Thursday, February 26, 2015

Imperial Treasure Cantonese Part IX - A Pre Chinese New Year Celebration

It was our monthly dinner gathering as well as a pre CNY celebration. The venue of choice was Imperial Treaure Cantonese @ Terminal 3, which also happens to be one of my favourite Chinese restaurants in Singapore.

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Salmon Yusheng

My first yusheng (鱼生) of 2015 and it got us off to a great start; Thick slices of salmon and fresh tasting crackers coupled with a not cloyingly sweet plum sauce and crunchy strips of carrot, radish etc. Simple yet delightful. Only small gripe I had was that there seemed to be a lingering lemongrass taste in a couple of mouthfuls which I'm no big fan of.

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Pea Shoots With Bamboo Shoots

The prized winter bamboo shoots (冬筍) were in season so we had them stir fried with pea shoots for our obligatory greens dish. Which was quite nice really; Nice wok hei and savouriness to the pea shoots whilst the bamboo shoots were very crunchy with a tinge of rawness.

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Crabmeat With Egg White And Italian White Truffle Oil

Scallops were our original choice but unfortunately, the quality was suspect that day hence the decision by the restaurant to temporarily withdraw it from the menu. We eventually settled for crab meat in lieu and honestly, it was equally good (prawns don't go well though. See my previous writeup here). The crab meat imparted a nice crustacean flavour to the egg white, which acted as a sponge for the wonderfully aromatic and earthy white truffle oil.

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Sauteed Beancurd With Mushroom

Silky smooth with a nice savoury finish from the layer of seaweed atop. Topped with a generous serving of mushrooms. What's not to like?

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Sauteed Prawn Ball

Huge, fresh and crunchy de-shelled prawns stir fried with leek, carrots and spring onion; Simple unadulterated sweetness and goodness.

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Roasted Duck

The rather sizeable whole duck sported a nicely crisp skin, tender and juicy meat sans an overwhelming fowl taste. Excellent. 

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Truffle Mee Pok With Lingzhi Mushroom

This off the menu dish remains one of our must order items whenever we drop by Imperial Treasure Cantonese. Al dente mee pok coupled with a prominently aromatic truffle oil taste and crunchy beansprouts; Definitely worth the carbohydrates!

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Durian Pudding

And we ended off dinner with a round of durian pudding. Chilled and smooth with a distinct taste of durian and bits of the fruit lodged within the pudding. Great way to finish.

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Bill

The 6 of us clocked in at almost $360, which was pretty reasonable given the quality and quantity of food (we struggled to finish the duck). Service was decent and it was a great dinner all in all!


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/

Friday, February 20, 2015

Platypus Lobster Shack - Comparatively Cheaper Lobster Rolls

The lobster roll cravings kicked in some two weeks after we returned from our mini round the world trip. And we didn't fancy waiting for a table at the seemingly overhyped Pince and Pints hence Platypus Lobster Shack or PLS for short.

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The Place & Menu

Occupying a single storey shophouse along Nankin Row @ China Square Central, PLS offers both alfreso and indoor seating (both rather limited by the way), separated only by an air curtain. The place practices an open concept and you can see your food being prepared. Only major gripe I had was that the noise level was rather ridiculous; More like a pub than an eatery. And the main culprit? Loud music. So much for a pleasant meal.

The menu is divided into three sections; Starters, lobster rolls and drinks. Pretty specialised eh?

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Crustacean Bowl

Apparently there are only limited quantities of this available on a daily basis and you have a choice of having it in either starter ($19++) or main ($26++) portions. The starter portion looked a little pathetic honestly so we had the mains to share (two pax to one serving). And it was pretty good. Crunchy lobster chunks pressed upon sushi rice and topped with char grilled cheddar cheese, uni creme and caviar. Mildly sweet, creamy and savoury all in one mouth. The caviar could do with a quality upgrade though. And even as a main, this was quite small. I would probably need at least three to four servings to fill my stomach. Nonetheless still a great eat and I would love to have more!

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The Traditional

I'm a purist so I went with the traditional lobster roll. First impressions, the roll was rather small but packed with crunchy lobster chunks that didn't have much crustacean sweetness to speak about and the roasted garlic mayonnaise came across as mild and lacking in depth. Though crisp on the outside, the bread roll lacked butter whilst the side of crisp chips were unevenly drizzled with truffle oil (still nice though as I'm biased towards truffle oil!). All in all, a very average tasting lobster roll and pales in comparison to Luke's Lobster in New York or my current favourite, Burger and Lobster in London.

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Spicy Roasted Garlic

The spicy roasted garlic variant of the lobster roll tasted pretty similar to the traditional offering save for the spiciness from the chilli and crunchiness of the garlic chips. Average tasting as well.

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Bill

The six of us chalked up a bill of about $237, which wasn't too expensive considering that there was lobster involved. But portion sizes were small and quality of the lobster rolls were average at best. Service was decent but I honestly can't see myself returning unless I am in the mood to blow in excess of $100 on four crustacean bowls!


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 5/10 (way too noisy!)
Service: 6/10
Food: 6/10 (7.5/10 for the crustacean bowl)
Value for money: 6/10

Overall: 6/10

Address: 3 Pickering Street, Nankin Row #01-31

Contact: 6438 7961

Opening Hours:

Mon - Thurs, 5:30pm – 10pm

Fri, 5:30pm – 11pm

Sat, 5:30pm - 11pm

Closed on Sundays

Website: http://www.platypuslobstershack.com/

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Immanuel French Kitchen - French Food In A Coffeeshop

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It was not too long ago when De Burg (a decent burger outfit which has since moved to Kallang) was still situated at the rather quiet coffeeshop along Blk 119 Bukit Merah Lane 1. In the space of a about a year, much has changed and the same coffeeshop is now bustling with stalls selling different produce and crowds patiently queuing up for a table. One such stall that has moved in is Immanuel French Kitchen, a much publicised (by the media) outfit selling fine French cuisine at seemingly affordable prices. 

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Duck Rillettes

Served up in a tin container alongside another tin of gherkins and a platter of sliced, rather dry and hard baguette, the duck rillettes came across as decent; Generous and well shredded with a nicely smooth, oily finish. Would have been better if it had been a little creamier and a little less salty. 

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Pork Belly Braised In Kakuni Style Served With Duxelle Mushrooms, Onsen Egg & Potato Foam

This dish was a little east meets west as the pork belly was done Kakuni style (simmered in dashi, soya sauce, mirin, sugar and sake and popular in Nagasaki). The belly was relatively tender but had quite a fair bit of fat, giving it a nice wobbly texture but also a rather nauseating effect. Amidst the richness of the pork belly and a quivery onsen egg sporting a runny center (topped unfortunately with bacon bits that tasted straight off the shelves), the duxelle mushrooms provided a commendable earthy complement whilst the lightly smooth potato foam and croutons dispensed the necessary carbohydrates. Pretty decent but honestly it was the potato foam that impressed me more than anything else.

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Bill

1 duck rillettes and 1 pork belly dish for a grand total of $25.50. Whilst I appreciate the thought and effort that has gone into both dishes, I personally do feel that $16.90 is a bit too much to pay for the pork belly, given the quantity (not much!) and setting of the place (coffeeshop). But to be fair, food quality is a notch or two above average so that should count for something I guess?


Final Verdict:

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

Overall: 7/10

Address: 119 Bukit Merah Lane 1

Contact: 9297 3285

Opening Hours

Tue - Sun: 12:00 - 14:30

Tue - Sun: 18:00 - 21:30

Closed: Mon

Website: https://www.facebook.com/immanuelfrenchkitchen

And we had other stuff to eat from the other stalls at the same coffeeshop.

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Fish & Chips (from Seasalt) & Chicken Wings (from Two Wings)

Just a brief comment. The fish and chips was heavily battered and tasted bland. Not my idea of a good fish and chips but at least it was palatable. However the much vaunted (by many bloggers) chicken wings failed miserably in my humble opinion. Sure, the wings were a fair bit bigger than usual and juicy with a crisp exterior but the meat wasn't sweet, the batter was way too thick and had a funny plastic taste to it. The both of us poked at our wings, had a few bites and gave up. Best chicken wings? Seriously?!! And the wings weren't exactly cheap to boot ($8.50 for 4 wings). 

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Les Amis - Past It's Prime?

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I had been meaning to try Les Amis for the longest time and the wife and I finally got down to it one sunny Saturday afternoon. Les Amis has been around for 20 years and is regarded as one of the pioneers of independent French fine dining in Singapore. It has also consistently appeared in various rankings as one of the top restaurants in Asia and the world (ie. 14th in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants by San Pellegrino in 2013 and 2014). Expectations were high, naturally.

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The Place

I like the high ceiling and chandelier but couldn't quite wrap my head around the two levels of seating (the 3 private rooms are on the mezzanine floor whilst the normal seating is on the ground floor. Maybe it's just me but I didn't get a very good vibe upon stepping in; The place just seemed a tad too stuffy for my liking.

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Complimentary Bread

A decent enough basket of bread to quell any growling pangs before the meal proper. This proved to be very useful later on.

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White Asparagus In "Blanc Mange", Oscietra Caviar

The white asparagus came in the form of a blancmange (flavoured dessert made from glutinous or starchy ingredients and milk), which came across as creamy and smooth with a distinctive asparagus taste amidst a mousse like texture. Topped with caviar for that salty slant and aesthetically surrounded by a ring of sour cream to cut through the fishiness of the caviar. Nice but too much of sour cream and blancmange together can be a tad nauseating. A very decent start nonetheless!
 
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Warm Lobster Encased Within Baby Spinach Accompanied By Classic Fish Bone Sauce

I couldn't quite make out the significance of the baby spinach leaf as the taste didn't quite feature but the warm lobster encased within was very good; crunchy with flavours accentuated by the creamy yet not too rich fish bone sauce. And finished off with salty fish roe. I liked this dish but found it tiny and a tad overly fishy.

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Angel Hair Pasta With Lobster, Crispy Sakura Ebi And A Touch Of Parmesan

First impressions, "god it's tiny!". Al dente angel hair pasta topped with small, crunchy lobster pieces, crisp sakura ebi that provided a nice crunch and chilli flakes for that mild fire; All simmered in a broth that had a beautiful crustacean flavour to it. Only gripes I had were that it was a tad too salty (and believe me, I have quite a high salt tolerance level) and that it tasted rather pedestrian, like a more refined version of 虾面 (prawn noodles).

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Hot Souffle Of Reine-Claude With A Refreshing Yoghurt Sorbert

The Reine-Claude (greengage) souffle was a tad soggy but relatively light. Served with a mildly sour yet sweet yoghurt sorbert. Pretty nice way to end off the meal.

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Petit Fours

Lemon madeleines and vanilla canelés. Not great, especially the canelés, which came across as bitter and hard on the outside. The lemon madeleines fared slightly better, sporting crisp edges and a mild lemony taste.

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Bill

Remember the basket of bread at the beginning of the meal and how I mentioned it was useful later on? Well, with the portion sizes, I definitely needed the bread to fill me up. And even so, I was left rather unsatisfied. Decently competent food but lacking the spark in my humble opinion. At almost $165 for a 2 pax lunch and with all its credentials, I was certainly expecting more; More creativity, more outstanding flavours. But sadly, both seemed to be a little lacking. Service was professional but reserved. So is Les Amis past its prime? Maybe...


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 7/10
Value for money: 5/10

Overall: 6.5/10

Address: 1 Scotts Road, #01-16 Shaw Centre,

Contact: 6733-2225

Opening Hours:

Monday to Saturday
Lunch 12.00pm (Last seating at 2.00pm)
Dinner 7.00pm (Last seating at 9.30pm)

Sundays
Closed

Closed on certain holidays.
Please call to enquire.

Website: http://lesamis.com.sg/

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Garibaldi Part II- A Restaurant Week Lunch

Restaurant week rolled on by again but unfortunately we were pretty packed and only managed to squeeze in a lunch at Garibaldi on a Saturday afternoon.

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Interior & Menu

While my last visit to Garibaldi was over 7 years ago, the interior looked like it hadn't changed much; sombre and minimalistic with the wine racks featuring prominently in the background. A window table was offered and gladly accepted. Tables are fairly large albeit placed a little too close to each other and the place is a hot bed for noise when operating at full capacity so we had to raise our voices to carry out a conversation.

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Complimentary Bread

Served warm, the foccacia was crusty with a soft and airy center. We had seconds.

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Seasonal Seafood Salad With Cold Angel's Hair, Smoked Caviar & Chilled Spicy Tomato Soup

A mildly spicy, tart and chilled broth coupled with fresh seafood (shrimp, octopus, fish etc) and a little less than al dente angel hair pasta. Topped with a small spoonful of rather inferior caviar (can't complain for the price though!). Still a pretty decent eat though and I particularly liked how the coldness of the pasta and soup gave it a mildly refreshing spin from the norm.

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Fettuccine With Hokkaido Scallop, Truffled Cream Sauce & Chives

The fettuccine was al dente whilst the truffle cream sauce gave it a nice creamy taste that didn't threaten to overwhelm the senses. The scallop slices, though relatively generous, were a little bland and on the soft side, which highlighted the lack of contrast in both texture and taste of this dish. Still a decent eat nonetheless.

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Valrhona Chocolate & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Mousse With Crispy Caramelized Hazelnut & Macadamia Nuts Sauce

I quite enjoyed this sweet ending to our meal. Smooth valrhona chocolate mousse sitting atop a thin slice of limp sponge and topped with a crisp caramelised hazelnut crumble that threatened to stick to my teeth at every possible instance. Couldn't quite make out the olive oil though.

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Bill

As with alot of the more "upclass" restaurants, Garibaldi charges an additional fee for their restaurant week meals (for lunch it's $15++/pax more), which works out to be almost $95 for 2 pax. Not too expensive but food quality, though above average, seems to have gone down a few notches since my last visit (maybe comparatively the competition has improved/intensified since then). Service this time round was friendlier though and that is definitely a good thing!


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7.5/10
Food: 7/10
Value for money: 6.5/10 (only for the restaurant week lunch)
Overall: 7/10

Address: 36 Purvis Street #01-02

Contact: 6837 1468

Opening Hours:

Lunch: 12:00pm – 2:30pm Daily

Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm Daily

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