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.

Advertisements

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.

 

 

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. 

 

 

Sprigs – My second visit here after nearly a year; still an impeccable experience!

Sprigs

Purvis Street near Bugis MRT

A clean, polished dinner was yearned for at a quiet setting on a busy Saturday night and Sprigs came to mind spontaneously which I have had an excellent experience at last year. Keeping things not overly elaborated, you would quickly realise that the style over here is to marry simplicity with class. One year on, has it maintained and worked? I give a resounding yes as the solid standard in the revised menu attests.

DSC_0797

We were greeted with a crusty, warm, herb-infused complimentary bread which expectedly went well with the usual balsamic vinegar, olive oil dip.

DSC_0799

Flame torched Hokkaido Scallops embellished with Padron peppers, cress and miso. What a sensational starter over here as the taste of these luscious scallops were elevated cleverly by the really light miso mix here without overpowering its natural freshness and sweetness. I suspect that all the three starters on the menu would have been brilliantly prepared. $22.

DSC_0805

DSC_0802

Line Caught Black Cod with Saute potatoes. Lashed with the umami tasting bonito sauce and flakes, this familiar cod fish reminded me of the beautifully steamed fish we usually encounter at a wedding banquet, that are always perfectly marinated with the aromatic soy sauce. The taste was close but the slightly more Japanese + westernised slant over here gave it an extra edge. $40.

DSC_0807

New Zealand Rack of Lamb topped with Aubergine Caviar and saute potatoes. This plump rack of lamb, sous vide, has retained almost all its juices in when done medium rare, without a trace of game at all while the aubergine caviar was thoughtfully prepared with light chilli spices to cut through this heavier tasting dish.

DSC_0809

DSC_0810

Chocolate Mi-Cuit (Lava cake) with Yuzu and pomelo. Just before you dismiss this as another badly done non-flowing lava cake; contrary to the entrenched common belief, the more viscous lava cakes are actually prepared by quality chocolates. Solid, decadent and rich, the rendition over here definitely doesn’t flow while the yuzu flavour blended into it managed to cut through beautifully the decadence without taking centre stage. I reckon this as one of the best lava cakes ever had this year. $12.

And the second meal at Sprigs was indubitably yet memorable again. Simplicity conveyed; Quality checked; You can’t help but look forward to what the chefs have up their sleeves next.

Verdict: An excellent restaurant.

Tippling Club – One of the restaurants that came to mind after watching Burnt…

Tippling Club

Duxton Hill near Tanjong Pagar MRT

DSC_0779It has been a really long while since I’ve last walked into a plush fine-dining restaurant in Sg as I have been more interested in the new openings of the less demanding and casual bistros lately. But it was only after watching Burnt, which you will be brought vicariously through the arduous journey of a Michelin chef (acted by Bradley Cooper) could you then more thoroughly understand what the book bible meant exactly to many aspiring and ambitious chefs alike, that got me into the mood for such extravagant meals again. Having said that, Tippling Club, though doesn’t belong to the top echelon of fine-dining as that class requires more than just techniques, does indeed display modern creativity and techniques on its plates.

DSC_0755

We chose the three course menu each for $60 which comes with a couple of teasers before ending with the elegant petit fours. First up was this creamy Tom Yum Soup that would send its spices straight up your nose with its slightly more intense sourness; Garnished meticulously with vegetable tempura and grated coconut.

DSC_0760 DSC_0764

DSC_0763

Smoked pepper with soy sauce wasabi. What makes it appetising is ironically, its less appetising and intriguing appearance. Well-smoked crust wrapped daintily round the peppers, the wasabi pungency however did not come through, making the dollop a less exciting salty blob.


DSC_0767

The third and final snack – the tomato based gazpacho mixed with the immiscible basil and olive oil. Armed with a Herbal taste, its strong cleansing sour tomato base helps to prepare us for the main set.


DSC_0771

Snow Crab – Meticulously peeled heap of crab meat covered over with a thin, sweet foil of nashi pear made refreshing with speckles of fragrant herbs. So invigorating it looks and tastes that it literally could restore vitality in its diners!


DSC_0773

The other starter Norwegian Salmon Carpaccio has been thoughtfully sliced and then reassembled back into a round mold; while a delicate balance was struck with the green dollop of yuzu that cuts non-intrusively through the oilier salmon.


DSC_0775

Calling for a lighter meal, the Roast Corn Risotto with Basil jelly was flavoured up by the creamy corn stock.

DSC_0782

DSC_0781

Pan Roasted Barramundi with cauliflower cous cous and green chilli salsa. We suspected that soy sauce or the like is used over here as it uncannily felt like an Asian dish to us. Nonetheless, still a good main in its own right with the moist and perfectly cooked fish!

DSC_0788 DSC_0793

DSC_0786

Together with its velvety smoothness, this Passion Fruit Souffle was definitely the choice when it still stood unwavering after a good whole 5min of photo taking. So sour and intense that it contrasted starkly and beautifully with the banana cake mini magnum.


DSC_0791

Terry’s Chocolate orange was essentially everything made chocolate. Otherwise an indomitable chocolate fortress, the heavy Chocolate ganache, chocolate crumbs and dark chocolate ice cream combination was pierced beautifully through by the contrasting orange meringue.


DSC_0795

Ending sweetly off with the Petit ThreeStrawberry chocolate, cheesecake and mont blanc!

And I say, my love for modern cooking and fine-dining has been rekindled.

Verdict: A good – excellent restaurant.