Dinner @ Room 4 Dessert (Bali, Indonesia)

December 19, 2018 in European by thywhaleliciousfay

And on the day I made my reservation for Locavore, I did the same for Room4Dessert (R4D). Yes, 3 months in advanced again. My interest in R4D was sparked after a Japanese pastry chef, who I follow on Instagram for her food posts, said her Bali trip was planned around her R4D reservation. Wah…

And as with the restaurant’s name, R4D only served desserts. I actually thought there’ll be some savoury snacks on the menu, but no. The restaurant led by chef-owner Will Goldfarb only served desserts. And to be very precise, R4D only offered a dessert tasting menu. Ie, no a-la carte menu.

My reservation was made for 8.45pm because I figured I require at least 2 hours to clear immigration and make my way up to Ubud. And indeed, I reached the restaurant at 8.30pm (via car) after landing at 6pm.

Upon arrival at the restaurant, I was asked to wait (for roughly 5 to 8 minutes) before the staff led me into the restaurant. And I was surprised at how dark the place was. Only the counter seats were brightly lit while each table was illuminated with just a tealight candle. So pardon my grainy photographs.

And as a solo diner, I was baffled when the staff showed me to the communal table. But I was more surprised shocked when I noticed my set of cutlery was set directly opposite another solo diner who was already seated. A communal table which could sit up to 6 people… But the staff arranged 2 solo diners complete strangers to sit facing each other. I was uncomfortable; I’m an introvert and wasn’t mentally prepared at the possibility of talking to new people. And I couldn’t request for another spot because that meant I would be doing it in front of the diner which I felt my action would come across as inconsiderate and rude. So yes, I sat down as per the restaurant’s arrangement. With much reluctance of course.

Upon seated, the staff presented me with the dessert tasting menu together with the mocktail and cocktail pairing menus, and mentioned I could order specific drink as a-la carte instead of going for the full pairing menu.

With that, I started my Season 7.5: In transition (RP780,000) dessert tasting menu for 2 with:-


1) Planifoglia (above) – Barley sabayon, local raspberry, “vanilla”. I really enjoyed this. The top was sorbet while the bottom’s texture was similar to thick, creamy yogurt.


2) New wave (above) – Carrot, pumpkin seed, anise, marigold.


3) Red (above) – Red fruits, rosella, beet cake, red wine.


4) Scarborough pear (above) – Apple tempura, sage diplomate, toffee. Another highlight for me. So good!

5) Angel’s kiss (above) – Soy, mango, jackfruit, pandan, chamomile. Didn’t like this. Neither did the solo dinner seated opposite me. And yes, we spoke cause it’s awkward not to.


6) Incidente stradale (above) – Coconut water, coconut vinegar, white coffee, jamu “kunyit”.

7) The sugar refinery (above) – Coconut nectar chantilly, chocolate toblerone, soursop, Balinese meringue.

8) Caramel tea brulée (above) – Caramel, black tea, cardamom, and sea salt.

9) Chocobubbles (above) – Mom’s cookies, kluwak, warm mousse, “nibs” nougatine.

For the sharp-eyed, it wasn’t a mistake when I mentioned the menu cost RP740,000 (for 2 people). Right after I was seated, the staff explained the desserts at R4D were intended for sharing between 2 and they couldn’t change reduce the serving portion. So instead, they adjusted the price and charged me RP500,400. So yes, I was paying a solo diner price but eating portion that was meant for 2. Very value for money, although I was so stuffed by the eighth dessert. Ha.

Would I recommend Room4Dessert? Well… I say “Why not?” I certainly enjoyed myself despite the awkward seating arrangement and the desserts being a mixture of hits and misses. I liked that head chef Goldfarb was a down-to-earth person; He made himself very approachable. I noticed he make regular rounds to check everything was going smoothly not just in the kitchen but also on the dining floor, and thank customers personally at the end of their meals. In fact, one should totally come to R4D if one is a huge fan of Netflix’s Chef’s Table. I caught the episode after my dinner at R4D and I encourage one to watch the episode prior to one’s dinner at R4D to really appreciate head chef Goldfarb’s creations.

ROOM4DESSERT
Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Kedewatan, Kabupaten Gianyar, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
+62 361 977002, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sun : 17:00 – 23:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
* Closed on Mon
Service: 7

Dinner @ Restaurant Zén

December 3, 2018 in European by thywhaleliciousfay

Compared to my siao-on instagram foodie friends, I am definitely the least informed in the clique when it comes to new restaurant openings. I didn’t even know Restaurant Zén was opening in Singapore until the ‘siao on’-sters brought it up during one of our meals. Oops.

So yes… Zén, a partnership between Björn Frantzén and Unlisted Collection, is an offshoot of 3 Michelin stars Frantzén (Stockholm, Sweden).

Scheduled to open in late November 2018 at Restaurant André’s former venue, we sent in our restaurant reservation request in early October for 6 people. However, we were informed they could accommodate 6 people if we were separated as tables of 2 and 4. Sob, sob. And to secure our reservation, credit card details were required. It’s also interesting we were given the option to start at 6.45pm or 7.45pm. It’s kinda odd. No?

And so… With the enthusiasm of my ‘siao on’-sters, we were to dine at the restaurant on its second day of operation.

  

I arrived at the restaurant 3 minutes past our reservation time. And I panicked slightly when I tried to open the door but couldn’t. It was obviously locked and I had to quickly get inside. Late mah. I even wondered if ‘being locked out’ was the punishment for being late. But apparently one had to press the door bell for the staff to open the door. Ahhh…

Upon entry, the staff directed me to ‘The Lounge’ located at ground floor where I joined my ‘siao on’-sters. I wasn’t the last to reach, by the way. Keke. I initially thought the lounge was the waiting area but I was mistaken. Apparently this was where we would have the canapés too, before being led to the dining area.

While waiting for the rest to arrive, the staff handed me the drinks menu where I ordered a glass of white wine. And once everyone in our group reached, the staff passed us the food menu with additional options of non-alcoholic ($100) or alcoholic ($285) pairing. The intention of the food menu was to let us know what’s going to be served later since there’s only one tasting menu.

After we made up our minds with the pairing, we started our dinner menu ($450) with:-

  

1) Pre-appetiser, Complimentary (above) – We were each given a wine glass containing a sorbet-ball of plum-tomato juice. The staff then came round and topped our glasses with plum-tomato juice.

  
  
  

2) Canapés assortment, Complimentary (above) – We were served i) beer-poached lobster tartlet with dill-scented sour cream, trout roe and fennel flower, ii) crispy potato roll with creme fraiche and Vendace roe, and red onion rings, iii) celeriac tartlet with whipped foie gras, celeriac and apple salad, topped with toasted Danish rye and preserved truffle disc, iv) king crab and spruce shoots with sea urchin hot sauce and chrysanthemum petals, and v) sweet onion veloute with liquorice and almond. My absolute favourite was the celeriac tartlet. So, so amazing. Eat wth care though. A very fragile piece.


  

After we finished our canapés, we were told to take our wine glasses (if not empty yet) and follow the staff to the back of ‘The Lounge’ where we were shown the ‘produce box’. We were given a detailed introduction of the ingredients for our dinner.

One could also steal a peak of the kitchen which was designed with no walls. Uh huh, open-concept kitchen.

After we were shown the ‘produce box’, we were brought to the main dining area at second floor (by stairs). It was good news that we were able to sit together as a group of 6. Yeah!

And I understood their initial dilemma of hosting big groups. They were wondering how to bring the kitchen theatre to us; As part of the entire dining experience, the chefs personally plated dishes in front of us on the side tables placed beside our dining table, before the (completed) dishes were put in front of us.

  

3) Dish #1 (above) – Crudo: Zén prestige caviar, red deer, argan oil & finger lime.

  

4) Dish #2 (above) – Blue lobster, crispy koshihikari rice, yuzu pepper, clarified butter emulsion, sansho leaf.


  

5) Dish #3 (above) – Chawanmushi, sea urchin, ikura, unagi & hot smoked pork broth.

  

6) Dish #4 (above) – Scallop, vin jaune, blond miso from Kyoto, sprouted walnut & white truffle.


  

7) Dish #5 (above) – Chewy beet, ramson capers, chive scapes, preseved pine & mustard aioli. This was the replacement dish for the beef. Disappointing I have to say. I prefer to have a meat dish swapped with another meat dish. Like pork or lamb? Nonetheless, the beet texture was really interesting. And before this dish was served, we got to choose our knives from a box of custom-made steak knives from Morakniv (knife manufacturer in Sweden with more than 400 years of history) which shaft decorated with an intricate Sweidsh kurbitz motif by Swedish artist Pernilla Nordman.

  

8) Dish #6 (above) – French toast “grande tradition 2008″ & consomme a’la truffle.


9) Dish #7 (above) – Sea buckthorn sorbet, crystalized sea lettuce, blue & green tea.

  

10) Dish #8 (above) – Run-raisin smeifreddo, PX, frozen foie gras & oat muesli.

After finishing our main courses and two desserts, we were brought to level three where we continued the final leg of our Zén dining experience. The third storey was also known as ‘The Living Room’.

And having been fed with so much food at the lower floors, the cosy atmosphere of ‘The Living Room’ with the comfortable sofas certainly didn’t help; We were in food coma and were struggling to stay awake. Haha.

The staff rolled the tea trolley over where 5 types of tea leaves were presented. Unfortunately, none caught our attention. Sleepy already, I tell you.

  

11) Sweets #1 (above) – Grilled Malaysian pineapple tarte tatin brushed with 20 years-old mirin and black cardamom chantilly.

12) Sweets #2 – Assorted fruits comprising green muscat grape, mango, strawberry, persimmon and melon, and pistachio macaron. I personally didn’t like the fruits. The ingredients and/or seasonings used on the fruits were simply mismatched.

13) Coffee, $16 (above)

And finally… To answer the questions which I’ve been asked several times since dining at Zén. What’s the verdict? Worth it?

My dining experience at Zén definitely couldn’t be summed up with mere phrases of ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I certainly enjoyed myself with my ‘siao on’-sters. And if I was asked to select my few memorable dishes, the canapés were strangely the winners. For me lah. But in no way should that be misinterpreted as the other dishes were bad! They were good. But I preferred the former.

It was also through our meal that I realised Zén aim at setting itself apart from the other high-end restaurants by offering a holistic experience of food, service and ambience. One would notice much thought went into the planning of the kitchen theatre. Example, the restaurant made sure there were sufficient waiting staff so that the 6 of us were served dishes at the same time once the 2 chefs were done with the plating. Or at least that was how it was for the first few dishes. I didn’t pay much attention after that because I was busy chatting. Keke.

And I enjoyed the chemistry of the entire team. We had the privilege of having 2 chefs for every course since we were dining in a big group. It was fun watching the chefs plate at both ends of our long table, and them throwing friendly competition at each other of who’s more efficient/faster at plating. Keke.

In fact, I was very impressed that although we were dining on their second day of operation, it didn’t feel that way at all. To think we were worried about being guinea pigs. Ha.

So back to the questions… Was my dining experience at Zén worth it? Should one hurriedly head down to Zén? Well, I say give them just abit more time and I am pretty sure the dining experience will definitely impress. I am not intentionally comparing Zén to now-defunct André just because Zén took over the venue which used to house André but even with my dining experiences at André, my 3 meals at André got better with time. So I believe the same for Zén; With some tweaks (like to the fruit dishes), the already-brilliant dining experience would be perfect.

And having mentioned André, I like what Zén did with the exterior and interior. It was familiar, but not; I’ve been to André and knew how the space was like, and Zén did a fabulous job in leaving no trace of André. Instead, they successfully created a new space with its own character. And it’s read that the architect behind Zén’s interior is Joyn Studios Architects, which also designed Restaurant Frantzen in Stockholm as well as Frantzen’s Kitchen in Hong Kong.

It’s further shared by others who dined at Frantzén that the dining experience offered at Zén is pretty similar to Frantzén’s. So I say, give Zén some time for them to find their own identity too before spending a whopping $450. Since you know… $450 ain’t exactly a small amount.

Am definitely looking forward to return to Zén to see how my second experience would differ from the first. But that’s probably in 1.5 to 2 years’ time. And for reservation, do note tables for the coming month are opened for reservation on the first day of every month at 10am.

RESTAURANT ZÉN
41 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore
9236 6368, Website
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:45 – Late
Ambience: 9
Value: 8
Service: 9
* Closed on Mon, Sun

Lunch @ JAAN [Revisit]

November 7, 2018 in European by thywhaleliciousfay

My siao-on instagram foodie friends suggested heading to JAAN a few times before, but I wasn’t keen (then) because memory of my not-too-pleasant dinner in mid 2017 was still etched in my mind. But when they mentioned JAAN’s head chef Kirk Westaway has further revamped the menu to reflect his British roots, I decided to take a chance. So yes, we went to JAAN together for a Saturday lunch.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4), we ordered:-

1) Signatures (6 course menu), $158 comprised of:-


  

(A) Canapé (above) – Fish & chip tartlet, beetroot meringue with smoked eel, Devonshire cheddar cheese & buckwheat pancake, and chicken curry.


  

(B) Roast potato, truffle soup (above) – With mini loaf.


  

(C) Dark rye sourdough, Complimentary (above) – Served with Devonshire butter.

(D) Heirloom beetroot (above) – With trout caviar and golden beetroot sorbet.


  

(E) Majestic oyster (above) – With caviar.


  

(F) Eggs in an egg… (above)

(G) Line caught brill (above) – With artichoke.

(H) Salt marsh lamb (above) – With aubergine. And because I don’t take beef, the beef dish from the menu was replaced with lamb.


(I) Palate cleanser, Complimentary – Lemon and cucumber sorbet.


(J) Gariguette strawberry (above) – With mascarpone. I liked this a lot.

(K) Coffee, Complimentary (above) – And I opted for latte.

(L) Petit fours (above)


  

2) English garden, $30 (above) – Thankfully 1 of us (not me, for the record) did our homework prior to lunch; When it’s realised the ‘English garden’ dish was not on our menu, we requested to order it as a-la carte. Comprised of 30 different types of vegetables (raw and cooked) and herbs, we were told to pour the herbal dashi (stored very aptly in a flower pot) onto the vegetables, mix everything before tucking in. Really good. And it’s through our interaction with chef Kirk that we later learnt that this dish was intentionally not included in the lunch service as it may be too filling.

Were we happy with our lunch? Did lunch change my impression of JAAN? A big yes! I was very impressed.

So the thing is… After chef Julien Royer left to set up Odette in June 2015, chef Kirk had very big shoes to fill when he took over JAAN. And I guess his biggest hurdle was to escape from chef Julien’s shadow. I mean, in all honesty, customers who dined when JAAN was under chef Julien’s helm would compare. Yes? Ie, is there any difference, what did chef Kirk do better, or… Gasp. What chef Kirk isn’t doing as good.

I wasn’t too sure if chef Kirk managed to find his own identity when I dined in June 2017. But with this lunch, I could very confidently say chef Kirk has definitely achieved that. I liked how the menu at JAAN has since evolved to showcase his British roots now. And as taken from JAAN’s website, chef Kirk applied the philosophy ‘Reinventing British’ where the menu now embodied a seasonal philosophy to showcase British dining in a modern and refreshing light.

I definitely recommend Michelin-starred JAAN. But noting out of the 3 times that I dined at JAAN and it was always the lunch that impressed me, I would thus recommend one to go for their lunch menu before deciding if one should also try the dinner menu. Yeps. And my review of lunch was based on the Summer menu. If one really wants to try these dishes, do head down soon before they transit into the Autumn/Winter menu.

JAAN
2 Stamford Road, Swissotel The Stamford, Equinox Complex, Level 70, Singapore
6837 3322, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 19:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
* Closed on Sun
Service: 8