Puff with Diced Chicken

A singular, relatively generous piece of abalone sitting on a bed of diced chicken atop a beautifully buttery tart shell; The epitome of satisfaction.

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Steamed Lobster and Scallop Dumpling

A layer of lobster, a layer of scallop and a huge prawn; All fresh and wrapped in a thin, semi translucent skin. One of LHK's signature dishes and rightly so!

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Baked Barbecued Pork Buns with Pine Nuts

As extolled in my previous writeup on LKH, the BBQ pork buns were excellent and this visit sought to affirm that. Crusty, gooey, crunchy and sweet all rolled into 1 piping hot bun. It was so good that I had 2 amidst feeble protests from my stomach.

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Wok-Fried Prawns with Crispy Green Peas

We felt like more seafood and decided on the wok fried prawns, which on hindsight, probably wasn't the wisest dish to order, seeing how bland they were (though they were humongous and crunchy). The deep fried green pea crumbs did add a nice crisp texture but was rather tasteless as well. Our usual order of their namesake chicken would have been better.

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Lung King Heen Lobster Fried Rice with Seafood

A perennial favourite, the lobster fried rice was fried to perfection as usual, with an evident wok hei and generous pieces of lobster. We polished off every last bit.

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Baked Red Bean Puffs with Pine Nuts

Our first ever order of dessert from the menu and it actually turned out pretty good. Beautifully baked, buttery and flaky pastry filled with semi sweet and smooth red bean paste. I had all 4 pieces by myself.

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Complimentary Dessert

Once again I don't remember much about the complimentary dessert but it definitely provided a nice ending to the meal.

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We definitely over ordered and we paid the price. Both of us were so bloated after the meal that walking straight was a challenge. And lunch cost us a whopping HKD 1581 (~ SGD 260), which was quite a significant increase over our usual lunches (SGD 130/pax vs SGD 80/pax) at Lung King Heen. Having said that, food quality was still very good (save for the prawns) and I'm definitely looking forward to a return visit soon.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Food: 8/10 (9/10 for the BBQ pork buns & 6.5/10 for the prawns)
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 7.5/10

Address: 4th Floor, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong

Contact: (852) 3196-8880

Opening Hours:

Sundays and public holidays
11:30 am – 3:00 pm

Monday to Saturday
12:00 noon – 2:30 pm

Daily 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lei Garden 利苑酒家, Hong Kong

It was between Tsui Hang and Lei Garden for dinner but since Lei Garden's Mongkok branch was a shorter walk from our hotel, we settled for it. That's not to say Lei Garden was a choice of convenience; It does have a Michelin star after all.

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Located amongst a row of shophouses along Sai Yee Street and just across the road from the Water Supplies Department, Lei Garden hides a decidedly modern and comfortable interior behind a monotonous and inconspicuous facade. The place is seemingly popular so reservations are recommended unless you don't mind waiting or dining early/late.

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Double Boiled Soup (老火汤)

One of the signatures of Lei Garden - their double boiled soups. Soup of the day was lotus root with pork and octopus and it was excellent. Naturally sweet yet light on the palate with tons of ingredients; Good for at least 4 bowls and a great way to start off!

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Crispy Roasted Pork

I counted 12 small cubes of absolutely delicious roasted pork; Crackling crisp skin sans an overly greasy or porky aftertaste, coupled with a nice tinge of saltiness.

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Seasonal Vegetables with Conpoy

Bountiful assorted vegetables and bean curd simmered in a lightly milky broth and topped with crispy conpoy. Reminded me of having steamboat with all the flavours slowly permeating the soup. Definitely not your usual vegetable dish and a delicious one at that!

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Stir Fried Scallops with Yellow Fungus, Macadamia & Celery

Huge, beautifully cooked scallops with a firm center, nicely stir fried with crunchy macadamia, yellow fungus, celery and drenched with a light, mildly salty gravy. The lingering wok hei sealed the deal.

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Crispy Rice with Lobster

Our obligatory carbohydrate dish and an enormous one at that. 1 order chalked up 4 full rice bowl servings. And by the time we got to this, it was literally man vs food (one of my favourite tv programs by the way). But it was too good to not try and find space and we literally stuffed ourselves, one spoonful at a time. Generous lobster pieces mixed in with nicely deep fried crispy rice and simmered in a rich and flavourful broth; Like eating awesome porridge but with a satisfying crunch in every bite.

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We had an extremely filling dinner and literally rolled out of the restaurant. The damage? A mere HKD 728 (~ SGD 120), which was very reasonable considering the quality and quantity of food. Service was pretty decent as well and I'll definitely be back, with more stomach space of course.

Final Verdict:
Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 8/10
Value for money: 8/10

Overall: 7.5/10

Address: 121 Sai Yee Street, Mongkok, Hong Kong

Contact: (852) 2392 5184

Opening Hours:

Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.


Sunday, June 08, 2014

Yat Lok Restaurant 一樂食館, Hong Kong

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And we were back in Hong Kong again, eager to hit the ground running in search of food.  Our first stop was at Yat Lok Restaurant (一樂食館) for brunch. Located at Stanley Street just a couple of minutes walk away from the famed Yung Kee Restaurant and Central MTR, Yat Lok occupies a small shop space and was practically empty on a late Sunday morning.

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Vegetables with Oyster Sauce (HKD 18)

Our obligatory vegetable dish. Nicely blanched with a dollop of oyster sauce. 

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Roast Goose Rice (HKD 42 + 2)

We requested for breast meat and was charged HKD 2 more. The goose meat was tender and juicy without coming across as overly oily, helmed by a nice thin layer of fats beneath the mildly crisp skin. It would have been better if the skin had been crispier though.

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Roast Goose & BBQ Pork Rice (HKD 42 + 2)

For the same price and top up (for the breast meat), we had the option of adding BBQ pork to the equation, which wasn't a bad thing really. The char siew had bits of fats that made for a better bite but lacked the charred bits and moist sweetness that would have elevated it to stardom.

With tea at HKD 13, the total bill came up to HKD 119 (~ SGD 20), which was pretty reasonable for Hong Kong standards. Service was pretty decent and all in all, it was a relatively good eat. Do note it's cash only.

Final Verdict:
Ambience: NA
Food: 7/10
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

Address: G/F, 34-38 Stanley Street

Contact: +852 2524 3882

Opening Hours:



Sunday, June 01, 2014

Batter Fluffy Flaps

We were enamoured by the cute sheep figurine parked at the entrance of the shop and drawn by the prospect of having pancakes for brunch on a late Sunday morning.

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Interior & Menu

Located along the narrow and sometimes congested East Coast Road, just diagonally opposite I12 Katong, Batter Fluffy Flaps or BFF for short, boasts a cute, sheep centric interior and menu. Great if you are into cutesy stuff.

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The both of us had the BFF special, which included 2 drinks, 2 pancakes dishes (savoury or sweet) and 1 side to share. For drinks we ordered the Cookies & Cream ice blended and the Pure Caramel Coffee Blended; Both decent but a tad watered down. And I guess you can't really go wrong with drinks?

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Honey Baked Chicken Wings

I'm sorry to say this but the wings suffered 50% burns on the outside but remained relatively unscathed on the inside. Read. Relatively raw with blood still seeping through. Very badly executed and we gave up after the 2nd wing.

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Fish Flaps

This was essentially deep fried fish fillet served with tartar sauce, coleslaw and 2 flapjacks. The fish fillets had way too much flour and very little fish but was still palatable though you would probably need a lot of tartar sauce to down that much flour. Coleslaw was a tad too creamy, rich and sourish for my liking. On a slightly more positive note, the pancakes were quite fluffy (though smallish) and well cooked, but the accompanying "maple syrup" tasted like the hotcake syrup that MacDonalds uses. That's definitely not maple syrup for sure.

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Banana Bonanza

2 pieces of pancakes topped with sliced bananas, vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and walnuts. Average tasting though the pancakes were quite fluffy. The bananas could have been grilled to achieve a certain degree of caramelisation whilst the ice cream was evidently from the tub as I could find ice chips in it. The sole saving grace was the relatively generous serving of walnuts.

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The BFF special cost the both of us $42.80, which was honestly a rip off for the quality of food. Please heed my advise on this place; Look past the cute facade and name and give this place a miss.

Final Verdict:
Ambience: 7/10
Service: 6.5/10
Food: 4.5/10 (6.5/10 for the pancakes)
Value for money: 4/10

Overall: 5.5/10

Address: 89 East Coast Road #01-01

Contact: 6440 7071

Opening Hours:

Mon - Thu: 11:30 am - 10:00 pm
Fri: 11:30 am - 11:00 pm
Sat: 9:00 am - 11:00 pm
Sun: 9:00 am - 10:00 pm