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Restaurant Gems

Restaurant Gems

My choice of standout dishes that are above typical cafe fare. They range from semi-formal to almost fine dining.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua
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S P O N S O R E D

@ChefAkiraBack creates food that reflects who he is - a very cool and confident mash-up of Korean heritage, strong Japanese influence and international style. This savvy combo has led to international success, shiny MICHELIN Stars included, for his numerous restaurants across different continents including @AkiraBackSingapore at JW Marriott South Beach.

Adorned with art by Chef Akira’s mother, the visually striking space feels both warm and welcoming. Although the restaurant has an à la carte menu suited for communal dining, they do omakase as well, which is what we chose and it was wonderful. I am thankful a few of the courses were thoughtfully sized down so we could taste a wider variety because missing out on any of the deliciousness trotted out that night would be positively criminal.

The standout for me from amongst the small bites was the sushi-like but classically Korean-in-taste “Yukhoe” featuring raw “Tajima” striploin wrapped in paper-thin Nashi pear. I also found the “AB Pizza” topped with raw tuna and king oyster mushroom, as well as the Eggplant Miso with mozzarella very appealing.

As for the big plates, I loved every course but the line-caught Pacific Halibut with soy beurre blanc and the Ji-dori Chicken were especially stunning.
For a novel dessert that guarantees a double take, look no further than the “AB Egg”. Exclusive to one MICHELIN-Starred DOSA in Seoul and Akira Back Singapore, it boasts a hyper-realistic shell crafted from Mannitol sugar.

Lest you think that is the only sweet ending to your meal, allow me to share a sweeter one - settle your bill with a Maybank Card and you get 15% off. It doesn’t stop there either because between ‪1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020‬, Maybank Card also lets you enjoy up to 20% off at over 30 other MICHELIN-Listed Restaurants.
Terms and Conditions apply.

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This is possibly the prettiest Foie Gras Au Torchon I have seen and a delectable one at that.
Serving the Castaing foie gras with fresh figs, preserves and pickled onions is clever as its heavy-bodied and very rich creaminess demands the cut-through from fresh fruitiness, sweetness and acidity to be truly enjoyable.
Toasted to a gorgeous golden-brown, the neatly trimmed pieces of housemade brioche were the ideal base. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having them spread with plain ol’ butter as well so good they were.

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Grilled in a custom-built rotisserie, the roast chicken is fabulous as it is incredibly juicy and tender within, right down to the breast meat which is notoriously hard to be cooked right.
One serving gets you half a chicken with some tasty gravy and small pieces of vegetables.
Don’t worry about not feeling full because there is no carbs included. The serving of chicken is actually quite large. Moreover, once you are seated, the staff will serve a basket of freshly-made bread with a side of olive oil.

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I think many of us immediately think of halal meats the moment the restaurant “665 Degrees Fahrenheit” is mentioned because this upmarket, modern-classic steakhouse has built a reputation for serving a Muslim-friendly menu. And yes, that and the non-alcoholic wines they also carry, are what make them unique. However, based on my meal there, I consider the restaurant which is helmed by female Chef Josephine Loke, a wonderful dining destination regardless of your religion.
One of the appetisers that had me very much enamoured was the incredible Beef Pastrami and Bone Marrow Toast. The combo of crunchy bread, flavourful meat and roasted garlic was fantastic. This is a must-order in my opinion.

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Since my previous visit about a month before, Chef-owner Mano Thevar has added a few new items to the menu. From the small bites section is the Pulled Duck Murtabak shown above. And oh my, did it scale like a ninja on speed to the pinnacle of my “Favourites at @thevar.sg” chart to tie for top spot with the whimper-worthy Chettinad Chicken Roti ($16++).
Think of this delectable bite as the most enlightened form of a murtabak.
[ Aside to those who aren’t from this part of the world: a murtabak is a South Indian style of fried filled dough pancake that’s eaten with curry. It is made by first pulling the dough, then repeatedly flipping it before stretching it out till tissue-thin. Onto that go eggs, chopped onions and either minced mutton, chicken or canned sardine. Next, the dough is folded into a neat flat package for frying. This dish can be easily found at Indian eateries around Singapore and Malaysia ].
Anyway, Chef Mano’s take is a refined miniaturised form of it with a thin dough that retains a subtle chewiness even though it is fried crisp. The filling is a stark contrast of very moist, tender and flavourful duck meat. Representing the curry are dollops of thick, spicy curry sauce while the classic accompaniments of raw cucumber and onions appear in pickled form here. When I tasted all the components in one bite, I swear I attained some sort of gastronomic nirvana.

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H O S T E D
One of new dishes on the menu at the brand new flagship outlet of The Marmalade Pantry is the “Curry Barramundi”. I see it as a creative take on the traditional curry fish head that is conveniently sized down for a single person’s serving.
There are two large, boneless pieces of the pan-fried fish so it’s easy to enjoy, and you get to choose how much of the curry you want on them as it comes in a little jug on the side. Speaking of the curry, I thought it was wonderfully fragrant, rich and thick. It tasted to me like a hybrid of Peranakan and Indian curries and was spicy but not overly so. As for the vegetables, the lady’s fingers and eggplant were cooked lightly while the baby tomatoes were left raw.

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First world problems: When the chunks of Wagyu beef brisket in the “Spezzatino” are so big, they make the handmade parpadelle hard to find... 😂

After that momentary panic, my friend Alessia and I dug in and promptly fell into the kind of blissful oblivion you get only with food that is overwhelmingly delicious.

I love how deeply flavourful this Italian beef stew dish by Chef-owner Takashi is. And the beef brisket so tender each chunk just gives up and collapses whenever a cutlery so much as touches it. The broad ribbons of pappardelle hit the all-important al dente point of perfection and I’m not embarrassed to say I found myself obsessed with fishing for every last strand of it.

Bottom line: Order this you must.

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Got an early dose of 年年有余 today with this 鱼. To be specific, a Snapper prepared Mediterranean style (serves 2, price; $45+).
Weighing about 600gms, it’s been panfried then smothered in a rich tomato sauce with capers and green olives. Served with the fish are four thick slices of fluffy sourdough which are perfect for mopping up the sauce.

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Potato and caviar. Not a combination you see everyday but oh my goodness, does it work beautifully. Those briny pops grab hold of the ultra soft potato and take it for a spin on the spark machine.
If you happen to see it on the menu, I suggest ordering it pronto.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
It’s been a while since I had this at the hosted tasting. But the vegetable dishes by Head Chef Seumas Smith have left me with such an indelible impression I always make sure to recommend friends who’re headed there to order them.
Take this plate of carrots for instance - it made quite a journey before appearing here in all its glory. Every step was integral to the amazing flavour finale, beginning with the carrots being confit in butter, then charcoal-grilled in the INKA oven before the final stage where brown butter, black sesame seeds, parsley and honey were added.
I’m sure this and the other vegetable items have enough yumminess to please even the more hardcore meat-lovers out there.

H O S T E D
I can’t believe I am saying this but sometimes, even I find the full-bodied creaminess of bone marrow a bit much. Thus, I think it’s rather brilliant of the chefs at @bedrocksg to blanket their dish of roasted bone marrow with parsley salad. This herbaceous topping cuts through the richness by layering on aroma and a lovely fresh spark.
At $25++ for three hefty pieces of bone, troughs brimming in marrow, plus a side of toasts to gob all that lusciousness on, I think this is a dish you won’t want to miss getting as a starter to share.

H O S T E D
We found all of the starters that were included in our planned menu, to be superb. One of which was the Baked Camembert. It was covered with a garlic spread and embellished with salty bursts of capers. The combination of those with the lightly pungent and oozy melted cheese, made it impossibly addictive.
Order this to share as it will leave you to full to enjoy anything else if you attempt to eat one by yourself.

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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