Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cake & Crepe @ Ion Orchard

Aprico sold out of their famous Salted caramel cake (sadness) - must be becuase of the Straits Times - everything they write about gets flooded and sold out. Hopefully, people will eventually forget about it so I can actually get one for myself. Shall try again on Friday after my test :D

So I tried the next best looking thing on their display, which is the Caramel Sand Cake ($3.80). It's a pretty unappetising name, but it tastes much better than it looks. Although it looks like a piece of those old school bakery breads (or the kind of bread you eat from the roadside ice cream stalls), it's actually a very soft and fluffy piece of cake (which unfortunately looks like a simple piece of bread. In fact, when I first saw my cake, my heart sank cos it looked just like an ordinary piece of white bread topped with cream and caramel and almonds.

Cream lovers will adore this cake - it's heaped with freshly whipped cream, and drizzled with caramel sauce (not alot, but enough to make it sweet) and crunchy slivered almonds. And all of these on a airy cake base. But for me, I'd rather eat the Salted Caramel roll - looks much better, and since I don't really like whipped cream, the Caramel Sand Cake isn't really my kind of dessert.
I'll be back for the Caramel Roll!!! *Drooools* There's quite a few new desesrt stalls in Ion, one of them being Tokyo Crepe. Their colour theme is Black and Pink, and the character on the crepe wrapper reminds me of this manga artist Ai Yazawa's drawing.
Since I was trying the crepe, I decided to go for all out and get the most expensive one (try the best one, if not nice then don't try anymore). Its a whopping $7.80 for the Mixed Berry Crepe, which comes with fresh cream, strawberry, berry sauce and ice cream.

The crepe skin is the slightly eggy yellowish kind and pretty smooth. It's also quite thin so the pointed end of the crepe (which is also the thickest part) doesn't taste rubbery. It's slathered with lots of whipped cream (seems to be a common factor in all these Japanese desserts?) a tart berry sauce, Magnolia or Marigold ice cream (saw them scooping from the ice cream tub) and sliced strawberries. I thought that the ice cream didn't do the crepe justice - and neither did the price tag. Then again, everything in Ion is expensive...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ion Orchard - R Burger

Read about the R burger in the newspapers and wanted to try it. Actually, the concept of an Asian burger isn't new in Singapore. There's quite a few stalls selling mantous with the stewed pork, topped with lettuce and mayo. But since this is Japanese, and since it was new, I decided to try it.
I went there on Sunday evening around 8 plus, and they had completely sold out their beef patties (not that it affected me), but they also sold out of their tofu nuggets (sounds like a pseudo healthy food!) and tofu chicken burger. I had the Ume (sour plum) Chicken burger set meal, minus the (standard) salad, which they replaced with chicken nuggets.

Their burger bun is a steamed mantou, which I found a bit too thick for my liking. Perhaps it was because my chicken patty was rather thin (compared to the thickness of the bun. It's about the thickness of a normal cheeseburger patty from Macs) so it just tasted very bready. I liked the Shiso leaf though - it gave the burger an interesting taste, and went pretty well with the grilled (?) chicken patty. The chicken patty wasn't too salty, and went very well with the sweet and sour ume sauce.

The Chickne nuggets aren't like Mcdonald's ones at all. These have some spices added - I spied a few pieces of chopped onion. And they are coated with a light and crispy batter. Wedges weren't very remarkable.
There is a choice of Green tea, Buckwheat tea, Milk Tea, Oolong Tea and roasted green tea for the drink, so I had the cold buckwheat tea. I personally enjoyed drinking tea with my burger - even though the combination seems really weird.
Frankly, their concept of a 'healthy' burger is quite misleading - the little roll of salad is not going to negate all the oils used to fry those wedges. I'm reading their flyer now - they add marine collagen into the buns - which apparently helps to make one's skin more beautiful. Another health reason to eat it.

The price is rather steep - $8.80 for a Burger, Salad, Wedges and Drink. Then again, everything in Ion is ex (especially the food). (Not that I'm complaining - so much new food to try! Very exciting indeed!)

I won't mind returning to R Burger to try their salmon Burger with Ankake sauce (black vinegar) or their chickne tofu burger. It's a refreshing change from Mos burger. Hopefully, the next time I visit them, the salad will be available.
R Burger
Ion Orchard

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cherry Garden - Kurobuta Charsiewpaus

Charsiewpaus and ramen are the only 2 reasons why I still eat pork. Even though I don't quite like pork in its original form (even though I seem to order alot of pork dishes when I go out, I much prefer chicken - which isn't worth it ordering outside unless its very special). I'm reminded of the sad day a few months ago when I was so desperate for charsiewpau (and very hungry after standing the whole morning) that I ate the 'open flower top' charsiewpau from Kopitiam (big mistake) and was very dissappointed (so much for hunger being the best medicine - if the food sucks, even though I'm hungry, it'll still taste sucky to me. Maybe I'm not hungry enough?)

Was looking around for a good dim sum buffet during the weekend - we initially decided on Jade @ the Fullerton, but unfortunately, it was booked full till October. Drats - everyone's so quick:/ My friend decided on Cherry Garden -should have some standard since it's a hotel.
We arrived at the restaurant in a flurry (cos we were 20min late - precious time ticking before the 2nd seating!) We were ushered to our table and given menus and hot tea. Once we were ready to order, a waiter came over and asked if we would like any recommendations. So most of the food we had in the first round were his recommendations. The prices in brackets denote the ala carte pricing.
Assorted Dian Xin: From Back row, left to right ($4.80/3 pieces)
Scallop and Spinach Crystal Dumplings
Steamed Dumplings with Shrimps, Crabmeat and Waterchestnuts
Truffle Essence Crystal Dumplings stuffed with Assorted Fresh Mushrooms
Steamed Juicy Pork Dumplings (Xiao Long Pau)
Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gau)

The truffle essence crystal dumplings were my favourite dian xin (other than the charsiewpau). The skin is very thin, translucent and it's filled with mushrooms and the delicious aroma of truffle oil. I ordered 4 of these to eat by myself.
The rest of the dian xin were ok - but the truffle ones were the best.
We also had the Steamed Mini Abalone "Siew Mai" with Pork and Mushrooms, which I didn't get a picture of cos I was busy eating and forgot. It's just a normalish siew mai with a piece of abalone on top.
The highly anticipated kurobuta char siew pau. ($5.80 for 3 pieces)
I think that the Char Siew Pau is delicious - I like paus which has the 'open flower' top - meaning that the top part of the pau cracks open during steaming. The pau skin is slightly sweetish, very fluffy, soft and chewy, and the char siew filling is very soft, not fatty, and drenched with the reddish brown sweet char siew sauce. Personally, I think that the kurobuta part is more psychological - the filling is very tender but I don't think that I would notice if they didn't use kurobuta pork, because the char siew is all chopped up. Granted, it is more tender than usual, but if you did a blinded test I probably won't be able to tell the difference.
I think I might come back to eat the kurobuta charsiewpau only when I have a mega big charsiewpau craving. It's pretty reasonable since it tastes really good - especially the pau skin. Crispy Wasabi-Aioli Prawns topped with Fresh Mango
The wasabi prawns were the first dish we had - very crispy on the outside and juicy in the inside. The wasabi mayonnaise wasn't hot at all - I really dislike it when the wasabi shoots up my nose and makes my eyes water.
Wok fried kurobuta pork with pistachio and asparagus in supreme soya wine sauce ($22)
The kurobuta pork was extremely juicy, not fatty at all and very tender. I didn't find the sauce very impressive - tastes quite normal, something like the usual Chinese pork rib sauce.
Cherry Wood Charcoal Roasted Duck ($22)
I'm not a big fan of roasted meats, and I found the duck very bony. Other than that, I can't really remember much about this dish.
Steamed Fish Fillet with Silken Tofu in Black Bean Sauce ($18)
The fish was very fresh, and the tofu was smooth and had a very strong taste of soyabeans.
Crispy-fried Eggplant stuffed Spicy Scallop "Otah" ($4.80/3pieces)
Crispy Rice Turnover stuffed with Shrimp, Apple and Mango ($4.80/3 pieces)I can't remember what kind of soup this is, but if I remember correctly, it's one of the more expensive soups on the menu (cos since I'm there for buffet, must as well try a more expensive soup right?) It was pretty good and came with a wanton and a piece of mushroom. Not that I'm a big fan of soups, just wanted to try cos the other people at my table also ordered soups.
Cream of Avocado served with Walnut Ice Cream ($8)
The highlight of my buffet - I wasn't very full by the time they reached 'last order' at 1.30pm so I ordered more desserts to try. The avocado cream was more watery than creamy, though I liked the strong avocado taste, and the walnut ice cream.
Chilled Cream of Mango with Sago Pearls, Pomelo and Lime Sorbet ($8)
The mango cream wasn't very spectacular - not bad but I've tasted better ones. I didn't like the lime sorbet cos it was very sour and I generally don't like lime with my food.
Chilled Sour Plum Crystal Jelly with Sliced Guava ($8)
This was very salty - it really has an extremely strong sour plum taste, and was super sour and unpalatable. I didn't finish it. The guava is the preserved kind - very leathery and sour too! If I had ordered this in an ala carte order, I'll be mighty upset because it's $8 and tastes terrible. I left >90% of it cos I just couldn't swallow it.
I also ordered the Warm Soya Bean Milk with Tremella Mushrooms and Glutinous Rice Dumpling($8). The "Tremella Mushrooms" are white fungus (I think - not familiar with all these herby things). The soya bean milk was tasted very fresh. I was very full so I gave away my rice dumpling. Actually, I don't know why this was $8. I'll never pay $8 for this kind of desesrt. Maybe it's because it's a hotel? Just as well that I'm eating a buffet :p

Cherry Garden has two seatings for it's lunch buffet - from 11-1.30, and 1.30 to 3 (if I'm not wrong - I went for the first seating). I don't see why they have two seatings, since they're really very empty. I felt very rushed because even before I was done ordering, the waitress came around and announced that it was the last order. No time to digest my food and eat slowly and savour every bite.

I think that the food quality is really good, just that there's not enough time to enjoy the food. And you'll definitely eat your money's worth because all the dishes are so ridiculously expensive - just that I'll never ever pay the overinflated ala carte price. Being a hotel, their service was great - tea refilled every time, and they're really quick to take your order.
(Blogger isn't letting me upload photos!!! I'll be giving it 3.5 stars)

Altogether, we paid $156 nett for 3 people. V steep don't think I'll do it again since it was so rushed. Maybe I should really call up Jade and make a reservation now... If you're planning to dine at Cherry Garden, you have to let the valet park your car - they don't do car park redemption if you park anywhere else (I, unfortunately parked at Marina Square).

Cherry Garden
5 Raffles Avenue
5F Mandarin Oriental
Tel: 6885 3538

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Truffle Oil and Scallops

I bought a bottle of truffle oil from Culina around a month ago, but I've only got down to using it recently. It's $50 for 250ml - super ex but I'm hoping to use it lots so that I won't keep ordering truffle dishes outside (which will be even more ex). I've found that Culina's truffle oil is cheaper than the one from Jones, which was around $80 for 250ml - and had a few morsels of black truffle in the oil. Cold storage was having a sale for their fresh scallops though I'm not sure what the normal price to begin with, but they looked so fat and delicious, I just had to buy them (and find someway to cook them later). I ended up searing them and then eating them with roasted red pepper. After eating roasted vegetables at Da Paolo, I have decided to make them myself cos it's very simple and tonnes cheaper.

Roasting peppers make them sweeter cos the heat caramelizes the sugars. And it's really easy. You can either put them right over the stove and flame them, or put them in the oven at high heat (I use 200°C) and slowly turn them around as the skins blister. Peel off the skin, remove the seeds and cut it into strips.

And drizzle lots of truffle oil over the end product.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Takashimaya Basement Food Fair

I went for the food fair on both Wednesday and Friday - and got my self lots of purple sweet potato doriyaki. Doriyaki is a Japanese confectionery which consists of 2 pieces of pancake and (usually) filled with red bean. Till now, I've never tasted fresh doriyaki. These doriyakis are fresh off the movable conveyor belt hot pan, and even branded on the spot (look at the pancake on the top left hand corner - the woman's branding the pancake :)
The purple sweet potato filling is nice and sweet, smooth and I think it beats red bean anytime. Red bean isn't my most favourite filling. I also got myself a Vietnamese Baguette($3.90) from the Yummy Viet stall. I really like eating Vietnamese Baguettes (aka Bánh mì ) - the crusty bread, pate, ham, crunchy preserved vegetables (turnips, carrots, cucumbers, chillies and lots and lots of parsley) go really well together. I used to be crazy over the Saigon Baguette from Raffles City till they sadly closed down (they have another branch somewhere in the CBD). I got the mixed ham baguette - I don't quite like the taste of the ham and the pate - I think Saigon Baguette tastes much better, even though its much pricier at about $5+ for a baguette.
Actually I don't know why there aren't many Vietnamese Baguette stalls around Singapore. It's an Asian sandwich - should be quite popular here right?There's also a booth from Perla's Pastry Boutique, which is Valentino's (of Ristorante Da Valentino's sister. Her fruit tarts look awsome! Actually, I was too full (and feeling too stingy) to buy her tarts) even though I sampled the Chocolate Fig one. It's $10.80 for a pie which can feed 2 people (or 4 very small eaters). I shall hurry down to Perla's stall in Jalan Binka one day when I'm feeling indulgent.

There's also a Japanese fruits booth, which was selling the super delicious Kyoho Grapes from Japan ($16 for a bunch), as well as Japanese Peaches ($26 for 2) and Fuji apples ($9 for 3). I got my Fuji apples on Wednesday (which are already stored in my stomach) as a treat for myself before my EOPT. When I went back on Friday, they didn't have apples anymore.

There's also an Udders (alcoholic) Ice Cream booth - where I managed to sample the Chocolate Java Chip (or something like that I somehow can't remember the name) which is their most alcoholic ice cream. Haven't been to Udders in a very long while - I'm missing their super alcoholic ice creams.

Also, they have the funky egg tarts which I tried in the previous Taka food fare - they still have their charcoal egg tarts and various other flavours such as chocolate, kaya, apple, chicken mushroom etc.

Ah I might just go back tomorrow to get some more doriyakis (I've already eaten 3 to date) and maybe a tart from Perla's :)

It's ending on Sunday (which is actually today) so hurry down before the weekend ends:)

Cassis - Lunch

I've never been to Rochester Park before, even though it's pretty nearby and has been there for quiet long already. It's the backyard syndrome again. When I went there for lunch, I felt super lost after parking my car. The carpark is some distance from the restaurants, (the carpark costs 50cents per half hour if you're wondering) and you'll have to walk up a slope to go to the restaurants.
We had the Cassis Tradition lunch set, which is a 3 course lunch for $30++ (it's $35 nett after all the plus-es)My starter was the Asparagus "Vichyssoise" with vegeterian Caviar and smoked home made salmon tataki. Actually, I thought mine was a salad - I didn't know that "Vichyssoise" is the fancy name for a French-style soup. The main draw for me was the vegeterian caviar - I wanted to see what it tasted like (it just tastes like salty roe).

The soup is served cold, and it's the thin kind of soup. If you're ordering this soup for the Salmon Tataki, I would recommend that you order the smoked salmon salad instead. The smoked salmon tastes much better than the Salmon tataki.
House Smoked Salmon with Spinach Salad tossed in Honey Dressing
This was recommended by the waiter - next time I shouldn't be so adventurous and just stick to the normal stuff. The house smoked salmon was delicious - with a mild salty taste, slightly fatty and melt in the mouth.My main - Red Snapper Fish, potato puree, glazed vegetables and sweet yellow curry sauce.
The snapper had a lightly salted, crispy skin which I liked, and its flesh was moist and flakey. Not bad, since snapper is not my favourite fish (I ordered it cos I couldn't find another main which I really wanted to order). I didn't quite like the curry sauce - taste wise it's ok, but it caused my mashed potatoes to become a soppy mess.
Risotto Mushroom, Champignon and Parmesan Cheese
This was my friend's dish - it's really very delicious. The next time I come back I'll definitely order this. There are crispy fried slices of mushroom chips, and the risotto is creamy and tasty.
Baked Apple Cinnamon Crisp, Pastry Cream with Rhum Raisin and Caramel Cinnamon Ice Cream
This was a winning dessert - the caramel ice cream had the bitter taste of burnt caramel, and it went incredibly well with the sweet sauteed diced apples and raisins encased within the pastry parcel.
Honey Nougat and Layer of Chocolate in Terrine and Coffee Cream Sauce
I didn't like this dessert - it was a really thin layer of terrine which was very creamy, and I didn't like the chocolate layers. It tastes like the chocolate flakes that you find in ice cream (like the Vienneta ice cream). I think Vienneta ice cream tastes better than this. Also, the coffee cream sauce not even creamy - it's just gooey and was black and very bitter. In short, it was completely out-shined by the Baked Apple Dessert.

I think if I had ordered the dishes my friend ordered, I'll give it a higher rating, but I didn't find my dishes that fantastic. Service is average, and they serve iced water. Cassis has very nice decor, and the whole place has a relaxing vibe. Somehow, it feels like I'm not in Singapore and in some resort. The al fresco seating area looks really nice - there's even one under a tent and surrounded by a pond. There's also lots and lots of greenery - feels like I'm in botanic gardens (not that I've been there in a long while - I think the last time I went there was in primary sch).
Cassis is currently having a UOB promotion - a special 4 course lunch menu ( house smoked salmon & blinis, green salad with Japanese tomato, Mushroom risotto and Warm chocolate crepes with vanilla ice cream)for $68++ for 2 people, and a $128++ set dinner for 2 (poached kind prawn canneloni with port wine sauce, duck liver terrine with figs marmalade, duck leg confit, and strawberries papaya souffle).
7 Rochester Park
(Off North Buona Vista Road, between ACJC and Buona Vista MRT)
Tel: 6872 9366

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hibiki - Cuppage Terrace

I recently tried the UOB 1for1 set meal at Hibiki, which is the rich relative of Sakae Sushi.
Sashimi - Salmon, Bontan Ebi (Giant sweet prawn), Uni (Sea Urchin)
The sashimi here was very fresh, and I was delighted to see a relatively huge pile of uni. Best of all, the uni is very fresh - not soggy at all, and it has the taste of the sea. Stale uni tastes terribly disgusting. I also liked the Bontan Ebi, cos somehow it's pretty hard to get Bontan ebi (maybe I'm not looking in the right places?). However, they don't ask if you want them to fry the bontan ebi head (I think that's what the better restaurants do? They deep fry it or something)Mentaiko Kabocha Salad (Salad with cod roe and deep fried pumpkin)
I quite liked this salad cos I really like eating pumpkin. The pumpkin was thinly sliced and fried, but was a bit too oily for my liking. I thought that the dressing was pretty weird - it's sesame based and didn't really go well with the mentaiko and pumpkin.
Nasu Dengaku (Eggplant with Miso Paste)
This is the western eggplant (the big kind, not the slim local variety) and it was baked (I think) and coated with sweet&salty miso paste and garnished with a prawn, leek and mushroom. The skin was nice and purple and the eggplant flesh was pulpy and soft.
Asari Osuimono (Clam Clear Soup) which was light and warming. Sumiyaki - Lamb, Asparagus pork belly, Shiitake and Tsukune (chicken meatball)
The lamb was very juicy and tender, and had a slight lamb smell (which I like). The pork belly was grilled to a crispy perfection, and was slightly salty. The Tsukune had little bits of shisho leaf and black sesame, which gave the chicken an interesting taste. Also, their sumiyaki isn't overly salty.
Onsen Sumi Udon (Charcoal Udon Noodle Soup)
This was served cold with a half boiled egg. Apparently charcoal is great for detoxification (not that I really care) and I suppose that there is some logic in this cos charcoal are used to treat certain types of poisoning. (Btw the charcoal drink used for this looks utterly disgusting - its completely black and looks extremely unappetising).
Dessert - Tofu Cheesecake
The cheesecake had a very distinct tofu taste, which I like. The restaurant was so kind as to give us a complimentary slice of cheesecake on top of the 2 portions included in the UOB set menu, cos there were 3 of us, and we ordered a UOB set for 2 and a normal Hibiki dinner set (which comes without dessert).
The UOB 1for1 dinner menu - $68++ for 2 people. This is the other set we had - I can't remember the exact number, but I think it's set 3 (if I'm not wrong). It comes with thin udon (I think it's inaniwa? not so sure though). The dinner sets here are pretty expensive - ranging from between $30 and up. So the UOB set is comparatively worth it. Sesame tofu, which was very tasty - the white sesame taste was very strong, and the tofu had the texture of pudding. It also came with sweetened light soy sauce.

Hibiki charges a whopping $2 for refillable hot green tea. And they don't serve tap water either. Other than being pricey, the service is pretty quick (maybe because the restaurant was pretty empty when I went), the dishes are well executed and they have great presentation.
21 Cuppage Road
Cuppage Terrace
Tel: 6736 0326