Sushi Ichi – Moved to Marriott Hotel with modern contrasting zen colours

Sushi Ichi

Marriott Hotel near Orchard MRT

IMG_6765The second time here, this time a treat from V who just turned permanent. Having had a pretty good impression of Sushi Ichi few years back despite having Shinji as my favourite still (it may be time to pay Ashino a visit soon already), and since V has already been to the supposed Shinji treat (due to her impatience to wait for me to complete my sudden OT month), we settled for Ichi. Moved to their newly renovated nest at Marriott Tang’s Hotel from the empty upmarket Scott’s plaza for a mere 10 months, Ichi has been given a fresh breath of liveliness as shown by its sleeker design, with ornaments that are coated with strong contrasting zen colours, that has proven to be much more attractive than its blander colours in their previous premise.

IMG_6763Served by the funny Chef Yukinori, just like the first visit, I was however lucky this time to witness the use of that huge block of smouldering charcoal to give those slabs of fatty tuna belly a beautiful torch. Very interesting culinary technique that is instagram worthy at the same time.

IMG_6760Not wanting to make my recently turned perm friend go broke, I of course got the cheapest lunch set that includes 8 nigiri, wobbly and smooth chawanmushi, uni rice, appetiser and dessert. This octopus appetiser tasted light, elegant as both the springy poached octopus meat and seaweed complemented each other greatly while that gooseberry over there was the sweetest that I have ever come across (yes, they are usually always sour).

IMG_6766Featuring some sushi that have been beautifully compressed, this is the slithery white shrimp topping, that doesn’t give you the goosebumps with its natural sweetness.

IMG_6768Huge fat scallop that has blanketed that mash of sushi rice below it.

IMG_6769And the luscious slab of fish sushi.

IMG_6770This small bowl of uni rice, made into a gem with its petite sizing. Lovely creaminess that these uni has together with the popping ikura that gives the saltiness needed.

IMG_6772Ending off the entire colder sushi course, is the warm, yuzu fragranted anago sushi!

IMG_6773Was amazed previously and still as amazed by how delicious a brown sugar sorbet could be. Dense, lightly sweet, cut through beautifully by the intensely sweet and sour sour plum shreds. Huge contrast and a perfect ending to the meal! Oh yes, and I also have been to the main branch in Japan (Ginza Sushi Ichi).

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.2/5

 

 

Pool Grill – The white asparagus season for a limited time only

Pool Grill

Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel near Orchard MRT

IMG_9344We have heard so much about it, especially so during the white asparagus season when the profs and supervisors would rave so much about it during my stint in the UK. And being away from Europe for quite a while already, it really has been quite some time ever since we’ve heard of a white asparagus fiesta in a Singapore restaurant. And we reckon, Pool Grill did hit the spot for all the white asparagus dishes served.

We might be wondering how different is white asparagus actually from its greener counterpart; whether it’s of a different specie or is there any additional nutritional value to it? Well, they essentially originate from the green specie, with the green pigments removed by blocking them off from the sunlight as explained by the chirpy head chef. No photosynthesis allowed, and somehow, the chlorophyll degrades; which is actually contradictory to Darwinism. Anyway, that’s a good to know and I say this definitely tasted much more tenderer than the green ones.

IMG_9346IMG_9347Starting off with the focaccia bread first. Served warm with a crusty top and a pillowy interior, well paired by the partially melted butter and olive oil while my favourite was the spicy nuts by the side. Not satisfied with just one block, a second one was requested. It is that good.

IMG_9348IMG_9350Buttered white asparagus with with poached egg, hollandaise sauce. Slathered with a thick layer of creamy hollandaise sauce together with that perfectly poached egg, it could have been a perfect but predictable dish but Pool Grill cleverly elevated this dish to an elegant one by pairing it with the tender white asparagus.

IMG_9351White asparagus soup, seared scallop and avruga caviar. Thick, well-concentrated chowder yet still retaining the elegance and lightness of white asparagus, topped with a plump perfectly seared scallop, this was actually the favourite dish of that day.

IMG_9353Grilled white asparagus salad, with pickled twirls, figs and arugula. An epitome of simplicity at its best indeed, that further accentuates the beauty of each element. Without much condiments added, but solely relying on the clever use of quality ingredients such as the sweet juicy figs, asparagus, I was really impressed by the seemingly humble greens.

IMG_9357Pan fried sea bass, chopped white asparagus, clams, mussel chowder. Precision evident, that sea bass skin was one of the crispiest that we’ve ever had, without compromising on its juicy meat. Much thought has also been put into pairing this slab of white meat seamlessly with the creamy clam chowder, as though they are made for each other. Delectable!

IMG_9361Lobster Ravioli, langoustine, white asparagus, squid ink sauce. It was initially thought that the squid ink sauce could overpower the other lighter ingredients, but its all about balance isn’t it. Sparingly used, and both the taste of the seafood and white asparagus were lifted beautifully. And that ravioli was packed tightly with the delicious lobster meat, we love.

IMG_9363Gratinated beef tenderloin with buttered white asparagus, porcini crust, truffle sauce. Well balanced elements over here with highly complementary flavours, but i actually hoped to have a little bit more sauce on the beautifully cooked beef.

IMG_9366Strawberry Romanoff. Crusty meringue, infused with a little liquor in it, topped with the melting vanilla ice cream. This is the one and only dish not asparagus-ed that night, but well it was a bitter sweet ending which we loved.

IMG_9343With all the dishes hitting the spot, what more could be said? And, I believe a revisit shall be planned soon. And for air con addicts like myself, this restaurant is not air conditioned but fitted with the super big ass fans (its exact name literally), the restaurant is actually quite cooling at night. Well, there is a secret spot that has cold air coming in.

Verdict: An excellent restaurant. 4.8/5. 

 

 

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

 

The Song of India – An Indian fine dining for your Valentine’s dinner?

The Song of India

33 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228226 near Newton MRTIMG_9128Just like a typical Singaporean or Asian Chinese, the fine-dining scene for me has been largely focused on Cantonese, Japanese and European cuisines which we are usually more familiar with. And I have to admit, this is our first ever visit to an upmarket Indian restaurant, at which we honourably got to understand Chef Mural philosophy through his specially curated Valentine’s Day Menu ($89, only served on 14/2/2016). The Song of India did indeed secure exclamations from us throughout the whole 6-course dinner. And if we think it’s all about spices, technically that’s correct as none of the dish is free of Indian spices, but to fix them all together perfectly, it could be one of the most daunting tasks (and thus, it being one of the most complicated cuisines in the world) and boy at The Song of India, they were all adequately balanced with finesse; we say, Indian cuisine has just been brought to the next level.

IMG_9131Kick starting off the meal with the green zesty cocktail and orange refreshing mocktail, they opened the meal beautifully. Zesty, piercing yet still really refreshing, the alcoholic vodka was added to the right amount to render that kick, naturally that green kiwi cocktail was my favourite!

IMG_9132Amuse Bouche – Spiced Potato Relish made into a mini burger. Fried to a perfect crisp and flavoured up with a range of spices and the pesto mint sauce, this petite burger has just made a statement.

IMG_9135Lotus Root Butter Bean Shorba, with Sesame chilli Cheese Stick and fried lotus. Definitely a good bowl of creamy soup over here, smooth and adequately buttery in texture, this was flavourful while the dash of spice helps to cut through its creaminess.

IMG_9140IMG_9138IMG_9139This was literally a huge Starter with loads of different meat served. Fish with Masala cavier marinated with mustard (perfectly baked to render that tenderness within), Roasted Quails Avocado Chat and Lamb Chop Wazvan. All were spot on, but if a choice has to be made, we love the lamp chop best that has been slowly cooked for two hours, yet its juiciness still retained while that Wazvan sauce added an exciting, thick body to it.

IMG_9141Heavy starters they are, and the chef is thoughtful enough to add a lime Kalamansi sorbet as a palate cleanser. Creamy and acidic enough the sorbet is, the earthy, spicy and nutty taste of the sprinkled cumin has helped to further lift the overall taste.

IMG_9146IMG_9144IMG_9148Main course – Chicken Deedar (slow cooked chicken stuffed with baby spinach, cream cheese), Brussels sprout and Baby potatoes, served with the Nutty Quinoa Pulao and the Assorted crispy Naan Basket (Truffle mushroom and garlic flavours). Carved into a plump heart, the meaty flavour of the mashed chicken has been further accentuated by the orange fennel yoghurt sauce.

IMG_9151Dessert – Saffron Chironji Panacotta and Lychee, pistachio Kulfi. Of which, my clear favourite was the kulfi perfumed heavily with the milky aroma while the panna cotta tasted a little too foreign to us with the more earthy ingredients used for its flavour.

IMG_9126Despite a little jittery unfamiliarity in the final dessert course, every other course was just spot on. And we have lost count just how many elements were placed on each dish that have been gelled so seamlessly together. Oh yes, and not to forget this Valentine’s menu is only available on the night itself, 14th Feb 2016.

Thank you Chef Mural for sharing his philosophy with us.

 

 

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