We were having lunch at Wolfgang Steakhouse, which has outlets in New York, Tokyo, Hawaii and now Singapore. There has been alot of hype surrounding the opening of its Singapore outpost but I've honestly never of it. Apparently Wolfgang used to be the head waiter at the legendary Peter Luger for 40 years before his son convinced him to come out of retirement to open the first Wolfgang Steakhouse in Manhattan.
Seated on the 2nd floor of the relatively new Intercontinental Singapore @ Robertson Quay (which took over the previous Gallery Hotel), the steakhouse exudes class and familiarity with its predominantly wooden interior, leather backed seats and limited views of the surrounding Robertson Quay through full length windows. It can get a little warm during the day though if you sit next to the windows.
Complimentary Bread - The bread basket consisted of baguette and onion bread. The former wasn't warm and came across as rock hard (not even the butter could save it) whilst the latter was fragrant but rather dry; even worse than the recently inferior one from Morton's.
Lobster Mac & Cheese - I think the QC on this was pretty bad. One side of it was overly charred (which gave it a bitter taste), while the other side was nicely done. Overall the non burnt portion was decent; gooey but a tad bland with a few pieces of lobster in it.
Sizzling Bacon - This thick cut of bacon came across as chunky with a good meat to fat ratio and a nice, crispy surface. However not as well done as Peter Luger's in my humble opinion.
Sauteed Mushrooms - Assorted mushrooms with onions and a whole lot of salt.
Pasta Pescatore - Al dente pasta topped with shrimp, lobster, clams and calamari. Unfortunately the marinara sauce tasted a little too watered down and not the least bit spicy (contrary to the description on the menu). Somehow this dish lacked any oomph.
Sirloin - This was part of the Taste of New York Set from the lunch menu. ~320g sirloin (inclusive bone, which worked out to be about 4 very thick slices of meat). The crisp exterior belied a chewy, medium rare center which was tender and juicy. However it was a little too salty for my liking (and trust me, I have a high tolerance for salt). Thankfully the restaurant's special sauce, a cross between BBQ sauce and ketchup, helped masked the saltiness.
Apple Strudel - A rather average dessert with the filo pastry a little too drenched from the sauce and an almost overwhelming taste of cinnamon. The apple slices were on the sourish side but the sweetness from the raisins balanced that out rather well. Nothing in the league of Morton's or Ruth Chris honestly.
New York Cheesecake - This was half a portion of cheesecake and came with the Taste of New York Set. To be honest, this was very good and definitely the best dish of the entire meal. Rich and dense layer at the top with a soft, spongy middle. Not overly sweet and better than alot of cheesecakes I've eaten.
Key Lime Pie - First time trying a Key Lime Pie and it was decent with the lime curd texture a little gelatin like and not too tart, on a crumbly biscuit crust.
Lunch for the 4 of us came up to almost $300, which isn't very expensive for a reputable steakhouse. Unfortunately food in general isn't too spectacular maybe because of the high salt content (we ordered a burger as well but had to send it back to the kitchen because the patty and onion rings were ridiculously salty. To their credit, the replacement dish was alot less salty). On the upside, service was excellent; attentive, friendly and obliging.
It's been a while since our last visit to Imperial Treasure Teochew and since then, so much has changed. For starters, they relocated from Ngee Ann City to Ion Orchard and included the word "Fine" in their name. Oh and they recently garnered a Michelin star. Exciting times.
The place is certainly more upclass now and gone are the days of the rather cramp-ish interior with haphazard seating arrangements. Instead tall glass ceilings allow for tons of natural light and coupled with lots of wood, make for a more relaxing and refined dining environment. Do note that if you sit by the windows during the day, be prepared to soak in some heat; a little hot but still bearable.
Double Boiled Fish Maw Soup with Shark Cartilage - This came across as a little starchy and rather sweet. Not quite a fan honestly and rather pricey at $30 for such a small bowl. The Cantonese restaurants definitely do this better.
Doubled Boiled Pig's Stomach Soup with Salted Vegetables & Peppercorns - The soup was a tad too salty from the salted vegetables but I liked the peppery goodness of the peppercorns. Decent soup overall but I can get a better (and cheaper) rendition from one of the Teochew braised duck stalls that I usually patronise.
Chee Cheong Fun - Just for the kick of having some dim sum - a rather average rendition with the skin less than silky and a lacklustre char siew filling.
Three Kinds of Marinated Combination in Teochew Style - One of the hallmarks of Teochew cuisine, braised meat. We went with duck, pork belly and intestines and it was seriously underwhelming. The duck was thinly sliced and didn't come across as too tough but the gravy was a tad too sweet for my liking. Though the pig intestines were well cleaned, they lacked the crunchiness that I liked and came across as limp. Not to mention the pork belly with its >50% fat to meat ratio that honestly didn't go well with the sauce. The sole saving grace? Silky smooth beancurd slices hidden beneath. Apparently this is the Hong Kong style Teochew braise with its lighter flavours but I've had much better Teochew braise in Hong Kong. ie. Chan Kan Kee or Hung's Delicacies (which I make a point to patronise whenever I depart/transit HKIA).
Deep Fried Cod Fillet with Sauce - I had meant to order the pan fried version but made a mistake. Thankfully it turned out pretty good; crisp on the outside with sweet, flaky flesh on the inside. Ladled with mildly savoury sauce with lots of spring onions. Delicious.
Sauteed Prawn with Egg White in Italian White Truffle Oil - I usually prefer the scallop version but apparently prawns have substituted scallops for good (still can't quite accept that fact). The singular prawn was quite sizable and crunchy and of course the white truffle oil gave the whole dish a rather heady (and amazing) aroma.
Braised Spinach Beancurd with Assorted Mushrooms - Now I've rather biased towards beancurd and it was quite delicious - crisp on the outside while soft and eggy on the inside. Topped with lots of mushrooms and sitting on a bed of spinach. Definitely my kind of dish.
Sauteed String Bean & Minced Meat with Preserved Black Olives - The string bean came across as a little too oily but at least it retained its crunchiness without coming across as overly raw. Average dish at best.
Teochew Fried Fish Noodles - Stir fried with beansprouts, chives and egg, the fish noodles had a nice springy texture to it but was way too oily for my liking. It was also a tad lacking in wok hei.
Sweetened Mashed Taro with Ginkgo - And finally, another ubiquitous Teochew dish, the humble but extremely time consuming to make Orh Nee. It looked dry and unappetising on the outside but was actually smooth, fragrant and moist without being too sweet. A great ending to our otherwise underwhelming meal.
With a $100 discount, lunch for the 4 of us came to about $232 (~$339 without discount), which isn't quite worth the money in my humble opinion. Food overall was acceptable but some dishes came across as too oily. Service was good but seemed to be shorthanded at times, especially when the restaurant was at full capacity.
To be honest, even though I'm quite a fan of the Imperial Treasure group (note the number of times I've been to the Cantonese outlet at Crowne Plaza), I fail to understand how this particular outlet is able to achieve 1 Michelin Star.
CUT Marina Bay Sands recently earned a star in the 2017 Michelin Singapore edition and we had elevated expectations of a great steak dinner (hopfully even surpassing that of Morton's in Singapore).
We were seated in a semi private enclave with just a single table at one corner of the dining room. I honestly don't know what to make of the decor except that it struck me as rather clinical, unlike that of Peter Luger Steak House in New York, which had a cosy and inviting feel to it.
Complimentary Bread - There were 3 rounds of complimentary bread; bread sticks, cheese puffs and an assortment of bread from a mobile tray. The sticks were nice - crisp with a strong cheese taste (tasted like goat cheese) while the puffs came across as light, fluffy and mildy cheesey. From the tray I had the pretzel (love the texture - soft, dense yet chewy but extremely salty!) and the onion bread (moist but a touch oily). So much bread to fill you up!
Maple Glazed Pork Belly, Fuji Apple-Yali Pear Salad, Sesame-Orange Dressing - This looked absolutely delicious with a sumptous fat to meat ratio of ~50%. Coupled with a rich layer of sweet maple glaze, it was a sure fire recipe for nausea. Thank god for the sliced apple and pear salad, though sweet, provided a nice refreshing crunch and much needed moisture. I personally think a tarter apple, ie. Granny Smith's, would work better though.
Alaskan King Crab & Shrimp "Louis" Cocktail, Spicy Tomato-Horseradish - This was a half sized portion because the chef split the original portion into 2 for sharing. Although I liked the crustecean combination of king crab and prawn together (with a medley of vegetables thrown in), it wasn't spectacular. I've definitely had better.
Double Thick Iberico Pork Chop, Rhubarb "Moustarda" - I liked how the surface of the pork chop was crisp (a wee bit to burnt though) while the meat (and fat) retained its tenderness and flavour. The meat was also well seasoned with a faint tartness (probably from the rhubarb). Decent but not as good as Gunther's rendition.
Hokkaido "Snow", Tomakomai, Filet Mignon - I had high hopes for this small piece (120g) of premium Japanese steak (heck you would too if it cost $245 ) but unfortunately it was disappointing to say the least. Although the marbling was very good, the meat was a little too soft for my liking at medium doneness and it lacked the beefiness that I personally like.
Cavatappi Pasta "Mac & Cheese", White Cheddar - It was our first experience with cavatappi (helical tube/cockscrew shaped pasta) but it wasn't a good one. The dish came across as very oily with a mild white cheddar cheese taste. We gave up after a couple of mouthfuls. Bird Bird definitely does a much better rendition.
Kaya Baked Alaska - Ironically, the Kaya Baked Alaska was the star of the evening. Reminiscent of a durian shell with its spiky edges, this dessert was essentially coconut cake with pandan ice cream and coconut sorbet encapsulated within a meringue on a crumble base and quickly torched. Deliciously sweet and I love how all the flavours come together to remind me of Kaya. Served with a "side" of coffee crumble.
The both of us spent ~$508 for a rather dissatisfying dinner. Service was good but food in general wasn't great and I fail to see how or why CUT was awarded a Michelin star. At this price point, I am way more inclined to stuff myself silly at Gunther's.
Bird Bird moved to the east a couple of months back and I chanced upon it while dropping by Cedele (a few doors down) one afternoon a few months back. I was hooked and made it a point to visit shortly after. Just for the record, I have been there quite a few times for lunch/brunch ever since.
Bird Bird occupies a corner unit along Frankel Avenue and parking is limited to the private estate behind (however you are free to park anywhere you like as long as you are able to evade the rather frequent patrols by the traffic wardens). The interior is kept simple with cement screed floors and wooden tables.
Cornbread Waffles - At $3 a piece, the cornbread waffles were relatively pricey. But by golly, they were worth it. Mildly sweet with a rather significant corn taste and served with smoked maple syrup. Definitely my kind of carbs. Just watch out - they get cold and limp rather fast so eat them while they are hot/warm.
Black Truffle Mac & Cheese - This was delicious; Al dente macaroni coupled with a light fragrance from the black truffle bits and a not too creamily rich sauce nursing a tinge of zest to keep nausea at bay. Topped with shavings of cheese and croutons for an extra crisp.
Brown Sugar Bacon Chop - I loved this as well. The thick cut bacon chop was seared and coated with a thin, brittle layer of caramalised sugar; sweet with salty undertones. A little different from the renditions of both Peter Luger and Clinton Street Baking, which do without the evident layer of sugar but equally delicious.
Signature Fried Chicken - Our order of half chicken consisted of 5 pcs from wing to breast. It looked absolutely mouth watering but unfortunately I found the seasoning a little underwhelming and not thorough enough. The meat was tender, juicy and moist but the skin was a little bland and lacked the oomph I was hoping for (in this respect, Southern Bird @ Marina Bay Sands does a better job). The signature gravy tasted like runny mashed potato gravy. Maybe the other chickens taste better?
Durian Softie Pie - An absolute crowd pleaser, the toasted milk softie had a light browned taste to it without coming across as too sweet. Topped with a generous scoop of durian pudding, white chocolate, sitting on an almond crust base and drizzled with gula melaka caramel for an added sweetness. Delicious and definitely a great way to end off the meal.
Brunch cost the 2 of us ~ $81, which isn't exactly cheap but I think it's worth the price for the above average quality of food in general. Service is decent but just be aware that the ventilation isn't great so you will walk out of the place smelling like your meal. Weekday lunch sets offer a much better value proposition so it would make better sense to go during lunch (you can even top up $5 for a durian softie!)
We had been meaning to drop by Riders Cafe for the longest time but somehow never managed to get to it until one overcast Saturday morning when we decided to go off the beaten track.
Located at the Bukit Timah Saddle Club in a charming colonial style building, Riders Cafe boasts great ventilation and views of a field and horses (sometimes - not to mention the smells too). Which is great if the weather is cooling (not too common in Singapore though) and you enjoy dining alfresco. The place is a constant buzz so reservations are advisable (I witnessed a few people being turned away without one).
Fried Chicken BLT - The chicken patty was well marinated with spices and came across as mildly sweet but not too dry. Topped with coleslaw, rather weak kimchi mayonnaise and sandwiched between two rather insipid buns. Still palatable though.
Riders Burger - I opted for the works; added mushrooms, bacon rashers and an egg. The Angus beef patty had bits of fat in it which made for a nice chewy texture. However the bovine flavours were a little muted and the bacon, a little limp. I liked the smooth creaminess the egg yolk provided though; a sort of gooey glue that brought everything together. Buns needed more butter and time on the grill in my humble opinion. Decent burger overall but no great shakes.
Death By Chocolate Cake - This was very sinful and oh so good (I'm definitely biased). A luscious slice of moist chocolate cake slathered with mildly viscous chocolate sauce and served with a scoop of ice cream. Watch out for the sweetness overload though.
Salted Caramel Brioche - Salted caramel brioche topped with a scoop of vanilla (not vanilla bean) ice cream and honeycomb. I liked the flavours; salty yet sweet. Unfortunately the brioche was rather inconsistent in texture - some were crisp while others came across as limp and stodgy. A bigger scoop of ice cream would also have been appreciated as towards the end, the brioche got a little too salty and there was no ice cream left to "dilute" it. Still a decent dessert nonetheless.
Our bill came up to ~$74 for 2 burgers and 2 desserts which isn't too expensive but food quality in general hovered a notch above average at best and service, though proficient enough, didn't seem quite friendly. The place is nice but given Singapore's humid weather most of the time, ambience alone isn't a big enough draw for me to return.
Half Pound Burger (or HPB for short) sounded promising so we dropped by one Saturday afternoon to partake in their reasonably priced set lunch.
Located close to the start of Purvis Street, HPB occupies a simply furnished but comfortable unit just metres away from Saveur.
Soup Of The Day - It was either the Roasted Tomato Soup or the Potato Leek Soup for the set lunch so we went with the former. The tomato soup came across as rich but a little too zesty for my liking whilst the croutons were overly soggy, probably from sitting in the soup for an extended period of time.
Grilled Chicken Burger - The grilled chicken patty tasted rather similar to a huge piece of chicken satay but came across as a tad dry. Decent flavour though but maybe having a bit of sauce would make it better? Side of fries was okay though the dipping sauce was rather interesting; a mildly sweet and creamy butter base that actually went well with the fries.
Petite Half Pound Burger - As far as burgers go, this isn't anywhere near the best I've had but definitely not near the worst either. The patty was juicy though it was rather compact and strangely tough with a mild brovine flavour. Layered with Monterey Jack cheese, a strip of decent candied bacon (not as good as the one from Peter Luger or Clinton Street Baking or Bird Bird) and capped with a crisp, buttery bun (a wee bit more time on the grill would have been better in my humble opinion).
Sure the food at HPB isn't fantastic. But at $17 /pax for lunch (includes a drink), it's actually pretty decent value for money especially in the City Hall area.
A revisit 8 years in the making. And here we were, finally. Somehow we had never really made it to Chef's Gunther Hubreschen's eponymous restaurant because of all the new and "exciting" restaurants that had been popping up ceaselessly in the last decade or so.
The restaurant is divided into 2 dining areas and we were seated in the one with windows. Tables are spaced comfortably apart but due to the enclosed nature of the room, private conversations can be challenging unless one speaks in hushed tones (that's assuming the adjourning tables extend the same courtesy as well).
Complimentary Bread & Amuse Bouche - Things got off to a decent start with the complimentary bread; warm and crusty baguette served with a side of salty butter. Would personally prefer a fatter baguette though as that would highlight the contrast between the soft interior and crusty outside.
Amouse bouche was a singular prawn tempura with a dollop of mayonnaise. The batter came across as light but a little excessive so no great shakes.
Cold Angel Hair Pasta, Oscietra Caviar - One of Gunther's signature dishes and rightfully so, the decadent Cold Angel Hair Pasta with Oscietra Caviar. Served chilled, the pasta, doused with truffle oil and finely diced porcini mushrooms, came across as aromatic and al dente with a smorgasbord of flavours; savoury with a hint of saltiness and fishiness from the prized caviar. A most excellent dish.
Daily Special #1 - White asparagus was in season so we had it with morel mushrooms. Moist and tender with a rich nutty and earthy flavour from the morel mushrooms; simple yet delicious.
Daily Special #2 - Hokkaido scallops, shaved truffle and angel hair pasta; it sounded absolutely "droolicious". Well it sure would have made for a magical combination if the scallops (huge by the way) had a more robust sweetness to them. The angel hair pasta came across as warm and firm (though a little less al dente than the previous dish of chilled pasta with caviar) while the light butter sauce provided a nice creaminess with a fleeting hint of the earth from the truffle shavings.
Roasted Rack Of Black Pig, Gratin Potato, Forestiere - Another of Gunther's signature dish, the Roasted Rack of Black Pig was very well done with a good fat to meat ratio; juicily tender and flavourful with just a dash of salt and pepper. Served with a token of mushrooms and tempura long bean on a bed of roasted gooey cheese. Nothing too complicated and absolutely delicious.
Fine Apple Tart “à la dragée”, Havana Rum Raisin Ice Cream - Yet another of Gunther's signature and with good reason. Suitably sweet apple puree enveloped within a ridiculously crisp and thin shell sprinkled with a generous serving of crushed nuts and served with a scoop of rather strong rum and raisin ice cream. Definitely one of the best rendition of apple tart I've had in recent years.
Petit Fours - To end off, petit fours to further cram our already bursting tummies. Decent.
Food overall came across as grounded; nothing fanciful and generally excellent. Prices are a little dear though, at close to $395 for the both of us. But well worth the money in my humble opinion (if only for a special occasion!). Service was personable and unpretentious so that's another plus. Definitely coming back!
We had been itching to try Spago and the opportunity presented itself one Saturday afternoon when we had to drop by Marina Bay Sands (MBS) to settle some business. Spago is Wolfgang Puck's second restaurant @ MBS, with the first being CUT, an upmarket steakhouse. The Los Angeles flagship outlet of Spago had garnered 2 Michelin stars in 2008 and 2009 (Michelin pulled out of LA after that) so our expectations were reasonably high.
Taking the lift up to the 57th level brings you to the famed MBS infinity pool, where one of Spago's service staff will walk you to your table within the confines of a beautiful timber decked room with plenty of natural light (that's if you choose not to dine al fresco).
Served with salted nori butter and unsalted buter, the complimentary baguette and black olive focaccia came across as palatable but nothing to shout about. Somehow the European restaurants (ie. Joel Robuchon) tend to do better bread in my personal experience.
Chicken ‘Laksa’ Spring Roll - This local inspired appetiser was rather interesting. Spring roll skin deep fried till crackling crisp and filled with thick rice noodles and chicken - reminiscent of laksa especially when eaten with the dipping sauce.
Pan Seared Pork Dumplings - The 锅贴 or Gyoza was decent; not overly oily or porky with the skin retaining a light crisp. Simple yet refined.
Grilled Iberico Pork Secreto - Secreto or the "secret" cut apparently refers to different cuts of the Iberian pig, varying from individual to individual and there exists no common or universal standard to date; a clever marketing ploy to make people pay more. But I digress. The famed acorn fed Iberico pork strips were excellent; tender with a light charring along the exterior. Flavours were wonderful - savoury with a touch of earhiness from the mushrooms and sweetness from the pumpkin and chestnuts. Topped with light and crispy pork skin and deliciously smooth parsnip puree.
Grilled Angus Beef Burger - Nothing else really caught my attention on the menu so I went with the usually safe burger option. Unfortunately this didn't turn out as well as I would have liked it to. For starters, the patty was a tad too soft for my liking. I appreciate the hand chopped patty with its uneven texture and bits of fat but it had minimal beefiness to it. The buns were crisp along the edges but slathered with ketchup which isn't my default option for buns (butter is!). An average burger overall. Interestingly, the restaurant 56 floors down in the same tower serves a much better burger in my humble opinion.
Coconut-Passion Fruit Trifle - There wasn't a choice of dessert with the set lunch so the the Coconut-Passion Fruit Trifle it was. Tangy, sweet, smooth and crunchy (due to the rice krispies) all at once. Flavours were light and clean - pretty good. Only small gripe I had was the passionfruit seeds; I know they can be eaten but I'm personally not a fan.
Chocolate – Coffee Semifreddo - We got greedy and decided to share an additional dessert. Served with caramalised banana balls and banana cake cubes, the asthetically pleasing Chocolate Coffee Semifreddo came across as rather strong on the flavours (a juxtaposition to the previous Coconut Passion Fruit Trifle dessert) with a dominant coffee presence. Decent.
Lunch was a pleasant and leisurely affair. Food was decent overall (though not quite up to expectations) and didn't cost us an arm or a leg @ ~$134. Service was very good and so was the ambience. Personally would prefer to dine @ Sky 57 over Spago.
We were quite a fan of Ninja Bowl @ Duxton so when we found out that there was a sister outlet (Ninja Cut) closer to us at Seah Street, we decided to drop by to give it a shot (as at time of writing, we have been there at least 4 times).
Hidden amongst the plethora of shophouses along Seah Street and just a few shops down from the MINT Museum of Toys, Ninja Cut sports a nondescript facade and is easy to miss unless you pay close attention. The interior is rather spartan but comfortable enough. Noise is a pertinent problem here so conversations can be challenging especially when the place is full.
Oh My Cod - This rather sizeable and sweet slice of cod was nicely pan fried but lacking in silkiness; served with a edamame asparagus combination (a little too salty for my liking and didn't quite seem to jell with the dish), mildly sweet carrots, a wobbly onsen egg and pickled purple slaw. Decent for the price but I'll probably swap out the edamame and asparagus the next time round.
Whats Your Beef? - I've had this thrice but I personally feel that the beef in one of their brunch items, Ninja's Steak & Eggs, tastes better. The beef here is a wee bit overcooked and a tad too chewy for my liking. However this dish comes with mushrooms, sweet corn, onsen egg and carrots for for that relatively delicious all rounded meal. You can opt to add rice, soba or salad for an additional $2.
Oceans Of Mentaiko - Rich, creamy soup base coupled with scallops, prawns, mussels and served with 2 slices of crisp garlic toast; absolutely delicious. Only gripe I have is the miserly and inconsistent amount of soup; it ranges from little (~ 6-8 spoonfuls) to very little (~ 4-6 spoonfuls).
Everything is priced below $20 so it's quite a good deal for the quality and quantity of food in my humble opinion. There is no GST or service charge which is a plus and you get free, self service iced water. Do note that this place only accepts cash or nets.
A couple of us dropped by Fat Cow for lunch one weekday afternoon after hearing so much about their signature wagyu donburi.
Located at a corner of Camden Medical Centre, Fatcow took quite a bit of finding as there didn't seem to be any clear signs as to where exactly the place was from the carpark. But we finally found the place and were led into a "private" room for the 8 of us; "private" because it was really just part of the main bar area with a paper thin partition that afforded some visual privacy (no respite from the noise though).
Salad, Miso Soup & Chawanmushi - A side of fresh salad, miso soup and chawanmushi came as a side to our set lunch. I personally liked the chawanmushi; smooth and light without coming across as too eggy and served with a slice of scallop, mushroom and prawn.
The Fat Cow Donburi - And the sole reason why we were here; the namesake Fat Cow Donburi. I ordered my wagyu medium rare but it seemed a touch undercooked even though the flavours were good; salty with a robust beefiness but a little lacking in the juiciness. The wobbly onsen egg imbued the dish with a creamy texture. A good dish but lacked the wow factor in my humble opinion.
Ice Cream - A tiny scoop of smooth and creamy caramel ice cream (probably the size of 2 quail eggs) capped off our meal. Inadequate but appreciated nonetheless.
The 8 of us racked up a bill of ~$480 and though good, doesn't quite justify the quality and quantity of food honestly. We left the restaurant feeling a little unsatisfied to be honest. Service overall was decent but tea refills need to be more forthcoming, especially at $5 /pax. Will I be back? I highly doubt so, unless someone is picking up the check.