Fu Lin Men Dou Lao 福临门豆捞 – That famous hotpot from Macau!

Fu Lin Men Dou Lao 福临门豆捞

16 North Canal Road near Rafflesplace MRT or Clarke Quay MRT

IMG_7306Highly popular in Macau as written in almost every review, this was further attested by the Macau friend who isn’t exactly a foodie but admitted that Fu Lin Men Dou Lao 福临门豆捞 is too popular to not know (so now you know it really is legit). Like every hotpot place, we thought it would be packed to the brim but the eurocup seemed to have turned the supposedly lively Circular and Canal Road into dead streets. Not complaining though as we love the extra space given to us when both of us got to sit at a round table meant for 5.

Just like many hotpot places, when the menu could get a little daunting, there are multiple promotions and set menus over at Fu Lin Men. Lets turn it into a point-form description to make things clearer:
1. Buffet – 2 buffets available, one with normal grade beef ($27) and the other with wagyu ($42) that comes with a free flow of mussels and scallops.
2. Set menus – prawn, fish and lobster menus they have.
3. Ala Carte with more premium ingredients than the buffet. And if you spend more than $60, you just need to top up $1 to get a plate of beef or lamb shabu shabu.
Well, we were decisive enough to get the Ala Carte as the lacklustre selection from the buffet menu isn’t as appealing unless you are in for a waygu gorging session, while the rigidity in the set menu doesn’t allure.

IMG_7309Alright, settled down at our classy table and luckily I was the only one who went for the sauces and salad bar for $3. I say, if you are not into super duper Chinese food, don’t go for the bar as the salads are mostly tossed in chilli oil, the way Chinese love to have their food prepared in. As I am more of a Cantonese eater, the spices and salad weren’t my type of food. Sauces are also not necessary with the already heavy tasting broth.

Fu Lin MenIf you are still not familiar, each person at Fu Lin Men gets his or her own hotpot. We got the Vitality Wild & Cultured Mushroom Soup Base ($6) and the Signature Golden Imperial Soup base ($10). Both delicious, the thicker consistency coupled with the strongly permeated herbal flavour throughout, I actually prefer the Mushroom base!

IMG_7314Beer Beef Platter – Immerse that thin slice of nicely marbled beef into the bowl of beer for just three minutes for a thorough permeation, not a gimmick at all as they do have a unique beer aftertaste! The service crew warned us though, that contrary to common belief that the longer you immerse the better it tastes, leaving the beef in the beer longer than 3min would actually render the meat bitter. $16.

IMG_7312Assorted Hand man Fortune balls. So dainty these balls look and evidently high quality ingredients have been made use of over here. We got the spinach, prawn, fish, beef, squid etc balls! $7.

IMG_7317Fish roe shrimp ball and Spinach Cuttlefish ball. $8 each. Apparently, balls are quite our favourite!

IMG_7318Thinly sliced pork Shabu Shabu which H had all on her own as I am not a fan of fats! $8.

IMG_7321Chicken Fillet. One of the most reasonably priced dish as you get so much chicken meat for just $5. Marinated with a little bit of pepper, this simple dish tasted delish too!

IMG_7327.JPGWhat a beautiful spread we had that night, with everything looking refined and plush!

IMG_7324I am pretty delighted with the meal!

IMG_7328Pineapple Glutinous Rice. Adequately starchy, sprinkled over with the colourful rice, the naturally sweetened pineapple rice tasted impeccable and could form a perfect dessert for the night. $9.

IMG_7336hmm… Nom Nom Nom!

Yes, so apart from Hai Di Lao and Beauty in a Pot, this is the third upmarket hotpot that has gotten into my list of delicious hotpot places.

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.9/5.

Mitzo – That 1 for 1 deluxe menu was just awesome!

Mitzo

Grand Park Hotel near Orchard MRT

m1That infallible char siu, the exquisite dim sum that Mitzo serves and the impeccable roasted duck were what that kept my tireless return. It was the third time here and I still don’t foresee that this will be the last, or perhaps never if the head chef doesn’t change! Unable to secure a table during the festive CNY period, I know I need to bring the folks here to get a taste of one of the top Cantonese restaurants in Singapore. What’s even better now is that there is a 1-for-1 deluxe menu ($108) on promotion (only if you have a UOB cc or book through chope) and it was quite a no brainer on what to get that afternoon, of course together with the signatures that I have thoroughly enjoyed previously. Well, lets take a look at that set menu!

m2Deep fried crispy Shimeji with wasabi Mayonnaise. That scrunchy mushroom encased within the fluffy, lightly fried crispy batter and tossed with the light creamy wasabi mayonnaise, it was definitely an addictive appetiser!

m3Crispy prawn coated with truffle peanut sauce. How more creative could we get here; with these huge crunchy prawns given a nutty coat and yet still emanating a light truffle fragrance! Sensational indeed.

m7A crab meat soup before this but unfortunately not as photogenic, so lets fast forward to the stir fried sea bass with asparagus in spicy XO sauce. The tastes predictable, but all made to perfectness with great balance as that umaminess in the spicy XO sauce was beautifully expressed in the moist, creamy chunks of sea bass.

m6Braised pork ribs with herb infused dang gui. Two huge slabs of pork ribs cooked to the perfect consistency that could be torn apart effortlessly. The mum though felt that it has a little porky taste in it that didn’t make it to her top favourites, but we felt it was acceptable.

m8m9Braised vermicelli with lobster in superior broth. A finale for the savouries, this decadent bowl of lobster noodles was aptly and coincidentally placed as the last course. Most carbohydrate courses are usually less inspiring in the upmarket restaurants but this vibrant one kept our eyes lit and palates awake. So radiantly presented, the lobster meat was impeccably well poached to render that springy consistency while that light tasting yet thick and rich broth there, gives it an even flavourful body without snatching its limelight.

m10The dessert of the day was this smooth avocado puree with vanilla ice cream, without that sesame ball as this was ordered separately. Lovely end to the meal though I would have preferred a Hakkasan concept, that serves French infused desserts as their sweets instead. The sesame ball though deserves a shout out as it is filled creatively with molten chocolate and whisky that spices up the entire experience. Well done!

m5m4And these are the two other ala carte dishes ordered to finish off the meal! Yes indeed, the truffle roasted duck and the steamed basket of dim sum that are so beautifully presented and tasted equally delectable!

m11And the service crew gave us a complimentary liu sa bao to end our meal as this might be their first time serving such huge eaters!

Being really one of the best Cantonese places to go to in Singapore, it really would be quite cynical to deny this place a recommendation! I can see a return soon, perhaps in a week’s time actually! But I would say it could really be a perfect score if bold French desserts are served for desserts as this would be the first ever concept in Singapore which I believe could well take off easily!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.6/5

 

Empress Restaurant – Asian Civilisation Museum

Empress Restaurant

Asian Civilisation Museum near Raffles Place MRT

IMG_9113Plush, modern interior, further made vibrant by the scattered sun rays that beamed through that tall glass facade; no, it didn’t have a greenhouse effect but felt comfortably chilly with that blasting air conditioning. Loved Empress restaurant the moment we stepped in as the contrasting glittery bar counter fortunately did not clash with the round oriental tables, but somehow made it even more polished; the feeling is just right.

IMG_9111Looked through that extensive Asian menu again, but luckily with a few signature dishes in mind already and this fried lotus and yam starter was served the moment we sent the orders up. Thinly sliced, lightly fried, this was less common but definitely a starter that got our hopes high.

IMG_9118IMG_9117IMG_9122Triple Roast PlatterEMPRESS Char Siew, Crackling Roast Pork, EMPRESS Sticky and sweet pork ribs. Instead of doing a ‘mix and match’ system for their triple roast over here like what most Cantonese restaurants practise, Empress Restaurant only has a porky roast prepared in three different ways. But, we say, they have all the reasons to be proud of their pork! Beautifully glazed by the melted fats and charred with a tantalizing smokey aroma, the char siew was pretty faultless (though my favourite still lies with Mitzo) and you get to choose the fattier or leaner cut. So, exercise your rights if the waiter forgets to enquire. The Crackling roast pork or siu yok had expectedly one of the crispiest skin while the sticky sweet pork ribs were beautifully caramelised to an unforgettable umami. Very delicious they are! $28.

IMG_9119Meant to be a dim sum brunch but we decided to get the EMPRESS Dim Sum Platter (Har gao, siu mai, Pork and pumpkin skin dumpling, Seafood and spinach dumpling, mushroom dumpling) to sum it all and we hit the jackpot as these were beautifully steamed to render a luscious, translucent skin. My favourites – the Pork and pumpkin skin dumpling that has the juicy pork wrapped in the very lightly sweet orange skin and the fresh, succulent seafood spinach dumpling. Vibrant is the word. $9.80.

IMG_9121King Prawn Dumpling in Supreme Broth. Needless to say, we tasted succulence in that dumpling, but even more impressive is that fragrant bowl of creamy chicken broth, thick and viscous, it seems to be highly collagenated too. $14.

IMG_9124Fried Brown Rice Medley – Shimeji Mushrooms, Asparagus, goji Berries, Pine nuts. Mixed with so many vegetables and nuts, this may look too healthy with a lacklustre taste but boy, it was perfumed throughout with an umami flavour. Pork lard oil is suspected here but this was delectable. $20.

IMG_9114Crispy Butter Baked Shredded Duck Buns – Pretty O.K. skin and buttery sugar crust but the duck was a tad dry. We need the sauce! $5.80.

IMG_9115Stir fried Turnip cake with XO chilli sauce. Served with a little moist, this plate though was lacking in wok hei. $12.

IMG_9123And we concurred – this new Cantonese restaurant scored well with us!

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.9/5

Colony – Perfect ambiance, food-wise just like all buffets with hits and misses

Colony at Ritz Carlton

Near Cityhall or Esplanade MRT

C1Beautiful, plush, modern and well-lit, yet still looking smart without going overboard into the opulence extreme, Colony does indeed have one of the most comfortable ambiance for a relaxing lunch. Tip-top service rendered, rightfully deemed as one of the best in Sg, friendly and kind without being intrusive at all. The food though, had some misses here and there just like any other buffets, but taking everything into consideration and making a brisk comparison across the island, a $58 lunch buffet is actually, acceptable.

IMG_9086IMG_9089IMG_9090Compartmentalised into many different sections sprawling across a few rooms, the dessert section was the one that caught my attention the most. Vibrant in colours, large in variety, especially the chocolate stacks that is a rarity in most buffets (This actually added some Swiss character to it), it was the second station I visited after the first round of savouries. One of the misses I heard from the other colleagues – the peanut mochi which was unchewable with its already hardened skin; somehow I got away lucky with the sesame flavoured one beside it. IMG_9088IMG_9096My favourite out of all – the petite lemon tart topped with a rotund lemon meringue. Zesty peels added to the curd, all set nicely on top of a crumbly tart! The chocolate balls were on point too with a huge variety of them at the ice cream section, and I say the matcha one was intense!

IMG_9080The cold section, together with the Japanese sushi at the side, both well presented, had all the flavours and texture that you would have expected for.IMG_9071IMG_9085
Adjacent to the cold section and there we get the fluffy looking baguettes that have a huge range of upmarket cheese and chacuterie sitting in front of them for you to pick!

IMG_9072IMG_9079Moving on to the darker room that showcases these cooked food, the lamb rump was surprisingly executed to the perfect consistency, not tough at all with a well balanced marbling within the huge slab! That is actually quite a feat for an international buffet when loads have to be cooked and precision could have been overlooked at.

IMG_9091At the Cantonese wok station, lay these tantalising chow mien and fried rice, and the option was made easier (you know you have limited carbs space) when the fried rice is embellished with huge succulent prawns! Indeed, wok hei was tasted, and the shrimps were naturally crunchy. Good pick for the carbs!

The roast section was quite a big miss though when the ducks were served up with a tougher and slightly powdery texture. The siu yok however, was splendid with its super crispy skin.

IMG_9083IMG_9097I actually love the salad section that comes with the huge, juicy mushrooms and bouncy mozzarella with cherry tomatoes. Turned this into an Asian one by lashing it over with the Japanese sesame sauce!

12637308_10154037431783714_2039026897_oA fun interaction day out with the colleagues!

Like most buffets, I would advise against expecting really exceptional food lest the disappointment, even if their interior decor appears super plush. It really is just to enjoy the variety, and then repeatedly get the dishes that you have identified you like best! Then, you could enjoy the relaxing buffet, but of course it needs to have a sizeable number of hits first!

Verdict: An above average – good restaurant. 3.2/5.

 

Wo Peng Cuisine 和平 – It may be old, but the CNY menu definitely not obsolete

Wo Peng Cuisine 和平

Furama Hotel near Chinatown MRT

Housed in the older Furama Hotel and a gradually turning nondescript shopping mall, this could be a place that has been superseded by the sleeker malls and gaudier restaurants. But if Wo Peng Cuisine gets into the HK market, it might be one of the traditional restaurants with longstanding histories that constantly enjoy the buzz from being one of the more ‘authentic’ Cantonese restaurant, characterised by large throngs of families during the weekends. No frills, no fusion but really just a hearty Cantonese meal and for this Chinese New Year 2016, Wo Peng Cuisine has prepared a few specially curated set menus and takeaways, just the right taste for a family feast.

IMG_9027Braised whole Abalone with Assorted Dried Seafood in Casserole. Proudly the claimant as the first restaurant to introduce Pen Choy into Singapore Chinese Cuisine, this pot was delicious. Not extensively luxurious, but drenched in the smooth, umami sauce, the beautifully braised molluscs and seafood had just the perfect consistency. And underneath these heavy ingredients lies the crunchy cabbage and perfectly roasted siu yok which has thoroughly soaked up the essence of that sauce, rendering a heavier and fuller taste indeed. $38.80++ per person for dine-in, 2 persons required minimally. Take-away: $228 NETT for 5 pax or $428 NETT for 10 pax which comes with a free stainless steel treasure pot.

IMG_9022IMG_9023Prosperity Salmon Yu-sheng. A must have in all CNY menus, the one over here makes use of vegetarian salmon that has a consistency akin to the real ones. This isn’t entirely vegetarian though as crispy fish skin is used by the side. $48 for take away.

IMG_9028Double boiled chicken soup with Ginseng, cordycep flowers and Glutinous rice. It’s pretty difficult for a veteran Cantonese chef to go wrong at this and expectedly, the soup, as intense as it looks, is emanating a deep herbal fragrance. And the Kampung chicken used over here has the springiness in its meat retained despite the long boil. $68 for takeaway.

IMG_9033Smoked and Roasted Duck with Camphor and Chinese Tea Leave. It may not have replaced my utmost favourite roast duck from some other restaurant but smoking it with Chinese tea leaves have definitely left a peculiar tea fragrance in its meat. Take away: $68 for whole duck.

IMG_9032Sauteed ‘Peach Resin’ with Egg White and Pak Choi. One of Wo Peng’s signature dishes as these ‘peach resin’ are the oozing sap collected from peach trees; quite a special ingredient indeed. Rich in collagen, it helps in beauty and gave the fluffy egg white a second dimension to its texture. Dine-in: $28.

IMG_9035Wok-fried Glutinous Rice with Assorted Chinese Sausages. Made aromatic with the fried shallots and heavier tasting lap cheong, the evenly fried glutinous rice tasted right. Take away: $22.

IMG_9038Hong Kong Nian Gao. Take away: $19.80. Made fresh with coconut milk, these delicious chewy Nian Gao could only be kept for a week.
Fa Cai Carrot Cake. Take away: $18.80.

A sumptuous CNY menu offered at Wo Peng Cuisine definitely. Its furnishings may be old and seemingly outdated, but definitely not obsolete at all. Not contrived at all, the hearty dishes over here are traditionally spot on!

Thank you Hazel for the lovely invite!