Dinner @ IL DEN

July 12, 2018 in Italian by thywhaleliciousfay

The number of friends I made from instagram once I decided to be less shy and meet up with like-minded people is simply amazing. So yes, I was off to check out IL DEN with newly-made instagram friend @jonathanloong. I have been following Jonathan for years now. But we only exchanged messages this year after I participated in his instagram survey. To which he initiated the first text! I just had to say that. Hahaha.

To make our reservation, I sent chef-owner Javier Low a message on instagram. And I advise one to make reservation at least 2 weeks in advanced. In response to our reservation request, Javier needed our choice of menu at least 1 day prior to our dinner. It seemed to be a trend that restaurants are expecting customers to have done their homework (like reading up on the menu) prior to the meal. But of course, that didn’t pose as a problem since we were stalking IL DEN’s instagram account. Haha. And between the $75 and $120 menus, we went with the former.

We arrived punctually at 6.30pm on a Friday night. And to the people hardcore foodies who mentioned (in their instagram posts that) they chanced upon IL DEN by coincidence, I must say they are impressive. IL DEN was nestled deep within Orchard Plaza. As I walked down the quiet long corridor, I even questioned myself if I got the address correct.

And upon entry, we were welcomed by the immediate sight of a 8-seater communal table and open-kitchen (at the further end). After settling our drink orders, we started our $75 dinner menu with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Pâté. Homemade with ground pork, cognac & pistachio.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Homemade tofu & sea urchin. We were given an extra piece of homemade tofu topped with caviar.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Aburi scallop, caviar & vegetable garden. Served alongside homemade pesto sauce, Javier mentioned he added salmon to our salad as it came in fresh with the day’s delivery of ingredients. “The salmon is special because it’s caught by the younger generation of Japanese fisherman”, he added.


  

4) Dish #4 (above) – What’s supposed to be orecchiette (little ears pasta) as per the menu, we were served tajarin pasta topped with parmesan cheese and shaved truffle instead. And I was pleased with the unexpected change because it allowed us to enjoy his handmade pasta better. I prefer slurping my noodles. Keke. And this was really good; Al dente and very tasty. In fact, I was struggling when I was taking pictures of this dish because of the strong aroma. I wanted to quickly put down my phone to start eating but my phone camera refused to take sharp shots with my first few attempts. (^^lll) A must try!

5) Dish #5 with options of:-

(A) French poulet (above)

(B) Iberico pork jowl (above) – This was so good. The meat was surprisingly tender!

6) Dish #6 (above) – Yuzu sorbet with ginger jelly and lime jelly.

It was a fun dining experience. Don’t expect fast or personalised service as it’s a one-man show at hole-in-the-wall IL DEN. Javier took on multiple roles as the chef, waiter and cashier. And because of that, I would thus recommend one to be in the first seating if one don’t like a (too) draggy dinner. We were the first to reach, so Javier was tracking our progress well; We didn’t have to wait too long for our next dish. But for the groups that came in after us, I noticed while Javier was slower in attending to them (since it’s a one-man show), the interval between their dishes was much longer than ours. But I say… Enjoy the vibe and have a good time catching-up in between the dishes if one couldn’t start one’s meal at IL DEN early.

And do remember to bring cash as IL DEN only accept cash payment. We didn’t have sufficient cash on us and neither of us had PayNow, so… Yeah. Jonathan had the important task of walking to the nearest ATM machine at The Centrepoint to withdraw money. Haha.

IL DEN
150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza, #04-21, Singapore
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Thu : 18:00 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 03:00 (Dinner)
Service: 7
 
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Al Forno

May 28, 2018 in Italian by thywhaleliciousfay

After our last enjoyable after-work Italian dinner, my team mates were open to having-a-proper-meal-before-adjourning-to-our-usual-haunt-for-drinks instead of our usual settling-for-finger-food-as-dinner-at-the-pub-we’re-drinking-at. Although it also took us a long while to arrange our next after-work dinner. Busy lah.

Constrained to the East, we decided on Al Forno. And reservation was made for 5 people for a Friday night via Chope.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), my colleagues and I ordered:-

1) Bread platter, Complimentary (above)

2) Burrata affumicata con affettati, $24 (above) – Smoked burrata cheese served with cold cuts.

3) Parmigiana, $20 (above) – Homemade oven-baked slices of eggplant layered with mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and fresh basil in tomato sauce.

4) Risotto con speck, brie e birra alla spina, $27 (above) – Risotto with speck ham, brie cheese & beer with a dash of whipping cream.

5) Penne con polpette, $26 (above) – Homemade meatballs served with penne pasta in tomato sauce.

6) Linguine all’ aragosta, $36 (above) – Linguine pasta with Boston lobster, capers, black olives and a dash of chilli in cherry tomato sauce.

7) Pollo in padella, $29 (above) – Chicken breast simmered in white wine sauce served with mashed potato and asparagus.

8) Costolette d’agnello alla griglia, $36 (above) – Grilled rack of lamb served with mashed potato and mixed vegetables.

9) Pizza al forno, $27 (above) – Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, sausage, ricotta cheese and spinach.

Unfortunately, my colleagues and I weren’t too impressed with Al Forno. Food was good but there was no effort to jazz up the plating. Most came looking very plain. I mean… Yes, taste is what matters the most. But honestly, the landscape of dining has changed much with social media; Presentation is as important as taste.

My colleague’s chicken dish left a very deep (and bad) impression. With 2 pale slabs of chicken on a plate that’s kept ‘busy’ with gravy, it looked really non-appetizing. Definitely not something I am expecting from a long-established restaurant.

Will I recommend Al Forno? Well, since there’re a few Italian restaurants to choose from in the East, I say give Al Forno a miss.

AL FORNO (EAST COAST) ITALIAN RESTAURANT
400 East Coast Road, Le Peranakan Hotel, Singapore
6348 8781, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Value: 6
Mon – Fri : 18:30 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Service: 7
Sat – Sun : 17:30 – 22:00 (Dinner)

Dinner @ Oso Ristorante Singapore

July 11, 2017 in Italian by thywhaleliciousfay

It has been a while since my Italian cuisine-loving girlfriends and I met up for Italian food. And thus, reservation was excitedly made on Chope for OSO Ristorante which has been in Singapore’s food scene for at least 20 years.

Located in a four-storey heritage conservation mansion built in the 1920s, my girlfriends and I easily identified the building by its yellow-painted exterior. But it was a little confusing after entering through the main entrance as we only saw the entrance (on right) leading to the Japanese restaurant located at level one. Thankfully, there was a receptionist stationed at the entrance who directed us to the staircase (on the left) so that we could head up to Oso Ristorante on second storey.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10), we ordered:-

1) Bread platter, Complimentary (above)

2) Misti, $24 (above) – Chef selection cold cut served with pickles.


  

3) Foie gras, $29 (above) – Pan-fried duck liver, bruschetta, beetroot-campari. My bad in not reading the menu properly. I didn’t enjoy this dish as much because I was expecting big slab of foe gras (and, yes) without the bread.

4) Burrata, $38 (for 2) (above) – Cheese with tomato sabayon. Portion for 1 was $22 and portion for 2 was $38. Unsure of the size, we enquired with the staff who told us the portion for 2 was fist size. And since there were 4 of us, we though fist size would be sufficient. However, we failed to realise he meant guy’s fist size cause it was bigger than expected. I didn’t really like this though. There was a slight bitter aftertaste.

5) Agnello, $48 (above) – 8 hours baked 1/2 lamb rack, black onions, green bean. Give this a miss. Meat was tough and bland. We didn’t quite understand the plating too. Please enlighten us on what to do with the rib bones.

6) Stracci, $26 (above) – Whole wheat pasta, braised Tuscan wild boar in red wine.

7) Fettuccine, $35 (above) – De-shelled baby lobster, basil, san marzano tomato.

8) Capelli d’ angelo, $24 (above) – Angel hair with lemon, garlic, chili and crab meat.

9) Panna cotta, $14 (above) – Double cream flan, caramelized black pepper.

10) Miele, $14 (above) – Honey-beetroot cake, espresso sauce.

11) Tiramisu, $14 (above) – 1956 recipe of mascarpone, coffee, biscuits, cacao.

12) Fragola, $14 (above) – Sliced marinated strawberry in balsamico, its own sherbet.

Unfortunately, dinner didn’t turn out as well as we anticipated. The pasta dishes failed to impress us. So no, I wouldn’t recommend Oso Ristorante.

OSO RISTORANTE
46 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore
6327 8378, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 6
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
 
* Closed on Sun

UPDATE: Restaurant has moved to 100 Peck Seah Street, Oasia Hotel Downtown, Level 27.