It was restaurant week again and we decided to do Chinese for once. Since neither of us had ever been to Summer Palace, we decided to give their lunch a shot.
Located on the third floor of Regent Singapore, just a level above Basilico, Summer Palace houses a rather traditional Chinese interior complete with wooden chairs, golden pillars and a floor of red trim carpeting. We were lucky to be seated by the window (3 such tables available) but there was honestly no view to speak of except for the pool below and the hotel guests sunbathing by it. Still, I appreciated the serenity of the whole place.
Chef's Dim Sum Selection - Deep Fried Prawn Roll with Mango - I liked the crisp, deep fried rice noodles that encapsulated bits of crunchy prawn but unfortunately, the taste of mango was almost non existent. What was interesting was that the mayonnaise that came served alongside actually had hints of mango in it. Or was I imagining things?
Barbecued Pork Bun with Pine Nuts - Boasting a crusty, not too sweet top and a generous filling of sweet, mildly gooey BBQ pork, the bun was actually pretty respectable. However, unlike my personal favourite from Lung King Heen, the sweetness from the BBQ pork actually overwhelmed the nutty taste of the pine nuts and the bun itself wasn't as soft or chewy.
Steamed Prawn Dumpling with Bird's Nest -This was your typical 虾角 with a mere aesthetic upgrade aka tasteless shreds of birds nest. Throw in a relatively limp dumpling skin and you have an average prawn dumpling.
Double Boiled Ginseng with Fish Maw, Conpoy and Bamboo Piths - Although I'm personally not a fan of ginseng, this soup was quite good in my humble opinion. Tasty yet light with the mild taste of ginseng helping to keep the nausea at bay and the spongy fish maw coming across as crunchy.
Stir Fried Fish Cubes with Asparagus in Teriyaki Sauce - Flaky and smooth flesh coupled with a light sweetness from the teriyaki sauce and a mild savouriness from the stir fried garlic and ginger. Pretty good. Only issue I had was that the sweetness of the teriyaki dominated the natural sweetness of the cod fish, which I personally am quite a fan of.
Fried Glass Vermicelli with Crabmeat and Black Pepper - A tad chewy with an abundance of wok hei, crab meat shreds and black pepper for that mildly peppery kick, the glass vermicelli was pretty decent. And the beansprouts added a nice crunchiness to it.
Combination of Desserts - Osmanthus Jelly with Wolfberries - Nice and sweet with the wolfberries tasting very similar to raisins.
Mango Sago - Chilled and a tad runny but thankfully, not too sweet. Not as refreshing as I expected and could probably do with a little tartness and a little more time in the fridge.
Lemongrass Jelly - I absolutely dislike lemongrass but this turned out surprisingly acceptable. The lemongrass taste was rather faint and it tasted like your regular ice jelly dessert with crunchy bits of aloe vera. Very decent.
And so concluded our lunch, with two restaurant week lunch sets and a pot of 龙井 hitting the century mark. Pretty satisfactory lunch but I personally don't deem it wow enough for a return visit, not when the normal ala carte prices seem a tad steep for the quality of food. Service was excellent though; warm yet unintrusive.
I was in search of a good burger, having been recently disappointed by W39's over-hyped rendition and word on the street was that Suprette served up one of the best burgers in Singapore in current times. Since it wasn't too far from our place, the wife and I decided to drop by one Sunday morning for brunch (yay to free parking at the public carpark).
Suprette is actually housed in the heritage Kam Leng Hotel (first established in 1927 and later extensively refurbished and reopened in 2012), along the busy and sometimes chaotic Jalan Besar Road. The simply furnished eatery is quite small and can probably take up to about 30 customers in one sitting. As it is located on the ground floor, all the views you get are of cars and passers-by (relatively rare). But the place is cosy in it's own right, exuding an unhurried, small world charm amidst the hustle of the passing traffic. However, having said that, pray for quiet patrons. During our visit, there was a relatively loud table who held us hostage with their gossips and that marred our experience quite a fair bit.
Pasta Of The Day - Pasta of the day happened to be Carbonara so went for it. In a "tribute" to the local dining scene, the spaghetti is served on a water resistant brown foil (like those you would get at nasi lemak or economic beehoon stalls) placed in a old school tin plate. Or maybe they just wanted to save cost and do away with the fancy tableware. Anyways, the spaghetti was a little overcooked while the cream sauce came across as a tad runny. Throw in generous handful of porky, fat laden bacon bits and you end up with a rather uninspiring rendition of this Italian classic. I reckon I could get something similar at a random western food stall in Singapore, at a fraction of the cost.
Suprette Burger - The sole reason why we were here; Suprette's eponymous burger, with an additional topping of bacon and mushrooms ($3 apiece). Soft buns slathered with butter and toasted on the griddle till crisp and golden brown on the surface, sandwiching a juicy, beefy patty with bits of fat for that extra chewiness and topped with a layer of gruyere cheese which imbued it with a faintly sweet, nutty taste.The additional topping of mushrooms was worth it, adding an earthy perspective to the mix but the bacon did come across as a tad too crisp, dry and lacking in salt. Overall still a good burger and one of the best I've had in a while (last one was at Minetta Tavern in New York).
There is only 1 dessert available daily and we didn't fancy what was on offer that day (lemon meringue pie with vanilla ice cream) so we skipped it.
At $20 for a basic burger with fries, it is honestly a little on the pricey side but I reckon it's well worth the dough. Service was decent and I'll be happy to return just for the burger (and the nostalgia from the hotel), minus the bacon strips of course.
I had read about W39's awesome burger in the various (un)conventional media outlets and eagerly made my way down with my colleagues one weekday afternoon to partake in the consumption of one of my favourite dishes.
The Place & Menu - Nestled within the quiet private estate stretch of Jalan Mas Puteh and playing neighbour to KFC, W39 stands out with its cosy yet rather quirky interior with a nostalgic nod to yesteryear. Think bare floors, brightly coloured chairs, and knick knacks from my childhood (okay I'm old).
Wagyu Burger - The main reason why I was here, the much raved about wagyu burger. I should had known better. For starters, it was relatively tiny (think McD's new Big Mac size but without the middle slice of muffin) and the bun was dry and insipid though crisp in some parts. Instead of medium rare as per my request, the patty came medium well but looked like it had hemorrhaged just before service (check out the amount of blood soaked up by the bun). Taste wise, it was rather similar to McD's Quarter Pounder patty, albeit coming across as slightly thicker. And the cheese atop tasted almost non existent. In my humble opinion, this burger doesn't even meet the mark for a normal, non fast food beef burger, much less a wagyu beef burger. How it is so highly raved about honestly confounds me.
Mister Chocolate - Apparently the best selling dessert at W39 (according to a placard in the display fridge), the Mister Chocolate did manage to provide a wee bit of redemption after the less than satisfactory burger experience. Smooth and rich chocolate fudge covering and flowing through the moist sponge whose texture was strangely similar to huat kueh (Chinese steamed cake). Top up $2 for a scoop of average quality vanilla ice cream. Overall still a decent dessert.
Rainbow Cake - As vibrant and appetising as the rainbow cake looked, it was actually pretty bad. The buttercream was stodgy and eating it was akin to chomping straight down into a cube of butter. Dry sponge layers definitely didn't help one bit. It was so bad that there was quite a bit left over.
Lunch for the 3 of us cost almost $87, which was pricey considering the quality of food. Service was alright but it will take more than service and a cosy ambience to get me to return.
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.