Sunday, August 13, 2017

Lei Garden 利苑酒家 Part II, Hong Kong

Our previous visit to Lei Garden Mongkok (1 Michelin Star) was great so we decided to revisit during our recent trip.

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The Place

We didn't have a reservation and walked in when it opened for business. Thankfully tables were aplenty but people starting streaming in at about 7pm so I would recommend making a reservation if you intend to dine around that time.

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Double Boiled Soup (老火汤)

We started off with a hot favourite (literally!) - a deliciously light yet flavourful lotus root with pork and octopus double boiled soup. Definitely a great way to start off especially if you like soup.

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Honey Sauce BBQ Pork

Boasting a ~30% fat to meat ratio, the tender charsiew was coated in a layer of mildly sweet honey and had crispy charred bits along the edges; doused in a mildly salty sauce (unlike Singapore, which is usually sweet). Pretty good.

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Stir Fried Scallops with Yellow Fungus, Macadamia & Snow Pea (HKD 188)

I counted a total of 10 beautifully seared and relatively large scallops (a tad overly chewy though, especially the bigger ones), fried with macadamia nuts and sweet, crunchy snow peas. The wok hei was distinct but I found the fungus a tad too mushy for my liking. A good dish nonetheless.

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Claypot Rice (HKD 52/pax)

This was my first experience eating claypot rice in Hong Kong and it is quite different from what's served in Singapore (at least based on my limited experience). When the claypot is served, the waxed meat is separated and the dark sauce added in whereas in Singapore, everything is mixed in together with the dark sauce. The Lei Garden rendition also didn't have the burnt "taste" and came across as rather bland. I liked the waxed meat though; compact but not too dry or overly sweet.

I forgot to take a photo of the receipt and I don't quite remember how much it cost but all in all, it was a good meal (with the exception of the claypot rice) and the both of us rolled out of the place. Service was slightly warmer this time round and I'll definitely be back!


Final Verdict:
Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 7/10
Value for money:NA (don't remember the cost)

Overall: 7/10

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.

Website: http://www.leigarden.hk/eng/index.asp

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園) Part II, Hong Kong - Middling Pork Chop Bun But Consistently Great French Toast

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And we were back at Lan Fong Yuen (LFY) about a year later for breakfast and of course the delicious French Toast.

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The Place & Menu

It was an early Saturday morning and there was quite a fair bit of space available (we didn't have to share tables this time round) and service was a lot more agreeable.

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Stocking Milk Tea (絲襪奶茶)

LFY is touted to be the creators of the ubiquitous Stocking Milk Tea or 絲襪奶茶; it came across as lightly bitter with a mild sweetness. Not a tea connoisseur but found it pretty decent though I would have liked it a wee bit sweeter.

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Pork Chop Bun (金牌豬扒包) - HKD34

The award winning pork chop bun. But I found it rather average; a relatively tough piece of pork chop sandwiched between 2 rather dry and thin burger buns. I honestly don't see the fuss.

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Nissin Noodles With Chicken Chop (皇牌雞扒出前一丁) - HKD36

They didn't have their famous 蔥油雞扒撈丁 available so early in the morning so we went for the instant noodles with chicken chop which was decent if you like Nissin with all the packet seasoning aka monosodiumglutamate. The chicken chop was crispy along the edges yet sufficiently juicy and savoury.

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French Toast (傳統咖央西多士) - HKD24

My absolute favourite french toast with a blob of butter in the middle. Mildly crisp on the outside with a delightfully soft and fluffy center filled with kaya; all without the greasiness that I would usually associate with deep frying. Add honey for that extra sweetness. Excellent!

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Bill

The total damage? HKD 94. Relatively expensive for a 大排檔 but I'll be happy to return for their french toast.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: NA
Service: NA
Food: 7/10 (8/10 for the french toast)
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 7./10

Address: 2 Gage St (中環結志街2號)

Contact: 2544 3895 / 2854 0731

Opening Hours:

Mon to Sat - 0730hrs to 1800hrs

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Half Pound Burger Bar & Grill - Decent Value Set Lunch

Half Pound Burger (or HPB for short) sounded promising so we dropped by one Saturday afternoon to partake in their reasonably priced set lunch.

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The Place

Located close to the start of Purvis Street, HPB occupies a simply furnished but comfortable unit just metres away from Saveur.

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Soup Of The Day

It was either the Roasted Tomato Soup or the Potato Leek Soup for the set lunch so we went with the former. The tomato soup came across as rich but a little too zesty for my liking whilst the croutons were overly soggy, probably from sitting in the soup for an extended period of time.

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Grilled Chicken Burger

The grilled chicken patty tasted rather similar to a huge piece of chicken satay but came across as a tad dry. Decent flavour though but maybe having a bit of sauce would make it better? Side of fries was okay though the dipping sauce was rather interesting; a mildly sweet and creamy butter base that actually went well with the fries.

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Petite Half Pound Burger

As far as burgers go, this isn't anywhere near the best I've had but definitely not near the worst either. The patty was juicy though it was rather compact and strangely tough with a mild brovine flavour. Layered with Monterey Jack cheese, a strip of decent candied bacon (not as good as the one from Peter Luger or Clinton Street Baking or Bird Bird) and capped with a crisp, buttery bun (a wee bit more time on the grill would have been better in my humble opinion).

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Bill

Sure the food at HPB isn't fantastic. But at $17++/pax for lunch (includes a drink), it's actually pretty decent value for money especially in the City Hall area.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6.5/10
Service: 6.5/10
Food: 6/10
Value for money: 7/10 (based on the set lunch)

Overall: 6.5/10

Address: 8 Purvis Street

Contact: 6906 1900

Opening Hours: 12:00PM - 10:30PM (Closed on Mondays)

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

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Morton's Part XII - A Burger Month Special

In celebration of Burger Month, Morton's introduced a "Surf & Turf" burger for a limited period of time (May 15 - June 14 2017). Lobster and wagyu beef? I was hooked.

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The Place

The bar @ Mortons (a separate, slightly elevated space just across from the main restaurant) wasn't open till 5pm (even though the website stated 12pm) so we had to partake in our meal at a corner of the restaurant where the bar counter is situated (if you're only having burgers, you can't have it in the main dining area).

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Chicken Goujonettes

Chicken goujonettes are just a fancy name for chicken fingers/tenders/fillets and Morton's rendition came across as decent; crisp on the outside but tender on the inside without coming across as too greasy. However eating everything alone in one seating can prove nauseating so best to share. Didn't quite fancy the mustard mayonnaise sauce by the side.

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Surf & Turf

And the burger that drew us to Morton's, Surf & Turf. Thick, perfectly done (medium as per my request) 8oz slab of wagyu patty with bits of fat within for that chewiness. Topped with chunky truffle lobster salad and sandwiched between two deliciously buttery and crisp brioche buns; excellent. Came with a mountain of crisp, fresh tasting fries as well.

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Bill

A burger and a plate of chicken fingers cost ~ $88, which isn't cheap by any standard. However the burger is excellent and worth a try even though it costs ~$20 more than the regular USDA Prime Burger (which was a wee bit disappointing the last time I had it). I seriously hope Morton's considers having it on the regular menu. 
Service was very good as usual but the wait for food this time round was a little long (almost 30 minutes) which was quite a bummer.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 7/10 (8/10 for the Surf & Turf burger)
Value for money: 7/10
Overall: 7.25/10

Address: 4th Storey, Mandarin Oriental Singapore

Contact: 6339-3740

Opening Hours:

Bar
Monday - Saturday 5pm - 11pm
Sunday 12pm - 9pm

Dining Room
Monday - Saturday 5:30pm - 11pm
Sunday 12pm - 9pm

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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sky on 57 II - Adieu To Our Favourite Chicken Rice

Sky 57 has closed for good (since June 2017) so I thought I would remember the place by doing a writeup on our not too recent weekend lunch experience. 

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The Place

We got a semi private table in one of the partially enclosed corners so it was nice and quiet with a great view of the surroundings.

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Complimentary Bread

We were offered 2 rolls this time round; a baguette and a bun topped with furikake. The latter was interesting but both were merely stop gap measures in staving off our hunger.

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Tomyum Infused Pumpkin Velouté

Relatively spicy (for me at least) but creamy with a touch of sweetness from the pumpkin. Shreds of blue swimmer crab provided an alternative texture. Pretty good.

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Jerusalem Artichoke Velouté

This was as good as I remembered it to be. Mildly sweet yet savoury without coming across as too nauseating. Coupled with a generous serving of crunchy artichoke cubes and crisp, very buttery croutons. One word. Delicious.

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Organic Egg

A wobbly egg with an oozing center served with iberico pork belly, mushrooms, chives, potato espuma, truffle butter and rice krispies; an explosion of texture from creamy to chewy to crispy. Flavours were very good too; mildly savoury, salty and earthy with the smooth finish from the egg yolk. Only small gripe I had was that the rice krispies seemed a wee bit stale.

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JQ’s Signature

JQ's signature foie gras xiao long bao didn't quite live up to it's name in this instance. Although I thought the flavours were good (though a touch muted), unlike our previous visit, the skin was overly dry and juices were a little lacking. A case of inconsistency?

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Singapore "Sakura" Chicken Rice

The chicken rice wasn't in the lunch set and they had to make an exception (thankfully at no extra charge). The breast meat (as per our request) was very tender and moist with minimal fat under the skin whilst the rice came across as fragrant but not too oily. Very good!

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Bill

We didn't quite take to their desserts during our last visit so we skipped it this time round. Service was good and we're really going to miss the chicken rice.


Final Verdict: (CLOSED)

Ambience: 8.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Food: 7/10 (8/10 for the chicken rice)
Value for money: 6/10

Overall: 7.25/10

Address: Sands SkyPark, Tower 1, Level 57

Contact: 6688 8857

Opening Hours:

Breakfast:
Monday - Friday 7:00am - 10:30am
Saturday & Sunday 7:00am - 11:00am

Lunch:
Monday - Friday 12:00pm - 2:30pm
Saturday & Sunday 12:15pm - 2:30pm

High Tea:
Monday - Friday 2:30pm - 5:00pm
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays 3:00pm - 5:00pm

Dinner:
Daily 6:00pm - 10:30pm
(Dinner is served exclusively indoors.)

Flight Bar & Lounge
Sunday - Thursday 6:00pm - 2:00am
Friday - Saturday 6:00pm - 3:00am
Last order for bar bites at 1:00am

Website: http://www.marinabaysands.com/restaurants/celebrity-chefs/sky-on-57.html (CLOSED)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Gunther's Restaurant Part Deux - Excellent Food Generally But Watch Out For The Prices

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A revisit 8 years in the making. And here we were, finally. Somehow we had never really made it to Chef's Gunther Hubreschen's eponymous restaurant because of all the new and "exciting" restaurants that had been popping up ceaselessly in the last decade or so.

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Interior

The restaurant is divided into 2 dining areas and we were seated in the one with windows. Tables are spaced comfortably apart but due to the enclosed nature of the room, private conversations can be challenging unless one speaks in hushed tones (that's assuming the adjourning tables extend the same courtesy as well).

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Daily Specials

On a tray and alive (at least the lobster was). I like how the wait staff goes to every table with this platter and introduces the daily specials (Morton's used to do this until they got acquired by Landry's - shame really). 

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Complimentary Bread & Amuse Bouche

Things got off to a decent start with the complimentary bread; warm and crusty baguette served with a side of salty butter. Would personally prefer a fatter baguette though as that would highlight the contrast between the soft interior and crusty outside. 

Amouse bouche was a singular prawn tempura with a dollop of mayonnaise. The batter came across as light but a little excessive so no great shakes.

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Cold Angel Hair Pasta, Oscietra Caviar

One of Gunther's signature dishes and rightfully so, the decadent Cold Angel Hair Pasta with Oscietra Caviar. Served chilled, the pasta, doused with truffle oil and finely diced porcini mushrooms, came across as aromatic and al dente with a smorgasbord of flavours; savoury with a hint of saltiness and fishiness from the prized caviar. A most excellent dish.

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Daily Special #1

White asparagus was in season so we had it with morel mushrooms. Moist and tender with a rich nutty and earthy flavour from the morel mushrooms; simple yet delicious.

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Daily Special #2

Hokkaido scallops, shaved truffle and angel hair pasta; it sounded absolutely "droolicious". Well it sure would have made for a magical combination if the scallops (huge by the way) had a more robust sweetness to them. The angel hair pasta came across as warm and firm (though a little less al dente than the previous dish of chilled pasta with caviar) while the light butter sauce provided a nice creaminess with a fleeting hint of the earth from the truffle shavings.

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Roasted Rack Of Black Pig, Gratin Potato, Forestiere

Another of Gunther's signature dish, the Roasted Rack of Black Pig was very well done with a good fat to meat ratio; juicily tender and flavourful with just a dash of salt and pepper. Served with a token of mushrooms and tempura long bean on a bed of roasted gooey cheese. Nothing too complicated and absolutely delicious.

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Fine Apple Tart “à la dragée”, Havana Rum Raisin Ice Cream

Yet another of Gunther's signature and with good reason. Suitably sweet apple puree enveloped within a ridiculously crisp and thin shell sprinkled with a generous serving of crushed nuts and served with a scoop of rather strong rum and raisin ice cream. Definitely one of the best rendition of apple tart I've had in recent years.

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Petit Fours

To end off, petit fours to further cram our already bursting tummies. Decent.

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Bill

Food overall came across as grounded; nothing fanciful and generally excellent. Prices are a little dear though, at close to $395 for the both of us. But well worth the money in my humble opinion (if only for a special occasion!). Service was personable and unpretentious so that's another plus. Definitely coming back!

ps: Please note that portion sizes reflected in the pictures above are half portions as the both of us were sharing. So to have an idea of the actual portion size, just double it up.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 8/10 (9/10 for the Cold Angel Hair Pasta, Oscietra Caviar)
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 7.5/10

Address: 36 Purvis Street #01-03

Contact: 6338 8955

Opening Hours:

Mondays – Fridays
12pm – 2:30pm
6:30pm – 10:00pm

Saturdays
6:30pm – 10:00pm

Closed on Sunday

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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spago - Wonderful Environment, Decent Food

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We had been itching to try Spago and the opportunity presented itself one Saturday afternoon when we had to drop by Marina Bay Sands (MBS) to settle some business. Spago is Wolfgang Puck's second restaurant @ MBS, with the first being CUT, an upmarket steakhouse. The Los Angeles flagship outlet of Spago had garnered 2 Michelin stars in 2008 and 2009 (Michelin pulled out of LA after that) so our expectations were reasonably high.

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The Place

Taking the lift up to the 57th level brings you to the famed MBS infinity pool, where one of Spago's service staff will walk you to your table within the confines of a beautiful timber decked room with plenty of natural light (that's if you choose not to dine al fresco).

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Complimentary Bread

Served with salted nori butter and unsalted buter, the complimentary baguette and black olive focaccia came across as palatable but nothing to shout about. Somehow the European restaurants (ie. Joel Robuchon) tend to do better bread in my personal experience. 

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Chicken ‘Laksa’ Spring Roll

This local inspired appetiser was rather interesting. Spring roll skin deep fried till crackling crisp and filled with thick rice noodles and chicken - reminiscent of laksa especially when eaten with the dipping sauce.

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Pan Seared Pork Dumplings

The 锅贴 or Gyoza was decent; not overly oily or porky with the skin retaining a light crisp. Simple yet refined.

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Grilled Iberico Pork Secreto

Secreto or the "secret" cut apparently refers to different cuts of the Iberian pig, varying from individual to individual and there exists no common or universal standard to date; a clever marketing ploy to make people pay more. But I digress. The famed acorn fed Iberico pork strips were excellent; tender with a light charring along the exterior. Flavours were wonderful - savoury with a touch of earhiness from the mushrooms and sweetness from the pumpkin and chestnuts. Topped with light and crispy pork skin and deliciously smooth parsnip puree.

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Grilled Angus Beef Burger

Nothing else really caught my attention on the menu so I went with the usually safe burger option. Unfortunately this didn't turn out as well as I would have liked it to. For starters, the patty was a tad too soft for my liking. I appreciate the hand chopped patty with its uneven texture and bits of fat but it had minimal beefiness to it. The buns were crisp along the edges but slathered with ketchup which isn't my default option for buns (butter is!). An average burger overall. Interestingly, the restaurant 56 floors down in the same tower serves a much better burger in my humble opinion.

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Coconut-Passion Fruit Trifle

There wasn't a choice of dessert with the set lunch so the the Coconut-Passion Fruit Trifle it was. Tangy, sweet, smooth and crunchy (due to the rice krispies) all at once. Flavours were light and clean - pretty good. Only small gripe I had was the passionfruit seeds; I know they can be eaten but I'm personally not a fan.

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Chocolate – Coffee Semifreddo

We got greedy and decided to share an additional dessert. Served with caramalised banana balls and banana cake cubes, the asthetically pleasing Chocolate Coffee Semifreddo came across as rather strong on the flavours (a juxtaposition to the previous Coconut Passion Fruit Trifle dessert) with a dominant coffee presence. Decent.

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Bill

Lunch was a pleasant and leisurely affair. Food was decent overall (though not quite up to expectations) and didn't cost us an arm or a leg @ ~$134. Service was very good and so was the ambience. Personally would prefer to dine @ Sky 57 over Spago.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 8/10
Service: 7.5/10
Food: 7/10
Value for money: 6.5/10

Overall: 7.25/10

Address: Sands SkyPark, Tower 2 Level 57

Contact: 6688 9955

Opening Hours:

Breakfast
DAILY:7:00am - 10:30am

Lunch
DAILY: 12:00pm - 2:30pm

Dinner
SUN, MON, TUE, WED, THU: 6:00pm - 10:00pm
FRI, SAT: 6:00pm - 11:00pm

Website: https://wolfgangpuck.com/dining/spago-singapore/