Kappou Japanese Sushi Tapas Bar – A very humbling story behind this amazing Japanese Bar

Kappou Japanese Sushi Tapas Bar

Fortune Centre near Bugis MRT

IMG_1766We didn’t have any expectations at all when H and I decided to give Kappou -that is helmed by a female chef, a visit; as regrettably, we have it imbued in us that the best Japanese restaurants are usually helmed by males. Utterly wrong but pleasantly so as we walked through the $68 menu just to be surprised by the finesse displayed by each dish and the witty balancing and pairing of flavours that the chef was able to come up with. What really took us by surprise, is the arduous journey that she has taken at the young age of 14 when most would still be pretty ignorant about the world as they live comfortably in their sheltered homes, not adding on that she is a post-90 lady. I would say its the passion for food and her thirst for survival that made her the fine chef she is today, as evidenced by the beautifully aged sushi that she presents, and the atrociously impressive knifing skills that she displays. Such tenacity is only possible from a humble lady who counts her blessings everyday throughout that 9 difficult years.

Knowing that this is a small restaurant, yet still desires to make the best edomae sushi, I was very curious at the sources the fishes were from. Admittedly, she couldn’t out compete the big boys like Shinji, Sushi Ichi or the like, and thus could only turn to smaller prefectures that might have rarer treasures  waiting to be uncovered.

Sushi served, and the beautifully aged fish there just melts in your mouth as the protein has already broken down to its sweet amino acid. Though that is something expected from an upmarket restaurant, executing it perfectly shouldn’t be taken for granted. And what also stood out for us was the clever pairing of condiments – sea salt, soy sauce, different kinds of vinegar so that it doesn’t mask your palate from tasting the seafood, and interestingly 3 different types of rice were used for a more wholesome consistency. Such details, may not even be found in most sushi restaurants!

IMG_1761The cutesy chirashi over here that is packed with umami, we loved it!

IMG_1767Ending the savouries off is this comforting bowl of delicious oden. And we kept shouting in exclamation at that lovely egg, as it easily could be the epitome of a beautifully flavoured Ajitsuke tamago.

IMG_1772Pumpkin ice cream to round the meal off.

IMG_1770Most of our foodie friends lamented that it’s difficult to get a reservation here as seats are limited but we were lucky enough to get one the day before. Looking empty over here as H, being the kiasu self, decided we should have it at 6pm – who would book dinner at 6?! Then again, it is only when the restaurant is quiet that we could understand the very humbling story behind Kappou. We hope and know she would succeed and yes, the food here is good!

Verdict: A good restaurant. 4.4/5.

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Meta – when Korean goes fine

Meta

9 Keong Saik Road near Outram MRT

img_0048Meta, one of the highly acclaimed restaurants in sg recently, has always been on the list for quite a while already. The delay – was its anorexic portions that I have foreseen would not be able to satiate my appetite as I crave for a hearty weekend weekly. Admittedly, portions were small while the price tag of the menu isn’t one you would spend your average night out on, I was secretly hoping for a free flow of kimchi toast or bread throughout the night to fill the stomach with delicious carbs. BUT, that really isn’t the point, as the head chef of this fusion restaurant, who mainly focuses on Korean elements, has successfully assimilated in Japanese and French cooking techniques, making the tastes and details of every course evidently so well thought through, beating the haphazard combination that one would usually associate a fusion restaurant to.img_0051Seated comfortably at the high counter seats, we started the 5 course menu ($98) with some refreshing amuse bouche; made with crackers, octopus bits and ikura.

img_0053The fun, didn’t end there expectedly as the second amuse bouche was this plate of heavier tasting beef tartare with bulgogi dressing and a small celebratory kaya toast with truffle butter topped with finely grated parmesan cheese. We loved both, especially that intense kaya toast.

img_0054And here comes the first course, which sets our expectations so high up as this plate of raw hokkaido scallop was amazingly balanced by the acidity from the yuzu, refreshing sweetness from the apple slices and saltiness from the pink tosaka nori. Light flavours over here yet so sharp and distinct that set to perk the palates up!

img_0057Interestingly this Guksu actually reminded me of nissin noodles but in the positive way as that al dante cappelini has been doused with the comforting seaweed flavour, made more decadent with the spanner crab. There was a strong burst of seafood flavour over here, yet the delicate balance in its taste was handled with much finesse.

img_0072We got the seafood Korean pancake as an extra side which comes topped with pickled radish and salty sea asparagus. This was on point. $25.

img_0074Jasmine smoked quail with tea with Portobello, leek and radish – Tender as you could have imagined, that unassuming quail jus seemed to be the star to me as it was so rightly intense, lightly sweet and savoury that managed to bind all the elements here beautifully.

img_0077And we moved on the the red meat with this slow cooked beef cheeks topped with eggplant, celeriac and watercress bits. Tenderised to an unimaginable consistency, this was beautifully paired with the fluffy baked potato intercalated with thin slices of carrots. How fine could this dining be!

img_0078And the senior got the rack of lamb for her red which was precisely cooked to a tender pink hue, while the naturally sweet side condiments such as the carrot and parsnip complemented the entire dish to give that beautiful sweet ending. A perfect combination of elements over here again!

img_0080An oversized pearl for dessert?! That was what I thought to myself from the instagrammed photos, but inside this highly enamoured pearl gelatin, was a huge ball of white chocolate and poach pear bits in it; all to be taken with that black pepper ice cream for its flavour to be lifted greatly. Such piquant flavours for a dessert, I reckon is bold yet tremendously on point.

img_0067And that’s us having a great night out at this beautiful restaurant!

As you could see, every dish has indeed been perfected as each worthy course has been thought through thoroughly while the pairing of the several elements on the plate, were all faultless. It was like the times when we get into an atas restaurant, let your hair down, without worrying about the worthiness of the food after that first course is served. But yes, I crossed over to the coffee shop there after to have my $1.80 fan choi!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.6/5.

Jiang Nan Chun – what a comeback after a major revamp!

Jiang Nan Chun

Near Orchard MRT

img_9410My second time to Jiang Nan Chun, but my first officially after its revamp and the first impression after we sat down comfortably – Jiang Nan Chun has stepped her game up ambitiously compared to its previous outlook. Strong air conditioning (that’s an important criterion for me), with queer bird caged lights dangling above us that accentuated the sleek, modern interior decor yet not having any oriental elements compromised at all, and the intricate details paid to the table lightings are evident too, which enable a greater sense of privacy for each group, all these perfectly befitting the description of a Cantonese fine dining.

img_9411Decor second, food first the picky foodie folks have always reckoned, and this time round the quality of food here has skyrocketed as I vividly remembered how unimpressed we were the first time we were here. Nailed every dish so confidently this time round, I suspect there might be a change in the head chef together with the revamp. The soup of the day, boiled with luohan, pork ribs, chicken and some uncommon herbs, was definitely a refined and cultured bowl that has all the flavours so spot on and intense. $12 for the soup.

img_9407Steamed Shrimp Dumpling with mushroom – This could by far, be the best har gao I have had. Surpassing many of the good hotel restaurants, what made this outstanding was not just the substantial amount of beautifully textured crunchy prawns stuffed within as that is expected for the better hotel standards, but also the mushrooms added to it that gave it an extra moist consistency. Very delicious Har Gao over here that made us wanted to order another basket. $7.50. And, you could get all dim sum individually as you are not restricted to ordering a minimum of three.

img_9415Steamed Pork Dumpling with Scallop – Rotund crunchy dollop with fresh scallops in it. $7.50.

img_9413Cantonese Sponge Cake – So fluffy, perfectly perforated and fraganted, this has the perfect consistency again without a dismaying collapse. $4.

img_9408Stir fry carrot cake in XO sauce – Rightly spiced, well fragranted with the XO sauce that made the folks appreciate this carrot cake thoroughly. $10.

img_9406Crispy Flaky Pastry with Black Pepper Beef – Beautiful flaky skin with moist lightly peppery beef in it. Delish! $9.

img_9416Roast Duck – Very tender meat underneath with a blanket of crispy, fragrant skin; the kind that is reminiscent of those quality duck served at Michelin Starred Hakkasan.

img_9419Poached Chicken in Soya Sauce. $18.

img_9417Seafood Fried rice with XO chilli sauce – Neatly chopped prawns, scallops, greens with fried rice, made so uniformly and decadently fragrant by spicing it up with the haughty delicious XO chilli sauce. $24.

img_9420Fish noodle soup with Shrimp dumpling – This may look like an ordinary bowl of wanton noodles but no way is it any simple as that noodle isn’t just flour but has been evenly mixed with fish paste, that gives it a special bite. What a special surprise we got from this bowl of seemingly humble noodles. $14.

img_9427Moving on to their desserts, this felt very Hakkasan styled as the waitress mentioned that there’s a western dessert kitchen, that has a menu that I am very looking forward to trying!

img_9423Szechuan Peppered spiced Manjari Chocolate with Kumquat Compote. Highly contrasting in flavours between the choc and kumquat to yield that balance, I was very much excited by that bitter dark chocolate that has been punctuated exhilaratingly with the sichuan pepper. So thick, decadent, bold yet delicious! $14.

img_9426Papaya custard pastry and strawberry mochi – Deliciously smooth and definitely the better oriental dessert we could have. $14.

img_9425Egg Yolk push with flowy Almond in it – Very innovative that it felt like this explosive ball is filled with piping hot and thick xin ren hu. $12.

A very fun experience, all enabled by the bold culinary ideas and techniques from the head chef at Jiang Nan Chun and after much discussion with the miss foodie, we felt they might be working towards that star. Truly deserving of one next year I feel!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.5/5.

 

 

Corner House – A scintillating lunch indeed

Corner House

1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, E J H Corner House, (Nassim Gate Entrance), 259569

IMG_8749The place where our prime minister hosted Xi Jinping recently, the place which has rightfully gotten its michelin star when the guide book was just released few weeks back, I can really see why Corner House deserves all these attention after a pretty scintillating lunch here! Extremely meticulous in its execution, from the evident precision in its cooking techniques, the brilliant pairing of the different contrasting and complementary elements to the team’s dainty plating skills, there really isn’t much to pick on such a splendid luncheon. And what makes it even more deserving, is that even the simplest course from the cheapest menu isn’t done haphazardly (which could be the case for some upscale restaurants); with much thoughts and sincerity put into them, they indeed deserve a thumbs up. The three course menu at $58 shall be featured over here.

IMG_8751Warm crusted bread, they serve two different kinds, which I requested for a second round. A little more time was taken to prepare as they are warmed to order.

IMG_8754Hokkaido Scallops – Befitting the Japanese theme, yet not losing the French influences there, this light refreshing plate of Hokkaido Scallops was lifted by the heavier tasting dollops of mentaiko, while adequately cut through by the refreshing green apple slices and beautiful zest within.

IMG_8755Some cocktail was desired for that day and the interesting pick would be the honey and nuts that has a good mix of coffee and alcohol, peppered with nut crumbles above. Slightly sweeter and creamier, this was actually reminiscent of the calorie filled baileys but delightfully crispier. $28.

IMG_8756Loving a fruity alcohol drink, we got the Red Sangria but realised that it isn’t as mild as we thought it would be. Definitely an adult drink here, with an intense alcohol concentration in it. $32.

IMG_8758Patagonian toothfish – So beautifully cooked that this chunk falls off in large, glistening slices, further completed by that creamy, delicious butternut squash relish that gives it a fuller flavour.

IMG_8759M6 Australian Wagyu beef – Nothing less expected but a tender, delicious slab of beef, this has been further complemented by the soy caramel sauce that gives it a heavier umami edge while the mushroom tempura coated with a fragrant batter makes up an outstanding side, that is not only pleasing aesthetically but also has an addictive stretchy consistency. (supplement of $6).

IMG_8762The most applauded dessert of all – Chef’s interpretation of kaya toast. Kaya ice cream flavoured with pandan and coconut, paired with the gula melaka powder and foam, this is indeed an exciting, innovative dessert that is worth a celebration of.

IMG_8763Japanese cucumber sorbet – Green apple, coconut and gin. Perhaps not as easily understood, every element was delicious but perhaps tasted a little more earthy to us.

IMG_8761And yeah, it was for the mum’s birthday! Chocolat “Earl Grey Yin Zhen” – predominantly dark chocolate, giving it a creamy yet utterly delicious bitter chocolatey flavour, cut through literally by the yuzu swirl and given a nutty body by the pistachio crumble, this was expectedly delicious! (Supplement of $6).

IMG_8757And there we concluded a great afternoon lunch, as we love the the slightly sophisticated yet still easily understandable flavours from those classy dishes. On a side note, lets celebrate for Singapore’s first ever gold medal in the Olympics with a red and white cocktail!

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.6/5.

 

 

Punjab Grill – A hearty Indian Fine dining

Punjab Grill

Marina Bay Sands near Bayfront MRT

I have always thought that Sound of Music is an outlier from the normal fine dining restaurants which are infamous for their usual mouth sized, anorexic serving portions, but after having been to Punjab Grill did I come to realise that upmarket Indian restaurants do serve their portions much bigger, as you could have never imagined that the chunky meaty dishes are actually but just the appetisers. Serving seasonal menus round the year, depending very much on the seasons in India, the visit to Punjab Grill this time round gave us a taste of her Monsoon menu. Slightly colder than the rest of the year this period, the food prepared revolves mainly around a balmy theme, to keep the soul and body warm. A fun dinner that night, with some stellar dishes proving highly memorable.

IMG_9502Monsoon menu Chaat – Crispy potato chips and chick peas Ki chaat

IMG_9512Monsoon menu assorted fritters – Broccoli, artichoke, asparagus, cottage cheese served together with the sauce platter filled with minty yoghurt, the sharper tasting tamarind sauce and finally the familiar chilli sauce. These fritters, coated with a spiced fluffier batter, are quite the soulful comfort finger food for me, with the asparagus one being my favourite!

IMG_9507Pan grilled tiger prawn spiked with tossed lemon bread crumbs. Slightly zestier with the lemon drizzle, these succulent prawns were pan grilled to a perfect consistency with its juices entirely retained. Tasting robust and flavourful yet not overly smothered by the three different sauces, this made into my favourite list easily!

IMG_9514Smoked salmon – It may look overly cooked on the outside, but that is really just a thick slather of spiced paste, as the medium rare salmon is still perfectly tender with a light pinkish hue within.

IMG_9509Tandoori kukkad wings tamarind flavoured. And if we think we have gotten halfway into the mains, then you might be delighted to know that this whole series of vegetarian and non-vegetarian platters are actually just the appetiser! We need to open the other compartment to stuff the mains in we realised in the middle of the meal.

IMG_9519And now moving on to the mains which I enjoyed all thoroughly, perhaps due to the more familiar taste and the super hearty portions given over here, as they ironically brought me deep memories from London where the Brits proudly proclaim that curry is their national dish. Aloo Gobi ki Tehri Briyani – A small cup of rice, but with every grain so heavily flavoured with the potent curry sauce, it definitely was moreish.

IMG_9523Tofu Lababdar – Paneer I thought initially which I have profound love for, it actually turned out that the chef uses the same sauce, but with the silky healthy tofu instead! Dense, flavourful yet still slightly lighter tasting than the rest of the dishes, I couldn’t help but have two servings of it!

IMG_9525Smoked Tandoori duck simmered in Kashmiri rogan Jus, in short duck curry. Spicier than I initially expected as so far, none of the dishes came close to unhandleable while this made me slightly cautious when soaking the naan into it! Duck was however on point, generously served with a lot of drumsticks in it!

IMG_9521IMG_9524So many curry based dishes for the mains and thus here comes the the bread basket for us, as well as many other tables around to savour every drop of painstakingly cooked curry. Mop them up clean with either the Masala ajwaini missi roti or the pickled olives chillies paratha, as we promise these fluffy, beautifully made bread slices will render an even more wholesome experience.

IMG_9527Dessert platter with Betel leaf Kulfi and mango cheesecake with chocolate powder. All the elements working perfectly together, my love for kulfi is rekindled by this refreshing Betel leaf rendition, as it interestingly functions both as a palate cleanser as well as a satisfying creamy ice cream.

IMG_9528Flambe Chocolate bomb served with saffron pistachio frosty – the dessert that wowed the table! I guess I could give PokemonGo a miss with this fire ball!

Highly satisfied by its mains and intriguing appetisers, it is hard not to look forward to what the chef would unveil for the other seasonal menus!