Dinner @ Candlenut [Revisit]

April 14, 2018 in Asian by thywhaleliciousfay

Yup!!! My string of re-visits continues. It was a very belated birthday celebration for me by my girlfriends, and I got to choose the venue. So yes, I requested for us to dine at Candlenut. Since my last visit in 2014, Candlenut has relocated to Dempsey and earned a Michelin star yearly since the first edition of Michelin Guide Singapore (2016).

Located in COMO Dempsey, the restaurant is fairly accessible. Just a 5 to 8 minutes walk from the bus stop (that’s right in front of Dempsey). My girlfriend who drove feedback it was fairly easy to find a parking lot too.

In a group of 5, we arrived at Candlenut on a Saturday evening. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Crackers, Complimentary (above) – Subsequent additional bowl is chargeable.


2) Kueh pie tee, $12 (4 cups) (above, left) – Homemade shell, braised local turnip, pork belly, prawns. And since there’s 5 of us, the staff assisted to add 1 kueh pie tee shell at $3.


3) Charcoal grilled snake river farm kurobuta pork neck satay, $16 (4 skewers) (above, right) – With kicap manis glaze. Similarly, we ordered an extra stick for $4.


4) Itek tim soup, $14 (above) – Local duck meatball, salted mustard cabbage, cherry tomato, taro stem. And the portion was meant as 1 bowl per person.

5) Blue swimmer crab curry, $30 (above) – Turmeric, galangal, kaffir lime leaf.

6) Buah keluak of braised local chicken, $22 (above) – With peranakan signature black nut sambal.

7) King tiger prawn, $28 (above) – Gula melaka cocount sauce, lemongrass, Thai basil.

8) Baked cod fish fillet, $28 (above) – With kicap manis glaze.

9) Sambal baby sweet potato leaves, $16 (above) – With dried shrimp.

10) Brown rice, $3 (above) – For a bowl of brown rice, I must say the amount given is appalling. The bowl containing the rice wasn’t big, yet it was not filled to the brim! The bowl was only half filled. Come on…

11) Steamed caramel banana cake, $14Banana compote, gula melaka ice cream.


12) Candlenut’s ice kachang, $15 (above) – Azuki red beans, bandung, rose and pandan shaved ice.

13) Candlenut’s classic chendol cream, $12 (above) – Homemade pandan jelly, gula melaka.

14) Buah keluak ice cream, $15 (above) – Salted caramel, valrhona warm chocolate espuma, chilli.

Since photographs can be deceiving, I’m going to be really honest by saying it upfront that the portion was ridiculously small. The portion works for small groups (and by that, I mean pair) since one could thus enjoy variety by getting to order many dishes (in order) to fill one’s stomach. Ie, the ‘small portion’ which only came in one size (ie, no small, medium or large) didn’t work for us since we were in a big group. I didn’t enjoy the meal as much since I was constantly worrying if I would deprive my friends of sampling the dish if I took more.

So yes, I didn’t think the meal was value-for-money since it was pretty pricey for the small serving. But price aside, the food was good as I last remembered. Would I recommend Candlenut? Well… It was an enjoyable meal though the ‘small portion’ certainly left a deep impression. Not in a good way, if you were still wondering. But I guess an option to go around it would be to opt for their ah-ma-kase menu that’s $88 per head!

CANDLENUT
17A Dempsey Road, COMO Dempsey, Singapore
1800 304 2288, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Thur, Sun : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 6
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Service: 7

Dinner @ Restaurant Ards

December 27, 2017 in Asian by thywhaleliciousfay

“That place don’t allow smoking,” my friend replied when I texted to say we’ll be heading to a restaurant in Marina Bay. So in the end, for my friend’s (smoking break) need, I scrambled to find us another venue. And since we often ate Japanese and French cuisines, I thought it would be interesting to have Chinese Asian for a change. Just a few days ago, I chanced upon Restaurant Ards on instagram where Ards is an acronym for ‘Asia, roots, distinct, singular’.

And thus, with reservation made via Chope, my friend and I arrived at the restaurant on a weekday at 8.30pm. Restaurant Ards being a fairly new restaurant, it was only occupied on the ground level although the restaurant spanned across 2 storeys. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Piquant illustration, $188 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser, Complimentary (above)

(B) Touch of asia (above) – First dish of our 15-courses meal was thinly sliced (almost) raw carrot. Served nachos-style with fillings within.


(C) Soy bean skewer (above) – Skewered housemade soy bean tofu served hot on a charcoal grill with crispy black moss.

(D) Origin pickle (above) – Pickled pumpkin garnished with mint and dill.

  

(E) Fragrance osmanthus (above) – And our next dish of oysters was served in a grand manner. To the extent that my friend, who normally don’t take picture of food, couldn’t resist but reach out for his phone too. Keke. After putting the steamer down on our table, chef-owner Ace Tan went on to pour osmanthus tea into the steamer to ‘trigger’ the dry ice. So yes, it was a very bubbly dish. It took almost 3 minutes before the oysters were visible. And placed on the oyster was cream cheese twigs, while beneath it was osmanthus jelly.


(F) 21″ egg tart (above) – Egg custard with mentaiko fish roe in homemade butter crust, topped with (raw) corn kernels, corn crackers and cured mullet roe.

(G) Mum’s chicken soup (above) – A very comforting dish made with chicken essence (extracted from herb-stuffed chicken after extended period of steaming), winter melon, fish maw and chicken-vegetable floss. My friend and I wished the portion was bigger cause it was really good.

(H) Tea mantou and ginseng honey butter (above)

(I) Ear of the sea (above) – 18-hours slow braised abalone served with noodles. I enjoyed this.

(J) 33 ingredients (above) – And we were told the rice ball was made with 20 types of grains. With the remaining 13 ingredients comprised of mushrooms and others. Haha. Chef Ace lost me halfway through his long introduction. I need to work on my memory. The rice’s round shape reminded me much of the days when my late uncle would shape the (Hainanese chicken) rice into balls during Lunar New Year eve’s dinner. But of course, the texture and taste of the ones served at Restaurants Ards leaned towards that of a rice dumpling instead.


(K) Fish on fish? (above) – My friend and I were shown the wine-steamed clams before it was taken back for plating. Our dinner took place on a day when the chefs decided to experiment a different way of cooking the fish. Ie, sous-vide. And unfortunately for us, the fish served on the fish-shaped plate was too raw. You know… It’s tough to slice through under-cooked fish. Unsure, my friend and I enquired with the staff, to which chef Ace came up and offered to further cook the fish. But we turned him down citing that we would enjoy the fish if it’s meant to be eaten that way. Coincidentally or not, my friend and I had really bad stomachaches after the dinner.

(L) Art of beef (above) – And since I don’t consume beef (due to religious reason), my dish was replaced with scallop. I was glad my scallop also had the charcoal-powder crust as what’s done with the beef. And yes, my friend ate his wagyu too soon for me to snap a picture. Sob. Though he did share that the beef wasn’t impressive. And interesting enough, as we were sharing our feedback towards the end of our meal, chef Ace mentioned they were still in the midst of determining which beef grade would be best suited for their preparation method.


(M) Coconut kafflr ice (above)

(N) Desserts’ heritage (above) – And this was Restaurant Ards’ take on local dessert cheng tng (清汤); Barley cooked in syrup with water chestnuts, bird’s nest and grated almonds. And I was surprised to find out that it was a warm dessert as I tucked into it.


(O) Tropical fruits basket (above)

(P) Our childhood memories (above) – Mango and passionfruit jelly with pomelo was chef-owner Ace’s while coffee jelly with cream cheese was chef-owner David Lee’s.

Our dining experience was an interesting one at a progressive Asian restaurant. Restaurant Ards was a good alternative to hotel’s Chinese restaurants for fine dining. Sorry, Asian and Chinese cuisines are almost the same to me. However, our dining experience at Restaurants Ards was only good as an one-time experience as the food was not ‘wow’ enough for us to return. But despite that, I won’t totally rule them out.

Noting that Restaurant Ards is still works in progress, I would give them more time to iron out the teething problems. And I really hope it works out well for chef-owners Ace and David. After interacting with chef Ace during our dinner, I could sense his passion and sincerity. I really applaud their courage in bravely pursing their dreams of wanting to showcase Asian cultures and to bring a unique dining experience though creative natural cooking techniques and Asian ingredients.

RESTAURANT ARDS
76 Duxton Road, Singapore
6913 7258, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tue – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Butcher Boy

November 26, 2017 in Asian by thywhaleliciousfay

Was instagram-surfing when I chanced upon Butcher Boys; An Asian-inspired grill and bar. Interested to find out if it would be similar to Burnt Ends, I decided to check it out with my friend. And reservation was made for 2 via Chope. With only 2 seatings, I chose 8.15pm over 6.30pm since it’s impossible to reach at 6.30pm.

(Though it seemed they’ve since removed the 2 seatings from Chope. Instead, reservation before 8.15pm are subjected to a dining period of 1 hour 45 minutes to accommodate the next seating.)

And from the menu, my friend and I ordered:-

1) Crispy fish skin, $6 (above) – Nori salt, sesame tahini.

2) Kanpachi sashimi, $24 (above) – Soy, tokyu turnip.

3) Fried squid, $20 (above) – Curry, burnt onion.


4) Fried chicken bao, $18 (above) – Yuzu kosho, kewpie.

5) Duck banh mi, $18 (above) – Liver pate, sriracha.


6) Butcher boy bacon & cheese burger, $28 (above) – With fries.


7) Peanut butter and berry ice cream sandwich, $10 (above)

Unfortunately, Butcher Boy was nowhere close to Burnt Ends in terms of food. Butcher Boys’ core wasn’t grilled meats (which I arrived at the restaurant hoping so) since they offered buns, etc on their limited menu. Would I recommend Butcher Boys? Hmm… Not really. The place was too noisy for my liking considering that my friend and I met to catch up over food. The space was separated into two where the second (and slightly elevated) half was the bar. And one can also say I was surprised at how the drinking crowd was strong and rowdy on a Tuesday night.

So no, I wouldn’t recommend Butcher Boy. But I reckon it would be a fun place for drinks.

BUTCHER BOY
31 Keong Saik Road, Singapore
6221 6833, Website, Facebook
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 6
Fri – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (L.O.)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Thur, Sun : 18:00 – 22:30 (L.O.)
Value: 6
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (L.O.)
Service: 7