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Raffles City | Marina Bay

atas much?

yay! back to food blogging!

ya know.. it’s a bit of a chore at times to be honest.. taking picture of food in dimly lit conditions, trying your best to get that perfect, non-shaky shot, then post-processing images, trying to salvage the blemishes introduced due to taking photos at iso-400 (yeah my cam kinda sucks.. sponsor me please, canon?) and then having to write much about food whatsoever.

yet, some restaurants are simply meant to be reviewed — to me the motivation comes from eating food so inspiring, whimsically creative, complete and every dish a literal work of art both visually and taste-wise. and yes, jaan is one of them. but don’t expect this to come cheap.

let’s talk ambience. jaan is situated at the 70th floor of swissotel hotel, meaning it commands a really spectacular view of the city-hall-marina bay area that is really magickal and the sky dims and night approaches and you get to see all the beautifully lit buildings twinkling and being reflected by the esplanade bay waters. to be honest, this one of the things that every singaporean ought to feel somewhat proud of.. we have such a beautiful skyline and harborfront nowadays..

ok the interior of jaan is somewhat disappointing to be honest, because it looks like some plain ole’ dining hall with non-descript, sparse furnishings and deco. the statement piece i suppose are the interesting glass ceiling lights but to me they look kinda ugly, almost like some twisted scrap metal that was being suspended from the ceiling. hmm.

but who cares about decor when we come here for the food? let’s start the show.. we ordered the 5 course degustation menu for $148 (without wine and without the cheese supplement of $35).. seriously this place doesn’t come cheap, but good food is what you are paying for. the chef has generously littered the degustation menu with many free servings of pre-appetizers and pre-desserts as you can see from the picture at the top. they are intricate, really yummy stuff that was described kinda quickly and in that foreign accent-style that most european waiters adopt.. so errm.. i couldn’t really catch it. but its nice la.

ossiblue prawn ceviche – lime marinade, oscietra cream, pear and radish (along with rice cracker)

first course out of the gate and i’m really genuinely impressed. the prawns are tantalizing, but what is truly impressive is the thought that has gone into determining the combination of ingredients that goes on the plate and creates this harmonious and expertly balanced dish – the limey sourness and sliminess of the prawns counterbalances perfectly both the creamy savoriness of the oscietra cream and the crunchy texture of the pear strips and rice cracker. the pear and radish also lent that vegetal note to the dish, really creating a smorgasbord of flavors that complemented each other perfectly. i craved for more.

55′ smoked organic egg – with Jerusalem artichoke, chanterelles, iberico de bellota and porcini crumb 

OMG. this was like taking a humble soft boiled egg and elevating it into taste heaven what with the perfect pairing of ingredients at the side and with perfect execution. our waiter kindly informed us that the egg had been smoked at 62 degrees for 55 minutes, hence the name. whatever the rationale, the egg was perfectly done and smelled and tasted amazing. i especially loved the crunchy savoriness of the dried chanterelles (a type of mushroom), the iberico ham strips and the procini crumbs. omg.. yet another perfect blend of ingredients. this was really the highlight of the meal.

trondheim bay hand dived scallop (rosemary smoked), with reinette apple cider, boudin noir and burnet

hmm.. the first dish i didn’t particular complete embrace. the scallop (which the waiter informed us came directly from trondheim bay, norway) smelled heavenly, having been infused with the smoky flavor from the rosemary and was once again divinely executed to be just the right amount of chewiness. what turned me slightly off was the use of boudin nour dollops (essentially sauce made from pig blood) because the blood taste was overwhelming and just not appealing to me. but i suppose i can appreciate the thought behind mixing these flavors – giving a meaty savoriness to a fresh seafood, and perhaps boudin noir fans would be ecstatic over the dish.

saddle of salt marsh welsh lamb – done three ways, with bitter caramel, violet artichokes, quinoa, preserved lemon and fresh anchovies

something i found kinda amusing was the fact that despite having the menu right next to us, we still couldn’t exactly decipher how each ingredient was incorporated into the dish. this is cheem stuff man. the waiter explained that the lamb was done 3 ways for 3 different portions (which i sadly cannot remember the names of). i absolutely loved the long strip of meat though, because it had the most delicious crispy layer of skin coupled with a juicy slab of meat below. very well executed once again. the other ingredients (quiona, artichoke sauce and preserved lemon droplets) formed the sauce to couple with the three different cuts, each presenting a delicious and different combination of flavors that was really appealing.

“victoria” pineapple – roasted spiced pineapple, coconut blanc-manger and exotic sorbet

took some points off the service because we asked what “exotic sorbet” meant but the waiter didn’t know, said he would check back and didn’t return with an answer. hmmz. but anyways we deduced it to be having a decent proportion of passionfruit. this dessert was really interesting, creative and satisfied the sweeth tooth on multiple levels – the blanc-manger at the base satisfied the sweet-vanilla creaminess, the caramelized spiced pineapple satisfied the sugary, chunky fruit craving and the sorbet satisfied the refreshing, cooling icy craving. its like the ultimate dessert! haha.

complimentary petit fours

hmm all in all, a really satisfying meal that was nothing short of creative, perfectly executed and magnificently balanced. this restaurant deserves its hype as no. 39th ranking in s.pellegrino world’s 50-best restaurants list 2010. chef julien royer is a great addition to the restaurant and is poised to take the restaurant to greater heights i say. good stuff, worth it for that once-in-a-lifetime experience, that date, that anniversary or something. watch the cost though [spent $200 per pax in the end, and that was with the 25% discount for Amex thats gonna expire after january] . =) 8.75/10

jaan |  2 Stamford Road, 70F Swissotel The Stamford | fine dining, french, expensive

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a case of mistaken identity.

there’s a funny story to how my family ended up in cherry garden for my birthday dinner. you see, i had sampled food from peach blossoms @ marina mandarin during the cornell hotel school asia pacific conference and had found the offerings from the new HK chef to be pretty awesome, and so had planned to bring my parents there. so, when my parents asked me where i would want to go, i simply said “marina mandarin, peach blossoms”. but somehow, this mandarin business is super confusing, what with mandarin oriental, marina mandarin and mandarin gallery. lol. and my parents were more familiar with mandarin oriental and well.. absent mindedly booked at cherry garden @ mandarin oriental.

so we ended up there. and i was kinda annoyed initially, complaining that my parents should check which fruit i referred to next time. haha. but to their credit, all this nonsense of peach blossoms and cherry gardens and mandarin stuff.. is seriously confusing.

anyways, its not as if cherry garden is at any rate worse, so let’s get on with it. to be honest, the ambience in cherry garden trumps peach blossoms – cherry garden has a modern interpretation of a traditional chinese inn, mixing ultra-modern glass paneling and stone walls with traditional elements like wooden arches and pavilion-styled roofs. the servers seem to be mostly from china, and are pretty professional — one server accidentally spilled a dollop of  tea on my tablecloth and insisted on changing a fresh one for me. however, it must be noted that i was kinda annoyed with their semi-audible comments of “ta zai pai she me (what’s he photographing)” whenever i whipped out my camera to take photos of the dishes. like.. seriously, deal with it. its an occupational hazard. and its free publicity. =)

so, we ordered the orchird set menu, which was $78 per pax (min 2 people). let’s start the show.

first up was the chef’s special appetizer of the day (see picture above) which happened to be wasabi prawns and drunken chicken. the wasabi prawns were big and juicy, bursting with flavor and with just the right amount of wasabi that was not too overpowering. and the prawns were pretty big and satisfying for an appetizer. the drunken chicken was smooth and tasted pretty decent as well. i’d note though that i found no relevance between the two dishes that were plated together – its not as though we’re expected to eat both together, which is something you would assume if you found yourself in a french restaurant. hmm, the difference in food cultures eh?

double -boiled shark’s cartilage soup with shark’s fin and honshimeiji mushrooms

i apologize to the animal lovers out there, as i really did not know the menu include shark’s fin. =( but oh well, since the damage is already done, let’s just tuck in alright? now, you know there was a time where i thought double-boiled simple meant boiling twice, but one of my friends later kindly corrected me that double-boiled essentially means placing the ingredients (in this case the shark’s fin) within a ceramic jar that is immersed in a water bath in a pot that is then boiled. essentially, its using two layers of boiling to protect the special ingredients. cool eh? the soup was amazingly nuanced and flavorful, with every spoonful bringing out immense subtle flavor and texture with the shark’s fin.

braised fish fillet with tofu and capsicum in black bean sauce

ahh innovation (at least to me)! never really tried a combination of fish (cod in this case) and tofu with black bean sauce but i must say, this was an inspired pairing. the black bean sauce nicely coated both fish and tofu and brought the two seemingly disparate ingredients together to create a dish with great flavor (from the black bean sauce) and different levels of texture on the same bite (fish and tofu). nice stuff.

oven baked boneless spring chicken in barbecue garlic sauce

this dish puzzled me for a few reasons. when it was first served, i questioned the rationale of an atas restaurant serving something that looked as though you could buy it off a western hawker stall for possibly 1/4 of the price. then i also questioned the notion of asking us to eat this chicken (tendons and all) with just a pair of chopsticks, when it seemed to be begging for a fork and knife to operate on. ahh well, those initial questions aside, the chicken was juicy and well flavored, the barbecue sauce being just right and the flavor seeping into the entire piece of chicken. but yeah i rather eat this with a fork and knife please?

stir fried rice vermicelli with seafood, silver sprouts and yellow chives

this dish is worth its money — look at the luscious scallops and prawns! the vermicelli was perfectly balanced and tasty, and i liked how the shredded egg strips brought a freshness and change in texture to the dish. yummy. and i don’t know whether its an odd practice, but i like to add vinegar to my noodles after the initial few samplings, because i think the vinegar adds a different and equally tasty twist to the noodles (usually i do it for e-fu noodles, but it seemed to work here as well)

refreshing sorbet with herbal jelly, aloe vera and assorted fresh fruits

ahh.. a healthy way of ended a sumptuous meal. the sorbet had the right amount of sourness and complemented the herbal jelly, aloe vera and fresh fruits perfectly. its a simple dessert to be honest, but its good and hmm.. the use of herbal jelly and aloe vera is kinda unique. upon looking at the photo i realised i actually ate watermelon without feeling like puking because these watermelons had no seeds! haha

so overall, nice ambience, good food at an acceptable price range. come here for an family celebrations and the likes for guaranteed good food. 7.25/10

 cherry garden |  5 Raffles Avenue, 5F Mandarin Oriental Singapore, | chinese, cantonese, family, upscale

a taste of indonesia.

when it was time to choose yet another establishment at mbs, i wanted pizzeria mozza but my friend suggested moluccas room, which drew blank stares from me.

“it’s really good indonesian food with good reviews!”

*blank*

“it’s by the promenade with a riverside view”

*blank*

which explains why i was hopelessly lost and couldn’t find my way to the restaurant despite my friend giving helpful tips like “it’s near gong-cha and 7-eleven (i never knew mbs had these type of shops) and “its near avalon” (sorry, don’t club). but i finally found it after walking the whole span of the promenade. the ambience is one of laid back, elegant, riverside dining. a semi open concept with outdoor ventilation and pared back furnishings create an almost balinese-luxury resort like feel. i suspect the notion of these promenade restaurants is to create a middle-tier of restaurants for people who refused to shell out hundreds paying for mozza/db bistro moderne/cut and the likes. so out you go. =)

ok let’s talk service. to be honest, service wasn’t too good. our first server was slightly curt and made no effort to really make us feel welcome – his service was nevertheless professional, but it just felt slightly cold. other than that, we felt a little ignored throughout the meal as well, a good litmus test being that my glass of water remained empty for quite some time before i gave up and motioned for a refill. its kinda sad for a restaurant with really pretty decent food. let’s get to it then.

amuse bouche – indonesian pancake with eggplant carpaccio and cucumber

nice, appetizing start to a meal. the pancake was fluffy and flavorful, with the eggplant lending further flavor and crisp to the simple appetizer.

confit sakura ayam tuturaga – light citrusy confit chicken curry from the northern sulawesi region, $33

with this dish, my eyes lit up as i started to comprehend what style of cuisine moluccas room offered – essentially western-style ingredients and cooking methods fused with indonesian spices and sauces. and indeed this was a rewarding and flavorful partnership — the curry lent a certain sweetness to the chicken but did not overpower the entire dish. as per confit, the chicken skin was crisp and delicious to bite into. i did feel however, that parts of the chicken within did not seem fully marinated and had some loss of flavor, but it was overall a really decent and flavorful rendition of a indo-western fusion dish.

angus steak rendang – tender beef steak tenderloin topped with an extremely flavorful Javanese style rendang curry sauce, $35

again, the curry sauce wasn’t overpowering, something you would have expected from traditional indonesian dishes perhaps. but this level of flavor (perhaps more suited for foreigners) incidentally also brought out the meaty flavor of the beef steak, which was juicy and tender. a masterful fusion once again.

baby eggplants with belachan, $18

hmm.. this wasn’t too impressionable, and in fact i felt that the eggplants weren’t completely cooked till soft, and the belachan flavor hadn’t completely permeated into the eggplant. it felt like a simple home cooked dish that was cut back on the belachan intensity, not really that worth it here.

sate udang java – luscious grilled prawns marinated with secret Javanese recipe, $27

you might wonder at this point whether i thought the food here wasn’t good but enter the sate (is it me, or is sate a super pretentious way of writing satay? and yes, the sate had an inflection tagged to the ‘e’.. lol) the grilled prawns satay were amazingly tasty, with flavors bursting in your mouth as you bit into it. the accompanying sauce complemented perfect with the grilled prawns, lending a spicy and tangy flavor to the dish. the prawns were really. grilled. to. perfection. ’nuff said.

sate ayam madura, grilled chicken tenders served with creamy roasted peanut sauce, $22

you might see the price and think i’m really retarded to come to mbs and order satay at a price that could give you platefuls of satay at say chomp chomp. but to be honest, the chicken tenders here make normal roadside satay look like emaciated bits of chicken. this satay ayam madura is juicy and succulent, globs of tender meat skewed together and bursting with flavor. i kid you not. the fried onions and garnishings and special peanut sauce further elevated the flavors of this dish to another level. ok la, $22 is really a bit steep, but.. somehow.. it’s worth a shot. haha. you’d understand my comparison of the emaciated chicken after you have bitten into one of these.

we skipped desserts because somehow i think the service left us a bit cold. but all in all, the food here is really good stuff and worth a shot, especially to sample the uniqueness of indonesian-western fusion dishes. and yeah… come try to sate, you wouldn’t be disappointed. this is a nice place to bring your atas overseas friends and allow them to sample some local dishes without them tearing and wheezing from some potent curry. its also a nice place for a casual get together with friends for a decent meal. if you are willing to spend though. =) oh come on.. you’re at mbs. -_-  7.0/10

the moluccas room |  2 Bayfront Avenue, #01-81 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands | indonesian, fusion, local, upscale

birthday cakes are even more awesome when you get to sample 4 different flavors! =)

yay.. it’s the birthday season for me already, which means an excuse to visit tons of atas restaurants and then regret when the bill comes! lol..

anyways, let’s talk about canele patisserie chocolaterie cakes, which my sis kindly bought to celebrate my birthday with. its kinda cool really, four different flavors means four sampling chances of different cakes. in clockwise, starting from the bottom left, the cakes are:-

matcha ($7)  – to me, the best cake of the bunch. it’s light, melts in your mouth, and tastes like a healthier, cake version of the starbucks green tea frappe if you get my drift. perfect for the lazy afternoon spent catching up with health conscious, glamorous friends. and hey, matcha has fat-burning properties!

black forest – never liked black forest, so i never knew what was inside. so i needed to google it out – essentially chocolate with cherry on the top and sandwiched within the cake and infused with a clear colorless brandy called kirsch. i found the cake pretty decent – the chocolate was smooth and went down the throat pleasantly, though to be honest, i didn’t really taste much of the kirsch. (might be a matter of tolerance since my mom instantly said she tasted alcohol upon first bite). other than that, this cake wasn’t very impressionable.

strawberry shortcake ($6.50) – this is once again, a very light and smooth dessert — perhaps that’s what characterizes canele cakes – pleasant, unobtrusive and girly in a certain sense. i liked the lightness of the japanese shortcake and felt that the amount of kirsch added into the cake was just right – sufficient to lend a smoothness to the shortcake and not too much to cause it to be soggy. yummy.

tarte au citron – well balanced and not too tangy, with a well baked crust at the bottom. yummy, but once again, unobtrusive. in a sense, these are pleasant cakes but not cakes that will wow you out of your seat or send you on a gastronomic journey. but good nonetheless.

overall, pleasant cakes that serve as a pretty awesome birthday cake when combined together! and i must say, the packaging and branding is really well done. you feel good when you see someone brandishing out a elegant and artfully designed canele cake box for your birthday. =)

canele patisserie – chocolaterie (raffles city shopping center) |   252 North Bridge Road, #B1-46/47 Raffles City Shopping Centre | desserts, western, contemporary

berry cornucopia.

its cool to have friends working at mbs, because they know the ins and outs of the place and can easily recommend you good places to dine at. so yeah, thanks phili — though, minus points for you for calling forty hands forty handles.. lol! anyways, its real cool to meet old friends and just have a riotous time. part 1 was at moluccas room, which will be on a separate post later, and since it’s late i’ll just tackle desserts.

carnivore and rio tapas lounge is the third such brazilian churrascaria (brazilian word for steakhouse) joint, following after vivocity and chijmes. men love this place in general because of the copious amounts of meat that is served whereas their female companions usually gag at the thought of eating so much oily meat. this joint at mbs utilizes the inherent atas ambience of mbs to incorporate an additional rio tapas lounge and included desserts, cocktails and teas into their menu. it’s here we had our dessert, as phili mentioned that she liked what was served her. let’s review!

churros with chocolate, berry and cheese dips ($10)

this dessert is not too often seen in singapore, but its pretty common fairgrounds food. essentially a spanish-style doughnut, churros are pretty common in US and latin america, and are often paired with (and dipped in) hot chocolate. the churros here obviously surpasses common fairgrounds standards, being crisp and warm – as though one was biting into a pot of sunshine and sugar. it’s not too sweet, only lightly dusted with sugar, so the general savory flavor of the doughnut is more pronounced, and pairs well with the different dips. (i like the chocolate dip the best, whilst phili preferred the berry dip). good stuff that’s worth the try.

we also got the strawberry cheesecake ($10, see first picture), which was yet another rendition of a deconstructed cheesecake in a martini glass. apparently the notion from the chef (as phili explained), was that anything in a martini looks sexier. to be honest, comparing the two deconstructed cheesecake, carnivore’s rendition paled in comparison to relish’s version – mainly because it felt as though the proportions of this was slightly off. for one, they seemed to have added a minuscule portion of the crust, and had too much cream cheese, so one ended up eating dollops of cream cheese alone, which kinda defeats the purpose of a deconstruction. furthermore, i don’t get the inclusion of blackberries, raspberries and gooseberries to a strawberry cheesecake. i mean, the ingredients are fresh and all, but the construction of the dish wasn’t too inspired.

chocolate trio, $12 (from top, lava cake, chocolate ganache and chocolate cake)

i note yet again the copious amounts of berries. this pastry chef loves his/her berries indeed. in fact, the berries lead to a hilarious conversation as we tried to figure out what berry each one exactly was, debating whether we were served boysenberries [i concede, looks like they are blackberries instead] and not knowing how to name the gooseberry [the orange/yellow berry with bougainvillea-like leaves] . berries are pretty confusing stuff, especially if you start considering currants.

anyways, the dessert was pretty decent, especially the ganache – well balanced, luxurious and not at all jelak. the chocolate cake was kinda flat and i felt that the lava cake wasn’t hot enough (though it might have been my fault for me holding up everyone by insisting on snapping a shot).

ambience-wise, this place is pretty open-concept, which wooden chairs and tables placed in the middle of the mbs mall, illuminated by nomad lamps (luminous lamps that changed colors every tens of seconds). its a pretty laid back, chill atmosphere, and the hugeness of the mbs mall allows you to talk a bit louder without worrying about being a nuisance. service was decent, and the servers actually went to help us figure out the name of the gooseberry. =)

all in all, a nice chill out spot for some desserts and drinks. food-wise, it probably isn’t going to be any different from the vivocity joint so you pretty much know what to expect. 6.5/10 

carnivore and rio tapas lounge |  2 Bayfront Avenue, #01-77/78/79/80 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands | meat, desserts, drinks

the allure of the exotic orient.

something about ku de ta amazes me. i think its the notion that location, location, location (and perhaps a lil’ bit of branding) can trump any other factors, such that the restaurant can pretty much serve subpar food in ultra dim conditions and get away with it in style — throngs of people crowd the place even on a thursday night, most of them well heeled expatriates and socialites that would willingly blow a wad of cash unintelligently on this so called fusion chinese food. -_- are people willingly getting duped here? or is the allure of the exotic orient, the immaculately-done branding – what with the sensual reds, superb panoramic view, dim lightning, bali-fusion music, that blind people to the obvious flaws of the food?

let’s examine the curious case of ku de ta in more detail…

ambience wise, this place has it really down pat. the restaurant/bar exudes a sense of exclusive luxury infused with asian undertones. its like how the west would view the rich exotic orient essentially. being up so high at mbs does really have its perks — the air is cooler, the view is magnificent at all angles, and it doesn’t take much to whisk a customer into another world. i do wonder what happens when it rains though, considering that alot of the restaurant space is located outdoors.

passion and cream ($20) – vanilla infused grey goose vodka, fresh passion fruit and passion fruit foam

i was eager to try out their cocktails since ku de ta essentially is more known for being a sky bar than a restaurant. still hankering after a passion fruit fixed, i went for the passion and cream, as recommended by the waitress. it’s decent — creamy and fruity at the same time, but doesn’t come cheap as well. and to be honest, it wasn’t anything special or outstanding unlike the cocktails i had at wolfgang puck’s cut.

ok let’s talk about the food. we were informed that the dishes are inspired from the chef’s travels across asia, and are created with the intention of being shared across the table. to be honest, after the artichoke experience of shared dining, i’m super skeptical of such a format of dining because it just gives the chef an excuse to serve up miserly small portions of food for sharing and essentially force people to order many many dishes, sending the bill skyrocketing.

and can i just spend some time commenting about the intro written on the ku de ta menu? “dining at ku de ta is a multi sensory adventure; our servers will be happy to guide you on your journey” wow.. pretentious much? and furthermore, what multi sensory?? if anything, the place was so dark u couldn’t really see the food you were eating, much less look closely at the menu. more like a gastronomic ganzfeld perhaps. (lol.. ok lame psychology joke)

soya-glazed hokkaido miso scallops ($26) – nashi pear, pickled mustard, wasabi leaves

shame on you ku de ta! the miso scallops were quite the disaster – scallops were completely overcooked, resulting in hard, plasticky, shrunken pieces of scallop that was surprisngly discordant  with the nashi pear and pickled mustard. this just didn’t work on any level, and its ridiculous to serve poorly done scallop. like c’mon! are you a fine dining establishment or what! this really fouled the mood for the night.

steamed pencil asparagus ($11), with prawn floss crumble

decent, and in fact, quite flavorful and delicious. the prawn floss was the perfect complement for the asparagus, which was nicely grilled. (i don’t know how steaming would give it the semi-grilled texture and look.. so i’m kinda confused as to whether this was steamed or grilled)

whole baby chicken teriyaki ($26), with crunchy mustard seed crust

come on lah.. its plain chicken teriyaki you can get at simple hawker stores for like $5.. so what justifies the 5 times price hike? ya’know, the issue with fusion asian food is that if the result too closely resembles a hawker stall dish, then there’s bound to be that nasty comparison with hawker food. and there’s really no way one can win against hawker food. and yeah this was a resounding blah.

pan roasted foie gras and green mango pickle, ($36), with spiced lime and puffed rice

expensive as this was, at least you weren’t able to draw comparisons with hawker food, and well, foie gras really can’t go that wrong. this was really delicious, the foie gras melted in your mouth and the puffed rice was the perfect carbohydrate base to soak up the foie gras oil. yummy. and yeah, i’ve reconciled with the fact that one has to really spend a bomb for decent foie gras in singapore.

  ‘forty flavor’ fried rice ($18) – baked in lotus leaf

this was yet another dish that received scathing reviews from all of us. from the scoffing of the purported ‘forty flavors’ when we only detected off-spicy and salty as the predominant flavors, to the irritating way the rice was served such that many bits of rice where trapped within the lotus leaf wrap and it took quite a bit of effort to extricate all the rice. furthermore, the rice actually tasted much worse than common cantonese restaurants’ lo ma kai, with the rice served here dry and somewhat tasteless at the top at somewhat soggy at the bottom. yet another dish that should have been rejected in the kitchen and not sent out. such a disgrace.

as you can surmise, i wasn’t too pleased with the mains, to the point where me and my compatriots were debating whether to sojourn to somewhere else for desserts. but somehow i felt like giving them a chance to redeem themselves. so let’s see.

‘apple and honey’ ($12) – fresh green apple, milk and honey ‘creameaux’ green apple granite, comb honey crumble, green apple jelly

wow.. color me impressed. this was a really creative, inspired dessert, drawing some inspiration from thai cuisine (what with the sliced green apple) and mixed with all the western dessert sensibilities (love comb honey crumble.. mm). this was an interesting, refreshing and well thought out dessert. delicious!

kdt ‘bounty cake’ ($16) – warm bitter chocolate, coconut filling, yuzu mashmallow

another winner in its own right. the chocolate cake was warm and had a different but equally appealing texture with the infusion of the coconut. the blend of coconut and chocolate went really well, and the yuzu marshmallows were the perfect complement to the dish. and boy.. count me in as a fanboy of yuzu infused desserts. the marshmallows tasted different but really good. i think the creativity here exceeds that which is shown in 2 am dessert bar, the their execution is infinitely better.

all in all? it’s a mixed bag to be honest, but one thing is clear – DON’T come here for mains. come for the desserts whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery and chillax ambience. the service isn’t much to be spoken off, waiters are mildly responsive and pleasant enough to be forgettable. its a decent place, but methinks they should remarket themselves as a dessert and cocktails nightbar and just ditch the restaurant concept. but well.. who am i to comment, since this placed obviously has legions of adoring fans?  5.5/10

ku de ta |10 Bayfront Avenue, Sands SkyPark, Tower 3, Marina Bay Sands Hotel | desserts, drinks, ambience

food art

mind you, i love it when food is so meticulously plated for one to be truly inspired and feel as though each dish is a work of art in itself. the combination of colors from the ingredients and placement.. it’s partly art and partly science, and when everything works together, you get quite the euphoric experience.

so i managed to snag a reservation at le saint julien during restaurant week on a coveted saturday lunch timing thanks to my dear online friend and fellow food blogger, Mr Wise Guy. and boy.. i really do have to thank him because it was really a splendid meal, but not exactly one i would venture to pay over 100 dollars per pax in a normal situation. ok let’s talk locale – le saint julien is sited inside the fullerton water boat house, a singular structure that is oddly situated at the intersection between esplanade bridge and the road leading to the padang, kinda ‘loosely’ connected to fullerton hotel. ambience wise, there is similarly an understated elegance within the restaurant that is very appealing. Wise Guy commented that the view was kinda sucky, which I agreed, considering that the restaurant had a ground-level view of the esplanade bay which was sadly obstructed by the esplanade bridge itself. this means, 40% of your visual field is the underbelly of a bridge. not very appealing imo. but ahh well, lack of view aside, the restaurant did exude a certain classy elegance.

i love the fact they sat us at a table with sufficient light that was angled in such a way that lit up the food perfectly for photography, so you’re gonna see more shots, because I was merrily snapping to the point where the manager lightly approached us and asked pleasantly whether we were professional photographers, to which we commented we were food bloggers. haha, i suspect this inspired more conversation and a better description of the food we were served, which was all the better i suppose. =) ok let’s get to the food.

appetizer: duo foie gras et poulet, terrine of foie gras and chicken with medley and mushroom and cress

LOVED THIS. this reminded me of the appetizer served in my favorite restaurant of all time, Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina. the dish was paired with brioche that was lightly toasted, and the combination of the sweetness from the brioche/caramelized onions along with the savory taste of the foie gras and the light crisp freshness of the mushrooms and cress worked perfectly and created a wholesome experience with every bite. i gravitated particularly to the sweet-savory pairing of the foie gras and the caramelized onions. a perfect starter. and can i comment on just how beautiful the plating is done? how can you not want to take a picture of such a dish?

appetizer #2: foie gras – pan seared duck liver with caramelized apple, glazed sauce of balsamic and honey

once again, amazing plating there. i noted that the apples came in both the caramelized darker brown chunky version and the non-caramelized shredded version, which was interesting and provided additional nuance, texture and sweetness to the dish. yet again, quite the classic pairing of sweet (the caramelized apples) with the savory (the foie gras). my initial impression upon a first sampling was that the dish was good, well.. at least, technically proficient, but not outstanding. Wise Guy likewise described it as competent. lol… that being said, i think the taste started to grow on you and the final few morsels were gulped down by me greedily. the duck foie gras did not feel any bit jelak or fatty and was tempered down with the apples and vegetables. good stuff.

mains: croustillant de canard – crispy rice with duck confit and truffle oil emulsion, with smoked duck breast sauce

delicious stuff once again – and the inclusion of the crispy rice was a nice fusion take of the traditional duck confit with dauphine potatoes. i thought the sauces in the dish blended perfectly well with the duck, whilst the vegetables added a slightly minty flavor to the dish. when taken all together, each bite was really quite the gastronomic experience. this being said, the duck confit was perhaps slightly tough and somewhat didn’t have enough flavor in itself inherently, though this was mitigated by the amazing sauce.

     dessert: clafoutis – french traditional strawberry custard cake with “signature” caramelized chocolate mousse

hmm, not a fan of the custard cake, which was kind of overwhelmed by the chocolate mousse and the strawberries (gotten from australia instead of america, so the flavors are more concentrated within the small berries, as explained by the manager). this dessert was somehow not meant to be mixed together to be eaten, as each component (less the custard cake) tasted really good by itself, especially the chocolate mousse. think the way to eat this is to sample a little of the chocolate mousse, then eat a strawberry with the lingering chocolatey taste in your mouth and eat a little of the custard etc.. haha, overall, not particularly impressive beisdes the chocolate mousse. sigh.. kinda wished that with such a superb appetizer and decent mains, the dessert would be out-of-this-world. but i suppose, lol.. too high expectations there.

overall, an excellent place for good contemporary french food in posh settings. this is the kind of place to bring your date to impress them sufficiently and then sojourn to like overeasy or lantern for some drinks. come here at least once. =) 8.0/10

le saint julien | 3 Fullerton Road, #02-02 The Fullerton Waterboat House| fine dining, french, contemporary