The Lookout, SICC

Now that we're well into the monsoon season, dining at The Lookout, which is completely open-air, is an immensely pleasurable experience. We met up with the family at the club for our last dinner of the year. We wanted something intimate and quiet, away from the crowds and revellers. 

The boys opted for the Nasi Padang ($7.80), which was pretty commendable. Aromatic flavoursome rice, a tasty albeit overfried drumstick, sunny side egg, crisp fried ikan bilis, piquant achar and a sweet but headily spicy dried shrimp-based sambal.

I got a festive promotional item, the Honey Glazed Boneless Ham ($16.90) with mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, green beans, grilled pineapples and a tangy apple sauce. I liked that the ham was meaty, and not that smooth generic picnic ham crap. Hated the straight-out-of-a-box-in-powder-form mash and sprouts.

The Fried Chicken Wings ($9) was delicious, with a crisp outer skin and juicy succulent insides. Not the best, but memorably good.

A snack that both my brothers love is the Otak Otak ($12.50), fresh mackerel mashed with pounded lemongrass, onions, chilli, coconut milk, blue ginger and tumeric, is served with crisp lettuce and sliced bread.

The Lookout
Singapore Island Country Club
180 Island Club Road
Open daily from 6.30am to 10pm


Zafferano, Terza Parte (i.e. Part 3)

The last of the posts on Zafferano, starring the Dolci Buffet spread.

The Fruit Platter, with cut watermelons, honeydew and pineapples, all fresh and sweet.

The Fruit Salad, with diced green apples, honeydew and watermelon tossed in a tangy fruity dressing, and Marshmallows.

Mango Pudding and Lemon Cream, both were a little bleh and forgettable.

The Tiramisu was a surprising hit, it was pretty good. Moist and rich and creamy. I actually went back for seconds.

The Hazelnut Mousse Cake, despite the pleasantly crunchy feutille bottom, was pedestrian.

The Pineapple Turnover Cake was dry, insipid and not particularly appetizing.

The Walnut Tart, a space filler, was compact but not very memorable.

The Cream Caramel was too saccharine. It got cloying very quickly.

I also liked the ginormous block of Parmesan, with accompanying honey, walnuts and raisins.

Blue Cheese, with dried apricots and walnuts.

I also loved the Taleggio and Provolone cheeses, salty, pungent and such a great nibbler. 

Ocean Financial Centre Level 43
10 Collyer Quay
Tel: 6509 1488


Zafferano, Parte Seconda (i.e. Part 2)

Following from the previous post featuring the main courses in Zafferano's Semi-Buffet Lunch, these were the antipasti selections. 

The Pan Seared Tuna encrusted with black pepper was pleasantly fresh and meaty, with just the right balance of pepper crust to provide flavour.

The Salad Station with mesclun greens, capers, croutons and pickles, generic stuff but fresh enough.

Clockwise from top left: Boiled Broccoli florets, Marinated Artichokes (urgh, I hate those), Boiled Beetroot (also hate that), and Julienned Carrots

The Pickled Section clockwise from top left: Borretane Onions, Sundried Tomatoes, Marinated Black Olives, Marinated Mushrooms, and Marinated Green Onions

The Liver Pate, while creamy, smooth and rich, isn't something I like.

The Hard Boiled Egg, filled with salmon mousse and topped with fish roe, was an acquired taste. The salmon mousse was very very rich and very fishy. I didn't quite take to this.

The Seafood Cous Cous & Vegetable Salad tossed in a dill and lemon dressing, had light and bright, clean overtones. This was alright.

The Tomato Cucumber and Red Onions Salad was piquant, with a mild sweetness and bite from the red onions. Simple and nice.

The Shrimp Salad with celery, peppers, mangoes and chilli, was refreshingly fruity and spicy. I liked this.

The Beef Tongue with salsa verde, was also another dish for "sophisticated" palates. I haven't quite gotten around to bear to eat the tongue of mammals yet.

The Pork Knuckle Jelly also had a clean light taste, but the dish wasn't quite my cup of tea.

I loved the Parma Ham, silky ribbons of decadent fat and cured meat. My second favourite starter. Strictly as a matter of preference, I didn't like the Mortatella as much.

The accompanying Pickled Olives, of the black and green variety, as well as Sundried Tomatoes, to complement the cured meats. I love them all.

The Vitello Tonnato, sliced veal blanketed with a layer of tuna mayonnaise, and served chilled, was rich and creamy. This was a hit with all of us.   

The Marinated Seabass with olive oil and lemon, topped with toasted almond, rose pepper and arugula was delicate and simple.

The Smoked Chicken with parmesan, arugula and cherry tomatoes was my favourite antipasto. I loved everything about this dish. I loved the flavoursome chicken, pungent salty cheese, sweet tomatoes and peppery arugula.

Ocean Financial Centre Level 43
10 Collyer Quay
Tel: 6509 1488


Zafferano, Una Parte (i.e. Part 1)

I'd heard good things about Zafferano, the new-ish Italian ristorante perched atop the equally new-ish Ocean Financial Centre. The expansive view of the CBD and Marina Bay waterfront were purportedly splendid (for the record, it is!). And the Semi-Buffet Lunch was a steal at $38++ per person. So that was where we had our December L.A. Lunch. Despite a substantial number of us being on holiday leave, the troops rallied, resulting in a fairly large turnout for the lunch.

As it turns out, the food was pretty alright. No major grouses but no sparkling reviews either. The mains were pleasantly generous and I found them hearty and rustic. As for the buffet, the appetizers generally fared better than the desserts. We favoured and went back for seconds (and thirds!) of the appetizers, rather than the sweets.

Service, though polite, was noticeably choppy and flustered. It was more than an hour before our mains arrived. The service pace totally needs to be kicked up a notch. While it may not be a memorably excellent dining experience, I'd say that Zafferano is definitely worth a visit for their value-for-money semi-buffet lunch.

By the way, there's no ala carte option for lunch. But come dinnertime, there's a choice between the semi-buffet dinner and ala carte menu. 

Because of the sheer number of photos (yes, I took photos of every dish!), I'm breaking up the posts, and deal with the cooked-to-order main courses first.

Shortly after we were ushered to our seats, the complimentary Bread Box arrived. These were freshly baked, served warm, and still soft and fluffy. Despite the buffet spread and generous mains, these were actually finished.

Most of the mains were served in pre-heated pans so be careful not to touch them. The Risotto with porcini mushrooms was commendable, albeit boring and pedestrian. Al dente grains, not too cloying despite the large portion, and with plentiful diced porcini mushrooms.

The Homemade Tagliatelle with vongole and prawns in an aglio olio sauce was light and fresh.

The Homemade Tagliatelle with seafood and zucchini in a tomato-based sauce was tangy and sweet. I liked that the seafood in general was fresh, and ingredients plentiful.

This was the aglio olio-treated Homemade Tagliatelle with seafood and zucchini. I liked the unique addition of zucchini to this.

The Tacchino, a stuffed turkey roulade with figs was tender, but a little tasteless and dry. A drizzling of rich red wine sauce and sweet caramelized red onions provided the requisite flavour and moisture.

The Salmone, with a fillet of pan-seared salmon, braised vegetable "caponata" and basil pesto sauce was pretty average. That said, the fish was fresh and flaky. The vegetable braise lent sweetness.

The Astice (supplement $20), homemade tagliolini tossed with boston lobster, cherry tomatoes and a lone broccoli, was commendable. We were pleasantly surprised by how many lobster chunks were in this.However, taking into consideration the top-up of 20 bucks, I can totally see how it would be a given that they would be generous with the lobster.

The Filetto (supplement $20), a medley of oven-baked Australian beef tenderloin, seared foie gras, mashed potato and vegetables was also another so-so dish. The meat was a tad overcooked, but admittedly still moist and tender, and the foie gras was lacking in that rich creamy melt-in-your-mouth texture. This wasn't quite worth the additional 20 buckaroos.

Stay tuned for the antipasti and dolci buffet posts!

Ocean Financial Centre Level 43
10 Collyer Quay
Tel: 6509 1488


The White Rabbit

We had our pre-Christmas brunch at The White Rabbit over the weekend. We love their truffle mac & cheese! Which was why we were so incredibly disappointed when we discovered that they'd changed their menu, AND took the much beloved truffle mac & cheese off their brunch offerings! That was such a mood dampener, really. We were really looking forward to having a huge fix of that.

While I get that restaurants regularly rehaul their menu to 'keep things fresh', I never understood why they would remove bestseller items off their menu. These popular dishes are precisely what set these restaurants apart and make repeat customers out of their diners. Take those away and you're bound to lose some of your customer base. I think it's just bad business sense.

Apparently, we aren't the only ones who feel the pinch of losing the truffle mac & cheese. A quick chat with the manager revealed that many diners lament the loss as well. The truffle mac & cheese is seriously the best thing about The White Rabbit's brunch menu. Now that it's gone, we're just gonna stick with Wild Honey for future brunches.

We had the chef's recommendation of a Maine Lobster and Cheese Omelette ($30), which was very commendable. Fans of this luxurious crustacean are bound to love this. Lobster jus was used to flavor the omelette as well, so there was a rich seafood element to the thick and fluffy omelette. Plentiful chunks of lobster meat, cooked perfectly, so they were tender and juicy but thoroughly cooked through. A good helping of chips, mesclun greens and crisp brioche completed the rich eggs.

The Fettucine alla Carbonara ($28) with fresh pasta, was one of the more memorable versions of this egg and cream based pasta I've had in a while. Generous diced bacon, and pork sausage provided texture and salty overtones. The right balance of cream as well as a soft cooked egg made this rich and creamy without being cloying. This was seriously good stuff.

The White Rabbit
39C Harding Road
Tel: 6473 9965
Open weekdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
weekends from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
Closed on Mondays
Website: www.thewhiterabbit.com.sg


No Signboard Seafood, Geylang

We brought an out-of-towner friend out for dinner at No Signboard Seafood at Geylang, one of my all-time favourite cze char/seafood joints. This is one of those places that's guaranteed to leave a good impression of our local cuisine. The seafood's swimmingly fresh and the dishes are executed with flair and finesse. Although there are branches of this hugely popular seafood chain located conveniently in town, any foodie worth his salt will tell you that this Geylang branch is the best outlet of them all. It's little wonder that despite its far-away-from-town location, it's a full house every night. Many tourists can be seen chomping down on the fare here, alongside the locals.

Service, despite the prevalence of PRC wait staff, is efficient and polite (well, as polite as can get at a cze char joint). Even with a full-house, you don't have to wait very long for your dishes to arrive.

We've noticed one thing though, they don't serve beef here. Methinks it may be a religious thing.

The Champagne Chicken ($15) which is essentially lemon chicken, is a favourite with newbies to local cuisine. The bright lemony scent enlivens the fried chicken and a light sugar syrup provides the balancing sweetness.

The Sauteed Scallops with Dry Red Chilli ($25), are succulent, plump and sweet, while the kung pow sauce is subtly sweet and smoky and spicy, so as not to overwhelm the delicate scallops.

The Hubs loves the Sambal Kangkong ($8) here. They're wilted but still crunchy, and the sambal is heady, fragrant and has a kickass spice.

The Claypot Beancurd ($12), served bubbling in a pre-heated claypot, with a soft runny egg stirred into the luscious oyster sauce gravy, is choc-a-bloc with yummy ingredients. Greens such as sugar snap peas, cauliflower, nai bai, broccoli, were dumped in along with a variety of mushrooms for maximum sweetness, while prawns lent additional sweetness and a luxe touch.

The Hong Kong Style Steamed Soon Hock ($7 per 100g) is fresh and flaky, while the delicate soy seasoning complements the mild taste of the fish.

The Braised Yee Fu Noodle ($7) with straw mushrooms and crunchy beansprouts (with heads and tails removed of course) is soft and chewy. Just the way i like it. A wonderful end to a substantively satisfying meal.

No Signboard Seafood Restaurant
No 414 Geylang Road
Tel: 6842 3415
Open daily from 12 noon to 1am.
Website: http://nosignboardseafood.com/


Swensen's, United Square

Growing up, I used to love those trips to Swensen's at Thomson Plaza (or Yaohan as it was known then) for their giant Earthquake sundaes. Swensen's, to me, evokes happy childhood memories of dry-iced, pseudo volcanic eruptions, creamy sweet treats and luscious chocolate fudge.

Now with competition from other big-name commercial ice-cream brands such as Haagen Daaz and Ben & Jerry's, Swensen's has been relegated to those glory days of yore. If not for Jal asking to have our monthly lunch meet-up at United Square's Swensen's, I wouldn't even know it's there at all. But, since Jal was hankering for some ice-cream and because of its halal certification, we met up at the extremely-populated-with-kids United Square.

The ice-cream sundaes are still decadently good, but the food pales in comparison with the main attraction of this old-school American-styled diner. My take is to stick to the ice-cream section of the menu and ditch the savouries.

The Meatballs in Pepper Sauce ($8.90) was the only passable dish of lunch, even if it was a bit generic. Meatballs were chunkily textured and the pepper gravy was smooth and spicy but the potato mash was so obviously of the instant powdered mix variety.

The Prawn & Fruit Salad ($11.90) with lettuce, prawns, raisins and a mango yoghurt dressing was something a halfway decent home chef could do easily. At least the ingredients were sort of fresh, even if the prawns tasted a little too crunchy and alkaline.

The Fish & Chips ($14.80) was so sub-par. According to the menu, Swensen's supposedly sells 1 plate of this every minute in Singapore. I can't see how this could be true. The fish was dry and tasteless, the tartar sauce thin and watery, and the coleslaw tepid.

The only good thing about the Sirloin Steak ($21.20) was the accompanying steamed vegetables. The steak was dry and required a bit of chewing to get through. You can get better, more value-for-money fare at Astons.

101 Thomson Road
United Square #01-08
Tel: 6356 7382
Open weekdays from 10.30am to 10.30pm
weekends from 8am to 10.30pm
Website: www.swensens.com.sg
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