30.4.10

Crystal Jade Golden Palace

This was the last Saturday lunch with Ernie before he flew off to Hongkong that very evening. I'm going to miss him terribly.

He wanted to have dim sum and salted egg yolk prawns as his last Singaporean lunch (yes, really, he still wanted dim sum in Singapore despite the fact that he was re-locating to Hongkong, the land which invented dim sum). So we met at Crystal Jade Golden Palace at Paragon, the premier fine dining restaurant of the ever-growing Crystal Jade Group. This restaurant recently garnered the Asiaone People's Choice 2009 Awards for the top Chinese restaurant, and it's easy to see why.

The food is consistent, exquisite and absolutely scrumptious. Service is top notch, efficient and well-trained. And, prices are very easy on the wallet as well.

We started off with the Sauteed Diced Beef with Black Pepper ($26), which was tender and juicy. Loved the sticky garlicky pepper sauce and the golden garlic crisps.


I got my favourite soup, the Crabmeat, Conpoy and Diced Melon Soup ($9), delicate yet rich in flavour and depth. They were generous with the ingredients, freshly shredded crabmeat and dried scallops for sweetness and diced melon, yellow fungus for crunch and mushrooms for that earthy flavour.


Ernie lurves his prawns, and although I usually restrict his intake of prawns, it was his last Singaporean lunch so I cut him loose that afternoon and let him order as many prawn dishes as he wanted. We ended up ordering 5 prawn dishes that day! First up was the Steamed Shrimp Dumpling with Bamboo Shoot "Ha Kau" ($4.80). A perfectly thin transculent skin enveloped a plump juicy prawn. This is easily one of the best versions around.


The Deep-Fried Beancurd Skin Rolled with Shrimp ($4.50) was another classic gem. This was crisp, not-too-oily, and delicious.


Ernie also ordered the Crispy Roll with Prawn and Mango ($4.50), very similar to the dish before but with a twist of mango. The skin was also more flaky.


The Rice Roll with Shrimp ($5.20) was also another amazing dish. Thin, slippery layers of rice sheets with succulent prawns were slathered with a delicate soy sauce.


The last prawn dish was the Baked Prawns with Salted Egg Yolk ($28), of course (Ernie wouldn't leave Singapore without eating that). I think our cholesterol levels must have shot up several notches after that prawn-laden feast. We requested that the shells be taken off as I'm not a fan of chomping on prawn shells. This was incredibly addictive. The prawns were coated in a luscious batter of sandy salted egg yolk.


To wash down all that seafood, we ordered Braised Seasonal Vegetable with Crab Roe ($22). The bright yellow hue of the dish may look menacing (for the arteries anyway) but it was surprisingly mild in flavour.



Crystal Jade Golden Palace
290 Orchard Road
Paragon #05-22
Tel: 6734 6866
Open Mondays to Fridays from 11.30am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm
Saturdays from 11am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm
Sundays from 10.30am to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm

Website: www.crystaljade.com/

29.4.10

Nutella Pound Cake, Flourpeople@gmail.com

There's always good food in my office. My office is not a place for those dieting because there always seems to be someone going around distributing treats.

A colleague brought a couple of pound cakes from Flour People to share. Flour People is a young upstart of a friend of a friend, and they do really amazing cakes and confectionary.

The Nutella Pound Cake ($28 for a 9") was divinely good. It was moist, buttery and crumbly. And I loved the generous Nutella swirl.



Flour People
Website: www.flourpeople.com (it's not up and running yet, but will be soon)
Email: flourpeople@gmail.com

28.4.10

La Strada

La Strada's still having its 1-for-1 pizza takeaway promotion, and as long as they are having the promotion, we'll keep taking away their pizzas at least once a week.

Today, we ordered the Capricciosa ($26), with Italian gammon ham, olives, artichokes and trio of mushrooms (oyster, porcini and white button). We held off the artichokes because we both hate it. The pizza was still piping hot when we reached home, and it was delicious.


The Salame Piccante ($26), with lightly spiced salami and black olives was simple but absolutely yummy.


Update 18 July 2012: La Strada has closed its shutters. 

La Strada
1 Scotts Road
#02-11 Shaw Centre
Tel: 6737 2555
Email: lastrada@lesamis.com.sg
Website: www.lesamis.com.sg

27.4.10

Z'en Japanese Cuisine

This was the location for our April L.A. Lunch. We haven't had Japanese food for a while, and we've been to Sushi Tei the last few L.A. Lunches, so I thought a change of scenery would be good.

Although I'd never been to Z'en Japanese Cuisine, I've been to its sister restaurant, En Japanese Dining Bar, which serves exquisite Okinawan food. So I knew we'd be in good hands.

During weekday lunches, they have an ala carte buffet at $42, so most of us opted for that. The more weight-conscious ones ordered from the set and ala carte menus instead.

The food at the ala carte buffet was excellent. Every dish was well-executed and of utmost quality. There was none of those crappy, second-rate (compared to the ala carte menu) food served here that you find at some other ala carte buffets. The quality of the buffet food was the same as from the ala carte menu.

We started off with the raw stuff, Salmon Sashimi. These were thickly sliced, fatty and full of omega-3 goodness. Fresh, clean and sweet.


We also got the Salmon Sushi, similarly sweet and fatty, on a bed of rolled up sushi rice.


I love aburi anything (half broiled), so we ordered a portion of the Salmon Aburi Sushi. I love the nice sear of the salmon.


The highlight of the buffet has got to be the beef dishes. For one, the Beef Shabu Shabu was amazing. Look at that marbling! We got several helpings of this.


The Saikoro Steak, Tenderloin Beef Cube Steak served atop creamy mash, was another memorable dish. The beef cubes were battered and fried to a crisp, but the insides were still tender and juicy.


The Sirloin Steak was another crowd pleaser. It was done medium rare, with the signature pinkish-red in the middle. The steak was hearty and juicy, flavourful on its own without additonal flavourings.



The Enoki Gyu Maki, Beef and Mushroom Roll, was another hit. Thinly sliced beef were wrapped around Japanese golden mushrooms and char-grilled to smoky perfection.


The poultry dishes were also good. The Yakitori Chicken and Leek was smoky, succulent and sweet, with fresh leek balancing the sweetness of the yakitori sauce.


The Teba Gyoza, Fried Stuffed Chicken Wing, was also yummy. Fragrant chicken wings stuffed with mince and spring onions were fried to a golden crisp. A pity the filling contained coriander, eeks!


The humoungously-portioned Tori Kara Age, Deep Fried Chicken, was succulent and juicy. Tangy piquant teriyaki sauce provided a nice balance to the fried dish.


The Age Gyoza, Fried Dumpling, was fresh out of the fryer, crispy and juicy.


The vegetable dishes were also great. I loved the Yasai Itame, Stir Fried Vegetables. Lightly sauteed vegetables in a delicate oyster sauce based gravy.


The Yasai Tempura, Vegetable Tempura, was very light and crisp, so the natural flavours of the vegetables were very distinct. I love how the Japanese are able to make fried dishes taste so light.


The Grilled Asparagus with Cheese Sauce was also very well done. These were grilled soft without being limp. The saltiness of the cheese balanced out the bitterness of the asparagus.


The Agedashi Tofu, Fried Tofu with Broth, was fried wonderfully light and crisp, with the beancurd remaining amazingly silky and soft. 


The Edamame, Boiled Soy Beans served chilled, was refreshing as a snack.


The Ebi Fry, Deep Fried Prawns, was also good. Excellent as finger food.


The Ebi Tempura, Prawn Tempura, was arguably better than the fried version. Loved the light batter, which enhanced the natural sweetness of the prawn.


The Kawaebi, Fried Small Shrimp, were fried so crispy that the whole thing could be eaten in its entirety.


The Yariika Sugata Yaki, Grilled Squid, was also grilled to perfection, the point between soft and chewy, and glazed with a sweet smoky marinade.


The Kaki Kobu Yaki, Baked Oyster, was another hit. The plump juicy oysters were immediately snapped up in seconds.


The fried version, Kaki Fry, was another another crowd favourite. Fresh, juicy oysters coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, what's not to like?


The Takana Chahan, Garlic Fried Rice, was also very well done. It was garlicky and savoury, so even if we were stuffed by then, we still managed to finish bowl-fulls of this.


Some preferred the Unagi Chahan, with the addition of eel to fried rice.


I loved the Cha Soba, Cold Green Tea Buckwheat Noodles. Refreshing, simple and light.


I also liked the Yaki Udon, slippery thick noodles in a luscious gravy.


The selection of desserts, although limited, was well done. The Coconut Cream Brulee was commendable, a thin layer of smoky burnt sugar set on creamy coconut cream.


The Cheese Cake was done Japanese-style, very delicate and light, it almost worked as a palate cleanser.


A little note about the very slow service, some of us spent quite a fair bit of time waiting for our food. I think they just didn't have enough staff to handle our group of 28 diners for lunch.The Professor was of a different view though. He thought that was a delay tactic to not let us eat up the restaurant's supply of food. Who's to know for sure?

Z'en Japanese Cuisine
205 River Valley Road
UE Square #01-75
River Wing
Tel: 6732 3110
Open Mondays to Fridays from 12pm to 2.30pm; 6pm to 12pm
Saturdays, Sundays & PH from 6pm to 12pm

Website: www.endiningbars.com/zen/

26.4.10

SICC Island Swimming Pool Cafe

Since I'm house-sitting for Pops and my brother who are holidaying in Europe, the BF and I have had a lot more opportunities to pop by the club to eat because Pop's home is just a hop and a skip away from the Island location.

We were feeling snackish so we went to the club for some sustenance. We got the Seafood Mee Goreng ($6.80) to share. It was done Chinese-style, sweetish and subtly spicy. The seafood, chunky fish slices, squid and prawns, were fresh and plentiful.


We also got some freshly squeezed juices. From left to right, Carrot Juice ($3.40), Pineapple Juice ($3.40), Watermelon Juice ($3.40).



SICC Island Swimming Pool Cafe
180 Island Club Road
Tel: 6450 1433
Open daily from 9am to 10pm

25.4.10

Imperial Treasure Nan Bei Restaurant, Suntec City

The BF just removed his wisdom teeth, so he's been on a forced liquid diet. The Sliced Fish Congee ($6.50) at Imperial Treasure is perfect for his swollen gums. Smooth watery rice gruel delicate yet rich in flavour. The big plus is that the fish is sliced extra thin so that chewing is unnecessary. Just slurp and swallow.


7 June 2010

A quick update: Please note that they've closed this outlet down. The only available Nan Bei restaurants are at Takashimaya and Tampines


Imperial Treasure Nan Bei Restaurant
3 Temasek Boulevard
Suntec City #B1-011
Tel: 6339 3118
Open daily from 10am to 11pm

24.4.10

Prego

We probably have dinner at Prego's at least once a week. The portions are hearty, the food's rustic and the prices are reasonable.

The BF got the Rigatoni alla Bolognese ($25), short tube pasta with minced beef, veal and tomato ragout. Strong rustic flavours. 


I got the Risotto del Giorno ($33) the daily special with prawns and apple. I really liked this, the apple lent a refreshing crunch to the lightly creamy risotto.


We also ordered a side dish of Spinaci Saltati con Parmigiano ($13) sauteed spinach with shredded parmesan cheese.


P.S. The pictures were taken with an iPhone, which explains the difference in quality to the usual pictures taken with my trusty little Canon Ixus.

Prego
Level 1, Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
Tel: 6431 5156
Open daily for breakfast from 6am to 11am, lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm and dinner from 6.30pm to 10.30pm

23.4.10

Peach Blossoms

On weekends and public holidays, Peach Blossoms has an ala carte buffet dim sum at $30.80 per person. This makes Peach Blossoms one of the cheapest places for such ala carte dim sum buffets. But, as I've always said, the quality of the food still has commensurate with its price-tag.

Ernie and I tried it out one Saturday to see if the buffet was value-for-money or a ripoff.

Overall, the buffet was a hit-and-miss affair. There were some memorable items, mostly the fried and unusual dim sum creations. The funny thing was that the more conventional dim sum staples were very very ordinary, to the extent that some of them were a yawn.

We'll start off with the better dishes. First up was the Fried Carrot Cake with Chinese Sausage with XO Chili Sauce ($6.80 usual price). The carrot cake was nicely smoked, soft and well-flavoured. I liked that the beansprouts were properly relieved of their heads and tails.


The Sauteed Fish Fillet with Ginger and Spring Onions ($24) was also commendable. The thickly sliced fish fillets were fresh and flaky and the ginger and spring onions imparted a delicate taste to the chunky pieces of protein.


The Fried Crispy Fish Skin with Seven-Spice Salt ($10) was another hit. It's the Chinese version of Japanese fried salmon skin. The fish skin was cut incredibly thin and fried wonderfully crisp, with a light dusting of seasoned salt for flavour.


The Deep-Fried Crispy Mango Roll with Prawn Paste ($4.80 for 3 pieces) was a nice twist on the usual Deep-Fried Beancurd Skin Roll with Prawns. Mangoes lent a refreshingly sweet accent to the crunchy prawns.


The Deep-Fried Bacon Roll with Prawn Paste and Enoki Mushrooms ($4.80 for 3 pieces) was also pretty good. A wrapping of bacon around anything is always great.


The Steamed Spare Ribs in Black Bean Sauce with Minced Garlic and Red Chili ($4.80) was also good. I liked the fleshy and fatty spare ribs, steamed to tender perfection.


The Soup-of-the-Day, Watercress with Pork Ribs Soup ($10) was clear but full-bodied. I could tell it was simmered for hours to obtain that depth of flavour from the pork bone base.


I also liked the Century Egg and Lean Meat Porridge ($8), smooth watery rice gruel delicately flavoured with pork broth. Ernie ate the century eggs because I really dislike it, while I ate the pork slices.


The porridge came served with some crispy bits as a topping, similar to the "golden ingots" in Yusheng salads.


We also lapped up the Stir-Fried Seasonal Vegetables with Minced Garlic ($18). Simply sauteed and fragrant with the scent of aromatic garlic.


The Deep-Fried Prawns with Wasabi Mayonnaise ($32) was also well done. The prawns were fresh and crunchy and the wasabi mayonnaise was nuanced without overpowering the delicate sweetness of the prawns.


The desserts were served in tiny little portions, so we got to try more of them. The Chilled Puree of Mango with Sago, sans Pomelo ($8) was refreshing and tart.


I particularly liked the Chrysanthemum and Apple Flavour Jelly topped with Walnut and Plum ($8). Light, refreshing and delicate.


The Chilled Cheng Teng with Ginseng Jelly ($8) was also a good palate cleanser. White fungus added texture and crunch, while longans and red dates added sweetness. My only gripe was that this could have been a little less sweet.


On to the not-so-great. The Deep-Fried Homemade Beancurd with Oats and Chili Padi ($20), while promising, was a letdown. It tasted re-fried and the batter was too thick.


The Braised Crabmeat Broth with Fish Maw ($12) tasted a little fishy, which really put me off. I took a couple of sips and pushed it away.


The Sweet Corn Soup with Lobster Meat ($12) was a little too starchy and one-dimensional. Also, I couldn't figure out where the lobster meat was.


The Fish Fillet Porridge ($8) also had a strong fishy scent and that lingering stale fish taste.


The Steamed Rice Roll with Mushroom and Shredded Chicken ($5.20) was quite disappointing. The rice roll was too thick and the chicken was minced, not shredded, and the filling was very bland. We had to douse it in the soy marinade.


The skin of the Steamed Prawn Dumpling ($4.80 for 3 pieces) (har gow) was too thick and floury, but the prawns were sweet and crunchy.


In contrast, the skin of the Steamed Xiao Long Bao ($5.20 for 3 pieces) was too thin and gave way when we picked it up.


The Steamed Pork Dumpling with Mushroom ($4.80 for 3 pieces) (siew mai) was alright but rather unspectacular. I would have expected a restaurant like Peach Blossoms to have done a spectacular version of this dim sum staple.


The Deep-Fried Yam Dumpling Filled with Crabmeat, Dried Shrimp and Minced Chicken ($4.80 for 3 pieces), while pretty in presentation, was also a letdown. There was too much yam and too little filling.


The Deep-Fried Squid with Fine Salt and Pepper ($10) was good, but I didn't like it because I don't like squid tentacles.I would have gladly eaten this if it had been squid rings instead.


The Cream of Almond ($9) was a letdown. It tasted like almond essence was simply added to milk, very boring dish.




Peach Blossoms
Marina Mandarin Singapore
Level 5
6 Raffles Boulevard
Tel: 6845 1000
Opens daily from noon to 2.30pm for lunches and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinners
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