Friday, August 6, 2010

Dinner at Chef Daniel's Kitchen @ Iluma

After trying out their lunch menu, I have been wanting to find an opportunity to check out their dinner menu, at $28nett for a full course dinner, it was worth the curiosity!

Yesterday presented the perfect opportunity to visit Chef Daniel's Kitchen again, I made a reservation for 4 pax and headed down to the restaurant on the 7th floor roof top of Iluma right after work.

The restaurant is also now featuring the 3 dishes that Chef Daniel concocted in China during the shooting of the current TV reality show on Channel U - 名厨出走记. I made up my mind to try all 3 of the dishes in addition to the dinner set menu, furthermore, the restaurant is offering a 15% discount in August as part of the Singapore 45th National Day Celebration!

The Potato Dumpling with Minced Meat Sauce was an interesting dish, the potato dumplings doesn't have any filling and in itself is rather chewy and tasteless. The accompaniment of the mince meat fried with garlic, however, gave the dish it's much needed fragrance and taste. This dish would have been better if the minced meat sauce was more abundant!

The white asparagus salad was light and refreshing and because of the choice of using the white asparagus instead of the regular green asparagus, the salad wasn't too fibrous and the asparagus went well with the radishes, rockets (arugula) and the other veggies.

The mushroom rice, probably the most popular amongst the 3 dishes had a more traditional taste to it. It almost tasted like the Chinese lotus leaves dumpling made of glutinous rice and mushroom meat fillings. The strong flavors of the mushrooms again lent much savouries to the plain rice. I'm a mushroom-lover, especially when the mushroom is done Chinese-style which significantly enhances the natural fragrance of the fungi.

As part of the set dinner, we were presented with the soup of the day, which was Potato-Leek Soup and the standard slice of herb bread. The soup was decent, nothing too spectacular. It was served in an over-sized soup bowl which was fine except that the tables were simply not big enough for it, especially since we were still having the first 3 dishes and our drinks on the table. I would definitely suggest that they change their soup bowls unless the tables get bigger! The other thing that I found surprisingly lacking was that the waitress who was serving out table doesn't understand English at all! I tried ordering the from the menu which was in English and she asked me in Mandarin if I can order in Mandarin instead! I would think that the restaurant would minimally train the serving staffs to understand the restaurant's own menu in English!

The lamb shank was a little dry to start with but it became increasingly moist when it reaches the portion that was soaked in the gravy. It's more a fusion style cooking and different from the traditional western styled lamb shank. This dish resembled more of a Chinese lamb stew.

The Black Cod Casino was again a fusion between a western style ingredient with a twist of Japanese influence. The cod fish was fried and baked with a layer of fish roe which gave it that very Japanese presentation. The taste however was a little too sweet to my liking.

The Ribeye Steak was probably the only dish we had that was true to it's origin. Served with a portion of Caesar's Salad, I had my steak cooked to medium well and it suited me well. The steak was still moist and juicy within and very minimal fat.

The standard dessert of the day that came with the set dinner was brownie served with vanilla ice-cream. Another minus point to note is that the house pour that were featured in the menu wasn't available so we were told to order a whole bottle from the wine menu instead.

Being a new restaurant and all, I think that they are doing decently well but unfortunately flawed by the small details such as the non-English speaking staff, the table layout for dinner as well as the missing house-pour. Hopefully they will be able to iron out these issues as they continue to gain more visibility and popularity.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fancy Delights Egg Tarts @ Tanjong Pagar Plaza

I work in Tanjong Pagar and after almost 5 years there, I have my little red book for all the eateries in the vincinity. When mentioned Tanjong Pagar Plaza, most people would probably know that there's a very popular muffin shop there. However, just along the same stretch at the far corner, there's a less well-known shop selling soya bean milk and egg tarts, which is fast becoming a popular tea-time buy for my office. Honestly, I think that the famous muffins are a little too over-rated but I guess everyone's entitled to their own taste-buds.

Fancy Delights' Fancy Egg Tarts @ Tanjong Pagar Plaza

I didn't count but I think they have about 12 different types of egg tarts, both sweet and savoury. To name a few: Original, green tea, portuguese, blueberry, strawberry, kiwi, chocolate, double chocolate, cheese, pepper chicken and mushroom chicken. I'm not too adventurous when it comes to egg tarts so I pretty much still prefers the original egg tarts and for the savoury option, I would choose the cream cheese egg tart. Both the mushroom and black pepper chicken egg tarts do make for a more filling snack though.

So next time when you are in the area, go check out this shop which is located along the same stretch as the muffin shop (you can't miss the queue) and interestingly enough, right next to a Jap adult store!

Jams Cafe @ {Prologue}

Another hidden treasure for me, the Jams Cafe at {Prologue} in ION Orchard. As some of you might know (or might not know), {Prologue} belongs to the familiar Popular chain of bookstores that we grew up with, unfortunately with the establishment of the mega bookstores such as Borders and Kinokunia, Popular has been losing much of it's market share which is evident in the closing and shrinkage of some of their outlets.

When I found {Prologue} at ION Orchard, i was a little skeptical about how long they would last there, I would assume that the lease there would be significantly higher and especially since they, as a "Popular's tradition", dedicated a section to our all too familiar assessment books! Nevertheless, when I wandered in and saw that they too have a small cafe within the store, I decided to give it a shot.

Surprisingly, I find the cafe to be nicely situated at one end of the book store with a nice view of the street activities below at Orchard Road. The ambient was nice, quieter than most of the other cafes in the area, probably due to the lesser crowd at that level on ION Orchard.

Blueberry scones, cheesecake and latte

The blueberry scone was a tad too dry and not particularly tasty, neither was the blueberry cheesecake too fascinating. I'm not much of a coffee person and the latter wasn't impressive enough to make a convert out of me. The bit which I found quite annoying was that they wouldn't give any jam and cream with the scone ($2.50 single) unless the customer buys the scone set ($8.50) which comes with 2 scones, so effectively, they are charging an extra $3.50 just for jam and cream! I simply refused to pay for jam and cream and just had the single scone.

On my second visit over the weekend, I decided to try their red organic rooibos tea and apple walnut cake. The rooibos tea was nice and nutty, plus it's rich in antioxidants! The apple walnut cake has a texture texture similar to that of a moist carrot cake, so it was a rather pleasant surprise. Overall, I thought that the tea went well with the cake. Of course the main reason I went back there was more for the ambient, a quick getaway and feet-rest after walking lots in Orchard road.

Sushi Tei @ Paragon

I've discovered not too long ago that the Sushi Tei at Paragon has a pretty good view of Orchard Road if I can manage to get a table by the full glass window, so far I've managed to do that twice. The key is to go there before the crowd hits the restaurant before the dinner peak hours, especially since they do not take reservation!
The food at Sushi Tei has always been decently good and I had a visitor once commented that he found the price to be cheap for the quality and selection of dishes there!

Sushi Tei is having a seasonal Sakura menu currently and I found this crab leg hotpot which comes with collagen cubes. I've seen collagen hotpots on TV but never tried it before, so without hesitation, I ordered the Zuwaikani Hotpot which comes with crab legs, scallops, fish, noodles and pumpkins to my delight!

Zuwaikani Hotpot

Assorted Sushi Platter

The other dishes such as the assorted Sushi Platter and marinated jellyfish are from their original menu.
The Spread

One of the item that I always like to indulge in is the grilled squid! You can either order it grilled with Teriyaki sauce or simply with salt, I chose the latter to taste the squid better.

Ika Sugatayaki

For a moderately priced dinner with a view, I would definitely recommend Sushi Tei at Paragon!