Sunday, August 31, 2008

Al Forno

Ok I just realized even though I'm supposed to be free-er now that I'm doing short postings, I've neglected updating my blog for nearly a week! I've been so busy (eating) the past week. I'm very sad I lost money at mj ytd! SIGH! Everytime we play 2 rounds I'll loose money!!! :(:(:( I must wear something red next time for luck! Easties with DBS cards - QUICK go down to Al Forno - the 1 for 1 offers are too good to miss - best of all, the 1for1 offer isn't just for lunch (like most places) but also for dinner. It's becoming increasingly had to scuttle out for lunch cos I don't have much lectures anymore so I'm missing all the great deals at Original Sin, Persimmon and Michelangelos! The offer is valid for Monday to Thursday dinners.Al Forno's speciality are their wood oven pizzas. Each pizza can fill about 2 people, but being greedy and since there was the promotion, we ordered 4 courses between the 3 of us. The Quattro Formaggi($23) pizza was the hot favourite - with a tomato base, and four different cheeses on top (mozzarella cheese, gorgonzola, parmesan and emmental). Though it looks un-interestingly plain, the pizza tasted great - the crust was thin (though not like those ultra thin ones) but there was enough of it to bite into. The wood oven fire gave the pizza a distinct aroma and the crust was fresh and had a nice freshly baked smell.
We also ordered the Capricciosa Tomato, which was topped with gooey mozzarella cheese, ham, mushrooms and artichokes ($23). The toppings were generous, and the mushrooms were meaty and juicy, with lots and lots of artichokes and ham.

I would definitely want to try the pizzas with parma ham as well as the Calzone (folded pizza) the next time I come here. Hopefully, that visit will be soon :)
The Vongole pasta ($23) was impressively packed with clams - the most clams that I've ever seen in vongole. The clams were sweet, soft and chewy, and there were lots and lots of them. he pasta though, was slightly overcooked, the chef probably just missed that narrow time frame of al dente - though the noodles weren't dealt a mortal blow, they were just slightly soggier than how Ilike it, but I suppose most people will find it ok - I'm very particular about my noodles.

In the back, the Pasta Casareccia ($23), which is Rigatoni stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese and mushrooms, in tomato sauce. This was pretty heavy, cos of all the cheese. I liked the tangy tomato sauce and the generous amounts of baked cheese on top.
Actually, without the 1for1, I'll definitely be too lazy to trudge across the island since I don't live anywhere near the east (I took a freaking 50 mins to get there through insanely heavy traffic) - but then the 1 for 1 offer is very worth it - plus it's for any number of mains. Al Forno isn't the same league as Valentinos (my fave Italian restaurant, especially since it's so near my house) or Senso, but it's way more affordable than those - and more so with the unbeatable 1for1 offer.
Our total bill was $54 for 2 pizzas and 2 pastas.

400 East Coast Road
Singapore 428996
Tel: +65 6348 8781
Fax: +65 6348 8591

Lunch: 12 pm - 2 pm
Dinner: 6.30 pm – 10.30 pm
Open daily
*Do note that Al Forno has moved to across the road temporarily.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Il Lido

I've been indulging myself and in the past week, I have knocked off 5 restaurants on my wishlist in 7 days! Iggys, Sage, Il Lido, En Japanese Dining and bar, Brown Sugar posts to come :)
On top of that, I'm trying to make use of the fantastic DBS 1for1 dining offers - I've tried Friends @ Jelita, Al forno, but I have so many other restaurants on my list - but not enough lunches to try them!
DBS card holders, quick make use of the offers!! I hope I can scuttle out for lunch this week since I'm near the Tiong Baru area, and there's some restauarnt that I've been dying to try for very long! Complimentary amuse bouche - Smoked salmon and salmon mousse some cream sauce (which I have forgotten already).
Il Lido's crispy bread slices - I made quite a big mess eating these crumbly things :(

I tried the Degustation Menu:
Scampi with mozzarella dumplings, cherry tomato coulis and oscietra caviar
According to this website, oscietra caviar is "only variety with a unique nut flavour which makes it a rare specialty". I am sad to say, that caviar is something that I can't really appreciate, so this was lost on me. Plus, my little splotch of caviar rolled off the mozzarell dumplings, and the precious little globules ended up wallowing inside the cherry tomato coulis. After frantically trying to scoop them up with my fork (cos I had no spoon), they were sadly and irreversibly coated in the tomato coulis, so they just tasted like tomato coulis to me. The coulis had an intense sweetness from the cherry tomato, and was a brilliant bright orange. The shade kind of reminds me of my Collen colour pencils from primary school (the colour pencil which had navy blue and this orangish-reddish colour on the other side).
Goose Liver Terrine and white peach
The goose liver terrine was creamy and delicious, and it's richness was offset by the sweet peaches. However, I have concluded that I much prefer eating the pan fried kind (see below for the classic menu).

Lobster ravioli with lemon verbena butter and broccoli
One of my more favourite dishes in the degustation menu. Although I don't like lemon in my food (even though I like lemonade), I found the lemon verbena butter agreeable. It really looks like high class shui2 jiao3 to me.
Monk fish poached in black olive oil with baby eggplant and smoked red peppers sauce
I just did some monkfish research on wikipedia - and it's an ugly fish with a huge gaping mouth. Even this website says that : "You would never think that such a great tasting fish would come from such a ugly fish. " It's supposed to have a texture like lobster and scallop - actually I think its texture is like overcooked scallops. Very chewy and it's pretty tough and you have to cut it up to eat it because you can't just flake it using your fork. Monk fish is definitely not my kind of fish.

Veal tenderloin in pork net with black kale cake and marsala wine sauce
This is the Veal Tenderloin which my brother ate - he enjoyed it but didn't tell me how it tastes. The black kale cake was very interesting - it tasted like creamed spinach, and was quite yummy - if it weren't so green, I bet you could trick those difficult kids into eating lots of these.
Fennel and green apple sorbet
This was a refreshing dessert - tangy green apple with a hint of fennel. It also came with a wafer thin piece of ginseng.
Tiramisu: Deconstructed
The dessert was really good - tiramisu like I've never had it before. The chocolate, cheese/cream and coffee layers. The chocolate layer was the best chocolate mousse cake I've ever had - the chocolate taste was intense and the mousse was melted-in-your-mouth. I don't know how they even manage to get the mousse to stand up itself! Delicious! The chocolate really outshone the cheese/cream and the coffee layers. This dessert costs $16 ala carte.

And pinched from my brother's Classic Menu

Pan roasted goose liver with apricots and moscato wine sauce
I preferred the pan roasted goose liver to my terrine - firstly, I much prefer my foods of animal origin to be warm (unless it's raw like sashimi), and secondly, the goose liver would be crispy on the outside, wobbly and warm on the inside, and ooze those delicious triglycerides - all ready to be mopped up with bread. Ahhh yums!
Homemade tagliolini with clams, candied lemon and dried black olives
I can't really remember how this tasts like after my sakura ebi cappellini. But I thought that it was not too bad.
Choice of main was either Atlantic cod with fresh sweet pea cream and roasted radish or Panroasted quail with habanera chilli caramel
I had the quail, which was tender and juicy, one of the best quails I've had. According to wikipedia (if only I researched my study topics as much as I research the foods I don't know -I'll be doing much better in school :/) the habanero chile is a Spanish chilli, and is "one of the most intensely spicy species of chili peppers of the Capsicum genus". The chilli caramel was very intersting since it was a mixture of sweetness and spiciness, paired with the sticky texture from the caramel.“Monorigine Saint Dominique” chocolate molten lava cake with green apple sauce
I don't know what the Monorigine St Dominique means, but the tart green apple sauce is a great contrast to the richness and sweetness of the chocolate cake.
Coffee and tea in their self-sealing teapot. Whoever thought of this teapot design is really innovative - when there's lots of hot water inside, you can't open the teapot lid - it'll be stuck tight - but when the hot water cools or when there's less water inside, the lid comes off easily. Such a clever invention.
Wagyu beef cheek with sweet paprika, whipped polenta and black trombette mushrooms ($55)
Highly recommended by the reviews that I read.
Seared seafood mix with cannellini bean cream and marjoram ($45)
A hungry man is an angry man. My dad ordered this and if this were me, I'll be damn dissappointed. It's 6 morsels of tiny mini-sized seafood floating in a pool of bean cream. That little purple blob at 4 o'clock on the plate is a mini octopus. So use that as comparison for size.
Needless to say, my dad was extremely dissappointed with my restaurant choice. Oh well. I'll definitely suggest Iggys next time we're gg to splurge :/

I personally think that these degustation menus are overkill - after the first few dishes are out, they just become so unmemorable and I forget what they taste like. But it's the best way to sample the menu. I doubt I'll be coming back anytime soon though - Iggys beckons! But perhaps if you don't want to be liable to the cancellation fee, than I suppose that Il Lido would be your choice for an insanely expensive dining experience.

Il Lido also does lunch for $45++ for a set lunch (Appetiser, Main, Dessert, Coffee/Tea) from Mondays to Saturdays, but I am told that the portions are tiny. Of course, I think that maybe people will come here for the stunning view and alfresco dining. Then again, I really like air con better.

Il Lido Pte Ltd

Sentosa Golf Club
27 Bukit Manis Road
SIngapore 099892
Tel 68661977

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Iggy's Lunch

My lunch was so good, it deserves to jump que right ahead of all my backlogging posts! I'm very scared I'll get confused and forget what I ate so here's my unusually quick post :)

After Iggys palate pampering, I think that I'll take a hiatus from eating anything above kopitiam since I will keep comparing it to Iggys.
Complimentary starter - Sweet Corn Cappuccino and chocolate raviolo.
Bubbles aren't for champagne only - the corn cappuccino was light and frothy, and I could taste the Japanese corn clearly. The corn was sweet and extremely smooth, and the bitterness of the chocolate ball was a sharp contrast to to it corn. The warm soup was to be drank straight from the cup, and the chocolate ball tipped into your mouth right after finishing the soup. The chocolate raviolo had a soft gelatinous layer outisde, with warm, oozingly delicious chocolate oozing out after you bite it. Reminds me of the yeast alginate experiments during bio.
Complimentary starter - Sea Urchin with cauliflower mousse and shiso jelly.
My favourite dish of the day, not only because there was uni, but also because it was an interesting combination of flavours. It's a refreshing change from the usual way of eating uni sushi style. Of course, the Uni was extremely fresh, with the taste of the sea. It was served slightly chilled inside a martini glass, with a layer of salty jelly, on top of a layer of creamy caluliflower moussse.Every mouthful was heavenly - who would have thought that cauliflower mousse goes so well with uni? The little bits of green is some leaf which had a pretty intersting flavour, but I can't describe it very well.
Home-made potato gnocci with truffle salsa, soft boiled egg and Parma Ham.
Normally, I don't like gnocci, but I was very excited when I saw this dish because there was so much truffle salsa. However, the truffle salsa didn't have the usual distinct aroma. I've just found out that Summer truffle is supposed to be more subtle, but honestly speaking, I couldn't taste or smell any hint of truffle at all. The parma ham was really tasty and salty, and chopped into minute little bits.
Iggy's famous Sakura Ebi Cappellini infused with scampi oil.
It's not my starter, but since it's Iggy's signature dish, I pinched a bit from Julie. This was one of the dishes that I remembered clearly from my last visit over a year ago. It's as good as I remembered it. Al dente cappelini with tiny sakura ebi. The noodles were well infused with the tasty scampi oil, with lots of konbu. Extremely tasty and incredibly yummy!

Squid Ink Risotto with Charcoal-grilled calamari
This is the starter that the three of us shared. The calamari had the smoky taste of the grill, and was chewy and fresh. It was lightly salted, drawing out calamari flavours. The risotto was glossy black, and each morsel was well coated with the squid ink sauce.
Kurobuta Pork cheek with onion confit, fried egg, summer truffle

Every single bit of this dish was delicious, from the wafer thin truffle slices, to the runny sunnyside up egg with it's perfectly brown and crisped edges, the finely sliced onion confit and the pork cheek itself was perfectly done. The pork cheek was insanely soft and melt in the mouth, with lovely diamond shaped grill-lines. The onion confit was finely sliced, and the sweetness of the onion went deliciously well with the pork.
Complimentary - Rockmelon soup, earl grey chocolate, fresh dill and summer flowers
This dish looks very summer-y. I really liked how the dill tasted together with the rockmelon. (Somehow all these funny fruit combinations go really well - just like watermelon with feta cheese)
The rockmelon dish really helped to wash down the previous two extremely rich dishes. Actually, the server kindly pointed out that my choice of appetiser and main were very rich, as there was an egg in both, but I really wanted to try them. The rockmelon natural sweetness was refreshing, and the chocolate ball was warm(!). Thought I couldn't really taste the Earl Grey part of it, the chocolate ball was delicious in all its intense chocolately oozey goodness. Exactly the thing to prepare my stomach for dessert :)
Pina Colada Souffle and Iced Pinacolada, with coconut Ice cream
Of course, I started with the coconut ice cream, since I really hate melted ice cream. The coconut ice cream had an extremely smooth texture. Somehow, to me, commercial coconut ice creams taste too creamy. This coconut ice cream, however, was not cloyingly creamy, but not icy either. I think I detected a hint of gula melaka? But I'm not too sure about this - just that I thought that the sweetener that they used isn't regular white sugar.

The pina colada souffle was wobbly and a melting texture. It had a nice layer of browned skin on top, and a delicious creamy centre. I made the mistake of giving into the temptation of the pinacolada drink, and after that, I could hardly taste the subtle pina colada flavour of the souffle.

If I were to have this again, I would definitely exert more restrain and not touch the drink till I'm done with the souffle as the intesnse taste of the sweet pineapple and creamy coconut renders my tastebuds useless.

Chocolate cylinder, French toast with home-made maple ice-cream and iced mocca.
Though I pinched a bit of the French toast, I just remembered it being buttery. For a more in-depth description, go here.
Champagne jelly and sorbet with elderflower foam
I keep thinking of the Ricola Elderflower pastilles, cos that's the only elderflower I've tasted. It's an extremely refreshing end to a delicious meal, but for me, the size of my desserts matter :p
The service at Iggy's is friendly, completely not stressful like some of the snobbish high class restaurants. The waiters take the time to tell us a bit more about the dishes, after seeing that we were so interseted taking photos of our food.

The best part of the meal - the thoughtfulness giving us each a personalized menu - customized since each of us had different dishes. That was really impressive!

My lunch cost me $72 nett for a 6 1/3 course meal. The 3 course set lunch is $55++ and the 4 course set lunch is $75++. Between the 3 of us, we shared two 3 course set lunches and one 4 course set lunch, so we got to try an extra appetiser.

Ok.. this deserves 5 stars, but blogger's being annoying and not allowing me to upload photos now :/ I'll put it up tmr when it's being less cranky.

1 Cuscaden Road
#03-00 The Regent
Tel: 6732 2234

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge

Oh no this is one of my super duper outdated posts hiding in the recesses of my food picture folder. But I believe that it's always better late than never! Avoid this place like plague if you hate hearing tai tais twittering everywhere!:P Its actually a favourite haunt for all those well coiffed women and actually, the few times I was there, the male population in the restaurant didn't exceed 3 even if it was crowded.. Mushroom Soup - not mine, but I just thought that it looks pretty good. Very creamy, to the point of being too heavy. This is the Royal Copenhagen Smoked Salmon Sandwich. The menu says that they smoke the salmon themselves. This sandwich costs a whopping $16, but in my opinion, it's worth every cent cos its really very delicious. The smoked salmon is smooth and chewy, not like the soggy, thready kind that's threatening to break into pieces along the fat lines. Best of all, it's not too salty and tastes delicious with the warm crispy toast.
I decided to go for the set dinner ($22 something) because it came with an appetiser, main and dessert, as well as coffee/tea. I was thinking that my dinner set would be much more worth it than ordering a measly sandwich for $16.90 +++. But I very sad to say that I was proven wrong.

The prawns were completely not fresh - the shells were sticky and it was a pain to finish this dish. The mango salsa was interesting and tangy, but no amount of can save the yucky sticky shell prawns. This was my seabass, which was pretty overcooked and very hard. I was seriously regretting ordering the set cos it was really very hard to finish eating it. Plus, it was over salted and generally the whole thing tasted very disgusting.
Cake of the day, which was sour cherry cake. I wanted to change it to the green tea cake (somehow even though most people think it's v dry, I really like it, plus I was really craving a green tea dessert that day) but I changed my mind when I was told that I would have to top up 2 bucks. Being stingy after a highly unsatisfacatory meal, I obviously declined.
I've eaten this on a previous occasion - the cake is the rough/grainy kind a bit like the semolina cakes that you find in the more traditional bakeries. I quite like it though, cos it's pretty buttery, not too sweet and has tangy bits of sour cherries inside. The ice cream went very well with the cake, as the cake is slightly dry.

I'm glad to see that they dressed the cake up a bit compared to the previous time I ordered the set meal- it now comes with cherry sauce on the side.

I think that Royal Copenhagen is a great place to to rest my tired legs especially after all that
But then again, I won't recommend everyone to come here - most people will say it's too expensive for mediocre food - something that I can't refute. But then again, when I'm feeling too tired to think of a nice place to go to in town (especially if it's already 9pm) I tend to gravitate here.

But the next time, I'll definitely stick with the opened faced sandwiches or the salmon toast - no more sucky seabass for me!

The water here is another thing worth mentioning, as it is flavoured with strawberries. They cut up quite a few strawberries and place them into a large jug, so that there is a subtle hint of strawberry in the water.

Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge
391A Orchard Road
Takashimaya Shoping Cenre level 2
Tel 67356833

Monday, August 18, 2008

Coffee Showcase

While I was in the East, I managed to try the Coffee Showcase for lunch. Actually, it was already 3pm, but then Coffee Showcase has their set meals through the whole day. The set lunch costs a mere $9.90 nett, and comes with a soup of the day, main course and choice of dessert (any cake from their selection). Of course, the prospect of good food kept me going till 3 - no way am I passing up an opportunity to try a new place for Qi Ji (which, by the way, is opened 24 hours, I didn't know that till my last day).
Cream of carrot soup - it's not like the usual mediocre (bordering on yucky) thin kind of starchy soup that most restaurants serve. It's creamy, tasty and has lots of little carrot bits inside. Best of all, it wasn't full of pepper - the way some restaurants try to disguise their tasteless soups.
This is the chicken bolognese pasta with 'Lionhead'. I was too hungry to ask what the lionhead was, since I really wanted to eat the cake, so I just ordered the lunch set without really studying the menu. I was quite suprised to find out that by adding a mere $5, you can upgrade any dish to a meal. Apparently the lamb dish is fantastic and I really should try it next time.

Anyway, the main course is passable and edible - the lionhead is some preserved fishcake thing with beancurd skin, more like something that you'll find in yong tau foo. I thought that the chicken bolognese sauce was good enough to go alone with the pasta, but it's nice that the chef added the lionhead.

Though it's nothing that I'd be raving about, the sauce was passable - chunky, meaty and with lots of tomato taste. Of course, you can't compare this to any of the Italian restaurants - it's standard is obviously nowhere near those - but for the price, it's sufficient for me.The best part of the meal was the Triple Hazelnut Crunch cake. It usually costs $6.90 (I think with a coffee or tea), but it came together with the Set Meal of the day. Fantastic stuff. They even bothered to dress it up with chocolate sauce. The hazelnut crunch cake was filled alternating layers of hazelnut mousse, and bursting with the goodness of hazelnut flavour. The cornflakes on top gave it a delightful crunch, and the best part was the hazelnut and chocolate crispy base. Delicious. It totally made my ten bucks worth it. This cheesecake was pretty average - the baked kind, not too heavy and the texture was like mousse. It's pretty obvious that the triplehazelnut crunch stole the limelight and so I can't remember much about the cheesecake.
Thick cut fries with Laksa sauce. It's $3.90. Usually, I don't like to eat fries, but then the choice of 12 different sauces, including really queer ones like mocha and laksa got me interested. The laksa sauce is pretty much like laksa paste, with the strong aroma of laksa leaves (which I like). It's not too spicy, and quite oily. Pretty interesting, but not something that I'll be ordering again since I'm not a big french fries fan.

Yet another good recommendation by my East advisor. Of course, don't come here looking for spectacular mind blowing dishes - it's just a humble cafe great for students and parasites on budgets, with plastic tables and backless plastic chairs.

Though it's not something that I'll trudge across half the island for, I'll defnitely think of it if i'm in the area. Lucky you if you do live in the east! Yet another value for money affordable cafe to add to the already huge selection of restaurants and cafes. And best of all, they are opened for meals at odd hours :)

45 East Coast Road
Tel: 6345 1256