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!
It was not too long ago when De Burg (a decent burger outfit which has since moved to Kallang) was still situated at the rather quiet coffeeshop along Blk 119 Bukit Merah Lane 1. In the space of a about a year, much has changed and the same coffeeshop is now bustling with stalls selling different produce and crowds patiently queuing up for a table. One such stall that has moved in is Immanuel French Kitchen, a much publicised (by the media) outfit selling fine French cuisine at seemingly affordable prices.
Duck Rillettes - Served up in a tin container alongside another tin of gherkins and a platter of sliced, rather dry and hard baguette, the duck rillettes came across as decent; Generous and well shredded with a nicely smooth, oily finish. Would have been better if it had been a little creamier and a little less salty.
Pork Belly Braised In Kakuni Style Served With Duxelle Mushrooms, Onsen Egg & Potato Foam - This dish was a little east meets west as the pork belly was done Kakuni style (simmered in dashi, soya sauce, mirin, sugar and sake and popular in Nagasaki). The belly was relatively tender but had quite a fair bit of fat, giving it a nice wobbly texture but also a rather nauseating effect. Amidst the richness of the pork belly and a quivery onsen egg sporting a runny center (topped unfortunately with bacon bits that tasted straight off the shelves), the duxelle mushrooms provided a commendable earthy complement whilst the lightly smooth potato foam and croutons dispensed the necessary carbohydrates. Pretty decent but honestly it was the potato foam that impressed me more than anything else.
1 duck rillettes and 1 pork belly dish for a grand total of $25.50. Whilst I appreciate the thought and effort that has gone into both dishes, I personally do feel that $16.90 is a bit too much to pay for the pork belly, given the quantity (not much!) and setting of the place (coffeeshop). But to be fair, food quality is a notch or two above average so that should count for something I guess?
I had been meaning to try Les Amis for the longest time and the wife and I finally got down to it one sunny Saturday afternoon. Les Amis has been around for 20 years and is regarded as one of the pioneers of independent French fine dining in Singapore. It has also consistently appeared in various rankings as one of the top restaurants in Asia and the world (ie. 14th in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants by San Pellegrino in 2013 and 2014). Expectations were high, naturally.
I like the high ceiling and chandelier but couldn't quite wrap my head around the two levels of seating (the 3 private rooms are on the mezzanine floor whilst the normal seating is on the ground floor. Maybe it's just me but I didn't get a very good vibe upon stepping in; The place just seemed a tad too stuffy for my liking.
Complimentary Bread - A decent enough basket of bread to quell any growling pangs before the meal proper. This proved to be very useful later on.
White Asparagus In "Blanc Mange", Oscietra Caviar - The white asparagus came in the form of a blancmange (flavoured dessert made from glutinous or starchy ingredients and milk), which came across as creamy and smooth with a distinctive asparagus taste amidst a mousse like texture. Topped with caviar for that salty slant and aesthetically surrounded by a ring of sour cream to cut through the fishiness of the caviar. Nice but too much of sour cream and blancmange together can be a tad nauseating. A very decent start nonetheless!
Warm Lobster Encased Within Baby Spinach Accompanied By Classic Fish Bone Sauce - I couldn't quite make out the significance of the baby spinach leaf as the taste didn't quite feature but the warm lobster encased within was very good; crunchy with flavours accentuated by the creamy yet not too rich fish bone sauce. And finished off with salty fish roe. I liked this dish but found it tiny and a tad overly fishy.
Angel Hair Pasta With Lobster, Crispy Sakura Ebi And A Touch Of Parmesan - First impressions, "god it's tiny!". Al dente angel hair pasta topped with small, crunchy lobster pieces, crisp sakura ebi that provided a nice crunch and chilli flakes for that mild fire; All simmered in a broth that had a beautiful crustacean flavour to it. Only gripes I had were that it was a tad too salty (and believe me, I have quite a high salt tolerance level) and that it tasted rather pedestrian, like a more refined version of 虾面 (prawn noodles).
Hot Souffle Of Reine-Claude With A Refreshing Yoghurt Sorbert - The Reine-Claude (greengage) souffle was a tad soggy but relatively light. Served with a mildly sour yet sweet yoghurt sorbert. Pretty nice way to end off the meal.
Petit Fours - Lemon madeleines and vanilla canelés. Not great, especially the canelés, which came across as bitter and hard on the outside. The lemon madeleines fared slightly better, sporting crisp edges and a mild lemony taste.
Remember the basket of bread at the beginning of the meal and how I mentioned it was useful later on? Well, with the portion sizes, I definitely needed the bread to fill me up. And even so, I was left rather unsatisfied. Decently competent food but lacking the spark in my humble opinion. At almost $165 for a 2 pax lunch and with all its credentials, I was certainly expecting more; More creativity, more outstanding flavours. But sadly, both seemed to be a little lacking. Service was professional but reserved. So is Les Amis past its prime? Maybe...