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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

During the lunch with our friends from Hongkong, Executive Sous Chef Bryan was kind enough to send us this special-of-the-day to try.

Pan-seared carefully so it’s only slightly cooked inside, the plump and juicy Hokkaido Scallops came in an appetising blend of Chinese-style black bean sauce, chilli, red capsicum, ginger and soya sauce. With crisp “bok choy” and silky-soft mash filling out the dish, the scallops qualified as a light meal in itself.

Through being served this, I learned that on top of their regular menu, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar offers an ever-changing selection of items every day. So be sure to ask about them when you visit. You’ll never know what deliciousness Executive Chef Lisa and her team have up their sleeves.

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A flavourful consommé with chunks of fall-apart-tender braised beef, woodlands mushroom and shaved truffle, finished with fresh herbs. I really enjoyed this piping hot goodness. It’s also pretty special as Beef Tea isn’t a commonly found soup.

Confession: Before this, I had never dined here. You can blame it on the “pricey fish & chips” story that made the rounds when they opened about a year ago. But now I feel rather silly to have pegged a restaurant on hearsay about a single dish. Especially after finding out first-hand exactly how exceptional their food is. Executive Chef Andrew Bennett has had time to polish the menu since and it shows. So yes, this place has really come into its own and I think it is brilliant.
T.H. and I had the “Sunday Traditional Roast Set Menu” (2-course: $55++, 3-course: $65++) and were impressed with the quality of the specially-imported ingredients as well as the exacting execution of every dish.
We were told by Chef that we needed to give one of their roasts a try, so shortly after, the “Roast Pork Belly with Crackling” arrived in the company of a large Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and pickled onions. The meat wow-ed with juiciness and the craziest of crunchy skins, and was simply astounding when eaten with the icy-cold slushee-like sauce made from Granny Smith apples and butter.
Highly recommended.


These precious little pieces of flesh are remarkably addictive. Smoky and tender from the grill, they are marinated in loads of pepper so they have a low-thrumming white heat that I relish.


One of the items that Chef Jake sent our way as part of the Chef’s Select Menu we chose was the grilled slice of bread topped with roasted tomatoes and fresh herbs. Yes, it sounds basic but when I bit into it, I knew it was anything but. The raging heat of the fire-breathing beast (also known as the wood-fired ovens of Burnt Ends) had transformed the tomatoes into rich umami-ness.

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The usual sweet treat has the most unexpected of fillings in this version by Burnt Ends - pigeon parfait.
I would describe the warm silkiness cradled in the delicate crunchy tart to taste like a cross between red meat and foie gras in runny custard form. It’s definitely a little strange but in a good way.


The meats on the new menu, truly floored me. Besides the Aged Duck Breast which was a revelation, the Westholme beef was another that I loved.
Simply seasoned, then grilled and rested, the meat was fantastically juicy and bursting with flavour. It was served sliced, with an eggplant puree and a veal jus seasoned with LeVeL33's housebrewed stout.



I have been here a few times but the most recent visit, an invited tasting by Gastrosense PR agency, has been the most enjoyable for me in terms of food.

For some time, Head Chef ArChan been toying with inspiration from LeVel33 being the world’s highest urban microbrewery. And while it was interesting with a few good dishes before, I feel she has truly hit her stride. The dishes make more of a statement with carefully-honed flavours and precise execution now.

Below are a few of my favourites from that meal:

Chawanmushi - I am a sucker for all things egg, so this super-soft, wobbly and piping hot version with wheat beer dashi and a topping of caviar was sublime.

Fresh Ricotta (shown above) - Pairing the creamy housemade cheese with smoked tomatoes, basil and miga was clever and oh-so-delicious.

Squid Noodles - This is a fine embodiment of Head Chef ArChan’s ContemBrewery cuisine as the clarification process used in beer-making is mimicked to produce the broth that goes over the soft, tender ribbons of squid and lager-pickled enoki mushroom.

The Aged Duck Breast with IPA and Orange Glaze - THE major mind-blower, and it’s not just me but my whole table of fellow diners who feel that way. Its presentation, the incredible taste and texture... we were all SHOOK.

Aged Wagyu Tri-tip - Another beautifully piece of meat that was so juicy and full of flavour. The burnt eggplant and stout jus were spot-on accompaniments

Having followed The Black Swan’s new Head Chef Alysia Chan’s culinary career for years, I was curious to see what she would bring to this establishment’s table so to speak. I was not disappointed.
Even though I was feeling a little tired that evening, it did not detract from my enjoyment of her food. She has embraced the minimal food wastage movement and totally owned it, as evidenced deliciously in quite a few of the dishes we got to try.
I would not hesitate to have the entire menu again as I felt each item was well thought out and executed. Shown above is the first half of what we were served (the remaining half appears in a second post):

(Clockwise from top left)

Broccoli & Pine Nut Hummus with Polenta Chips ($14++) - a tasty vegan-friendly dip that has discarded stems of broccoli, carrot leaves, sundried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts blended together.

Sourdough with Beef Fat Butter ($8++) - The crisp and the chewiness of the flavourful #bread was pure pleasure, and with a schmear of the sinful butter, even better.

Charcuterie Platter ($38++) - Get one to share. You won’t regret it. The housecured meats are tender and intense in flavour. Condiments are also on point.

Grilled Maine Lobster ($60++) - Lighter than the classic Mornay sauce, the crustacean is prepared with a piquant romesco instead and accompanied by chewy black barley and corn risotto for a substantial meal.

San Marzano and Hokkaido Corn Salad - A very decent salad with crisp fresh baby spinach and arugula tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette.

Venus Clams ($24++) - You’ll want to bathe in the lip-smacking sauce. An order of sourdough is useful to mop up every drop.


Love at first sight. Love at first bite. And it wasn’t just me who felt that way.
The aged duck breast at last night’s invited tasting of the new menu developed by Head Chef Archan was a revelation. Although Chef was quick to humbly demur, saying they use a very good duck from France, what I enjoyed was how perfectly cooked it was. The skin and the meat were executed bullseye on point, and the IPA-infused orange glaze, bright and caramelly, went so well with every bite.
I dare say for me, her rendition even beats similar duck dishes I’ve had at a few other fine dining restaurants.



@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.


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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