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foodphd's Reviews

       27 Feb 2011 at 6:24 pm
    One of the main attractions of Robertson Quay (to us) is Laurent Bernard Chocolatier. The place was very packed at 10pm on a Friday night but we managed to snag one of the last outdoor seats available. There were many tables of customers who ordered the soufflé. Well, to our knowledge, soufflés are light fluffy cakes. And all along, we tend to prefer rich, dense chocolate cakes. Hence, after much deliberation, we decided against the soufflé and ordered the following instead:

    Rum Baba is essentially an yeast cake saturated in rum and topped with a layer of cream. There was a small plastic pipette filled with rum, placed at the corner of the cake. So with a little squeeze, we added more rum to the rum-soaked yeast cake. On its own, the cake was rather light sponge, which on normal occasions, we probably wouldn’t like it. However, in Rum Baba, the entire cake was soaked thoroughly in rum, and that made all the difference. Every bit of the cake was saturated with rum. The top layer of cream didn’t taste like whipped cream (which we dislike). Rather, it wasn’t cloyingly sweet, had a very smooth texture and tasted pretty good.

    Yes, the all famous Laurent Bernard Chocolate Tart. Our all-time favourite Chocolate Tart. No matter where we went, how many tarts we have tried, we’ve always felt that this was the best. The dark chocolate cream was smooth, soft and simply melts in our mouth. You could really tell that it was made of premium chocolate and the taste was heavenly. We can never get sick of the chocolate. The crispy hazelnut base added crunchiness and a secondary texture to the dark chocolate cream. The only disappointment is that the tart seemed to shrink in size compared to the previous time we tried. Pure dark chocolate nutty base = simply divine. No wonder this is Laurent Bernard’s most popular pastry.

    The 3rd and last cake we tried was Truffle. Moist with a strong chocolate aroma, guanaja 70% is used for this cake. We had Truffle from Toast before, and compared to that version, this was slightly denser and less creamy. Truffles are rather suitable for chocolate lovers who like their chocolate cakes to be simple, without any extra toppings like nuts, crunchy bases etc – just a naked chocolate cake. You can really appreciate the good quality of the chocolate Laurent Bernard uses in this Truffle. It looks simple, but each mouth we took is packed with the richness of premium chocolate. Not too sweet and creamy, it will be a hit with dark chocolate lovers.

    3 cakes for $29.90. Every cent was so worth it!

    On a side note, we saw Laurent Bernard himself at the display counter. We exchanged a couple of lines and from there, we could tell he had the flair of a top notch pastry chef. Well, he looked rather proud of himself, and he should, because the desserts from his chocolatier are indeed one of the better ones around.

    For photos, please visit http://foodphd.wordpress.com!
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         26 Feb 2011 at 10:18 pm
      Category: Japanese
      Happy Hour Daily Special 6-8pm - 50% off sushi and sashimi!

      With such a great deal offered at En Japanese Dining Bar, off to River Valley we went on a Friday night. We reached the place at around 7.40pm and realized to our excitement that the 50% offer was valid as long as the sushi/sashimi orders were placed before 8pm! Just a note, there are certain dining places which promote similar offers, but the catch is that you have to finish your meal, settle the bill and leave the place before the end of the stipulated period. Otherwise the offer would be invalidated and you would be charged the full price. So thankfully En Japanese Dining Bar adopts a different policy; as long as you place your sushi/sashimi orders before 8pm, it doesn't matter if you leave after 8pm.

      We ordered the Sashimi Nana Ten Mori, Nigiri Hachi Kan, Godzilla Roll and Kushimori.

      Sashimi Nana Ten Mori - a platter of 7 kinds of sashimi. The Sake Sashimi (salmon) looked rather queer, the colour was a bit too dark and dull, unlike the salmon sashimi we tried at Kinki and Sakuraya. Texture wise, nothing too out of the ordinary. It seemed to be lacking in taste; there wasn't the strong typical salmon taste. The Tako (octopus) was as usual, chewy with a slight tinge of saltiness. The Mekajiki (swordfish) was pretty good, it had a strong flavour, adequate chewiness yet not too rubbery. The Kanpachi (yellow tail) on the other hand, had a faint fishy after taste, which was left lingering in our mouths. The Hon Maguro (tuna) was something that surprised us. We don't usually like Maguro as it tended to have a strong fishy taste and the texture wasn't too our liking. But surprisingly, the Maguro at En was a bit different. There wasn't any fishy taste and the texture was similar to the Mekajiki, with adequate chewiness. Shimesaba (mackerel) tasted all right, nothing too surprising or out of this world. But the Hotate was really good. We've always had this soft spot for scallops. We like seared scallops a lot, where the inside core was slightly uncooked, while the outer flesh was charred. In this case, it was just Hotate sashimi, which was very fresh, and simply melts in the mouth. Splendid.

      For the Nigiri Hachi Kan (8 kinds sushi platter), the variety was similar to the sashimi platter, only that there was also the Tobiko, Ebi and Ika sushi. A bite into the Tobiko (flying fish roe) revealed a burst of saltiness and seafood taste. The Ika (squid) was rather strange. Typically, Ika has a chewy, rubbery and smooth texture. But this time round, the Ika had a starchy and sticky texture. Seemingly, it felt like it wasn't very fresh. The most disappointing part of En's sushi was the rice. Well, for sashimi, the first and most important criteria is that the raw fish must be fresh. But for sushi, other than the sliced raw fish, the rice is a crucial part! Otherwise, why bother having sushi when we can just have sashimi? But it seems that En Japanese Dining Bar has neglected this important part. The vinegared rice was a huge disappointment. Firstly, the rice wasn't sticky enough. When we picked the sushi up with our chopsticks, the rice simply felt apart. It wasn't sticky enough. There was barely any taste of rice vinegar. In fact, it seemed to be nothing different from normal rice, other than the fact that the grains were shorter. The sushi rice simply killed the entire platter. The standard was similar to the sushi counters at supermarkets. Simply disappointing. Not to mention, little effort was put into the plating and presentation of the platter. It was rather slipshod, not very appealing and pleasing to the eyes.

      The only cooked food we had for the night was Kushimori - a platter of 5 sticks of skewers. The bacon wrapping the Enoki (golden needle mushrooms) wasn't very salty. Hence, it tasted more like pork meat, rather than bacon. But the huge lump of enoki was very juicy and flavourful. For the cherry tomatoes wrapped with bacon and topped with cheese, we felt that the cheese didn't really accentuate the taste of the skewer. The bacon was already salty enough, adding the cheese didn't seem to make the dish any better. But the tomatoes did add a refreshing taste as when we bit into it, the burst of a fruity flavour encompassed our taste buds. It kind of reduced the richness from the bacon. The Tsukune (chicken meat balls) was juicy, not too dry, but a little on the oily side though. The best skewer has to be the Hotate Bacon. Well, we really do like scallops a lot. The thing about scallops is that not much marinating needs to be done. The juiciness and freshness of the scallops is the essence. When you grill scallops together with bacon, the saltiness of the bacon infuses into the scallops, giving it a slightly savoury taste, but yet not overpowering its original juiciness and seafood flavour. Overall, the skewers platter at En is worth a try.

      The last dish of the night was the Godzilla Roll - Unagi, Avocado, Cucumber, sprinkled with Tobiko. I think we regretted ordering this. Like we've said, the sushi rice was very bad. Godzilla roll was made up of sushi rice. Hence, it was bad enough. Unagi was nothing special. It didn't blow us away. To say this is a chef's recommendation did make us scratch our heads and wonder why.

      The worst thing of the meal was that the food took AGES to be served. We placed our orders for the sashimi, sushi and godzilla roll at 7.50pm. Well, the restaurant was pretty crowded that night, perhaps cause of the happy hour special. But still, our orders were largely raw dishes, which required no cooking, hence we thought we would get served pretty quickly. To our huge displeasure, our first dish, the sashimi platter, was only served after 1 hour 10 minutes. We had our first bite of food only at 9.00pm, a whole 70 minutes after our orders were placed. The sushi platter came only after 15 minutes, at 9.15pm, a whole 85 minutes after we placed the orders. Being rather hungry, we added an order for the skewers at 9.20pm. We were watching other tables, and saw that they had arrived later than us, but with their food (mostly cooked food) being served earlier.

      Well, ever since our sushi platter came at 9.15pm, we asked 2 different waiting staff to check on our Godzilla Roll. And none of them got back to us. That is until we asked the same waiter a 2nd time, and he assured us that our Godzilla roll was on priority now. By 9.30pm, we were getting frustrated at the fact that our elusive Godzilla Roll hadn't arrived. It has been more than 90 minutes since we made that order!!! I had enough of waiting. I walked right up to the cashier and told her that we have been waiting for a Godzilla Roll ever since we placed our orders at 7.50pm. The waitress who took our orders agreed that our orders were taking very long to be served. Do all the customers have to wait so long for their raw dishes? We weren't very pleased, the staff kept apologizing, but offered no reason or explanation. All they said was that they would hurry the kitchen. But apparently, hurrying didn't not work. And just as I was about to return to my seat, a plate of skewers appeared at the cashier and the waitress who took our orders immediately said that we had placed an order for the skewers platter. I acknowledged that and all of a sudden, this plate of skewers was ours.

      The elusive Godzilla roll finally came, only after we finished our plate of skewers. And that was already close to 9.45pm. In short, it takes close to 2 hours for a Godzilla roll to be prepared and served. And you would expect great things from Godzilla? No! It was the worst dish of the night. It was not even worth a 5 minutes wait. Period.

      The waitress who served us offered us a discount. But well, don't expect much. The discount was only 10% off the price of the skewers platter, which turned out to be a mere $1.50.

      We understand that the crowd was pretty big that night. But no, there wasn't any queue. And there were still a few empty tables. We do know that good food needs waiting time. But the quality of food at En is definitely not justifiable for the long waiting time. The food was average, it wasn't all that fantastic. So it definitely wasn't worth the wait. In fact, if it weren't for the 50% happy hour, the price wasn't worth the wait either. But is it really justifiable to have such a long waiting time because we were having discounted food?

      One more thing was that we specifically asked for non-smoking outdoor seats. And somehow, halfway during the meal, 2 ladies stood barely a metre beside me, smoking. I wonder, were we really given non-smoking outdoor seats?

      Value for money, but the waiting time was way too long.

      Visit http://foodphd.wordpress.com/ for pictures!
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           19 Feb 2011 at 4:00 pm
        Category: American
        Double Bay Australian Dining and Bar has been at Raffles City Shopping Centre for quite a number of years, but we have never visited the place, until yesterday…

        It was around 10 at night, and not that many eating places (with good desserts) were opened at that time. We have heard about the molten chocolate cake from Double Bay and since it doesn’t close till 1am, we decided to give it a try. This place is largely known for Fish and Chips, but our main aim was still the desserts. We ordered the Molten Warm Chocolate Lava Cake (approximately 15 to 20 minutes of waiting time) and the Banoffee Pie (P was rather excited when she spotted this in the menu that she dashed straight into the restaurant without the typical “please wait to be seated” attitude – her unassuming love for desserts!)

        Both desserts were served together after 15 minutes. Of course, after the usual photo taking session, we immediately went for the Molten Warm Chocolate Lava Cake.
        Looks wise, pretty simple, nothing too fanciful. And since this was our first visit here, we did not know what to expect from their desserts. So when the desserts were served, we were still pretty calm… that is, until we broke open the Molten Warm Chocolate Lava Cake … … …

        and all hell broke loose!! The luscious molten chocolate started flowing out of the shell as we hurriedly use our spoons to scrap up every single bit of chocolate. The chocolate kept flowing out; we kept scraping and sending those warm molten chocolate down our throats. It was satisfying, not to mention pretty exciting as well. It was seriously quite a huge serving of molten chocolate. And it was like the eruption of a volcano as the molten chocolate flowed out of its shell. And within a couple of minutes, we had demolished the entire lava cake. Absolutely satisfying.

        Banoffee Pie (the name is a portmanteau of Banana and Toffee) is an English pastry based dessert made from bananas, cream and toffee, on a pastry base or one made from crumbled biscuits and butter. We have never tried Banoffee Pie in Singapore before.The bananas were caramelized, and tasted rather sweet. There was a digestive biscuit like crust on top of the layers of banana and added crunchiness to the pie. We didn’t quite like the cream on top of the pie though, and after a few bites, we just removed the cream. Overall, the Banoffee Pie was pretty good, it was something different from the cakes we’ve tried. The combination of caramelized banana and toffee made the pie sweet, but not overwhelming.

        With an extra $2, you could also add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to each dessert. Personally, we felt that the vanilla ice cream was mediocre. The vanilla taste was rather mild, there was a slight taste of nuts though. But overall, the ice cream was something you can do without.

        We spent $26.85 for the 2 desserts. Satisfying meal.

        Visit http://foodphd.wordpress.com for photos!
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          24. Sakuraya Fish Mart   
             14 Feb 2011 at 9:46 pm
          Category: Grocery
          We were at the Fish Mart Sakuraya today for a quick lunch. We walked past Sakuraya a number of times, but have never dined there. The menu didn’t look all that appetizing or interesting. But we were there specifically to try the sashimi, so it didn’t matter if the menu didn’t interest us, cause firstly, they do not have a sashimi menu! So what happens is that you have to head over to the display cooler counter and pick and choose the sashimi which you want.

          There weren’t that many choices and we stuck to the conventional ones. We had the Salmon Sashimi, the Hokkai Taki (Octopus) and the Shima Aji (Jack Mackerel).

          The Salmon Sashimi – it is a total enigma. We tried salmon sashimi at many places before but this is the first time we’ve tried such soft ones. When we picked up a slice of salmon sashimi with the chopsticks, the little force we exerted was sufficient to break the salmon piece into 2. That was how soft it was. And we barely needed to chew the salmon sashimi, the heat in our mouth, plus a little fidgeting from the tongue was enough to break up the salmon into many small pieces, which simply just slid down our throats. We didn’t quite understand why. We expected the salmon sashimi to be rather chewy, or at least not that soft. With just chopsticks, you could easily poke many holes right through the salmon sashimi. The texture was just so different from the conventional ones we had that we were suspecting that the salmon wasn’t fresh. But there wasn’t any strong fishy taste nor smell. Except for the texture, everything seemed fine. It was just an enigma.

          The Hokkai Tako was chewy and slightly salty. Not too many surprises over here.

          The Shima Aji was our favorite! It was slightly different from the other Mackerels we’ve had. This was more transparent. It had the chewy texture which we liked, no fishy taste, yet more flavourful than the other 2 kinds of sashimi. We enjoyed it alot.

          Ambience wise, the entire place was packed by 12.30pm. Sakuraya isn’t a high class Japanese restaurant, as the name goes, it is really more of a fish mart. It was noisy, the place had no elaborate decoration. Even the soya sauce came in the Kikoman bottle. The waitresses were pretty slow in serving and refilling our green tea. We had to request at least twice before they finally attended to us. I guess it’s largely due to the fact that there was a big crowd.

          Price value wise, as we chose the conventional salmon, octopus and mackerel, we felt that it might be more worth having them at an international buffet instead. And plus at a buffet, you can have unlimited servings! But if you were specifically craving for sashimi, Sakuraya is a pretty good choice as the fish is fresh and the price is comparable to those at Sushi Tei. Another thing we figured is that such Japanese sashimi houses get their sashimi supply only on selected days in a week. Hence, if you go on a wrong day (like today), the selection might be limited to the conventional kinds.

          Well, we’ve been having too much rich and savoury food over this Chinese New Year. Hence, having fresh and simple sashimi to celebrate Friendship Day is quite a good idea. At least, it allowed our tummies to rest for a while. No preservatives or flavourings; just unpretentious sashimi.

          3 kinds of sashimi (sold by weight) plus 2 glasses of hot ocha (free flow): $39

          For pictures, kindly visit http://foodphd.wordpress.com/
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            25. 1 Caramel   
               11 Feb 2011 at 4:34 pm
            Category: Deli and Cafe, Desserts
            We tried the Peanut Butter Cheese Tart - peanut butter cream cheese tart with a hint of lemon and a crunchy layer of hazelnut praline. Expecting a strong peanut butter taste similar to that of Reese’s peanut butter cups or the Skippy peanut butter jam we have at home, we were a little disappointed as the peanut butter was comparatively less creamy and rich. It was also much sweeter. Guess it could be due to the cheese? There were little peanut bits inside too, but those weren’t crunchy at all. The tart was topped with a chunk of ganache like chocolate, which has a texture similar to the center of chocolate pralines. There was a slight Marzipan taste to it as well. Comparing the chocolate tart from Laurent Bernard Chocolatier with this, the base of this tart was sweeter and somehow, less tart-like. In general, the peanut butter cheese tart was a little on the sweet side, but still a good cake worth trying.

            The second cake we tried was the Chocolate Slut – multiple layers of chocolate flourless sponge, caramel peanut butter mousse, marshmallow chunks, crispy struesel dough glazed with rich, dark coating. Does it really look like a slutty cake? Well, we’re not too sure, but this cake definitely exudes elegance and looks rather pretty with the chocolate bead necklace. First bite into the cake – it was smooth and soft; it totally melts in your mouth!! There was some ferrero rocher-like biscuit embedded within the cake and with the little chocolate beads, there was an added crunchiness to the cake. On the other hand, though the description read peanut butter mousse, we could not detect any strong peanut butter taste. After eating around half a slice, we got a little overwhelmed with chocolate. The cake was rather heavy and dense with chocolate, hence one could get sick of it rather easily (thankfully we shared!).

            2 cakes from 1-Caramel were enough to satisfy 2 chocolate crazy girls. In addition do give the Strawberry Short Cake and Chocolate Berry Lust a try too. We’ve tried these a couple of years ago and they were pretty nice too.

            For photos, please visit http://foodphd.wordpress.com/!
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