We were having lunch at Char's "new" location after several moves from Geylang to Guillemard Road to the current (and hopefully) permanent location @ Jalan Besar.
Located just a few doors down from my favourite, now defunct burger spot, Suprette, Char's interior sports an industrial vibe with exposed halogen bulbs and cement screed floors and walls, Char's premises is reminiscent more of a pub or one of those hipster cafes/coffee houses that are sprouting up rapidly across Singapore. Decor aside, we had to wait for a few minutes to catch the attention of a seemingly clueless wait staff to confirm our reservation. Questions about the menu were also met with a blank stare.
Dou Miao Dry Scallops - The obligatory vegetable dish and a pretty decent one at that. The crunchy dou miao was partially immersed in a not overly thick but flavourful gravy with generous amounts of dried scallop shreds. Simple but delicious and best eaten with rice.
Butter Chicken - Thin strips of tender chicken cooked with curry leaves, evaporated milk and topped with fried garlic and sliced almonds; I liked the creaminess and sweetness of the whole dish. And the curry leaves gave it a nice curry tinge and aroma. Kinda reminded me a little of the Butter Pork Ribs dish from Two Chefs sans the "milk powder" dusting.
Quarter Roast Duck - The quarter duck was probably more suited for 2 pax than 4 but nonetheless, I liked the crisp skin and tender meat that didn't come across as too gamey. Very competent dish and one of the better ones I've had so far.
Double Roast - We chose Char's famous BBQ and roasted pork for our 双拼. The BBQ pork had quite a distinct porkiness that seemed to cut through the sweetness of the mildly sticky sauce, probably due to the high fat to meat ratio. The slightly leaner slices tasted better in my humble opinion (I had the same conclusion after having lunch at Char again recently).
The roast pork was a little inconsistent with the second row of pork sporting a crisper skin than the first row. But both rows bosted tender meat with a finishing tinge of spice (not too sure what spice though). Pretty good overall but not quite a fan of the above mentioned spice.
Yong Chow Fried Rice - First looks, the fried rice looked a little anemic and unappetising at best. However it turned out decent with a mild wok hei and reasonable servings of pork, egg, shrimps, mushrooms and greens. It would have been better if the rice had an even distribution of egg.
At just over the century mark for a 4 pax lunch, it is honestly quite reasonable, given the quality of food. Of course quantity can always be improved but I think priority on the fix list has to be the service. On my return visit, the staff couldn't decide if the place was fully booked and made us wait at the door for ~10 minutes while she went off to chat with her colleague. When pressed, she offered us a smaller table but didn't offer us additional chairs.
The food might be good but if service is going to continue this way, I'll gladly take my money elsewhere!
See all my pictures >a href ="http://www.timelessfacade.com/2016/08/char-competent-food-below-average.html">here.
We were four years too late for the opening of Dean & Deluca in Singapore (to much fanfare and rave reviews). With the Orchard Central flagship outlet apparently closed for renovations, we hopped down to the outlet at HillV2 for brunch.
Relatively spacious with high ceiling windows to allow for lots of natural light in against a predominantly white background of walls, tables and chairs, D&D seemed pretty quiet on a weekend late morning. The handful of customers seemed like residents of the neighbourhood (my conjecture); not quite a good sign of things to come?
Truffle Scented Carbonara - This was a weekend special and I'm usually a sucker for carbonara. Just not this one. For starters, the sauce was thick but lacked depth or richness and came across as creamy at best. Spaghetti was a little soft and I couldn't make out any scent of truffle. The only positive came from the generous serving of bacon slices and crisp bacon rashers. Very average overall.
American Country Breakfast - Huge servings aside, the American Country Breakfast was a disappointment in many ways. For starters, the sausage came across as bland. Ditto the scrambled eggs, which really could have used a little more milk as well. The toast was crisp but lacked fragrance whilst the side of hash brown was a tad too hard. Seriously average.
Caramel Cheesecake - I didn't quite take to this as the moist base lacked the crumbly texture that I personally like. But both the cheese and caramel didn't come across as too overwhelming. Overall an average eat.
Brioche French Toast - This dish looked absolutely delicious but although the flavours were pretty good, the toast itself was quite a letdown. Coated with cereal which gave a crunch on the outside, it was disappointingly limp and soft on the inside. I would have expected the insides to retain a certain measure of compactness and firmness but alas! Drenched in caramel sauce and topped with berries, bananas and served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, the whole concoction tasted a little like sticky date pudding.
With 50% off, we paid $45, which isn't expensive for the quantity of food. However quality is lacking which probably explains the sparse crowd during weekend brunch hours. I won't be back, not even with the 50% reduction.
The entrance of the famed Parisan pâtisserie, Angelina, into Singapore sparked rave media (both conventional and unconventional) reviews as well as long queues in the initial stages. Fast forward almost a year later and the queues seem to have vanished (at least on a Friday afternoon during the lunch period) and only a handful of tables were occupied.We were ushered to a table in a corner with an adjourning extension, presumably for us to place our drinks/side orders as our main table was rather tiny. It was so small that we had problems trying to sit around it comfortably as our knees were hitting the legs. Talk about impracticality! To be fair, only a few tables (rounded ones) had this issue.
Old Fashioned Ice Chocolate “L'Africain - Touted as one of the definite must tries in Angelina (albeit the hot version, not the cold one), the ice chocolate is apparently made from blending cocoa beans from Niger, Ghana, Cote D'Ivoire and Papua New Guinea and served with unsweetened whipped cream. My humble take on this? Rich and satisfying but the whipped cream didn't quite do it for me especially since the drink was cold and the cream remained in clumps for quite a fair bit of time (stirring didn't actually help much). And personally, 15 bucks a pop (after tax) is a rather ludicrous amount to pay for a glass of chocolate.
Complimentary Bread - Crusty on the outside yet compact on the inside with a tinge of sour dough-ness, the mini baguette wasn't really warm and came served with chilled butter. Which presented a small problem. The bread was warm enough to melt the butter and we ended up having to exert quite a fair bit of pressure to apply a smooth layer of butter onto the bread.
Seafood Risotto - What a feast for the eyes the Seafood Risotto was; boasting a variety of colours from the prawns, squid, scallop, clams and cheese shavings. Unfortunately it really did look much better than it tasted. The risotto was al dente (I'll give it that!) but lacked creaminess whilst the seafood just didn't quite make the cut. The huge singular scallop, for example, was a little too soft througout and lacked any discernible sweetness. Ditto the prawns, which didn't come across as very fresh. Overall palatable but no great shakes.
Truffle Croque Monsieur - I was enticed by the truffle quotient in this particular rendition of Croque Monsieur and on hindsight it probably wasn't the wisest equation to select. Two crisp slices of toast bearing onto a slices of ham and cheese and topped with a layer of gooey melted cheese, followed by a generous drizzle of truffle oil and finished off with two thin slices of black truffle (more for that visual effect honestly). The wonderful aroma (from the truffle oil) aside, it was nothing much than a decent ham and cheese sandwich with truffle oil; nothing more, nothing less.
Mont Blanc - Another of Angelina's signature dishes, the famed Mont Blanc pureed chestnut dessert. Maybe the issue lies with me but I really didn't quite fancy it. The chestnut puree came across as a little too heavy and stodgy which made this small dessert rather nauseating to consume after a few bites. So much so that I left half of it untouched. So much for the high expectations.
Lunch for 2 came up to about $60 after a 50% discount only on the food (~ $105 without discount) which was still acceptable for the rather pedestrian quality of food. However, take away that discount and Angelina would be seriously overpriced in my humble opinion. Service was reasonably competent but stiff.
A colleague had recommended Seletar Hill Restaurant so a couple of us got together for lunch one weekend to give it a shot. This place apparently sells "westernised" Chinese food like General Tso's Chicken as well as Szechuan dishes which the owners picked up whilst cooking in the kitchens of Chinese restaurants in New York. Having lived in the Americas for quite a few years, that little bit of history honestly didn't quite assure me.
The Place - Facing a neighbour park/playground along Jalan Selaseh (along Yio Chu Kang Road and a few lanes down from Orchid Live Seafood @ Jalan Kelulut), Seletar Hill Restaurant (or SHR for short) is an unassuming eatery that has a typical, dated interior that is commonplace in many older Chinese restaurants.
Cold Dish - A rather typical old school Chinese restaurant starter; the appetiser platter aka "cold" dish. Consisting of the usual sliced prawns with thousand island sauce, ngoh hiang (五香), jellyfish etc. Everything was palatable but nothing quite memorable honestly.
Fish Maw, Fresh Crabmeat, Chicken and Mushroom Potage - Not too starchy with relatively generous shreds of crab meat, chicken and pieces of fish maw. I personally prefer double boiled soups (like the ones from Lei Garden) but this was pretty decent.
Camphor Tea Smoked Duck - One of SHR's signature dishes. On my first bite, I could make out the pleasantly faint smokiness that permeated through the entire piece of meat. However the entire duck didn't seem evenly smoked as parts of it seemed a little bland. Also, the meat did come across as a tad dry. Still a very decent eat nonetheless and definitely one of the better ones I've had.
Claypot Duck Wing with Sea Cucumber - I personally wasn't a fan of this dish. Although the duck wing was well braised, the gravy came across as one dimensional. Don't quite fancy sea cucumber as well.
Fried Red Garoupa with Sweet and Sour Sauce - The fish was quite fresh and sported a crisp exterior drizzled with a mildly sweet and appetising sweet and sour sauce. Not too bad honestly.
"Tung-po" Pork Belly with Steamed Buns - Another of SHR's signature dishes, the Tung-po pork belly with steamed buns aka kong ba pau (扣肉包) was melt in your mouth tender but the gravy did seem a little bland. Nothing quite like the one I usually have from Beng Hiang (I have yet to visit them since their move to Jurong so I am unsure if standards have been maintained).
Our set lunch for 6 pax cost just over $240, which honestly wasn't too expensive given the quantity of food. However food quality isn't much to shout about and I guess SHR is just another ulu Chinese restaurant; worth a try but not worth a revisit in my humble opinion.
We dropped by Adrift @ Marina Bay Sands one weekday afternoon for a much needed reprieve from our hectic schedules. Overseen by one Michelin star Chef David Myers but run by executive Dong Choi, who had worked with Myers at the now defunct Sona (1 Michelin star in 2007) and Comme Ca.
Playing neighbour to Rise (MBS's buffet restaurant) at the hotel lobby of tower 2, Adrift comes across as cosy and a little playful (bench made to look like swings) without all the airs of a celebrity restaurant (no loud music playing in the background like Bread Street Kitchen as well!). Floor to ceiling windows ensure plenty of light but a pity there is no view, except for a sculpture of sorts.
Amuse Bouche - This was 3 varieties of rice crackers served with a dollop of aioli; pretty interesting with slightly varying degrees of crisp and tastes. The purple one for example, tasted similar to keropok but with a tinge of rice wine.
Warm Duck Salad - Very Thai styled salad with sweet mango, generous slices of not too gamy (and delicious!) smoked duck and fresh greens, all drizzled with a sourish, mildly spicy dressing. Appetising and a great way to kick start the meal.
Baby Spinach - Boasting fresh greens, hazelnuts, shimeji mushrooms and truffle pecorino (raw sheep's milk cheese with truffle), what's not to like? Especially with the generous servings.
Pork Tonkatsu Sandwich - Apparently one of Adrift's signature dishes, the pork tonkatsu sandwich was, as the name suggested, juicily tender, deep fried (but not greasy) breaded pork sandwiched between two slices of soft, fluffy white bread not dissimilar to the loaves sold in old neighbourhood bakeries. Served with shredded cabbage salad on the side. Pretty good but can't say I was blown away.
Wagyu Cheeseburger - Adrift's wagyu cheeseburger lived up to it's signature dish billing; a seemingly hand chopped (uneven texuture) and juicy beef patty layered with melted cheese, sitting on a beautifully crisp and buttered bun. The other bun was slathered with tomato jam and buried under a mountain of cheese shavings - personally preferred the butter variant. A worthy rival to Suprette's beef burger in my humble opinion.
We opted for a side of Pak Choy to go with the burger and it turned out rather average honestly. So much for choosing greens over more carbs.
Yuzu Cheesecake - I'm not a huge fan of yuzu but the cheesecake turned out surprisingly good. The yuzu taste was rather dominant but didn't overwhelm the taste of the cheese and paired well with the black sesame ice cream and the wickedly delicious sesame tuile - sweet and crisp with a lingering sesame taste.
Caramel French Toast - Now this was interesting given that coffee or kopi syrup was used as a drizzle instead of the usual flavours. I'm not too sure it worked in this case as the flavour didn't quite seem a natural fit with the coconut sorbet and the french toast (which tasted similar to bread and butter pudding - a tad crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside). Nonetheless I did enjoy this dessert quite a fair bit.
Our lunch cost ~ $113 for 2 pax, which was relatively reasonable considering the competent quality of food and the friendly service. I could definitely envision a revisit, with reservations for the corner swing seats of course.