Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flutes Part III - A Much Improved Brunch Offering

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Our last meal at Flutes was at its old premises @ the lovely Fort Canning Park and the food was disappointing to say the least. Fast forward two years, we were due at the National Museum on a Saturday morning and decided to give Flutes another shot at brunch.

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Located on the ground floor of the museum, Flute's interior is reminiscent of its old location; Wooden flooring coupled with wooden chairs, white table linen and huge windows that allow for direct sunlight. What's different is the noise level. Where the old outfit used to be plagued by noise problems due to the boxed up nature of the building, this new dining area has a higher ceiling and much better sound proofing.

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A Jar Of Confit Duck Rillette, Smoked Duck Ham, Ginger & Apple Chutney, Toast

The small jar of duck rillette wasn't overly rich but came across as a tad too greasy and could do with a little more shredding. Served alongside were slices of smoked duck that had whiffs of smokiness but could really benefit from more smoking time. Slices of crisp toast and a blob of sweet ginger apple chutney completed the picture. I personally didn't find the chutney very relevant as the sweetness didn't quite help cut through the creaminess of the rillette. Nonetheless still a decent appetiser.

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Wagyu Beef Burger, Smoked Bacon, Egg & Truffle Shoestring Fries

This was a marked improvement over the burger I had the previous time. Done to a nice medium well as per my request and juicy with a distinct bovine taste. Topped with cheese, an oozing sunny side up and bacon for that extra sinfulness and runny texture. All sandwiched between two very crisp on the outside, mildly fluffy and sweet buns. A little more butter would have made it even better in my humble opinion. And who could ever say no to truffle shoestring fries?

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Prawn Aglio Olio, Spagetthini, Garlic & Sesame Crumbs

The spaghetti was a tad on the soft side but came across light yet flavourful with the garlic and sesame crumbs whilst the prawns, though generous, seemed a tad undercooked. Decent but nothing to shout about.

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Queen's Chocolate Perfection Pie

Two tones of milk chocolate neatly compressed within a crisp tart shell and drizzled with tons of white and milk chocolate shavings. Finished off with a strawberry jam and cream. Apparently this is one of Queen Elizabeth's favourite sweet dishes but looking at the royal recipe, I have my doubts that Flute's rendition is modeled after the original. Nonetheless a pretty nice eat if you have a sweet tooth.

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French Toast, Berries, White Chocolate & Pistachio

The highlight of our meal, the crème de la crème, the aesthetically pleasing French Toast dessert. Boasting a mildly crisp exterior yet soft and pillowy on the inside, this classic breakfast dish came topped with berries, pistachios, strawberries and edible flowers; Drizzled over with warm and sweet white chocolate sauce. Excellent! If I needed any reason to revisit Flutes, this would be it!

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Brunch was a much improved affair and coupled with reasonably attentive service and great ambience, made for a pretty positive dining experience. All at a relatively reasonable price of $90 for 2 pax. We are already planning a return trip ;)

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 8/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 7/10 (8/10 for the French toast)
Value for money: 7/10 (based on brunch)

Overall: 7.25/10

Address: The National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road

Contact: 63388770

Opening Hours

Weekday Lunch
11.30am till 2.00pm (Last Order)

Weekend Brunch
10.00am to 2.30pm (Last Order)

Sunday Roast
11.00am to 2.30pm (Last Order)

English Afternoon Tea (Fri-Sun)
3.00pm to 5.00pm (Last order)

Dinner Hours (Mon-Sat)
6.30pm till 10.00pm
10.30pm on Saturdays (Last Order)


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mikuni - The Successor To Inagiku?

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Inagiku was long gone (since 2012) and in its place, Mikuni, a Japanese restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Moon Kyung Soo (who is Korean by the way). After seeing all the wonderful reviews about the place (mostly invites though), we decided to drop by for lunch one weekday afternoon.

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I really don't know how to begin describing the interior of Mikuni. It had sort of a weird vibe to it, like they couldn't decide whether to make it techno-ish or modern Japanese (what's with the blue overhanging lights?) and tables were placed relatively close to each other. I could make out what the tables to our left and right were talking about which was quite a turn off in my humble opinion, the tron legacy lights notwithstanding (reminded me a little of Eva Air's Infinity Lounge @ Taipei as well).

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And we started off with a bowl of complimentary salad and some thin, crustacean crisps (I believe it was ebi) with dashes of spice. Pretty nice. 

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Sashimi Set

Very fresh sashimi; Tuna, creamily smooth sea urchin, salmon, swordfish, squid and amberjack. Need I say more? Served with a cup of chawanmushi (more on that later) and a rather tasty agedashi tofu sporting a somewhat elastic skin.

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Australian Beef & Ebi Ougon Sauce Set

Although portions were a tad dainty, this teppanyaki set offered a pretty good sampling of beef and prawn. The beef was tender and flavourful with bits of fat even though it came almost well done instead of my requested medium. However, the highlight was the prawns; Fresh, crunchy and smothered in creamy yet lightly savoury golden sauce (The old Inagiku's rendition was slightly richer and better in my humble opinion though). I personally loved the addition of the fried garlic chips to the dish for that strong garlic infusion and crunch.

The set also included a bowl of fragrant garlic fried rich and a cup of chawanmushi, with the latter silky smooth with bits of prawn and meat inside without coming across as too eggy.

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Espresso Ice Cream & Petit Fours

I'm usually not a big fan of coffee ice creams but the espresso ice cream was pretty good; Not too strong or acidic and went well with the blob of cream in the center. Biscuit crumbs atop provided a nice crunchy texture to the equation.

The petit fours included rather interesting red bean squares that had a smooth, melt in your mouth texture (similar to paste) but appeared gelatin like. Matcha balls (matcha cream encapsulated by a thin white chocolate shell and dusted with matcha powder) completed the picture and I personally liked how the bitterness of the matcha complemented the sweetness of the chocolate.

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If it wasn't for the Feed At Raffles discount, our lunch would have been exorbitantly priced. Thankfully, with the 50% discount, it was a more affordable $103 for two. Food quality was pretty decent but I wouldn't describe it as mind blowing. More like reliable if you ask me. Service was good but the ambience wasn't ideal (lose the blue lights please). However, at such a price point (with the 50% discount) and food quality, I'll be inclined to return.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6.5/10 (confused?)
Service: 7/10
Food: 7.5/10
Value for money: 7/10 (with the 50% discount)

Overall: 7/10

Address: Level 3, Fairmont Singapore

Contact: 6431 6156

Opening Hours:

Monday to Sunday - 12:00pm to 2:30pm

Monday to Sunday - 6:30pm to 10:30pm


Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Beast - Seriously Overrated

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We had heard about The Beast, a restaurant/bar specialising in southern cuisine (of which soul food is a subset of) and was drawn by the Amex tie up to offer set meals at a relatively reasonable price.

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The Place & Menu

It was pouring the day we went and parking was a pain. What made it worse was that we were confined to sitting at the bar area, with reused oil cylinders as tables, loud music for accompaniment and dim lighting. Really uncomfortable. And to think we had made reservations about a week in advance. The place must be popular. Oh wait. I saw a couple of walk ins waiting at the bar area for a bit and getting a table upstairs. But I digress.

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Roasted Tomato Soup

Served with a side of crisp toast sporting a gooey, cheesy filling that had me wanting for more, the tomato soup came across as lightly tart with a dash of fleeting spiciness in every mouthful. A great start to the food!

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Chicken With Waffles

Apparently one of the very well received dishes at The Beast, the chicken with waffles was a mixed bag for me. First the positive. The buttermilk fried chicken was juicy and bursting with flavour beneath the beautifully crunchy skin. However the flavour was good for only the initial few mouthfuls and progressively muted down. But it was still a pretty good piece of chicken I must say. The downside to this dish was the waffle, which was crisp (almost to the extent of being hard though) but had an unpleasant sourish taste to it. And the watery bourbon maple syrup served alongside couldn't quite cover that up. 

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Chocolate Ice Cream

Decent way to end off; A nice big scoop of off the shelf chocolate ice cream topped with nuts and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

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$30++ ($35.31 nett) per pax honestly isn't much in today's dining scene but I seriously think the restaurant needs to do something about the waffles, pronto. Service alternated between friendly but confused and outright unfriendly, depending on who we approached. Will I be back? Considering that the chicken and waffles couldn't quite match up to the real deal and our overall experience was less than positive, the answer, unfortunately, is a no.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 4/10 (based on the bar floor)
Service: 5/10
Food: 6/10 (7/10 for the fried chicken and roasted tomato soup/cheesy toast combination)
Value for money: 7/10 (based on the Amex promotion)
Overall: 5.5/10

Address: 17 Jalan Klapa

Contact: 6295 0017

Opening Hours:

Mon – Thurs: 5pm - midnight

Fri – Sat: 5pm – 1am

Sun: 10am - 5pm


Sunday, March 08, 2015

Imperial Treasure Teochew Part III - A Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner

Our first choice, Imperial Treasure Cantonese @ Crowne Plaza was fully booked out for Chinese New Year eve more than 2 months in advance so we had to settle for Imperial Treasure Teochew @ Ngee Ann City (we last did our reunion dinner there in 2010).

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Fatt Choy Salmon Yusheng

The yusheng was similar to that of Imperial Treasure Cantonese; appetising with a myriad of flavours and crisp, fresh tasting crackers. 

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Nourishing Double Boiled Superior Shark's Fin With Shark Cartilage

The shark bone soup was light without coming across as too milky or nausea inducing whilst the dorsal fins were relatively sizeable and generous. Pretty good.

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Braised Sliced Mexico Abalone With Dried Oyster & Black Moss

I'm no fan of dried oysters, which are way too fishy for my liking but the Mexican abalone slices were great; lightly chewy with a subtle sweetness. Throw in some black moss (发菜) and lettuce in a mildly starchy, savoury gravy for a classic Chinese New Year dish.

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Deep Fried Soon Hock Fish In Superior Soya Sauce

The soon hock (marble goby) sported a crisp, deep fried skin coupled with firm yet flaky flesh, served on a light soy sauce base which gives it a nice salty slant (without which the fish would taste rather bland).  

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Roasted Crispy Duck

This was rather lacklustre in comparison to the offering from Imperial Treasure Cantonese; less than crispy skin coupled with juicy meat and a sauce base that could really use a touch of sweetness. Averagely decent.

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Baked Lobster With Salted Fish

We opted to upgrade our prawn dish and ended up with this weird tasting, big shelled 1.4kg lobster. Though the flesh was fresh and crunchy, the whole dish was soaked in a unusually sweet yet salty sole fish gravy. Can't say I enjoyed it very much.

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Fried Glutinous Rice With Preserved Meat & Sausages

One of the ubiquitous dishes of Chinese New Year, the humble glutinous rice. Although this rendition wasn't too waxy and the rice grains carried a bit of a bite, it lacked fragrance and was essentially very bland save for the sweetness from the lap cheong (Chinese sausage). Another averagely palatable dish.

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Mashed Taro Cream With Pumpkin

A staple Teochew dessert, the orh nee was smooth but lacked fragrance and came across as a tad too watery. Decent but hardly befitting a respectable Teochew eatery.

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Pan Fried New Year Cake

Extremely sticky, soft, chewy and sweet. That's 粘糕 (or 年糕) for you I guess.

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Our reunion dinner for 6pax cost to the tune of $1134; not entirely expensive but quality of food wasn't remarkable. Service was good but we had to wait for almost 30mins after our allocated time for our table to be made available. Will I be back? Maybe but definitely not during the Chinese New Year super peak period.

Final Verdict:
Ambience: 6.5/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 6.5/10
Value for money: 6/10 (Reunion dinner pricing)

Overall: 6.5/10

Address: #04-20A Ngee Ann City

Contact: 6736 2118

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday
Lunch: 11.30am to 3.00pm
Dinner: 6.00pm to 10.30pm

Lunch: 11.00am to 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.00pm to 11.00pm

Lunch: 10.30am to 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.00pm to 11.00pm


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Artistry - Go For The PB&J French Toast

It was a rainy day and the wife and I were itching to try out some place new. Artistry (a hybrid new art gallery and cafe) came up in our conversation and viola, we made the trip down to try our luck at getting a table (they don't take reservations).

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The Place & Menu

The cafe isn't big, with a couple of tables indoors and a few long benches in the al fresco dining area. Since the weather was nice and cooling, we opted to sit outside over the rather squeezy tables inside. 

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Crab Burger

A rather sizable patty chock full of crab meat shreds topped with sweet caramelised onion and tomato jam, sandwiched between two unremarkable buns. Pretty decent but the taste of the crab could be a little more pronounced in my humble opinion. The accompanying truffle fries were cut a tad too thick for my liking and coated with flour, which gave it a relatively stiff texture. Not really my cup of tea.

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Nasi Lemak Burger

Now this was rather interesting. Pandan buns infused with coconut shreds coupled with a sunny side up, ikan bilis (dried anchovies), peanuts and a slab of juicy but relatively bland piece of breaded chicken thigh. Accompanied by a small dish of mildly sweet and spicy chilli. In all honesty, there was some resemblance to the real nasi lemak (coconut milk rice) but the less than fresh tasting peanuts could do with a little more work. Oh yes and maybe the chicken could use some seasoning. Nonetheless, still a thumbs up for the idea.

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PB&J French Toast

And of course desserts. The peanut butter & jelly french toast sported a a beautifully crisp surface while the insides were lightly moist yet airy and played host to a filling of smooth and sweet peanut butter and jelly. Served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and finished off with a topping of blueberry jam and a dusting of icing sugar. Pretty simple yet delectable I must say!

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All in all, the both of us spent $54 for brunch (no service charge or GST is a plus!) which was quite reasonable considering that the food was quite decent overall and service was friendly. But the sole reason for my return would be for the PB&J french toast.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10 (based on al fresco sitting on a chilly morning)
Service: 7/10
Food: 6.5/10 (7.5/10 for the PB&J french toast)
Value for money: 7/10
Overall: 6.875/10

Address: 17 Jalan Pinang

Contact: 6298 2420

Opening Hours:

Tues-Sat 10am-11.30pm

Sun 10am-7pm

Closed on Mondays