I had heard about the rather exclusive (served in limited quantities on a first come first serve basis and only during lunch) but delicious lobster rolls at The Naked Finn and decided to try my luck one weekday afternoon.
But first, getting a table. Strolling into the place at 12pm sharp got me the very last counter seat. And boy was I grateful. The place is tiny, with approximately 10 counter seats and another 10 table seats inside the seemingly make shift premises. Outside there are probably another 10 seats but unfortunately those are not open during lunch.
Lobster Roll With Homemade Mayonnaise - 90g of warm, sweetly succulent lobster chunks wedged between a crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside, pan fried brioche that boasted a smooth butteriness. The dollop of homemade mayonnaise imbued a smooth and creamy finish with a nice piquant aftertaste. Very good! Only gripe I had was pertaining to the fries, which were double fried till extremely dry and in some cases, burnt. Good fries should retain a certain degree of moisture beneath a crisp surface in my humble opinion.
Lobster Roll With Crème Fraîche - As I was still hungry after my first lobster roll, I had a go at another one but this time opting for the other alternative on the menu; Lobster roll with crème fraîche instead of homemade mayonnaise. And the verdict? The crème fraîche was noticeably lighter on the palate but it killed the butteriness of the brioche and dulled the crustacean sweetness of the lobster. Homemade mayonnaise is definitely the way to go in my humble opinion. Did I also mention that shortly after my order was sent to the kitchen, the place ran out of lobster rolls for the day? And it was barely past 1pm!
ps: I skipped the fries, naturally.
A cholesterol level busting lunch cost just shy of $70, which isn't expensive for lobster rolls, especially in Singapore. Quality was very good and just a wee bit below that of Burger & Lobster in London but marginally better than Luke's Lobster in New York. Service was good and I liked that sky juice was served free of charge as well. There were other things on the menu that seemed interesting as well but somehow I can't quite reconcile paying almost $30 for a bowl of prawn noodles vis-à-vis topping up a few dollars more for a lobster roll. I'll definitely be back!
Update - And I went back 3 times in the space of 3 weeks, with varying degrees of quality in the fries (twice burnt and once perfectly fried with a touch of salt. Quality control issues?). The lobster rolls remained delicious though but during my third visit, the buns seemed to have lost a bit of their butteriness and came across as a tad dry.
Punggol end used to be just Jumbo seafood, a roundabout for bus 82 and a place where I used to catch spiders when I was a kid. Now it has been revamped (and renamed to Punggol Promenade) to include a handful of restaurants and pubs, a cycling track/boardwalk and even a small scale supermarket. Upon a recommendation, the six of us dropped by Horizon Bistronomy for dinner one relatively quiet weekday evening.
Located on the second floor of the building and playing neighbours to a Thai food outlet and a pub, Horizon Bistronomy offers both indoors and alfresco seating, with the latter obviously being more popular due to an unblocked view of the Singapore/Johor Straits.
Chilled Crab Meat Angel Hair - To start, I had the crab meat angel hair, which came topped with three substantial chunks of chilled, crunchy crab meat and chorizo oil (pork sausage) that had bits of crisp chorizo for that nice bacon-like texture and taste. Finished off with salty, crunchy salmon roe. Although the angel hair had a touch of truffle oil which gave it a light fragrance and smoothness, it was a tad too thick in my humble opinion. Overall a very decent dish but not something I would go wow over.
Horizon Pork 2 Way - The two way refers to a 24hrs slow braised pork belly and a kurobuta pork tenderloin. The former was melt in your mouth tender and topped with mild grape mustard but as it had quite a substantial amount of fat, the nausea kicked in really quickly. I personally preferred the latter, which was tender with a nice smokey taste to it. The accompanying cauliflower puree was smooth but could do with a little butter. All in all, a pretty good dish!
Chocolate Textures - The name of this dessert brought back wonderful memories of Quay's rendition. But the end result was vastly different. A brownie like chocolate base topped with 66% valrhona chocolate mousse, seperated by a thin layer of orange marmalade and finished with a coffee sauce. Contrary to the menu's claim that this dessert is "simply divine!", the orange marmalade weighed in too strong on the flavours, effectively diluting the taste of the chocolate whilst the bitterness of the coffee sauce didn't quite jell with the whole dish in my humble opinion. Maybe a vanilla bean sauce would have been more appropriate?
Garden By The Bay - A chef's special that's not on the menu, the Garden By The Bay came looking like a few random greens growing out of a pot of soil. Beneath the soil (which is actually chocolate crumbs with bits of nuts) was a thick layer of smooth and light but rather bland vanilla mousse with strawberries, apple slices etc thrown into the mix. I personally liked the chocolate soil, which had a nice crunch coupled with a mild nutty flavour.
The 6 of us spent close to $250 which wasn't too expensive quantitatively but portion sizes did seem a tad small and quality was somewhat a mixed bag. Some items, like the pork and angel hair pasta, were decent but others, like the King of the Sea (not featured because I forgot to take a photo of it) came across as average (salmon was bland and king prawn wasn't fresh). Desserts are definitely not a forte at this place as well. On the upside, service was good with a great view to boot. That, coupled with the pork dish, might well be enough to warrant a revisit.
Inagiku was long gone (since 2012) and in its place, Mikuni, a Japanese restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Moon Kyung Soo (who is Korean by the way). After seeing all the wonderful reviews about the place (mostly invites though), we decided to drop by for lunch one weekday afternoon.
I really don't know how to begin describing the interior of Mikuni. It had sort of a weird vibe to it, like they couldn't decide whether to make it techno-ish or modern Japanese (what's with the blue overhanging lights?) and tables were placed relatively close to each other. I could make out what the tables to our left and right were talking about which was quite a turn off in my humble opinion, the tron legacy lights notwithstanding (reminded me a little of Eva Air's Infinity Lounge @ Taipei as well).
Appetiser - And we started off with a bowl of complimentary salad and some thin, crustacean crisps (I believe it was ebi) with dashes of spice. Pretty nice.
Sashimi Set - Very fresh sashimi; Tuna, creamily smooth sea urchin, salmon, swordfish, squid and amberjack. Need I say more? Served with a cup of chawanmushi (more on that later) and a rather tasty agedashi tofu sporting a somewhat elastic skin.
Australian Beef & Ebi Ougon Sauce Set - Although portions were a tad dainty, this teppanyaki set offered a pretty good sampling of beef and prawn. The beef was tender and flavourful with bits of fat even though it came almost well done instead of my requested medium. However, the highlight was the prawns; Fresh, crunchy and smothered in creamy yet lightly savoury golden sauce (The old Inagiku's rendition was slightly richer and better in my humble opinion though). I personally loved the addition of the fried garlic chips to the dish for that strong garlic infusion and crunch.
The set also included a bowl of fragrant garlic fried rich and a cup of chawanmushi, with the latter silky smooth with bits of prawn and meat inside without coming across as too eggy.
Espresso Ice Cream & Petit Fours - I'm usually not a big fan of coffee ice creams but the espresso ice cream was pretty good; Not too strong or acidic and went well with the blob of cream in the center. Biscuit crumbs atop provided a nice crunchy texture to the equation.
The petit fours included rather interesting red bean squares that had a smooth, melt in your mouth texture (similar to paste) but appeared gelatin like. Matcha balls (matcha cream encapsulated by a thin white chocolate shell and dusted with matcha powder) completed the picture and I personally liked how the bitterness of the matcha complemented the sweetness of the chocolate.
If it wasn't for the Feed At Raffles discount, our lunch would have been exorbitantly priced. Thankfully, with the 50% discount, it was a more affordable $103 for two. Food quality was pretty decent but I wouldn't describe it as mind blowing. More like reliable if you ask me. Service was good but the ambience wasn't ideal (lose the blue lights please). However, at such a price point (with the 50% discount) and food quality, I'll be inclined to return.
It was a rainy day and the wife and I were itching to try out some place new. Artistry (a hybrid new art gallery and cafe) came up in our conversation and viola, we made the trip down to try our luck at getting a table (they don't take reservations).
The cafe isn't big, with a couple of tables indoors and a few long benches in the al fresco dining area. Since the weather was nice and cooling, we opted to sit outside over the rather squeezy tables inside.
Crab Burger - A rather sizable patty chock full of crab meat shreds topped with sweet caramelised onion and tomato jam, sandwiched between two unremarkable buns. Pretty decent but the taste of the crab could be a little more pronounced in my humble opinion. The accompanying truffle fries were cut a tad too thick for my liking and coated with flour, which gave it a relatively stiff texture. Not really my cup of tea.
Nasi Lemak Burger - Now this was rather interesting. Pandan buns infused with coconut shreds coupled with a sunny side up, ikan bilis (dried anchovies), peanuts and a slab of juicy but relatively bland piece of breaded chicken thigh. Accompanied by a small dish of mildly sweet and spicy chilli. In all honesty, there was some resemblance to the real nasi lemak (coconut milk rice) but the less than fresh tasting peanuts could do with a little more work. Oh yes and maybe the chicken could use some seasoning. Nonetheless, still a thumbs up for the idea.
PB&J French Toast - And of course desserts. The peanut butter & jelly french toast sported a a beautifully crisp surface while the insides were lightly moist yet airy and played host to a filling of smooth and sweet peanut butter and jelly. Served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and finished off with a topping of blueberry jam and a dusting of icing sugar. Pretty simple yet delectable I must say!
All in all, the both of us spent $54 for brunch (no service charge or GST is a plus!) which was quite reasonable considering that the food was quite decent overall and service was friendly. But the sole reason for my return would be for the PB&J french toast.
The lobster roll cravings kicked in some two weeks after we returned from our mini round the world trip. And we didn't fancy waiting for a table at the seemingly overhyped Pince and Pints hence Platypus Lobster Shack or PLS for short.
Occupying a single storey shophouse along Nankin Row @ China Square Central, PLS offers both alfreso and indoor seating (both rather limited by the way), separated only by an air curtain. The place practices an open concept and you can see your food being prepared. Only major gripe I had was that the noise level was rather ridiculous; More like a pub than an eatery. And the main culprit? Loud music. So much for a pleasant meal.
The menu is divided into three sections; Starters, lobster rolls and drinks. Pretty specialised eh?
Crustacean Bowl - Apparently there are only limited quantities of this available on a daily basis and you have a choice of having it in either starter ($19 ) or main ($26 ) portions. The starter portion looked a little pathetic honestly so we had the mains to share (two pax to one serving). And it was pretty good. Crunchy lobster chunks pressed upon sushi rice and topped with char grilled cheddar cheese, uni creme and caviar. Mildly sweet, creamy and savoury all in one mouth. The caviar could do with a quality upgrade though. And even as a main, this was quite small. I would probably need at least three to four servings to fill my stomach. Nonetheless still a great eat and I would love to have more!
The Traditional - I'm a purist so I went with the traditional lobster roll. First impressions, the roll was rather small but packed with crunchy lobster chunks that didn't have much crustacean sweetness to speak about and the roasted garlic mayonnaise came across as mild and lacking in depth. Though crisp on the outside, the bread roll lacked butter whilst the side of crisp chips were unevenly drizzled with truffle oil (still nice though as I'm biased towards truffle oil!). All in all, a very average tasting lobster roll and pales in comparison to Luke's Lobster in New York or my current favourite, Burger and Lobster in London.
The spicy roasted garlic variant of the lobster roll tasted pretty similar to the traditional offering save for the spiciness from the chilli and crunchiness of the garlic chips. Average tasting as well.
The six of us chalked up a bill of about $237, which wasn't too expensive considering that there was lobster involved. But portion sizes were small and quality of the lobster rolls were average at best. Service was decent but I honestly can't see myself returning unless I am in the mood to blow in excess of $100 on four crustacean bowls!