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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

H O S T E D

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.

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H O S T E D

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

H O S T E D
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.

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H O S T E D
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.

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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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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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