The Pump Room, Clarke Quay

The office is closed on New Year's Eve, so technically, the last day of the work year is the 30th of December 2009. I decided to end off the work year with a bang (meaning: alcohol buzz induced bang) at The Pump Room for LA Drinks and Dinner.

Despite the initial insipid response, a lot of colleagues turned up! The free booze and food must have played an irresistible part in the attendance. As a result, we ordered almost everything off the menu. Somehow, everyone ordered different dishes, which gives me much to blog about!

The early birds got to enjoy the 1-for-1 happy hour promotion (see, it pays to be early). Since The Pump Room was known for their on-site brewed beers, we got 3 of them. From left to right, the Straits Ale ($13.50), India Pale Ale ($12), and Scottish Ale ($12). These were so smooth, light and easy to drink. Freshly brewed beers are always the best.

Onto the food, we got a few starters to share, the Fisherman's Basket ($26), battered scallops, prawns, dory fish served with tartar sauce, mesclun greens and chips. These were lacking in one thing, salt. The scallops, prawns and dory fish were fresh enough but completely tasteless. The chips were alright though.

The Crispy Blueswimmer Crabcake on Mango and Waterchestnut Salsa ($16), albeit the fancy name, was very lackluster. It reminded me of a fishcake.

The Spinach Ravioli with Gorgonzola with Cream Sauce and Parmesan Shavings ($16), was an equally ho-hum affair.

The Hickory-Smoked BBQ Baby Back Ribs in Beer Marinade ($28) was nicely smoked, but wasn't tender enough. It would have benefited from a few more hours in the oven or grill. 

The Crispy Duck Confit Leg with Parmesan Potatoes and Fine French Beans ($28) was alright though, it was richly flavoured and moist. I know duck confit is supposed to be crispy but I always find it too dry for my liking. I liked the fact that The Pump Room's version wasn't dry.

The Grilled Cod in Garlic Mash Oven-Dried Tomatoes, Baby Spinach and Olive Tapenade Sauce ($29) was flaky enough, but unspectacular. 

The Pump Room's Special Steak Burger with Salad and Chips ($20) was also ordinary, but it was generously portioned.

The Grain-Fed Ribeye Steak with Sauce Diane ($32) was alright, it was robust and full-bodied, grilled to a perfect medium doneness.

The Kangaroo Loin with Sweet Potato Mash ($32) was somewhat like mutton, a heady and tough game meat. I didn't take to it.

The Chargrilled Spring Chicken Piri-Piri on Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Fine French Beans ($22). The chicken was a little dry and tough but the French beans was good.

The Braised Lamb Shank in Rich Onion and Red Wine Sauce with Whipped Potato and Sauteed Vegetables ($29) was just okay, but it was hearty.

The Charred Tender Pork Belly with Lemon-Apple Chutney, Baked Potato and Savoy Cabbage in a Light Star-Anise Glaze ($23) was quite commendable. The pork belly crackled and was meltingly flavourful, but then again, it's difficult to go wrong with pork belly.

Moving onto the desserts, we got the Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding with Vanilla Ice-Cream ($10) was the star of the night. This was a heavenly combination of warm decadent slightly bitter premium chocolate and cold vanilla ice-cream. If there's one thing on the menu I'd recommend, it's this dessert.

Mr Marathon Man was the only colleague that ordered a different dessert (he didn't hear my chocolate pudding recommendation), the Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice-Cream and Raspberries ($10), this was lackluster compared to the well-received Chocolate Pudding. The poor guy ended up eating off his neighbour's chocolate pudding.

Please note that The Pump Room has a 15% discount for Amex and Citibank credit cards.

The Pump Room
3B River Valley Road
The Foundry #01-09
Tel: 6334 2628
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 11am to 3am, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 5am
Website: www.pumproomasia.com/home.html


Aburiya Japanese BBQ, Robertson Quay

During this festive season, L.A. Dinner for the month of December was a special epicurean treat at Aburiya Japanese BBQ for a taste of charcoal grilled premium meats (read: wagyu and wagyu and more wagyu).

It was truly a gastronomic feast that night, we had such a blast at dinner (so much so the dinner lasted past 10pm). The company was fantastic, conversation was enlivened by banter and Mr Motormouth's antics, the food and drinks flowed freely, and surprisingly, the men actually did most of the cooking. Without any prodding from us womenfolk!

I'm not going to describe each meat/seafood individually because they were ALL good. No, good is an understatement. ALL the meats were decadently succulent, mouth-wateringly juicy, addictively aromatic, melt-in-your-mouth tender, headily robust and blazingly flavoured.

Aburiya marinates their meats in a variety of flavours, I especially liked the Tare, traditional yakiniku sauce, a sweetish soy-based sauce. I chose most of the meats to be served with the Tare marinade.

We started with some Wagyu Ribeye ($25.50), my favourite cut because it has the best flavour, marinated in Tare.

Wagyu Jo Karubi ($17.90), wagyu prime short rib, marinated in Tare sauce. Look at that marbling!

The char-grilled version.

We also got the "normal" beef options, Jo Karubi ($12.90), beef prime short rib, also marinated in Tare.

Karubi ($7.90), beef short ribs in Tare marinade. Although this isn't wagyu beef, the marbling is still beautifully widespread.

The char-grilled version.

Moving onto the pork, we first got the Kurobuta Karubi ($9.90), pork belly marinated in Hot Miso (spicy miso).

We also got the Kurobuta Karubi ($9.90) in Tare marinade.

Next up was the Kurobuta Rosu ($9.90), pork loin, one portion in Tare marinade and the other in Hot Miso marinade.

The next meat was chicken, Tori ($7.90), one portion in Tare marinade and the other in the Wasamayo marinade (wasabi-mayonnaise).

We also got seafood, Hotate ($10.90), scallops, and Ebi ($12.90) prawns, both in a luscious butter sauce.

Wait, there's still more. We also got sausages, the Cheese Cracker ($7.90) pork, beef and cheese sausages.

We also got the German Sausages ($7.90), German-style pork sausages.

Last sausage was the Garlic Sausages ($7.90), pork and garlic sausages.

 Don't worry Moms, we also got vegetables and healthy stuff into our tummies. The Horenso Salad ($10.90), a spinach salad with refreshing cucumber, onions and tossed with crispy garlic slices and (little) bits of bacon, complete with a topping of sesame sprinkles. This is my absolute favourite salad of all. We got two portions of this.

There was also grilled sweet Corn ($4.90).

We also had my favourite Portobello mushrooms ($6.90) in butter.

And Shiitake ($4.90) mushrooms too.

The yummy mushrooms! We got 5 portions of them all.

And we also got Edamame ($3.90), baby soy beans in a pod boiled in salted water and served cold. Mr Marathon Man thought they were sugar snap peas and/or snow peas and wanted to eat the whole thing, hairy pod and all. It was hilarious. The rest of the guys wanted to let him eat the pod too, just because it was so funny.

Mr Motormouth was still hungry so he got a Hiyayakko ($5.90), Korean cold tofu in kimchi sauce.

The rest of us got desserts! I got a Chocolate Parfait ($8.90), a heavenly chocolate sundae with corn flakes layers and topped with fresh whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles with chocolate sauce.

Another colleague got the Banana Parfait ($9.90), which is vanilla ice cream with bananas and butterscotch and chocolate sauce.

Aburiya Japanese BBQ
60 Robertson Quay
Tel: 6735 4862
Open Mondays to Fridays from 6pm to 11.30pm, Saturdays from 5.30pm to 11.30pm, Sundays and Public Holidays from 5.30pm to 10.30pm
Website: www.aburiya.net


Annual Christmas Party 2009, Suntec Convention Room

My firm organises an annual Christmas Party and this year's party was held at the Suntec Convention Rooms. As part of the organising committee, I get to veto the menu (MAJOR perk of being in the committee, yay).

The buffet food was catered by the in-house kitchen of Suntec Singapore, halal certified for a number of our staff.

There was the ubiquitous Roast Turkey, Cajun spiced, with traditional chestnut stuffing, doused in a luscious brown gravy and sprinkled with cranberries, roasted chestnuts and asparagus. This was a little one-dimensional, but I liked the chestnuts, roasted so soft that no chewing was required. The turkey was a little dry, but since it was doused in the gravy, it wasn't too noticeable.The stuffing was a little pulverised though, but good for people with dentures I guess.

There was another meat option, the Hickory Smoked Chicken with Pineapple and Raisins. The chicken was breast meat and very lean, and topped with julienned red, green and yellow peppers for a little sweetish heat. Although rosemary was sprinkled on the dish, I didn't really smell or taste the distinctive herb in the chicken.

There was also a fish option, the Seared Seabass Fillet with Pineapple and Plum Tomato Salsa. This was probably one of my least favourite dishes. The seabass wasn't as fresh as I would have liked it, and I felt that the dish was a little bland.

For the carb lovers, there was the Butter Herb Rice, a vegetarian option for the non-meat eaters. Fragrant, fluffy rice, with corn niblets, silvers of almond, French beans, raisins and dried apricots thrown in for a Mediterranean flavour. This was quite the crowd pleaser, and my personal favourite, I had triple helpings of this.

There was another carb option, the Fusilli Arrabiata with Plum Tomatoes, Red Pepper Flakes and Cheese. This had coriander wedged in every inch of the dish, so naturally, I avoided it. Somehow, many of colleagues didn't eat it either. I guess the butter rice was a more popular carb choice.

This was also another one of my favourites, the Sauteed Baby Broccoli Leaf with Trio of Mushrooms. This dish would have been a ho-hum affair if not for the trio of mushrooms lifting it to "memorable" status. There were enoki mushrooms (or golden mushrooms), black Chinese mushrooms and shimeji mushooms. I love the earthy woodsy aromas and flavour of mushrooms.

For desserts, we had Log Cakes of course. I'm not a huge fan of log cakes, but this was surprisingly moist and densely flavoured with bittersweet chocolate which gave it an edgy twist.

There's was also an oh-so-cute-it-hurts Gingerbread House. I'm not a huge fan of gingerbread, but this was incredibly adorable.

We also had an array of festive Christmas Cookies, all beautifully presented.

My favourite dessert was the Coffee Tiramisu with Raspberries, a very commendable version of the traditional Italian dessert. This was light, fluffy and sweet, with the tartness of the raspberries cutting through the bitter coffee.

There was also an Asian dessert option, the  Chilled Mango Sago with Pomelo. This was also quite commendable version of the local dessert, refreshing and sweet.

An assortment of freshly cut fruits rounded up the desserts. A small number of raspberries and blueberries was an indulgent plus point and they were obviously snapped up in an instant.

Credit should go to Jo and Mr J for helping me out with the pictures! Also to DTing, Mr Motormouth and JLim for letting me eat off their plates!

Suntec Singapore
International Convention & Exhibition Centre
1 Raffles Boulevard, Suntec City
Tel: 6825 2210
Contact person: Ms Kendy Lim, Assistant Manager, Sales and Catering
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