East Bureau 東局 – Great Fusion with just minor confusions

East Bureau 東局

Marina Square near Esplanade MRT

IMG_9001A fusion place that has gotten the elements right for the savouries and not confusing at all with surprises abound, East Bureau 東局 has indubitably managed to gel the different Asian and Western culinary techniques together without feeling overly deliberate. Just some slight misses which would be elaborated on at the end while service was evidently amicable as the service crew always puts on a smile when dealing with their customers.

IMG_8990Starting off with the Seafood Tomyum Goong on ice, this was a refreshingly sour and lightly spiced appetiser that perfectly whetted the appetite. The fresh seafood on the plate has to be eaten together with the sharp tasting slush as that would definitely awaken your palates. $13.

IMG_8991Sheung Wan cat ear pasta with chicken. The first favourite of this dish was the springy cat ear pasta used, that was cooked to the perfect al dente texture and chewing on it is just a pleasure. Next, the myriad amount of condiments used, such as the soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, vinegar scallion oil and sesame oil gave the pasta a huge Cantonese twist that was heavily flavoured up further with pork lard, siu york and fried garlic. We loved the entire combination. $16.

IMG_8994Thai Basil Minced Pork. Now, this plump dumpling has some Thai influences in it as the pork stuffing has been marinated differently from the usual. And instead of the tangy vinegar, this was served with the sweet chilli at the side. Substantial amount of stuffing, lightly pan fried skin together with sweet chilli sauce – the taste was well pronounced. $12.

IMG_9000Homemade Glutinous rice with Lap Cheong and Shitake Mushroom. Permeated uniformly with the Lap Cheong fragrance, this bowl was lip smacking good and the heavily loaded fried shallots have definitely helped in lifting its taste.

IMG_8993Lychee Martini infused Sweet and Sour Pork. Widely sold everywhere, gou rou yok is not as easily perfected as it is usually cloyingly sweet but the ones at East Bureau is delicious with a higher portion of lean meat and an adequately light lychee sweetness as an aftertaste. $13.

IMG_8996The grilled 500g lobster is a new item on promotion at $19.90 and it was a miss. Taste was O.K. but the consistency of the lobster was too mushy and lacks the springiness required.

IMG_9002IMG_9005IMG_9004Now this dessert, Menage A Trois, is a dish that we all struggled to finish and understand. Looking all the same, these French puffs were made more local by piping them with three different flavours, yam paste (Orh Ni), Salted Egg Yolk and Black sesame Soy milk. The Orh Ni was the most or perhaps the only acceptable filling as traditionally, this is served as a paste. But in the process of converting them into pastes or cream fillings, the essence of sesame was lost – It was commendably bitty with grinded sesame in it but lacks the fragrance needed, we reckon the original Cantonese Sesame paste would fare much better. The Liu sha may sound exciting again but it was overly salty with a lack of buttery fragrance that we are familiar with, we say again its filling should stick back to the original Liu sha recipe. $19.

Having said all that, East Bureau is still a successful fusion bistro as all its savouries, at least of what we tasted that dinner, are on point with all the different elements forming a great harmony. The Puff dessert and the lobster appetiser though, would require some fine-tuning we felt.

Verdict: A good restaurant. 3.8/5

 

Kai Garden 嘉苑 – Another good dim sum place!

Kai Garden 嘉苑

Marina Square near Esplanade MRT

KaiRecently opened at the newly refurbished section of Marina Square, Kai Garden might be the latest addition to the list of pretty good yum cha places in Singapore. Sharing a piece of history with the Paradise Group, it is quite inevitable that some of its dishes share similar traits with Paradise Pavilion, which is not necessarily an undesirable thing though.

kai3The pan fried charcoal pork bun could be the hot favourite in the restaurant as every waitress seems to be bringing at least a pan to each table surrounding us. Fried to a beautiful crisp at the bottom, the fluffiness of the bun was still retained and we caution diners to be careful of the splashing sweet pork juices within as they are just waiting to explode the moment you set your teeth onto it. Simply, It functions like a xiao long bao.

kai1Lobster broth with a huge dumpling in it. Packed with loads of seafood and some bamboo pith that adds a crunchy dimension to the overall texture, the dumpling was expectedly good. Interestingly, this lobster broth has been westernised with a taste similar to the French lobster bisque but slightly watered down with its creaminess removed. Crustacean tasted but doesn’t seem to be as intense as the normal double boiled herbal one that was tasted recently. I guess my palates has been spoilt by Yan Toh Heen.

kai4Buttery, flaky, with the char siu already bursting at the seams with all the tastes set right, this char siu pastry is a huge filler for any hungry man.

kai2The Pork Siu Mai may seem skeptical at $8.80 but we understood why. Stuffed with crunchy prawns topped with the savoury pork pieces and some tobiko, these nicely glazed Siu Mai have been given a final grill for the coveted smoky flavour and umami punch. The snow skin mushroom bun was delicious in its own right but would suit the heavier tasting char siu or duck fillings better we reckon as the taste from the buttery crust is a little too similar to the creamy shroom fillings within. And the Efu noodles has the wok hei it all requires but could have been reduced in a more concentrated stock for a heavier flavour.

Despite the ‘could be’s and ‘should be’s, Kai Garden is still one of the more highly recommended restaurants to visit. Not only is its quality stellar, the unhindered view of the majestic MBS also makes it a restuarant with a view. The overall cost for this big meal for 2 costs $72 in total! Very reasonably priced isn’t it.

Verdict: A good restaurant.

Mitzo – What an unbelievable decadent CNY menu for 2016!

Mitzo

Level 4 Grand Park Hotel, 270 Orchard Rd, 238857 , near Somerset MRT

IMG_8825Just before the jingle bells have starting ringing, Mitzo has already planned a tantalizing solid menu for the impending Chinese New Year 2016 that is just 2 short months away! Hailing previously as the Executive Chef de Cuisine at the Michelin starred Hakkasan New York City, a menu that showcases the culinary finesse of Cantonese Cuisine was not any less expected from Nicky and his team. If the history of the Hakkasan/Yauatcha conglomerate has been studied before, one would realise that they are not just another Michelin restaurant as almost all, if not all of their branches in both The States and UK have been starred. More familiar with those in London, Yauatcha, Hakkasan and even HKK were the few usually frequented when the craving arises.

Of course, having just an outstanding testimony wouldn’t suffice but having been here few months back, I was already immensely looking forward to chef’s Nick creations again!

Starting off unconventionally with a refreshing Mandarin Mojito yet not deviating from the theme, this mild alcoholic drink with a slight sour zest from the Orange Wedges would get you ready for the big meal!

IMG_8830IMG_8831风生水起 Kanpachi Kingfish yu sheng. Drawing our attention initially, the specially concocted sweet, savoury sauces are given a good vigorous mix in the cocktail shaker chilled with ice before drenching it onto the yusheng. And coming through distinctly from the nuttier mix, the brighter taste of the Kanpachi is further elevated with the fruity lychee poppings underneath! Not only is it decadent, its concept and elements used were definitely very creative!

IMG_8833IMG_8834大展宏图 Double boiled fish maw with cordyceps flower and pork rib – So clear, yet so rich in taste, this herbal double boiled soup is absolutely faultless while the clever choice in the cut of the meat allows it to retain its moist.

IMG_8836IMG_8837龙虾盆菜 Superior lobster fortune pot – What a big range of ingredients used; all distinctly prepared first before convening in this pot of rich broth as this prevents their individual taste from being watered down. Precision witnessed; the roasted pork belly still has a crispy thick layer retained while the umami from the crispy duck skin is as impeccable as you could have imagined. What caught our tastebuds most is the luscious lobster meat that has been penetrated beautifully by the premium Mao Tai wine it was braised in, that rendered it a fuller taste, easily giving this fortune pot a huge edge over many others.

IMG_8842年年有鱼 Steamed Soon hock with minced ginger in soya sauce – With precision met to the second, this soon hock has one of the best texture we have tasted. While smothering it in minced ginger may seem as an overkill, it actually desirably spices up the fish a little. But I reckon that they should be scraped off before service as it tends to mask the sweetness from the fish when eaten together.

IMG_8845花开富贵 Steamed rice with Chinese assorted sausage, chicken and mushroom – Heavily coated with the fragrant juices derived from the ingredients slathered above, the star for me is actually the seemingly simple rice underneath with its phenomenal taste.

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IMG_8853鲤鱼贺年年糕 Koi Fish Nian Gao – Confession made: I had 4.5 slices of this at the already stuffed table of 8. Not overly sticky and just lightly sweet, the steamed ones form a light snack while the taste of the thinly coated fried ones were astoundingly lifted by the specially made batter!

IMG_8852Still a bar restaurant afterall, we were served with this Spring Elixir Cocktail: Red date infused gin, Campari, Red vermouth, Goji berries syrup.

Sensational was how I felt at the end of the luxurious meal; precision, creativeness and the balance in taste were all evident in every course which led to a compelling love for the whole CNY menu at Mitzo!

Menu:
新春套餐 PROSPERITY DELIGHTS (4 pax) – $118++ per person
新春套餐 PROSPERITY DELIGHTS II (6 pax) – $888++ per table
如意吉祥 AUSPICIOUS HARVEST I (10 pax) – $1288++ per table
如意吉祥 AUSPICIOUS HARVEST II (10 pax) – $1488++ per table
金玉满堂盆菜宴 FORTUNE FEAST l (10 pax) – $1488++ per table
金玉满堂龙虾盆菜宴 FORTUNE FEAST ll (10 pax) – $1688++ per table

Verdict: An excellent restaurant!

Thank you Gigi for the invite!

Yan Cantonese Cuisine 宴 – Dim Sum platter was memorable! But that’s also about it…

Yan Cantonese Cuisine

#05-02 National Gallery Singapore near City Hall MRT

DSC_0756DSC_0757Sleek, modern yet not overly gaudy just like its simple website, Yan definitely gives you an impression that it strives to convey class through its less showy food, cleverly displaying its culinary finesse. Coupled with the beautiful, serene surroundings that the National Gallery has to offer and the more upmarket restaurants that it is housing, Yan definitely came across as one that gives you the prerogative to enter with a relatively high expectation. I did, and wasn’t overly impressed, except for the saving grace dim sum platter.

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DSC_0768Well, lets dive straight into what they do best here – The Dim Sum Combination Platter 六小点心组合. 6 little heroes that saved the slightly lacklustre meal that day, with every piece so daintily and meticulously prepared that each is exploding with flavours. The heavier tasting carrot cake and green steamed vegetarian one had the perfect consistency and adequate umaminess while the plump crunchy har gao was made decadent with the bubbly caviar.

DSC_0779It wasn’t an easy choice between the har gao and siu mai but taking centre stage, just as what it was meant to be, this siu mai pulled it off with the decadent, springy abalone on top. $18 for a platter.

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Steamed vegetarian dumpling filled with mushrooms and cordyceps

DSC_0787DSC_0788DSC_0786With such an extensive menu, it is really helpful to have a ‘chef’s signature’ section and this claypot of crab meat broth rice with crispy rice was ordered immediately. My ardent love for pao fan started after I had it for the first time at Lei Garden Hong Kong, which was further affirmed by Forest RWS. The one served at Yan, if not for the non-existent crisp in the crispy rice, could have otherwise been a mind-blowing bowl with its cleaner broth that is exuding with the natural seafood sweetness. I reckon the crispy rice should have been served separately to us before it gets all soggy. $28.

DSC_0763I knew it already when the roast was served. It couldn’t have been a worse idea to have dined at Mitzo the week before as that further accentuated the stark difference. Over at Yan, the Char Siew lacks texture, flavour and tenderising was apparently half-hearted while the Roast duck was decent with its crispier skin, yet unable to distinguish itself from the other hotel restaurants. $22.

DSC_0781Sauteed beef tenderloin cubes with asparagus and white pepper sauce. Drenched in such heavy sauce, we couldn’t savour the natural taste in the slightly tougher beef which didn’t make its $14 tag worthy, inevitably causing us to start doubting its signature menu. That made us turn back to its more hopeful dim sum menu which started out solidly.

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Deep fried seafood Dumpling served with superior Consomme. Fresh prawns within but the consomme surprisingly didn’t beat the chilli sauce. $6.80


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Steamed glutinous rice with mini abalone, chicken and abalone sauce wrapped with egg pancake. A different way of presenting the glutinous rice, the more intriguing egg pancake did little to lift the taste while the ingredients within were lacking the umaminess usually experienced. $8.

DSC_0794While the quality of my lunch was slightly underwhelming, the excellent dim sum platter managed to redeem the restaurant as you know that there is potential in the chefs over here. It was clearly shown in the dim sum platter, and hopefully could be extended to the other dishes. And for that, still –

Verdict: A good restaurant.

Mitzo – Pompous decor but what about the Cantonese mains?

Mitzo

Grand Park Hotel

DSC_0781Lined with huge blocks of stained glass along the corridor shone upon with club-ish lights from above, together with heavy marble tables and retro-coloured cushion seats fitted in, Mitzo seems to be conveying class while at the same time reluctant to give up the hipster element of this restaurant. Such an incongruent layout, though most probably could be attributed to the Chef’s origin from the dark Hakkasan (that won my heart over), did not pander to me, as it was way too colourful. Well, forget about the tacky colours, and lets focus on the food!

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Mitzo Special Barbecued pork 蜜汁叉烧 has raised the bar! BAM! While there seems to be an implicit rivalry between certain restaurants for the best roast or char siew, Mitzo is by far, serving the best Char Siu that I have ever tasted. Serving the sweeter rendition, this has been neatly caramelised to render a thin glaze overcoat around the super crispy skin, this tenderised slab of pork is lifted to crazy heights. $18.

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Black Truffle Crispy Roast Duck (Half) 黑菌脆皮鸭. Wow What do we have here – a plate that literally could rival off that from Four Seasons Singapore. Leaving the more westernised sauce aside first, this slab of duck was roasted to a wicked crackling crisp while the impeccable meat was as tender as one could have imagined. This might perhaps be the king of duck. Slightly differing from the dining companions, I do prefer my duck to be more oriental accented without a dash of truffle aroma though. $38.

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Crying out helplessly from S who knows it already that when dining with guys, the detoxifying vegetables may not be ordered. So, the third meat of the day – Braised Pork Rib infused with Chinese Herbal Sauce 当归酱烧骨. While these ribs were tasty and could literally slide off the bones, the herbs didn’t come through strong enough which could have potentially raised the umami-ness of this dish.$32.

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We were a little dismayed to find out that only the dim sum platter is available on Public Holidays as dim sum makes up largely their forte. Nonetheless, I was still adamant to try the steamed renditions and so we got the Vegetarian Steamed Dim Sum Platter 上素点心拼 that comes with the Turnip and Asparagus dumpling, Black fungus and vegetable dumpling, wild mushroom and truffle buns. Everything so well-executed with a delicate balance of flavours, the bun shaped into a button mushroom was the cutest of all as it got us suspecting for a moment that it really is a fungus. $18.

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Seafood fried rice in XO sauce. XO 海鲜炒饭. A great finish to the delectable meal as every grain was coated evenly with the seafood umami while the freshness of the diced scallops and prawns came through strongly with its perfect consistency and natural sweetness. $18.

Mitzo has clearly proven itself to be a stop for all avid Cantonese fans out there! With almost everything spot on, if there’s only one thing that could be shout about would be the impeccable roasts! Never did I expect such unparalleled standards from the roasts and Mitzo could perhaps be eyeing for that shiny star if the guide book were to come to Sg. Lets stay tuned!

Tips: Try to avoid public holidays as most offers are not valid during those periods!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant.