After my disappointing sandwich at Melt Bar, I had all but given up hopes of finding something similar to that of Toastface Grillah in Perth. But as luck would have it, I chanced upon Park Bench Deli one weekday evening.
Occupying a small shop along Telok Ayer Street, Park Bench Deli's industrial themed interior gives off a hip vibe, with the day's offerings pasted on a huge board on the wall. Seating is rather limited and you have to order and make payment at the counter.
Patty Melt On Rye - Pink in the middle and a perfect medium rare, the beef patty came across as tender and well seasoned (a tad overly salty though), topped with gooey melted American cheese and sweet grilled onions, all layered between two slices of crackling crisp rye bread. Pretty delicious but Toastface Grillah's sandwiches still take the cake.
PB & J - PBD's take on the classic PB & J was pretty interesting. Crusted with cornflakes for that extra crunch, the first thing that hits you is the peanut butter, with the sweetness of the jelly helping to cut through the smooth richness. However I would have appreciated a little more peanut butter and jelly for a more robust flavour. It was also a little annoying to have the cornflakes stick to my teeth at times. Not as good as the one from Artistry in my humble opinion but good enough!
My stomach threatened to explode after consuming both sandwiches but it was worth it, especially since the food was reasonably priced at $24 nett. I'll definitely be back to try their grilled cheese and cheese steak sandwich!
The opening of Emporium Shokuhin sometime late last year injected quite a buzz to the F&B landscape; a huge Japanese supermarket with its own customised aged beef facility, a live seafood market and of course, seven different Japanese dining concepts. The seafood wine bar, UMI VINO most appealed to us so that's where we headed for dinner one weekday evening.
Located within the confines of Emporium Shokuhin at one of the corners of Marina Square Shopping Mall, UMI VINO carries a certain coziness to it with its high ceilings, open concept seafood displays and muted colours. Tables are spaced adequately fair apart to ensure a comfortable communication space.
Homemade Crab Cakes - I was hopeful this would turn out as good as Morton's but unfortunately not. Although the breaded crumbs gave the crab cakes a crisp exterior and they came stuffed with quite a substantial amount of crab shreds, I couldn't quite make out the sweetness of the crustacean. Decent but hardly satisfying.
Scallops A La Plancha - Like the crab cakes, this was one of their signature dishes and it unfortunately failed to impress as well. Grilled on a hot plate (ala plancha) and sporting a touch of golden brown on the surface yet a little raw in the center, the texture was just right but the whole dish was drenched in way too much olive oil which overwhelmed the natural sweetness of the scallops (if any). Rather disappointing for $18 (3 moderately sized pieces).
Sakura Ebi Tiger Prawn Pasta - This smelt really good but faltered in the taste department, most unfortunately. The sakura ebi was a tad crisp but overly salty while the chilled angel hair pasta came across as a tad thick, soft and bland. Topped with a few pieces of crunchy but less than sweet tiger prawns. Average at best.
Baked Sea Bream Pie - The sea bream pie was surprisingly the best dish of the evening. Served with a huge puff pastry enveloping the entire dish (poke a hole through and the whole thing deflates) and a slice of fresh sea bream sitting in a pool of creamy, mildly sweet sauce, it was pretty decent and a little nostalgic on my part to be honest.
Dinner was a disappointing affair and on our part, the both of us forked out about $101 for the generally average quality of food and smallish portions. Service wasn't stellar either so there's really no reason to return in my humble opinion.
Pince and Pints opened with much fanfare and rave reviews some one and a half years back and has apparently been very popular ever since - so much so that they have expanded upwards to the second floor and overseas to KL. We were intrigued by the limited offering of Truffle Lobster Roll so dropped by one Saturday afternoon for lunch.
The place isn't big (first floor seats 46 while the upper level seats another 30) and is a hotbed for noise due to the rather crampish and enclosed interior. But by virtue of a reservation, we managed to snag a rather nice corner seat with a fish tank (complete with a singular lobster) as a backdrop.
Lobster Roll - To do a comparison, we started off with a regular lobster roll. Served with a rich but not too heavy garlic aioli sauce, the lightly chilled lobster meat came across as crunchy and sweet, on a mildly crisp and sweet bun that could do with more time on the grill and definitely alot more butter. The accompanying regular cut fries were decent.
Truffle Lobster Roll - For $10 more, the truffle lobster roll was only available for a limited period of time (till end January). And in contrast to the regular lobster roll, the crunchy and sweetly succulent lobster meat was served warm instead of chilled, with truffle shavings, a small dollop of caviar and a truffle sauce that boasted a fair amount of truffle oil and bits of the real stuff. I personally couldn't get enough of the rich truffle sauce that went extremely well with the fries. However, as with the regular roll, the bread wasn't crispy or buttery enough for my liking.
Two lobster rolls cost us ~ $148, which is relatively expensive given that The Naked Finn serves a slightly more delicious rendition of the regular lobster roll at ~ 40% cheaper. A pity the rolls are only available during lunch. Maybe The Naked Finn could consider offering it for dinner as well.
The wife was craving rösti and we ended up at The Rosti Farm (TFR for short), an eatery apparently specialising in the Swiss potato dish. The funny thing is that the place also houses other brands under the same roof/management (Teuscher Chocolates and Once Upon A Milkshake) - so you can have chocolates and milkshakes together with your rösti.
Occupying a rather small unit on the second floor of the relatively upclass Capitol Piazza mall, TFR seats approximately 20 pax in its rather homely premise, complete with wood panel wallpaper and wooden furniture.
Milkshake - The milkshakes in general were pretty thick and rich without coming across as too sweet. Pretty good.
Three Little Pigs & A Big Bad Wolf - A single rosti (you can opt for a double at an additional cost) topped with Swiss cheese, a black angus beef patty enveloped in provolone cheese, bacon and prosciutto. The rosti had a lightly burnt taste to it but came across as rather oily. Ditto the accompanying pork bratwurst, which was flavourful but oily as well. The melted provolone provided a subtle flavour and gooey texture to the beef patty, which unfortunately was overcooked but thankfully, not too dry. While I appreciated the crispiness and saltiness of the bacon, the prosciutto didn't quite do it for me - a little too limp and lacking in saltiness.
The Hardworking Farmer - Consisting of ingredients from the farm; snail sausage, mini omelette, sauteed mushrooms, Swiss cheese with a deep fried chicken drumstick atop, all on a single slab of lightly crisp, salty but relatively oily rosti. The drumstick came across as flavourful but added to the overall oiliness of the dish while the snail sausage wasn't anything to shout about. The mushrooms provided an earthiness but the omelette came across as bland. Although each individual ingredient wasn't great, the sum of all parts made for a pretty decent dish.
Our meal cost $51 (no GST and service charge, which is definitely a plus), which isn't too expensive for the decent quality of food (a little less oil would be appreciated though) and drinks. Service was friendly too, which made for a pleasant dining experience.
Justin Quek is arguably one of Singapore's most celebrated chefs and his restaurant, Sky On 57, opened with much fanfare as Singapore celebrated the return of one of its prodigal sons. 5 years on, we were excited to be part of the after party on the occasion of my good friend's visit to Singapore.
As the name suggests, Sky On 57 is perched on the 57th level (top floor) of the iconic Marina Bay Sands and plays neighbour to the infinity pool (accessible to hotel guests). The view is naturally awesome, boasting a birds eye view of the marina bay area but only if you are seated in the alfresco area where the bar is. Still, you do get a limited view of the surroundings if you manage to snag a window seat.
Complimentary Bread - There were a few different flavours of bread but all came across as average. Well, at least it helps you tide over the hunger pangs until the real food is served.
JQ's Signature ( $5) - Chef Justin Quek's signature Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao (小笼包) required a top up of $5 for a total of five pieces. The skin was a wee bit too thick but I loved the richness of flavours in the soup and filling; a hint of truffle starts off before the taste of foie gras kicks in together with a mild porkiness from the meat, which had bits of chewy fat for that added texture. A beautifully concocted and excellent dish in my humble opinion. Caveat - you must like foie gras to really enjoy this dish.
Jerusalem Artichoke Velouté - The velouté proved to be a great follow up to the xiao long bao; Creamy and rich without coming across as too heavy on the palate. Coupled with mild saltiness from the bacon bits, a crispiness from the croutons and crunchiness of the diced artichoke, it was a delight to consume. I hear the other soup option on the lunch menu, the Pumpkin Infused Superior Broth, was very good as well.
Wagyu Beef ( $5) - I'm not sure this was worth the additional $5 top up. Granted, the boneless wagyu beef was very tender with a tinge of red in the center and a light sweetness from being marinated in hoisin sauce. Finished off with a light sprinkle of salt and two miserable stalks of vegetable. Decent but definitely not wow and rather nauseating after the second piece.
Singapore "Sakura" Chicken Rice - Singapore's national dish, the ubiquitous chicken rice. Sky On 57's rendition boasted succulent meat with mildly crunchy skin and very little fat (through the use of sakura chicken, which is a local product by the way). Coupled with a bowl of fragrant, not overly oily rice that hinted strongly of ginger, this was one of the best chicken rice I've had thus far.
Comparisons with the famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice @ Maxwell are inevitable and although Tian Tian loses out quite a fair bit on the quality of meat, its rice actually tastes better but only if slathered with their "special sauce". In itself, Tian Tian's rice comes across as bland and rather flat. Then there is the comparison of price which is at least a 6x differential but I'm happy to fork out the extra dough for Sky On 57's offering, which also comes with a bowl of delicious corn soup, if that's any consolation.
De Sicilia - The cannoli came across as rather hard and reminded me a little of the crackers you eat with yusheng during Chinese New Year. Smoothly sweet from the mascarpone filling with a nutty finish courtesy of the pistachio topping. No great shakes honestly.
Churros - Fluffy but coated with way too much sugar, the churros came served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dish of viscous chocolate sauce. Very palatable but nothing out of the ordinary.
The 3 course set lunch stands at $55 /head and the 4 course at $65 (before any optional adders), which is honestly a tad expensive given the overall hit and miss quality of the food (local/Asian fare tend to excel but the western dishes/desserts seem to falter). However, having said that, Sky On 57 does offer a great, albeit very pricey introduction to local cuisine in an uplifting environment with good service. I'll be happy to drop by again, if only for the chicken rice and the foie gras xiao long bao.