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.