Dinner @ RAW (Taipei, Taiwan)

January 18, 2018 in French by thywhaleliciousfay

When I was planning my maiden trip to Taiwan, I had 4 restaurants on my to-try-list. And 1 of the 4 was none other than RAW. Having enjoyed myself at Restaurant Andre, it comes with no surprise that I wanted to check out RAW; A restaurant conceptualized by Restaurant Andre’s head chef Andre Chiang and his Taiwanese team.

As taken from RAW’s website, RAW is a 60-seat lifestyle restaurant serving which aims to bring ‘The New Interpretation of Taiwanese Flavor’ to the table by highlighting Taiwanese seasonal produce through innovative food and drink.

Now… While I know RAW is a very popular restaurant, I didn’t realise it was that difficult to secure a reservation till my foodie-friends gushed about how fortunate I was after seeing pictures of my meal at RAW. I guess I have to thank the kiasu-ness within me and of course Lady Luck. =) Knowing that RAW accepts reservation up to 2 months ahead, I sent my request on RAW’s website once the slot of my preferred date opened. And yes, I meant sending (my reservation request) at the stroke of midnight. I exaggerate, not.

And in our reservation request, we were also required to make our menu selection. So between the NT1850 and NT2680 dinner set menus, I opted for the latter. And within 2 days, I received an email from RAW confirming our dinner appointment. Yeah! And the countdown to our dinner in September 2017 excitedly begun.

RAW was a 8 to 12 minutes from Jiannan Road MRT station (劍南路站). Occupying the first floor of the building, one could easily identify the restaurant not only by its name printed on the full-height glass, but also by RAW’s iconic wooden structure which was visible through the window. Deliberately placed at the entrance, the soft-angled, organically sculptured wooden structure is the centrepiece of RAW. And I fell in love with the interior; Of the flowy lines and curves.

The staff greeted us at the entrance. And after confirming our reservation, my Mom and I were led to our table. Having pre-selected our dinner menu, we started our NT2680 dinner with:-

  

1) Bread, NT150 (above) – Bread remained warm as it was placed on hot pebbles within the sack. Butter served with the bread had cacao nibs, sesame seeds and chopped nuts. And it was interesting my Mom and I were not given any plate; The staff appeared with a (small) broom to swipe the crumbs that had dropped onto the table which got me receiving the eye from my Mom since my superstitious Mom thinks it’s bad luck to have a broom in one’s face. Keke. And it was a nice and thoughtful gesture when the staff offered to pack our bread seeing that we had difficulty finishing ours.

2) Dinner set, NT2680 comprised of:-

  

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Fruit corn, Taiwan miso and taiken 9.


(B) Dish #2 (above) – Watermelon, tuna and beef tomato. Hidden beneath the tuna sashimi, compressed watermelon and dehydrated tomato was my favourite mozzarella cheese (skin)!



(C) Dish #3 (above) – Kailan, chick & yolk, and oyster.



(D) Dish #4 (above) – Pulled pork, potato and shichimi. We were told Taiwanese chef Andre grew up on Shilin Night Market’s cheese potato. And thus, this was his take of the night market snack.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Octopus, sriracha and furikake.


  

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Capellini, crab fat and laksa leaf. Crab broth made with crab meat and crab shell was poured in front of us into the coconut which contained the sea urchin, crab meat and capellini. However, we were not given much broth as we were told to enjoy the noodles as a dry dish first. After we finished the ingredients, the staff continued to pour the remaining rich broth for us to enjoy it on its own.


(G) Dish #7 (above) – Veal Pork belly, yuba and baby squid.


(H1) Dish #8 (above) – Banana, toffee and espresso. It was interesting that the handmade pie crust had no bottom.

(H2) Dish #8 (above) – And because my Mom requested not to have banana, her dessert was changed to Sangria sorbet, berry ice cream and fruits hidden beneath a thin layer of herbal tea jelly. So pretty! I actually preferred my Mom’s dessert over the original dessert (item H1). The dessert even had sparkling candy in it. Wow.


(I) Dessert, Complimentary (above) – And it was a nice surprise when we were served bubble-tea flavoured waffle; Milk tea ice cream and pearl bubble. So lovely.

My mom and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I appreciate how the price is kept affordable for the masses. Service was great. Staff Oliver was assigned to us and took great care of us despite only having joined RAW for 6 months. The only gripe I had was the quantity of deep-fried dishes on the menu. Too many. So yes, it was a little too heavy.

My verdict… One should always try to make reservation at RAW despite how difficult it may be. In fact, I reckon securing a reservation at RAW has gotten harder after chef Andre’s announcement that he’s closing Restaurant Andre in February 2018 to return to Taiwan. And of course, heading back to RAW. Sob.

And if one manage to secure a meal slot, don’t forget to check out the toilet too! It’a pretty cool! ;)

RAW
No. 301, Le Qun 3rd Road, Taipei City, Taiwan
+886 2 8501 5800, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Wed – Sun : 11:30 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Wed – Sun : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Tue

Dinner @ Esquina

January 9, 2018 in Spanish by thywhaleliciousfay

Wanting a casual yet fun place to celebrate my friend’s birthday, I remembered Esquina which I last visited in 2012. Yes, that long ago. And having enjoyed my previous dining experience at Esquina, I was confident it won’t disappoint. Celebrating birthday of a important special person you see. Keke. And thus, reservation was made for a Tuesday evening via Chope.

Knowing that it’s notoriously difficult to find a parking lot in Outram Park, one can say my friend and I were very lucky because we easily found an empty parking lot along Teck Lim road. Or… Maybe it’s because we arrived pretty early at 7.20pm? Hmm.

The first thing I noticed about the restaurant was that the interior was brighter than it used to be. And this time, I managed to get my preference of counter seats. Yeah.

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

1) Tsarskaya oyster, jalapeno ponzu, salmon roe, pickled ginger flower, $7 each (above) – I am very sure I have not gotten over my phobia of oysters. A slight taste of fishy-ness could make me cringe. So thankfully this didn’t. But, it’s not like I would recommend this dish as a ‘must order’ too. But hey! That’s coming from a person who’s careful with oysters. So I guess oyster-loving customers may enjoy this.

2) Esquina’s Spanish omelette, $6 each (above) – Confit onion, potato, crispy bread, olive oil caviar. Instead of an eggy omelette, its texture leaned towards a pancake instead. And that of course made me, a pancake lover, really excited. But that instead made my friend, who loved his eggs, a little disappointed. Haha. And it was through our interaction with chef that we learned the batter was created by blending the ingredients before cooking. Ahhh. Thus, the pancake similarity. This dish has a ‘yes’ from me.

3) Iberico bellota “5J” with pan con tomate, $30 (above) – This was a little too much in terms of portion for 2 people. But I enjoyed this nonetheless.

4) Potato and truffle “gratin”, burnt onion sauce, organic egg yolk, iberico ham, $20 (above)

5) Dingley dell pork jowl, chipotle mayo, pickled pear, $14 (above)

6) Pigeon, forest berries escabeche, burnt rosemary polenta, crisp shallots, $24 (above)

7) Spanish suckling pig, rhubarb and apple chutney, mulled wine jus, $32 (above) – Really good.

8) Sea urchin and lobster paella, saffron aioli, snow peas, $32 (above) – And of all the dishes we had, this was my friend’s favourite. And it’s not hard to see why. Instead of serving the lobster meat, the paella was cooked in rich lobster broth. Thus giving it the rich and flavourful taste. A must order.

9) Strawberries, basil sorbet, olives, marshmallows, vanilla chantilly, $14 (above)

10) “BBC”, textures of banana, beer ice cream, warm caramel sauce, $15 (above) – If one only has stomach for 1 dessert, one should just go with this. It was also highly recommended by the staff. My friend and I wished there was more of the banana cake.

11) Chocolate ganache on toasted brioche (above), Complimentary – Topped with olive oil caviar and sprinkle of sea salt. Depending on one’s pace, this complimentary sweet bite would be delivered either timely after the mains or after one finished one’s meal. And the latter happened to us. Imagine our grateful but horrific faces when the dish was presented because our stomachs were already bursting.

So did dinner turn out as how I imagined? A definite yes. Personally, I always find it special to dine at the counter. The whole experience of watching the chefs doing their magic in the kitchen. Head chef is probably still not used to our Singlish way of pronouncing, so I was really appreciative that did not deter him from mingling with the customers. That said, we also had some difficulty understanding his heavy Spanish accent. But thankfully, the wonderful staff rescued us by chipping in the conversation too! Keke.

So yes! As with my previous review, I would again recommend Esquina. Food was enjoyable. Price was pretty decent. Ambience was great. And staff (chef included) were professional and friendly!

ESQUINA TAPAS BAR
16 Jiak Chuan Lane, Singapore
6222 1616, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
* Closed on Sun
Service: 8

Lunch @ Ishi 石

December 31, 2017 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

It feels like it has been a while since I found a promising new sushi restaurant. So when I chanced upon ISHI, I got really excited. Keke. And thankfully, my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) was equally interested to check out ISHI which is apparently opened by the same group who launched Izy Dining and Bar. With that, reservation was made for a weekend lunch. =)

But please be mindful that they are located in InterContinental Robertson Quay and not InterContinental Bugis. Imagine my horror when I reached the latter and couldn’t locate the restaurant. Blur me. Thankfully, I was early. So I managed to cabbed down to ISHI within 10 minutes. But yeah, I was late for our lunch reservation by 5 minutes. Oops.

After alighting from my taxi, the hotel staff showed me the (external) escalator which I was to take to level 2. Upon entering, I immediately noticed that ISHI’s kitchen was completely open. Interesting. And from the lunch menu, I ordered:-

1) Lunch omakase, $180 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Botan-ebi, kelp and salmon roe paired with vinegar jelly and topped with gold flakes. It honestly couldn’t get any better. My girlfriend and I were in love. Haha.


  

(B) Dish #2 (above) – Chawanmushi. And it being December (winter), it’s the best season for shirako. So yes! Tara shirako (cod’s milt) was served in my egg custard. So nice.

(C) Dish #3 (above) – Sashimi. Assortment of chutoro (medium fatty tuna), kinmedai (big eye snapper), ishigakigai (giant clam) and shima aji (striped jack). And just in case I didn’t know what a shell fish was, head chef Masaaki Sakashita very friendly cutely took out the shell for me to see.

(D) Dish #4 (above) – And instead of wagyu beef, head chef Masaaki san replace mine with braised abalone. And I seriously, seriously love the bowl.

  
  
  

(E) Dish #5 (above) – Sushi (7 pieces). Flounder, kamasu (barracuda) with Okinawa salt, maguro zuke (marinated tuna), hokkigai (arctic surf clam), sawada (Spanish mackerel), shiro-ebi (baby white shrimp), and otoro (premium fatty tuna). And for the Spanish mackerel, head chef Masaaki san added a twist by swapping wasabi with Tasmania mustard. So yes, it was very interesting cause the mustard beads would go ‘pop pop’ in the mouth. And it’s crazily brilliant how the combination of Spanish mackerel and mustard actually worked.

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Rice bowl.

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Miso soup.

(H) Dish #8 (above) – And we got a Santa-looking strawberry since we dined during the Christmas (long) weekend. Too cute. And besides the cake, we were also told the whipped cream is handmade.


2) Tempura mori, $35 (above) – Upon hearing anago was one of the ingredients included in the assortment, I immediately went “One tempura mori please.” Keke. Besides anago, there were prawns (2 pieces), mushroom, pumpkin and onion.

My IGGF and I really loved our dining experience at ISHI. The ambience, the food and the service. Head chef Masaaki san was really friendly. I like how he knew when to join in our conversation and when to give us our space. In fact, my IGGF and I found head chef Masaaki san really familiar. And upon asking, we learnt he was previously at Hashida Sushi. Thus, the subtle similarity in terms of the executing and plating.

I strongly recommend ISHI. And what’s best is that one can enjoy dining without burning a hole in one’s purse. Will definitely return to ISHI for more meals.

ISHI 石
1 Nanson Road, Intercontinental Singapore Robertson Quay, #02-06, Singapore
9829 8239, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tue – Sun : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon