Asia’s 50 Best: Jaan, Singapore (Part 2, Appetisers)

Category: French – Fine Dining

2 Stamford Road, Swissotel The Stamford, Level 70, Equinox Complex, Singapore 178882

Damage: $$$$

The Menu Prestige itself is an ongoing concert that has no specific intervals, but I have taken the liberty to break it up into smaller sections to make for an easier read. This section comprises the first 3 dishes of the Menu Prestige, and for which I find most suitable to name “Appetisers”.


Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Uni Sea Urchin Pudding with Caviar

The Hokkaido Sea Urchin with Obsiblue prawn and Kaluga queen caviar – I didn’t like. I love good uni but this was a pudding infused with sea urchin – the creamy texture of the pudding caused the natural richness of the uni itself to be lost, and whatever flavours made it through came across as slightly fishy. I couldn’t taste the prawn.

An addition complement of crostini was then served, beautiful to picture but somewhat ordinary in taste.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Crostini

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog beetroot collection

When the Beetroot Collection was served I’d spent a good while looking at it – it was like a piece of art- a delicate, intricate mixing of textures, temperatures, and variants of a magenta colour on the plate, punctuated by some yellow and some white of the radish and whip. This was a complex dish which included “Burrata artigiana” and honeycomb, and eaten individually made for nothing much, but when we began mixing them into the same spoonful, it became something quite special which I can’t quite put a finger on, and, I suppose, was the right way to enjoy it.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog 55°C rosemary smoked organic eggAs if I didn’t already love egg enough, I was introduced to Jaan‘s highly discussed 55′ Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg with Ratte Potato, Chorizo Iberico and Buckwheat, which came with the great pomp of being served in a tray over a block with a endless stream of white mist gushing over and cloaking the table (feature picture). The waiter picked the egg from the tray and poured it in with the rest of the condiments in the glass, which I mixed a little with my spoon and then tasted. For all of the dish’s complexity in preparation, the egg was perfect but I still found it hard to believe that it could only be achieved by poaching the eggs at 64 degrees for 55 minutes. The chorizo, somewhat reminiscent of bacon, provided the salt to the otherwise seemingly non-seasoned potatoes and balanced the dish like a perfect breakfast.

Asia’s 50 Best: Jaan, Singapore (Part 1, Amuse-bouche)

Category: French – Fine Dining

Number #11 on San Pellegrino’s list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2015 and a strong player in the list over several years, I’ll readily admit I was excited for this meal. Jaan, helmed by Chef de cuisine Julien Royer, presents modern french cuisine with tantalising visuals, often calling for the hostesses to add the final touch to the dish right before your very eyes.

2 Stamford Road, Swissotel The Stamford, Level 70, Equinox Complex, Singapore 178882

The reception for Jaan is the same as for Equinox and bars City Space and New Asia, to the left of the main reception of the Swissotel lobby.

Damage: $$$$

At dinnertime, the Menu Degustation of 5-courses is about $200. We went with the 7-course Menu Prestige with wine pairing, which totalled about $500 per head. A different menu is presented at lunchtime, with a 3-course at $68 and a 5-course at $118. 

To go: Yes, for that special occasion

Jaan was an exceptional experience. The restaurant itself seats about 30 persons, and the setting is warm, posh, yet intimate, and the service is excellent, professional yet personal. An amiable sous Chef Kirk Westaway appeared towards the end of the meal to put the finishing touches on our desserts, cracked a little joke and asked how everything was. Overall, the food was good and some dishes were especially memorable. Remember to reserve a table at least 2 weeks in advance, as they typically run at full-house on a daily basis.


The lift doors opened to the floor of Equinox, where a Jaan hostess waited, nodded politely and greeted us by name, before leading us to the left and down the passageway, up a short flight of steps which opened into a small space and finally, into the dining area of Jaan with views of Singapore’s skyline as drawn out by skyscrapers. Having made the reservation for 6.30pm, we were the first to arrive. We both went with the Menu Prestige, a 7-course, with wine pairing.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Appetizers

The first amuse-bouche was Lentil Hummus with cereals tuiles. I’ve had hummus at a variety of places, and I recalled the hummus I’d had in Dubai which had been dry and crumbly, and rather pasty in taste. That was also when I decided I definitely didn’t like hummus very much. This, however, was absolutely rich, moist, and delicious – almost reminding me of orh nee (yam paste), with a touch of sweetness. I couldn’t stop smiling at the little jar and started feeling rather silly about trying to have it with the bread as well, but the hostess smiled knowingly and let me keep it until I was completely through.

Next, a stone platter of Black sesame sponge and smoked eel, pork trotter samossa with grain mustard, cantal and walnut crackers (feature picture) was delivered to the table, and the Mushroom tea cep sabayon followed shortly after. The trio I wasn’t impressed with and thought to be rather ordinary – the sesame sponge lacked depth of flavour and the cantal and walnut crackers were pretty flat, which is surprising as cantal cheese has similarities to cheddar.

Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2014 2015 Jaan Singapore Food Review Blog Best Mushroom Soup

The Mushroom tea, however, blew my mind. Even as I watched with interest as they poured clear mushroom tea into whatever was already in the cup, there was no way I could’ve expected the explosion of flavour. It was honestly one of the most a-m-a-z-i-n-g things I’ve ever had in my life, even more mind blowing than the starters I’d had at El Celler Can De Roca. It was essentially a cup of mushroom essence, speckled with crisped mushroom bits releasing their woody rich tastes, enveloped in a deliciously creamy cep sabayon. Exceptional.

Travel Diary: Shiroi Koibito Park, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

Japan, 〒063-0052 北海道札幌市西区宮の沢2条2丁目11−36; Tel +81 11-666-1481

We followed the smiles and waves of the park guides in neatly ironed white uniforms and rounded the bend into the basement carpark before disembarking for Shiroi Koibito Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido. It was funny how I’d known about the Shiroi Koibito biscuit before I knew anything else about Hokkaido – it seemed to be the ultimate souvenir that friends would bring back from Hokkaido, and with good reason, considering that ever since I’d tasted it, I couldn’t stop craving the light thin biscuit with a skinny block of white chocolate wedged between.

The lift opened into the main store, and straight away I felt like I’d stepped into a fantasyland of sorts, with (what I now recognised to be a distinctly Japanese touch) tinkling music and chocolate and candies in colourful wrappers everywhere, including giant standing lollipop decorations. A grand-ish staircase descended from the second floor on the right, and straight ahead, stood a ferris wheel around which children had gathered, slotting coins and taking turns to hit a button which would spin the wheel and drop a piece of candy from the lowest bucket when it stopped.

Shiroi Koibito Park Famous Best Biscuit Sapporo Hokkaido Japan Travel Diary

Once outside, the Shiroi Koibito Park reminded me of disneyland with its castle-like exteriors and gardens full of the most colourful flowers and little water features, including cherubic sculptures peering out from random places.

Shiroi Koibito Park Famous Best Biscuit Sapporo Hokkaido Japan Travel DiaryWe stepped into the shade of the building to commence our tour of the Shiroi Koibito Park, and were each handed the awesome biscuit at the entrance. I’m not a huge facts junkie, so the details of the making of the biscuit wasn’t all that fascinating to me, except when the trail opened up and ran by the actual production line. I stood for a good while watching the Shiroi Koibito biscuit get pushed out from the machine, sandwiched together, sorted, and packaged, all within a few meters. I couldn’t help but focus on the workers picking out imperfect Shiroi Koibito biscuits near the end of the line, wondering what they did with the rejected biscuits- and daydreamed about them giving it all to me.

Shiroi Koibito Park Famous Best Biscuit Sapporo Hokkaido Japan Travel Diary Factory Production LineThe Shiroi Koibito Cafe stood at the end of the tour – it’s the only place where you can have the Shiroi Koibito White Hot Chocolate Drink and the Shiroi Koibito White Chocolate Ice-cream. I sat down excitedly and immediately decided that the dilemma was non-existent and that I was going to have both 😛

Shiroi Koibito Park Famous Best Biscuit Sapporo Hokkaido Japan Travel Diary White Hot Chocolate and White Chocolate Ice-CreamOh god. It was so good – the ice-cream was so creamy, milky, soft, and just melted away in the mouth. The White Hot Chocolate was good too, and was something my cousin had been raving on and on about in anticipation throughout the trip. I thought it was really delicious, but the good news is, when I tasted it, I immediately pinpointed a “dupe” in my favourite Luxury White Hot Chocolate from Whittard’s in London, which means that for everyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to visit Shiroi Koibito Park, you essentially get a taste of Japan if you can get yourself some Whittard‘s.

TWG Tea, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

Category: European – Tea, Afternoon Tea, Desserts

I’ve long frequented TWG Tea, simply because its ambience takes me back to Europe- and for a few minutes, I can just extract myself from the hustle and bustle that is the cosmopolitan city of Singapore, and be seated once again on one of the woven chairs lining the exterior of the cafes in Paris, sipping a beautiful tea as fashionably dressed parisians stroll past. Ahh. Although I did feel rather cheated when I found out the brand wasn’t all that it appeared to be, I bought into the entire idea simply because I wanted to, and so, it seems, did lots of people around the world, given that I’ve seen this tea presented in Hotel Suites and Paiza receptions and considering the number of TWG Tea palors spotting the globe.

ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, #02-21, Singapore 238801 (Multiple Branches including at MBS)

My most frequented branch is the one on the second floor of ION Orchard, simply because of its convenience. There is another TWG on the ground floor of ION, which is actually larger and more spacious but far more open, which prevents me from immersing myself completely in my little bubble of Europe, with the operatic music soaring over my head as I enjoy my teas.

Damage: $$ – $$$

Majority of the teas range from around $14 – $24, with the top tier priced at around $30+ per pot. Cakes are about $9.50, which is expensive when compared to elsewhere, but they’re (in my opinion) well worth it. Up till recently I’d only stuck to ordering the tea because that’s what they’re known for, but the cakes (changes according to the daily selection) are truly lovely. Alternatively, there’s the TWG Afternoon Tea at $45. The food is, surprisingly, good as well.

To go: Yes, for a taste of Europe

TWG Tea has a mind-boggling array of teas, and an extremely extensive tea menu and intense book which you could request, containing information on every single tea that you might want to read up on regarding anything from its history to its characteristics. To truly experience the dilemma of choice, come to TWG Tea, although I’m definitely not complaining. I’ve trade at least two dozen teas and have never been disappointed – it’s only once or twice that I thought the tea was only “okay”.

From the day’s selection, we picked out two cakes. The first was a Caramel cake, and the second was a Chocolate Mousse Cake. The Caramel cake had a thick layer of coffee-flavoured cream sitting atop a vanilla sponge and a biscuit base, with caramel glazed over. The biscuit was too hard and we had a tough time dividing it, but the rest of the cake was a sweet tease on the tongue. The Chocolate mousse cake was thoroughly perfumed with chocolate and had a light-medium texture, and the ganache was bittersweet and rich- and totally made my day.TWG Tea Palor Singapore Global European Afternoon High Tea CakesTWG Tea Palor Singapore Global European Afternoon High Tea Cakes Chocolate

Omotenashi Sake Bar & Dining Gosso, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

Category: Japanese – Casual – Yakitori

We were strolling along Boat Quay looking for a place to have dinner before a concert when Omotenashi Sake Bar & Dining Gosso restaurant caught our eye. We were particularly intrigued by the number of Japanese clientele they had and figured that that said a thing or two about it’s authenticity, and decided to give it a try. Omotenashi Dining is quite the new kid on the block, having been around from only around September or October last year, but seems to already have picked up a good number of regulars.

No.64 Boat Quay Singapore 049852, Tel: 6533 5152, Opens 11.30am – 2.30pm and 5.30pm – 12am on Mon-Fri (Opens for dinner on Sat)

Nestled along the shophouses on the main stretch of Boat Quay by the Singapore River, Omotenashi Dining is situated right opposite the Parliament of Singapore, across the SIngapore River. Its decor theme is primarily black, with non-fuss wooden tables and white words printed on its canopy, with a yakitori grill is by the entrance on the left. There are several Japanese restaurants along Boat Quay, but among the yakitori places, Omotenashi had the largest Japanese clientele as far as I could tell.

Damage: $$

Omotenashi Dining is quite reasonably priced, with dishes priced at around $3-4 per stick (min. order of 2 per dish). It might seem little, but since most yakitori dishes comprise of meats, I find that we often underestimate how filling they can be. Beer is also popular at Omotenashi, especially among the Japanese businessmen – I saw a beer tower or two go by in the short while that I was there.

To Go: A good hangout place for meatloving friends

Omotenashi  was reasonably priced and the food was fine – some dishes being more standout than others. Indoor-seating (air-conditioned) is rather limited and it can get rather warm if you’re seated outside, so if you have more than one layer on I suggest to go somewhere else or begin stripping unless you want to be a waterfall. Service at Omotenashi was quick and the staff were attentive and eager to be of help, and the restaurant has an old Japanese feel. Overall, a possible place to hang out with friends after executing mission: escape from the office.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

A uniformed waitress came out to greet us at the front, nodded and politely invited us to come in in a slight Japanese accent. Several tables were already taken by the riverside and the indoors was full so we were seated by the entrance and presented with the menu which contained an array of yakitori, from skewered meats to tsukune (minced meat patty/ball), in different renditions – with mustard, with cheese, etc. I asked the waitress for a recommendation between the two versions of tsukune, and she pointed at one and said, “I would recommend this… and this”, and pointed at the other version. We looked at each other and tried not to laugh.

In the end we ended up ordering the Kinoko Salad, and several kinds of yakitori, a onigiri (rice ball), and an egg dish called Dashimaki. From there, the orders were sent to the grill, and soon after, began hitting our table in rapid succession.

Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Mushroom Salad

The Kinoko Salad ($9.80) which the waitress said was very good and “popular” had a generous portion of stir fried mushrooms, beyond which I found to be pretty ordinary. You can give this a miss if you’re fine with having a mostly carnivorous meal.

The Isobe-yaki (chicken fillet wrapped with seaweed; $5 for 2 sticks) and Negima (chicken thigh with leek; $6 for 2 sticks) (featured picture, from left to right) were ordinary as well. They were a good piping hot, but the chicken was way too dry, which was surprising for the Negima since chicken thigh is typically fattier and retains juice better.
Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Tsukune

The tsukune ($6 for 2 sticks) was great – the outside was charred perfectly, caramelising slightly the semi-sweet glaze, and the inside was piping hot and extremely juicy. They were very generous with the meat – I think this also contributed to its robust flavors and texture, making it more satisfying to have than the usual thinner tsukune patties, including the one I practically grew up on from MOS Burger.Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Signature Egg

The waitress explained that the Dashimaki ($6.80) was gently cooked in a dashi stock for some time and whisked or something to give it it’s fluffy texture. To be honest I couldn’t internalise her description of the entire process because I zoned out halfway, and told myself that bottom line was that this egg was going to be more awesome than it looked. It was light but ordinary and rather lacking in seasoning, I’d happily swap this out for another yakitori.

Omotenashi Authentic Japanese Yakitori Singapore New 2015 Food Review Blog Boat Quay Yakitori Pork Asparagus LeekIt would do you good to have this – Butamaki Shimeji (Shimeji Mushrooms wrapped in Pork Belly; $6 for 2 sticks)This is one of my all-time barbecue favorites. Whenever I host or attend a barbecue, this is a dish that needs to be present to elevate the session to barbecue stardom. Ever a crowd pleaser, this yakitori was no different; mushroom juices galore, soaking up and adding to the natural saltiness of the bacon, with cheese atop. Omg, yes!

Paradise Inn, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

Category: Chinese Cuisine

This is the second restaurant I’m writing about that’s linked to the Paradise Group (the first being Paradise Dynasty), and I’m starting to feel like I should be paid for writing this (which I’m not, but hey Paradise, payment in kind (i.e. food) is just fine) 😛 Paradise Inn is another of my go-to restaurants, simply because it’s so unpretentious – just good Chinese food in a comfortable teahouse setting – and on some days, that’s really all you want.

Multiple locations including Suntec City, Thomson Plaza, 313@Somerset and Changi Airport T1

The Paradise Group Restaurants are everywhere and the standards are very high across its different chains. If you’re in any major mall, chances are there’s a Paradise Inn nearby.

Damage: $$

Paradise Inn is pretty pocket-friendly – I’ve been there dozens of times and I’d say on average it’s about $20+ per person. We typically order about a dish per head (i.e. 5 dishes for 5 people) or slightly more, and it’s always been about right.

To Go: Definitely

When my family wants Chinese food, this is a default option. It’s fuss-free, comfortable but not sloppy, and service has always been pretty good (except when they’re running at full-house – but even then they’re still relatively quick to respond). From our experience, the wait staff are always very courteous and willing to help, and with Chinese tea that’s always flowing, we always come away with full and satisfied stomachs with none of that greasy-oily feeling like from some other places.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

Since I’ve been to Paradise Inn so many times and have tried so many dishes on the menu, I can safely say most of the food is very good- but to help those who’ve not been or friends just visiting Singapore for travel, here are some dishes that I would strongly recommend.

#1 Imperial Pork Ribs

Paradise Inn Singapore Food Review Blog Top Chinese Restaurant Imperial Pork Ribs Pai Gu WangThis dish is a must-order, and we never leave Paradise Inn without it. Although it reads “Pork ribs”, it’s really just pork fillets- which makes it even easier to eat and value for money since there’s no need to pick tiny morsels of meat off the bone like the one at Whampoa Keng Fish Head Steamboat Restaurant. The sauce is a special savory sauce that has a slight sweetness to it, and encrusts the outside of the pork to give it a good caramelized and slightly crisp bite. I’ve tried the Coffee Pork Ribs too – it’s a bit similar in terms of the way it’s cooked, but is sometimes a bit overdone resulting in a slightly burnt flavour, so it really depends. If you ask me, I’d say go Imperial.

#2 Hot Plate Tofu with Preserved Cai Xin and Minced Pork

Paradise Inn Singapore Food Review Blog Top Chinese Restaurant Imperial Hot Plate Tofu Mapo Cai Xin Minced PorkI’d eat every last scrap of this. If you like tofu, minced pork, egg, and lots of sauce, this is going to be your baby. The tofu is smooth and soft, and comes surrounded by a moat of bubbling egg, topped with a delicious and intensely-flavored sauce containing generous portions of minced pork and mushrooms. The leftover sauce goes perfect with everything, and the this dish tastes especially great when piping hot.

#3 Stewed Pork Belly served with Lotus Bun (Kong Ba Pau) (Featured picture)

Known in the local dialect as “Kong Bak Pau“, this dish is not commonly served at most restaurants. It is also a dish that’s hard to get right – I’ve had some poorly done pork belly which is either too lean or too fatty or even too tough. Not only must the composition of the pork be right, the stewing process needs to be done correctly to infuse the pork with the rich dark soy sauce-based marinate. A good kong bak would have a fat layer that melts in the mouth easily alongside tender, lean, and juicy meat. Paradise Inn has a great one, and is a great place to get your kong bak pau fix without having to make a special effort.

Wakakoma, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

SCRIBBLES

Category: Japanese – Kaisen Wakakoma Don, Kaisen Chirashi Don

I added Wakakoma restaurant to our “Hitlist” for Sapporo because it’d been featured on No Reservations. I’d watched that episode on one of the weekday nights after work, was sold by Anthony Bourdain’s mouthwatering descriptions and enthusiasm for Wakakoma, and found my tummy grumbling about not getting some of that amazing sashimi heap that Bourdain was happily tucking into.

Sapporo Fish Jyogai Market, North 11 West 21, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, 060-0011 (〒060-0011 北海道札幌市中央区北11条西21 中央卸売市場 場外市場), Tel: 011-644-7722, Opens daily from 9AM – 9PM

We had a tough time trying to find the place, with the front and sides of the building plastered over in a dozen signs filled with loud Japanese characters and stalls selling fresh seafood on the ground floor, I thought I’d gotten it wrong. I was asking for directions when one of the stall owners finally caught wind of “Wakakoma“, and gleefully pointed us in the right direction and up a narrow flight of stairs that we would’ve otherwise totally missed.

Damage: $$ – $$$

Wakakoma was definitely one of the pricest restaurants. The Kaisen Wakakoma Don was 3,780JPY (~$44 SGD)- but was also covered in 13 kinds of seafood and so was totally justifiable in my opinion. Can’t get nothing of that sort in Singapore, no, so might as well go big or go home!

To Go: Yes, but don’t go out of your way and stick with the tried-and-tested

It was very good, no doubt. The seafood was fresh covered ever inch of the top of the bowl, and included king crab and botan shrimp. Travelling around Hokkaido, you’d realise that any don (rice dish) with kani (crab) in it never ever comes cheap, and so while it was a pretty costly meal, I thought it was well-priced compared with everywhere else. That said, I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to eat at Wakakoma because it was a little out of the way (there was nothing that interesting in the area) and I think you can get some pretty darn decent kaisen dons elsewhere. Sorry Bourdain, but Marutomi Shokudo in Monbetsu was still the best.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

We alighted at a nearby parking lot and following my GPS, we found ourselves at the foot of a small cluster of buildings, huge signboards plastered on all sides. I led the way down the pavement – a narrow cement path which separated the shelves of fresh produce and seafood to our left and the road to our right on which huge lorries and trucks drove by hurriedly, fetching the day’s catch from the market to, I supposed, restaurants all over Sapporo.

Wakakoma Restaurant Anthony Bourdain Food Review Blog Sapporo Hokkaido Japan Jyogai Market

I walked up and down that same stretch several times, looking for Wakakoma, and each time seeming to succeed in overshooting the little red dot anchored on the map. A kind middle-aged Japanese lady manning the fruit stall finally figured out what we were looking for and pointed down the row. We’d stopped at regular intervals and turned to her for approval, only to see her wave us farther and farther down the row, until we finally ended up by a small staircase where she nodded and pointed upwards.

The staircase opened out into a small restaurant which could seat about 30-40 people. The chef’s table was to the right of the dining area, and dozens of signatures of (I suppose) famous people lined the wall at its entrance which probably meant Wakakoma was a favourite of many.

Wakakoma Restaurant Anthony Bourdain Food Review Blog Sapporo Hokkaido Japan

I took no time with ordering at all, considering I already knew exactly what I was there for, and everyone took my cue. When I saw the Kaisen Wakakoma Don, I’m pretty sure my eyes lit up- I mean, anyone’s would! With a grandiose botan shrimp head triumphantly poking out of the sea of sashimi, I’ll admit I was really excited. While some of it was good – like the hotate (scallops) and kani, others like the ika (squid) and maguro (tuna) fell short; the ika was chewy and rubbery while the maguro was thin and slightly stringy. I’d tried uni (sea urchin) a few times around Hokkaido and had attributed my indifference to the fact that those weren’t the freshest, but even at Wakakoma I was let down in spite of all the uni-campaigning that Bourdain had done. It was only recently when I had the best uni of my entire life at Hashida Sushi, surprisingly or otherwise, back home in Singapore – and that, is a story I’ll share with you in time.

Wakakoma Restaurant Anthony Bourdain Food Review Blog Sapporo Hokkaido Japan

Otaru Market, Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan (Gallery)

We made a stop by Otaru’s wet market in the late morning to check out their range of fresh seafood. Being a seaside town, Otaru’s streets are lined with restaurants and shops selling seafood in various forms – from live to dried to fresh cuts served with don. Otaru’s wet market was smaller than Kushiro’s Washo market but better, with fresher seafood and great value. The stall owners are a lot kinder as well, perhaps due to lesser competition, and even took the time to explain the different catches and fantastic sea creatures.

I walked down the length of the market armed with my DSLR, trying my best to capture as much of the colour as possible. One of the shopkeepers saw me pointing and commenting on the giant crabs in my video, and without hesitation, lifted the entire crab out of the tank and said, “Yes it is hu-ge!” Haha! – often it’s really the locals that really make the place even more memorable. He gave me a pinch of uni to taste before we eventually sat down to enjoy a Major seafood meal.

Right- enough of my talking. I’m going to hit you with the pictures 😛

Otaru Wet Market Fresh Hotate Salmon Uni Kani Don Travel Food DiaryOtaru Wet Market Fresh Hotate Salmon Uni Kani Don Travel Food Diary King CrabOtaru Wet Market Fresh Hotate Salmon Uni Kani Don Travel Food Diary BlogOtaru Wet Market Fresh Hotate Salmon Uni Kani Ikura Don Travel Food DiaryOtaru Wet Market Fresh Hotate Salmon Uni Kani Don Travel Food Diary

Chihuly Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

Category: European (Varies) – Desserts

Singaporean (girls, in particular) seem to have a fairly sweet tooth and are fond of good-looking food (maybe because that’s just good for Instagram). Whether it’s because of a high demand or a trickle-down influence from a colonial age, Singapore has a fair number of places hosting Afternoon Tea, and Chihuly Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton hotel has been one of the top favorites for a long time.

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, 7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039799

Chihuly Lounge is just in front of the Main Reception area, and right by the lobby and driveway. I came in from the Millenia Walk side, through the side entrance to the Ritz, and so had to walk most of its length to get to Chihuly. We practically “stumbled” inside without knowing because there was no front desk, and the lounge was completely open.

Damage: $$ – $$$

Chihuly changes its afternoon tea line-up seasonally. When I visited in February, they were featuring the Bernardaud Afternoon Tea at $48++ per person. Afternoon Tea in Singapore, or anywhere for that matter, tends to be a pretty pricey affair. While the value really varies depending on what you’re getting in the selection, I thought the Bernardaud Afternoon Tea was promising due to the chocolate-themed desserts which had first been introduced in December 2014 as part of their Winter Afternoon Tea.

To Go: Depending on the Seasonal menu, as an occasional treat

Chocolate is my weakness and my undying love for it means that I’m acutely critical of chocolate which have been ‘branded’ as upmarket, good-quality chocolate. I’m by no means a chocolate snob – KitKat and Ritter Sport are still totally up my alley, but when it comes to “artisan-type” chocolate, I expect to be able to taste the difference. The majority of the items (hot counters, sandwiches, etc.) were pretty average, so if anything was to turn my assessment of the Chihuly Afternoon Tea around, that would’ve had to be the parade of chocolate desserts being featured for the season. I don’t know if the other blogs I’d read were actually paid to write the reviews because they were lavishing much praise, but in my experience, they were about equal parts hits and misses. Service was inattentive, perhaps partly due to under-staffing – we spotted only about 3 staff attending to the entire lounge which was running at full-house.


A MORE DETAILED REVIEW

We lingered near the beginning of the lounge area for a bit, not quite knowing what to do with ourselves since there was no waiting area or desk, until some time had passed and finally managed to catch the eye of a staff who helped us get settled in. By day, Chihuly Lounge is a very open-concept lounge with sofa seating and a live band playing pop classics by the tall glass windows between the lounge and the main driveway. My companion told me that by night, however, the lounge would transform into a chill-out bar at which guests can enjoy cocktails and bar bites to live jazz.

After we were seated, we were left unattended for a good 10 minutes just sitting and waiting to be even offered the menu for selection. After the menu was presented, we waited another 15 minutes to try and get the hostess’s attention so we could inform her of our selection of teas.

The tea was a highlight of the session. I went with Vanilla flavoured Black Tea, while my companion went with the Wild Cherries flavoured Black Tea. Both teas were delightful, although the vanilla was the more perfumed, sweeter, and lush of the two, while the wild cherries one had fruity notes and a deep berry colour.

Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea

I’ll spend but a blink on the hot stations and the sandwich counter; since the offerings change all the time, it makes little sense for me to go into detail on each and every dish. The kurobuta pork in puff pastry was good, albeit too little pork in too much pastry. The scallop was fresh lacked depth, partly due to the cream beneath which was too strong and overpowering, masking the feature ingredient with a thick cheese-like lather. The tuna was sorely disappointing – it was overdone, dried-out and lacked flavor; a pity on the meaty tuna, really.

Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Finger Food

Sandwiches were nothing special. The bread was not particularly fragrant – some were better than others, but nothing like the ones at my favorite Provence bakery – and the ingredients were scrimped on, although they did taste fresh and were, on the whole, well-seasoned. Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea SandwichesI’d dedicated much of my stomach space to the chocolate, and so approached the display with much excitement. Sadly, they weren’t half as good as they looked – I’d stopped halfway on the first, the macaron was very ordinary (2/10 on the scale of memorability) and the star atop was very hard and tasteless, and the thin eclairs were completely dried out, coarse in texture and stingy on the cream filling.

Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea ChocolateChihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea ChocolateChihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea ChocolateThe best of the collection were the two featured – chocolate discs were wedged into a smooth, rich and creamy chocolate dusted over in cocoa powder, whilst the other cut open to reveal a mix of hazelnut cream and chocolate sponge and reminded me of a giant ferrero roche.

Chihuly Lounge The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore Food Review Blog Afternoon High Tea Bernaudaud Tea Chocolate

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse, Singapore

SCRIBBLES

Category: Western/Tuscan – Steakhouse

I’d heard many good things about Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse and had been meaning to go for some time. When we arranged to have dinner, I was having a steak craving and since my companion was indifferent to the various dining options I provided, we agreed that it would be a good time to give Bistecca a try.

25 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore 238969, Tel: 6735 6739, Opens 12 – 2pm and 6 – 10pm

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse is among the row of shophouses next to the Temple on the main road. Most people visiting the area would park at UE Square, from which you could cut through UE or walk along Unity Road and then make a right down Mohamed Sultan Road. The restaurant will be opposite with a steep flight of steps leading to a dimly lit rustic setting with a retractable deep red outdoor shade above the entrance with the words “Bistecca”.

Damage: $$$-$$$$

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse is more of an occasions kind of place. The prices are steep, but the food is lovely and service is great. If you’re going to shell out for a steak at Bistecca (and if you didn’t go alone), I suggest the Fiorentina steak ($188) – it’s the best steak I’ve tasted in Singapore thus far, and I’ve been on the hunt for the best for a while now. I might just say it’s better than Cut by Wolfgang Puck, and for a comparable price point, is on par with Wooloomooloo Steakhouse (although a direct comparison can’t be drawn since they were different cuts) and trumps Bedrock Bar & Grill.

To go: Yes, whenever the occasion calls for steak

As long as you have a team of 2 or 3, take to Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse for the Fiorentina. Good service, fantastic steak – I’ve not had a meatier, juicier, more perfectly done steak elsewhere. The 2 of us could barely finish the Fiorentina and were majorly stuffed, so if your team is a group of eaters with moderately-sized appetites, you should do just nicely. Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse Singapore Fiorentina Best Steak Bedrock Wooloomooloo

The steak is a organic-fed wagyu-cross which is dry aged. It is then grilled over a wood-fire grill which intensifies the flavour with a slightly smoky touch. On medium, the steak was tender and still a deep pinkish red on the inside, perfectly seared on the outside without crusting, and the juices flowed out readily with each slice. Steak is challenging to photograph, and the dimly lighted interiors didn’t help my mission, so go- see (and taste) for yourself. The side dishes were good too, although quite pricey. For dessert, we had a Panna Cotta which was soft and creamy, but you could probably find similar desserts elsewhere.

Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse Singapore Fiorentina Best Steak Bedrock Wooloomooloo dessert panna cotta