Lunch @ Locavore (Bali, Indonesia)

December 10, 2018 in Asian by thywhaleliciousfay

When Locavore made it to Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants by S. Pellegrino in 2016, I wasn’t sure if I could ever visit them; I had traveled to Bali thrice and was quite determined I wouldn’t re-visit Bali. My travel policy is the same as my food policy where I prefer to explore new places. Tokyo excluded. Keke.

So when my very close girlfriend said I was to be her bridesmaid for her upcoming destination wedding in Bali, I immediately made my reservation at Locavore. Yes, restaurant reservation came before purchase of flight ticket. Haha. For the curious, my reservation for lunch was made 3 months in advanced on Locavore’s online booking system.

And as read from their website… Locavore is led by chef-owners Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah. Eelke, a Dutch-born chef, met fellow head chef Ray Adriansyah when he moved to Jakarta in 2008. The pair ran the kitchen at Alila Ubud together, where they fine-tuned their philosophy of creating tasting menus using primarily local ingredients. It wasn’t before long that their (at that time) unique approach to using only seasonal and local foods was recognised, and they eventually left the hotel industry to open their own restaurant. Yes, they created Locavore in November 2013.

While dishes were influenced by European and Indonesian cuisines, Locavore was all about local. From ingredients to the cutlery.

I arrived at 12.05pm, 25 minutes ahead of my reservation time. Upon arrival at the restaurant, the staff led me to the counter which could sit 5 people. And the staff started me off with the beverage menu (pages 1, 2). I think it’s the Indonesian Balinese fine-dining culture that beverage menu is presented before the food and beverage-pairing menus are given.

I ordered a mocktail since it seemed like I wasn’t going to be given the food menu until I ordered something from the beverage menu. Although to be fair to the restaurant, I could have told the staff I was good with no drinks. But I was scared. Scared of being judged for not drinking. Haha.

And for the food menu, Locavore offered vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. No-brainer that I went with the non-vegetarian menu. Keke. With a further choice of going with just 5 dishes or the full course of 7 dishes, I went with the latter.

With that, I started my lunch with:-

1) Loloh Bali (mocktail version), RP42,000 (above) – Wild honey shaken with turmeric & mint leaves reduction, tamarind syrup & Tanqueray gin, served over ice cubes, topped with homemade lemongrass soda garnished with pomelo & green leaves.

2) 7-dishes non-vegetarian lunch menu (RP895,000) comprised of:-

  
  
  

(A) Starters, Complimentary (above) – Assortment of pickles (which included garlic, passionfruit, cucumber, etc), watermelon tartare topped with seaweed, dehydrated pumpkin leaf sprinkled with seaweed powder, pickled eggplant with sesame seeds in broth, black rice belini topped with smoked egg emulsion and brown rice puff, and grilled mango marinated with passionfruit juice & pepper.

  

(B) Amuse bouches, Complimentary (above) – The first being cold tomato sorbet on sliced tomato but in warm tomato and celeriac consomme. Although I could only see traces of herbs used, I could taste the pepper which lingered in my mouth long after I finished the dish. Second was prata with 3 types of condiment which I was told to sprinkle everything onto the prata. I tried the prata alone and could taste the coconut since I was told coconut yogurt was used.


(C) Bonito (above) – Anis cured bonito, unripe mango, kecap vinaigrette, coriander, cili oil, caramelised sesame, daun kenikir.

(D) Goat tartare (above) – Lightly grilled, burnt eggplant, pickled eggplant, kecombrang, fermented shallots, charred coconut milk.


(E) Cabbage & bacon (above) – Whole cabbage roasted in bacon fat, bacon dashi, cashew sour cream, bacon shallot crumble, lacto-fermented onion powder. And I was told the cabbage was roasted for 90 minutes with bacon fats over it.


  

(F) Into the sawah (above) – Heritage galum rice (from Tegalalang, central Bali), snails & garlic, 64 degrees duck egg, frog abon, fern tips, wild flowers. I was expecting the yolk to flow out like liquid when I poked into the egg, but its texture was like custard. I was also expecting rice to be crunchy like scorched rice, but it was cooked similarly to risotto. Full of surprises.


  

(G) Mahi-mahi (above) – Sago herb tempura, green chilli emulsion, pete shiitake sambal, pickled shiitake, charred green chilli oil.

(H) Burung puyuh (above) – Roasted breast, ginger cinnamon butter, barbecued leg, smoked pumpkin, charred pineapple, pickled pumpkin. Pigeon breast and thigh were used for the dish. The de-boned thigh somehow reminded me of our Chinese 香腸. Hmm…

(I) Pre-dessert, Complimentary (above) – With mangosteen being the main ingredient, this was refreshingly good.

(J) Nuts about orangeGelato, sorbet, gel, crumble, tuiles. The combination of orange and peanut was certainly interesting. I couldn’t decide if I liked it, but I guess it must be a good sign since I finished it. Or did I keep eating it because I was trying to figure the dish out? Keke. But I certainly enjoyed the orange and peanut components separately; Orange was refreshing while the peanut reminded me much of dragon’s bread candy.



  
  

(K) Post-dessert (above) – Petit fours served on Congklak board; A traditional Indonesian game.

Prior to my lunch, I read that the meal at Locavore can get pretty lengthy. And true enough, I spent slightly more than 2 hours at the restaurant. But hey, I ain’t complaining about the many starters and amuse bouches. Keke.

I would definitely recommend one to check out Locavore when in Ubud (Bali). But try not to plan one’s meal just before… Flying out?

LOCAVORE
Jalan Dewisita No. 10, Banjar Padang, Tegal, Kabupaten Gianyar, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
+62 361 977733, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 17:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
* Closed on Sun
Service: 7

Dinner @ Magic Square [Revisit]

October 18, 2018 in Asian by thywhaleliciousfay

After trying June, July and August menus by the 3 chefs at Magic Square, I thought that was the end of my visits to Magic Square since I tend not to revisit the same restaurant too soon. But my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) really wanted to check out the place. And thus, I agreed to head back again. Ha. However, what I didn’t expect was for the reservation process to be so painful (The previous 3 visits with my siao-on instagram foodie friends were reserved by @abbey_thebolobao).

Following the instruction on Magic Square’s website, I sent our reservation request in mid August via whatsapp for Saturday in late September. However, I was told it’s fully booked. As such, I requested for any Friday (2nd seating) in September but didn’t receive any reply. Slightly frustrated, I resent another text 8 days later with a list of Fridays and Saturdays for October. But I received a text only 3 days later. And in it, I was informed that only the 1st seating was available for October’s Fridays and Saturdays. By now, I was frustrated at the slow and inefficient reservation process. But thankfully, another friend was heading down to Magic Square and helped to make my reservation at the restaurant itself. So yes… With my friend’s help, my IGGF and I managed to snagged a reservation for mid October. But no, we didn’t get our preferred Friday slot. We got a Thursday. 2nd seating of course!

While one should be punctual, one need not reach too early if one is in the 2nd seating because there isn’t any (proper) waiting area. One have to stand around until patrons of the 1st seating clears out. Which is usually around 8.05pm. And once everyone reached, Ken Loon or Gabriel Chan would start off with an opening speech before chef-of-the-month takes over. And it was a great coincidence that chef Abel Su was responsible for October’s menu because of the 3 that I tried, his was my favourite. But for the record, all 3 chefs are great.

Chef Abel started the dinner by sharing October’s menu was a sequel to his July’s menu. “I’m using philosophy of Chinese ingredient through a more contemporary mind set,” he explained. And after the presentation, we started our 9-course menu ($78) with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Chef Abel explained the standard recommendation from the fish mongers was to make fish ball when they bought the cougar pike. As such, he decided to play along with it and created this dish which was fish ball cougar-pike-ball wrapped with milk curd that’s done in the style of tofu. Further topped with cougar pike floss and vinaigrette made with fish bone. Really good.


2) Dish #2 (above) – A cold dish of chicken which was poached, cooked in sake and then shredded. Served with fish maw and goji berry sauce. The chicken was so tender and flavourful. I enjoyed it on its own. Didn’t really like the sauce.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Seared langoustine (tail) on sesame leaf tempura, topped with fresh sesame leaf and aged tangerine peel vinegar.


4) Dish #4 (above) – Boiled cabbage stuffed with chicken breast and its liver, angelica and onions. We were told it was also grilled for its smokiness. Accompanying paste was made with onion. Lots of it. If I didn’t hear wrongly, 15kg worth of onions were used.


5) Dish #5 (above) – Japanese turnip. Sous vide before grilled like a steak. Served with sauce made from roasted chicken skin, and crispy bits of chicken skin.


  

6) Dish #6 (above) – Chicken wings were deboned and stuffed with chestnut, shiitake mushroom and mochi before they are double fried, and glazed with caramel. We were encouraged to use our hands, and it was a delicious messy affair.


7) Dish #7 (above) – Chef Abel mentioned the other parts of the langoustine (head and shell) were used for this dish. Served with pickled radish, mustard green, crumbs and light emulsion. Really good. The langoustine risotto was so rich!


  

8) Dish #8 (above) – Peach gum (cooked in coconut water) layered over with osmanthus-flavoured shaved ice. I didn’t really like this though.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Black sesame tartlette and black sugar ice cream.

Having dined here 4 times now, I could confidently say Magic Square never fail to surprise and deliver. This (October) meal was outstanding. My IGGF and I were gushing over most of the dishes. My favourites were the langoustine dishes and chicken wing. And noting that the 3 chefs rotate and that Magic Square is a year-long project, it’s inevitable (for me) to make comparison; I compared chef Abel’s July and October menus and I could definitely see he is progressing and getting better! I am already looking forward to what he will bring to the table in January 2019. Yes, going to make reservation!

And I am also glad to say Magic Square has improved their reservation system. During our dinner, we were told we could make our reservation online through their instagram page.

I highly recommend one to check out Magic Square.

MAGIC SQUARE 田
5B Portsdown Road, Singapore
8181 0102, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sat : 12:00 – 13:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tue – Sat : 18:00 – 22:15 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon, Sun

Dinner @ Wild Rocket [Revisit] // CLOSED

October 9, 2018 in Asian, Mod Sin by thywhaleliciousfay

With my meal at Wild Rocket, it certainly would seem I gone Mod-Sin crazy because it’s my 3rd Mod-Sin restaurant within 2 months. The other 2 restaurants being Restaurant Labyrinth and JL Studio. And the reason behind my visit to Wild Rocket was because they are closing permanently by end October. Now… I am not one who succumbs to dine at the restaurant just because they are closing. But I do like to have another meal if my previous meal at the restaurant was memorable or if the restaurant is high on my to-try list. And in the case for Wild Rocket, it’s the former.

The other pull factor was… When news of the closure came up, many started posting of their memorable dishes at Wild Rocket. In particular, Wild Rocket’s laksa pesto which almost everyone was gushing over. Since I didn’t have that dish in my 2015’s visit and I read that Wild Rocket’s menu would be showcasing current and past favourites (including the laksa pesto), I got my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) to head down with me.

Reservation was made through a 3rd party website, Quandoo. And to secure our reservation, I was required to input my credit card details.

My IGGF and I arrived at the restaurant on a Friday night. But imagine our surprised shocked faces when the staff said our reservation couldn’t be found in the system. After a check against the email confirmation that I received from Quandoo, we realised I booked for Saturday instead of Friday. Oh, my, goodness. But thankfully they had a table for us. Phew.

My IGGF and I decided to go with the 9-courses from the menu (pages 1, 2). And with that, we started our 9-courses ($125) dinner with:-

1) Bread, Complimentary (above)

2) Dish #1 (above) – Bah chor mee; Tuna belly negi toro & glass noodles.


3) Dish #2 (above) – Giam chye ar; Duck & mustard green consomme with foie gras tortellini.

4) Dish #3 with options of:-

(A) Pomelo salad (above) – Thai pomelo salad with tiger prawns & frozen coconut dressing.

(B) Kaki fry (above) – Japanese oyster with tom kha gai coconut galangal sauce.

5) Dish #4 (above) – Char kway tiao; Thinly sliced cuttlefish noodles stir fried with kwong who hing sauce.


6) Dish #5 (above) – Salted egg crab; Spanner & blue swimmer crab with salted duck egg.

7) Dish #6 with options of:-

(A) Hokkien mee (above) – Fresh spaghettini, ebi miso, shio konbu & tiger prawns.

(B) Laksa pesto (above) – Laksa leaf pesto linguine, tiger prawns & quail egg. I’m sorry but this was… Average. We couldn’t quite understand the raves unless it’s no longer as what it was previously.

8) Dish #7 with options of:-

(A) Dish #7 (above) – Snapper amok; Red snapper Filipino laing braised taro leaves & Cambodian amok curry.


(B) Dish #8 (above) – Ter kar chor; Black vinegar iberico pork jowl with pickled cabbage & chestnut puree.


  

9) Dish #8 (above) – Lychee; Lychee sorbet with lychee martini gummy, ginger flower, elderflower.

10) Dish #9 (above) – Chendol; Pandan panna cotta, cocout ice-cream, gula melaka honey comb, azuki.

It was a nice dinner, although it wasn’t impressive enough for me to strongly recommend one to quickly snap up the remaining slots that’s left of October. With that said, I still have to give chef-owner Willin Low the due credit and respect; When he first opened Wild Rocket in 2005, it’s almost like he is the father-of-Mod-Sin-cuisine as he was the pioneer.

And should one miss Wild Rocket after it shut down in end October, one could still head over to Relish. Else, one could even have a taste of chef Willin’s Mod-Sin cuisine overseas. He’s opening a casual dining restaurant (Roketto) this December in Hokkaido, Japan, and a Southeast Asian noodle concept bar in Hualien, Taiwan.

WILD ROCKET
10A Upper Wilkie Road, Hangout Hotel, Level 1, Singapore
6339 9448, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues– Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun