Twas the weekend before Mother's day so we decided to beat the crowds (not to mention the ridiculously priced menus) and celebrate beforehand. A decision was made to try out Majestic Restaurant this year and honestly, my expectations were high as many people have raved about it.
The place wasn't big and the interior leaned towards western influences rather than Chinese, with a huge open kitchen and booth seats. We had a corner booth to ourselves which was pretty nice and cosy although I must say that the air conditioning that evening was underwhelming.
Wasabi Chips - Things got off to a good start with the wasabi chips - lightly salted, thin and crisp chips with a mild wasabi kick. Pretty addictive.
Pan Seared Foie Gras - Served up on a slice of watermelon, the foie gras's crisp, well seared exterior belied a soft quivery composition whose sweetness was complemented by that of the watermelon. One of the best foie gras dishes I've ever eaten in a Chinese restaurant.
Double Boiled Sea Treasures with Superior Shark's Fin and Black Truffle - I thought that the soup was deliciously sweet yet light. It definitely helped that there was a plethora of ingredients, from baby abalone to sea cucumber, fish maw, dried scallops, chicken etc. I'm usually not much of a soup person but this was one soup that had me yearning for more. One question though, where is the truffle taste?
Deep Fried Brinjal with Pork Floss - I actually dislike brinjal but this dish was surprisingly quite palatable, with a crisp coating of flour and pork floss, very much like tempura. What I didn't quite take to was the oil content though.
Scallops Wrapped with Bacon - Looks can be deceiving and the scallops wrapped with bacon was one prime example of that. The scallops were huge and the bacon looked like it had nice charred bits along the edges. Alas, the scallops weren't sweet and had a flour like texture whilst the bacon came across as soft and limp. Seriously seriously disappointing.
Salted Egg Yolk Prawn - A seemingly common dish in most Chinese restaurants these days, Majestic's variation came with slices of watermelon and chopped mango. The prawns were quite a size but I couldn't make out any taste or texture of egg yolk. Decent but there are probably loads of restaurants that do this dish better.
Zhejiang Spare Ribs - This was another disappointing dish, with the meat coming across as too hard. But at least the zhejiang vinegar was nicely tart with a hint of sweetness.
Signature Stewed Mee Sua with Baby Abalone - As much as I would like to understand the hype behind this signature dish, I am afraid I fail to comprehend. For starters, the baby abalone was, well, tiny and the soup base wasn't flavourful enough nor was the Mee Sua (面线) silky enough. Overall, a rather average dish in my humble opinion.
Signature Claypot Chicken Rice - Another signature dish from Majestic - the Claypot Chicken Rice. I can't say that I was wowed by it as it was evidently high class chicken rice. Sure, the rice was more fragrant than usual and less oily while the chicken was tender and reasonably plentiful. But seriously?
Durian Paste - We opted for the Mao Shan Wang (猫山王) durian paste to end off our meal and whilst rich, it didn't taste any different from eating straight out of the fruit as the gula melaka taste was non existent. Maybe I should have gone for the fried durian ice cream instead.
One word. Overrated. Dinner was a case of more misses than hits and wasn't cheap by any yardstick, standing at about $577 for 6 pax ($96/pax). Service was very good but I don't think that justifies the high price tag and less than stellar quality of food. I am pretty sure with $96/pax, I can get seriously better food elsewhere. Also, the choice of music played in the restaurant is pretty weird. Why would you play English pop music in a Chinese restaurant?
Popped by Canton Paradise @ I12 Katong one weekday afternoon for some dim sum to chase away the weekday blues. I honestly would have preferred Wah Lok but didn't quite fancy jostling with the CBD crowd and it definitely helped that the porridge at Canton Paradise had a certain allure. Just for the record, as at time of writing, I've been to Canton Paradise a total of 9 times in 3 months, but this is probably going to be my only post on Canton Paradise (I am usually too famished during lunch to bother taking photos). And yes, I'm that crazy about dim sum.
The place is huge and sports a rather "ancient Chinese" decor with its uneven brick walls and wooden decorative panels. If you can stand the cold air conditioning, ask for a booth seat (2-4 pax) because the other tables are spaced a tad too close for comfortable conversation.
BBQ Combination - We had the combination platter of BBQ pork belly with honey sauce and roasted pork, of which the former was sinfully better with a high fat to meat ratio and smothered in gooey honey marinade. I personally like to eat the BBQ pork belly with the salted peanuts that are served alongside. Makes for a nice contrast in both areas of taste and texture. Unfortunately, the BBQ pork's skin wasn't crisp enough and I think they need to add in a wee bit more salt for flavouring.
Steamed Cheong Fun with BBQ Pork - The cheong fun featured translucent but rather limp skin with a reasonable amount of BBQ pork filling. Decent but no great shakes. And remember to eat immediately when served, lest it turns cold and clammy.
Steamed Prawn Dumplings - Fresh, crunchy prawns coupled with translucent but mildly elastic skin. Pretty decent.
Steamed Pork Dumplings - The "porkyness" of the siew mai wasn't too overwhelming and the fat to lean meat ratio was reasonable. As with most dim sum items, eat them while they are hot.
Century Egg Porridge with Lean Meat - I personally think the porridge, especially the 皮蛋瘦肉粥, at Canton Paradise is quite good and this is one of the main reasons why I keep coming back. Consistently sticky with visible rice grains and a subtle, savoury aftertaste. And that's coming from someone who doesn't take century egg. The meatball porridge is nice as well but a little on the bland side.
Baked BBQ Honey Pork Bun - This is reminiscent of the one I had at Tim Ho Wan in HK. Unfortunately, the standards did not quite match up. For starters, the base was overly oily and the BBQ pork wasn't gooey enough. Decent but try the real thing from Tim Ho Wan when it opens in Singapore!
If my memory serves me correct, the bill for this lunch came up to around $50, which is pretty much the range you pay for decent quality dim sum these days. However the staff did seem a little overwhelmed with the place running at almost full capacity, which naturally led to slower service and forgotten requests.
Popped by &Made by Bruno Menard for brunch one late Saturday morning since we were in the area. Read pretty good reviews about it and coupled with the fact that it is 3 Michelin Starred Chef Bruno Menard's (owner of the now defunct 3 star L'Osier in Tokyo) first restaurant in Singapore under his own name, we were pretty psyched about dining there.
&Made occupies one corner of the ground floor at Pacific Plaza and has a rather quirky (a cross between a typical 80's video game and Alice in wonderland) feel to it. Seating capacity isn't extensive, probably about 60 pax or so and the best pick seems to be that of the booth seats if you have no more than 4 pax. Interestingly, with all the hype surrounding the restaurant, it was practically empty, save for 2 tables.
The 'B' Burger - The 'B' Burger was a tad tinier than expected whilst the patty, though done a perfect medium well, came across as tender but a little dry. The onion confit atop also proved a little overwhelming and I could hardly make out any beefy taste from the patty. I did like the bread though, soft and lightly toasted. For sides, the truffle fries ( $3) was definitely a good choice, lightly salted with the strong fragrance of truffle oil. Overall still a pretty decent burger.
Viking Toastoo - It's the first time I'm seeing a Toastoo on a menu and apparently it is a new generation sandwich made with French buckwheat crepes (according to the menu). The viking version spotted smoked salmon, cream cheese, curry and broccoli, which sounded really interesting. Alas, it was nothing out of the ordinary. The sandwich had a crisp exterior with a stuffing of salmon (couldn't taste the smokiness unfortunately) and broccoli. The curry taste was hardly existent and honestly, the whole sandwich tasted healthily (probably due to all the broccoli) normal.
Lollipop Waffle - One of the rather quirky desserts on offer at &Made, the lollipop waffle. In actual fact, it is nothing more than a waffle cooked in a huge lollipop mold and served on a stick with 3 cylindrical containers of white, dark chocolate and caramel sauce respectively. But I did appreciate the visual creativity and the dessert looked almost too good to be eaten. However, the waffle did seem a little limp but credit goes to the consistency in cooking and the crisp edges. Not something I would personally order again for dessert though.
Hot Caramel Lava Cake - This, in my humble opinion, is the star of the entire evening, the pièce de résistance, if you may. Warm, not cloyingly sweet caramel oozing out of a fissure in the soft shell and served with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream coated with crispy flakes. Simply decadent! If you like your chocolate fondants, you should definitely try this.
The both of us literally stuffed ourselves and even had 2 smoothies to round up the meal, all at a cost of about $95. Cheap? Definitely not. The prices of individual items aren't really expensive per se but add everything up and the bill can be a tad alarming. After all, food quality is only slightly above average at best, save for the caramel lava cake. Service wasn't quite up to scratch with periods of inattentiveness.
To sum up, I think &Made offers a decent meal proposition in a nice setting but lacks actual finesse in its food (bar desserts) and service can definitely be improved.
The idea was to do a comparison between our long time favourite steak house, Morton's, and the relatively new entrant to Singapore's F&B scene, Ruth's Chris. And so one Saturday evening saw the both of us dropping by Ruth's Chris for dinner.
Located where Restaurant Bologna used to be at Marina Mandarin Singapore, the interior hasn't changed much since the days of Bologna - crisp table clothes coupled with leather backed seats and wooden panels adorned with art. The window seats offer you a view of a huge water feature wall and of course the warmth of natural sunlight (if you arrive early enough). This place is decidedly more "upclass" and stifling than Mortons, which I personally like for its casual, convivial atmosphere.To be fair, the place was pretty much empty save for another 2 tables besides ours. So that could be a contributing factor to the "over attention" from the wait staff.
Complimentary Bread - Just your regular soft baguette served warm, nothing like the onion loaf from Mortons. But still something decent to keep your hunger pangs at bay whilst you await your orders. Morton's 1, RC 0.
Sizzlin Blue Crab Cakes - A little dry on the outside but moist within, the crab cake was chock full of crab meat and topped with capsicum, which gave it a nice contrasting flavour and texture. Personally I thought it was nice just that the crab taste was a little lacking. I'll rate this as a tie with Morton's as I really liked the use of capsicum here. Morton's 1, RC 0.
Petit Filet Oscar Style - The petit filet was 210g, which was a decent size considering I ordered it "Oscar Style", which simply meant an addition of asparagus and a lump of crab cake smothered in Bearnaise sauce (all for a mere $15 extra). Now if only Morton's had such an option. That aside, the steak boasted tender, juicy meat that was a little crisp along the edges and well seasoned with salt. Very good! I'm gonna have to go with RC on this one as the filet marginally edges out the filet mignon from Morton's. And it definitely helps that RC has the option of an add on at a reasonable price. Morton's 1, RC 1.
Barbecued Shrimp - The BBQ shrimp were crunchy and decent sized but still a little smaller than what Morton's serves up (even after the downgrade in size). But what it lacks in size, it makes up in quantity (10 shrimps vs 6 from Morton's). The sauce reminds me of a creamy, garlicky concoction that has a mild burning sensation towards the end probably due to the copious amounts of garlic. In short, either you love it or you hate. And we loved it. But as Morton's Shrimp Alexander is vastly different, I am hard pressed to determine which dish has the edge. Morton's 1, RC 1.
Crème Brûlée - This is apparently a signature of Ruth's Chris. Though good, it wasn't anything I would go out of my way to order again. The vanilla bean custard base came across as creamily smooth whilst the caramel top was nicely and evenly torched. Portions are good for 2.
Warm Apple Crumb Tart - Huge, nicely sweet yet tart Granny Smith apple slices encrusted by a moist, fragrant tart shell and topped with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream. Only minor gripes I had was that the tart was a little too soft for my liking and that the apple slices were a little too big for comfort. Having said that, this was still an excellent dessert and we preferred this over Morton's Upside Down Apple Pie. Morton's 1, RC 2.
Portions are a bit smaller at Ruth's Chris but prices are slightly cheaper, as compared to Morton's. Even so, dinner for the both of us (without any drinks) cost to the tune of $285. Food wise, based on the dishes we tried, Ruth's Chris has a slight edge. However, factor in the more casual, laid back ambience and service of Morton's and its a tie. But maybe you think otherwise?
Brunch on a busy Saturday at Wild Honey's Scotts Square outlet as we didn't fancy standing in line for a table at the Mandarin Gallery store.
Thankfully this outlet takes reservations but do book early as I overheard a wait staff informing a dejected walk in customer that 1 week advance reservations are recommended. And the full house, coupled with a 90 minute per table dining window proves her point.
The place isn't big and certain tables are placed quite close to each other (go for those at the side if possible), which makes for hush conversation. Oh wait, I forgot. The whole place is so noisy that I probably wouldn't be able to hear myself shout. Okay, that's an exaggeration but by golly, it sounded like a marketplace! You can basically throw any notion of a peaceful and relaxing brunch out of the window!
Scandinavian - I'm no big fan of salmon and this dish wasn't about to convert me. The grilled fish was pedestrian, if I may say. And the hollandaise sauce atop was just too mild to be of much use. I did like the bed of crisp rosti though.
English - I didn't quite take to this dish either as I thought that the scrambled eggs could have been milkier and the bacon, a little less charred at the corner. The potato cubes could have also been a little more crisp instead of coming across as limp and soggy. And the signature brioche left me sorely disappointed. I had envisioned something along the lines of Guy Savoy's Brioche Feuilletée aux Champignons et Truffes but this was just a dense block of bread which I certainly couldn't appreciate.
Caribbean - Greedy us had the "Caribbean" for afters as it seemed like the only dish that qualified as dessert on the menu. As much as I hate to say it, it would have been a pleasant ending to the meal if only there weren't consistency issues. For example, some of the waffles were noticeably darker than the others and some mango slices made me cringe with their sourness. To be fair, I loved the passion fruit syrup/cream and the idea of combining fresh mangoes and bananas with crispy edged waffles. Now if only they worked on their consistency...
I don't know about you, but $82 for a 2 pax brunch in a less than soothing setting coupled with average quality food, does seem quite over the top. I seriously fail to understand the hype. Herd mentality at work, maybe?