Friday, October 31, 2014

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine Part II

A couple of us got together for dinner at Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine @ MBS even though I had a less than stellar experience there a few years back. Well things change, don't they?

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Interior & Menu

Well the interior hadn't changed since my previous visit; Modern with warm lighting and lots of glass. One issue I had this time round was the noise level, probably due to the easily excitable patrons seated in the neighbouring tables. But I digress.

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Peking Duck

The Peking duck was carved up table side and came in 3 courses. First up was the crisp skin dipped in sugar ala authentic Peking style, which would have been great if the skin had been less greasy. 

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Following up was the overly greasy meat and skin wrapped in limp crepes that tasted really bland. Thank god for the hoisin sauce! Presentation was also very shoddy for a fine dining restaurant.

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For our third course, we opted for the meat to be chopped up and served. And strangely enough, for all the greasiness in the first two dishes, the meat was a tad dry and overall this was a very average dish. So much for being an Imperial Treasure signature dish.

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Sauteed Beancurd with Mushrooms

Silky smooth with a nice savoury taste, topped with copious amounts of deletable mushrooms and sitting on a bed of greens. Just a wee bit too salty but perfect if eaten with rice.

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Sauteed Prawn Ball

The sauteed prawn ball boasted fresh, huge prawns that packed a crunch in every bite. Came with lots of celery for that extra crunch. Simple and unadulterated goodness. A large portion entitled each of us (6 pax) to 2 prawns each. Would have been nice to have more though. 

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Broccoli with Mushrooms

Our necessary greens for the evening, a nicely sauteed, crunchy broccoli dish topped with huge mushrooms. Very appetising.

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Truffle Meepok

The highlight of our evening, the truffle meepok, which isn't on the menu but it's available at many of the other Imperial Treasure outlets, including my personal favourite, Imperial Treasure Cantonese @ Crowne Plaza Hotel. Silky meepok with a strong taste and aroma of truffle oil, topped with mushrooms and beansprouts; Simple yet delicious. Just be sure to share.

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Bill

Dinner wasn't bad, save for the Peking duck which clocked in at average. And at almost $41/pax, it wasn't too expensive either. Service was decent but not exactly friendly, which is typical of alot of Chinese restaurants in Singapore. But at such a price point, Imperial Treasure Cantonese @ Crowne Plaza does a better job and that is where I'll be sticking to.


Final Verdict:

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

Overall:7/10

Address: L2-04 Marina Bay Sands Casino. Access via Bay Level (L1) lifts at UOB and Grand Colonnade North, as well as from Casino.

Contact: 6688 7788

Opening Hours:

Monday to Saturday 11.30am to 10.30pm
Dim Sum Available from 11.30am to 4.00pm

Sunday 11.00am to 11.30pm
Dim Sum Available from 11.00am to 4.00pm

Website: http://www.marinabaysands.com/Shoppin/Shop/Imperial_Treasure_Fine_Chinese_Cuisine.aspx

Friday, October 24, 2014

Seasons Bistro

Had dinner with a couple of friends at Seasons Bistro, an American styled bistro that has garnered pretty good reviews since its opening a couple of months back.

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Interior & Menu

Located on the ground floor of Triple One Somerset (the former PUB building) and playing neighbour to Imperial Treasure Windows of Hong Kong and Imperial Treasure Steamboat (which I personally don't find that great), Seasons features a down to earth wooden interior with huge wall to ceiling glass panels for a view of the exterior pedestrian walkway. 

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Season's Poutine ($10++)

I love my poutine and even though Season's poutine was specifically recommended in quite a few reviews, it was quite a let down in my humble opinion. Sure, the fries were moist but where was the lightly crisp skin? Also, the gravy was a tad too bland and the Stripey Jack cheese came in cubes, not mildly gooey curds, which is one of the hallmarks of poutine. I will take gladly take Triple O's version over this anytime.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($22++)

After a rather disappointing start, this Southern dish of buttermilk fried chicken perked things up a little though it did look rather dry on the outside. Thankfully the meat was flavourful and juicy with a nice crunch from the skin. 3 rather small pieces, served with a side of corn salad.

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Banana Split ($12++)

Season's deconstructed banana split. Done to an almost perfect disaster. 1 rock hard scoop of vanilla bean ice cream coupled with a dash of nutella and 2 pieces of caramalised bananas (goreng pisang) that came coated with a limp layer of flour and lacked any sweetness or taste for that matter. The granola nut crumbs gave this dish a slightly chewy taste which I personally didn't like; Crushed nuts would have suited better in my humble opinion.

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Bill

1 poutine, 1 chicken and 1 dessert cost me about $52 nett. Expensive? Quantitatively speaking, not really. But qualitatively, yes. General food quality was average at best and definitely not worth the price paid. Service was pretty decent though and the restaurant offers a relatively quiet place to catch up with friends in Orchard road over dinner but unfortunately that's just not enough.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10 (Based on a weekday night)
Service: 7/10
Food: 5/10 (6.5/10 for the buttermilk fried chicken)
Value for money: 5/10

Overall: 6/10

Address: #01-11/12, 111 Somerset Road

Contact: 68365841

Opening Hours: 10am to 1030pm daily

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Restaurant Invites - Why I Stopped

It's a common scenario. You blog about food related stuff or places you dined at for a period of time and as your "readership" grows, invites to tastings come knocking (the more popular ones get product placement/endorsement deals, sponsorships etc but that's a story for another day), which isn't a bad thing really. You as an individual, get to experience a wider repertoire of eateries; The food, the ambience, the privileged life in some cases. And in turn, you share those wonderful pictures of the place, the food and the entire experience in general on your blog, instagram, twitter etc. Sound familiar? 

Well, I was in that position once before in the not too distant past. Until I made a conscious decision to stop accepting any invites. Why? Because I was tired. Tired of all the hypocrisy, the plastered smiles, the well weathered sentences. But most of all, I was tired of compromising the integrity of my posts in return for a free meal. Invites usually come with better tasting food, better presentation and better service. It's in the interest of the restaurant to do so. But is that a true reflection of the actual food and service a random person will be getting? In a small percentage of the cases, yes but in a large majority, probably not. And thus the integrity of a post is compromised. How many times have you read rave reviews about certain dishes or certain eateries only to be disappointed? I have, countless times. And I don't want to contribute to that statistic.

A food blog, in my humble opinion, minus all the bells and whistles, should be a platform to cross share real opinions, real pictures, actual reality, not some perceived reality we make for ourselves or are led to believe. However, having said that, to each his/her own.

So please, do not invite me to any more tastings. Thank you.

ps: Please note that my ramblings do not constitute an argument for or against the accepting of invites nor is it meant to be a holier than thou piece. All views expressed are solely my own and do not represent that of others.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Royal Mail

The Royal Mail had been around for about 2 years but it was never on our to dine at list for one reason or another. We finally decided to give it a shot one Friday evening before the wife took off for an extended work trip to Korea.

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Interior

Occupying a spot in Ascott Raffles Place, the restaurant's name is inspired by its location, where a former British post office once stood. And it serves up "modern British cuisine" of course. 

The restaurant is situated on the second floor, up a flight of stairs that open up right into the oddly shaped dining area whilst the bar takes up a small corner on the first floor. If you value your privacy, it might be a good idea to request for seats further in and not along the stairway, especially on a busy night.

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Complimentary Bread

Puff pastry with brie cheese - Now that's something you don't get very often. Soft and moist with a nice cheesy nuance. I did find it a wee bit too oily though. 

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Amuse Bouche

The amuse bouche was a classic duck rillette on toast; nice but not creamy enough with a mildly spicy kick. Still a good start nonetheless!

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The Royal Mail Caesar Salad

Our quintessential greens for the evening, the humble Caesar salad. Spiced up with bacon strips, a nicely poached egg, strips of cheese and toasted bread. Nothing too fancy but it kept the positive momentum going.

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Sous-Vide Half Maine Lobster

That's a pretty small lobster if you ask me but it was good. Crunchy meat cooked to a perfect consistency and served with a shard of crisp ibérico ham and a slice of mildly sweet Japanese pumpkin, sitting in a pool of rich emulsified butter sauce. 

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Roasted Whole Chicken

The roasted chicken needed quite a fair bit of work, coming across as bland and uninspiring. The accompanying chermoula sauce was just plan oily and we had a hard time finishing the chicken, small as it was.

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Roast Prime Rib

A signature of the restaurant, we had the classic cut (280g), which came served with delicious sauteed Brussels sprouts topped with pine nuts and blue cheese, a roasted whole garlic and Yorkshire pudding. Done up medium well instead of medium as per my request, the prime rib was quite good; Thickly cut, succulent and tasty. I didn't quite fancy the Yorkshire pudding though, which was neither crisp nor hot. 

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Truffle Risotto

The side of truffle risotto was al dente and beautifully creamy and fragrant with chunks of mushroom in it. Delicious!

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Chocolate Fondant

Nicely moist fondant with a molten chocolate center and served with a scoop of lacklustre vanilla bean ice cream and deliciously crunchy chocolate soil with freeze dried raspberries atop. I personally loved the texture and tartness that the chocolate soil, dried raspberries combination brought to this dessert.

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Banoffee Tart

A pretty decent rendition of one of my favourite western desserts (I have many by the way), the banoffee tart sported a crisp tart shell with a filling of banana, crumble and toffee, topped with a dollop of cream and dusted with cocoa powder. The salted caramel sauce could have featured a little more prominently and the bananas could have been a little more moist whilst the tart would have been better with a little more baking in my humble opinion.

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Bill

With a 50% discount, the bill for the both of us came up to a mere $105, which is a rather good deal considering the very decent quality and quantity of food (with the exception of the chicken). Service was excellent; Personal without coming across as overbearing. At such a price point and quality, I'll be hard pressed to find an excuse not to revisit.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 7/10 (6/10 for the chicken)
Value for money: 7/10 (with the 50% discount)
Overall: 7.25/10

Address: Ascott Raffles Place Singapore, 2 Finlayson Green

Contact: 6509 3589

Opening Hours:

Mon – Fri
Breakfast: 6.30am to 10.30am
Lunch: 12 noon to 3pm (last order 2.30pm)
Dinner: 6.30pm to 11pm (last order 10.30pm)

Sat
Breakfast: 7am to 11am
Lunch: Closed
Dinner: 6.30pm to 11pm (Last order 10.30pm)

Sun & Public Holidays
Breakfast: 7am to 11am
Lunch – Closed
Dinner – Closed

Website: http://www.theroyalmail.sg/

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Wah Lok Part V

Dropped by my favourite dim sum place, Wah Lok, with my friends one weekday afternoon for a leisurely lunch. 

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Suckling Pig Combo

We had the suckling pig and BBQ pork combination and it honestly wasn't a very good start to our meal. The BBQ pork sported a beautiful sheen but lacked bite whilst the suckling pig had a nice crisp skin to it but came across as overwhelmingly oily. 

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Steamed Pork Dumpling

The 烧卖 had a rather low fat to meat ratio thus didn't come across as too overwhelming. Pretty good.

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Deep Fried Beancurd Skin Roll

A crisp but a wee bit too oily exterior packed with crunchy prawns. Best eaten hot!

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Steamed Custard Buns

Now this wasn't quite impressive. The flowing custard lacked the saltiness and texture of egg yolk. It was just plain sweet honestly.

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Steamed Prawn Dumplings

Fresh tasting, crunchy prawns all bundled up in a thin, semi translucent skin. What's not to like?

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Steamed Crabmeat Dumpling

This tasted rather similar to the steamed prawn dumplings except that it was filled with crab paste instead of prawns and wrapped up in a mildly stretchable, semi translucent skin. Pretty decent.

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Steamed BBQ Pork Cheong Fun

Another dim sum staple, the BBQ pork cheong fun boasted silky smooth skin with generous servings of BBQ pork within, all sitting in a pool of light soya sauce. Nice!

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Steamed Carrot Cake

The steamed carrot cake honestly didn't look like much but it came across as smooth, moist and encrusted with savoury dried shrimps. Simple yet nice!

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Baked BBQ Pork Bun

One of the signature dishes of Wah Lok, the baked BBQ pork bun ranks a close third behind that of Tim Ho Wan and Lung King Heen (top of my chart) in my humble opinion. Sporting a darker than usual colour probably due to a slight overbaking, the bun had a nice crusty top with mildly viscous, semi sweet pork filling encased in soft dough.

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Abalone & Chicken Pie

Exhibiting a nice sheen on the crust, the abalone and chicken pie was wonderfully buttery with generous bits of moist chicken and abalone cocooned within. It was so good that we had 2 servings!

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Baked Mini Egg Tarts

Quivery, not too sweet custard center on a flaky tart base. Pretty good but the tart could do with a little more butter in my humble opinion.

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Baked Custard Pastries

One of my must order dishes whenever I visit Wah Lok, the baked custard pasty (美人腰) was as good as my previous visit. "Lithe" and flaky with a smooth and sweetly satisfying custard filling.

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Homemade Soya Beancurd

To round up our largely excellent lunch, I had the homemade soya beancurd with gingko nut and chestnut. Though smooth, it honestly wasn't my cup of tea due to the amount of gelatin in it. I personally prefer the silky smooth, soft type. I did like the crunchiness from the chestnuts though.

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Bill

The 3 of us racked up a bill of over $150 for a pretty satisfying meal, in terms of quality and quantity. Wah Lok has been very consistent over the years and I look forward to returning soon!


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 7.5/10
Value for money: 7/10
Overall: 7.125/10

Address: 2nd floor, Carlton Hotel

Contact: 63118188/9

Opening Hours:

Lunch 11:30 am - 2.30 pm (Mon - Sat); 11 am - 2:30 pm (Sun & PH)

Dinner 6:30 pm - 10:30 pm

Website: http://www.carlton.com.sg/dining_wah.htm