Dinner @ Asador Singapore | Spanish Grill in Joo Chiat

March 23, 2022 in Spanish by thywhaleliciousfay

My last fancy siblings meal was back in 2015 at Burnt Ends. We didn’t arrange another one since, because my siblings and I felt guilty having fun without our parents. But as our family grew, my brothers and I formed a ‘youngster group’ with the addition of my sister-in-law and Bro 2’s friend that’s like family. The 3 kids no longer feel guilty since it’s children youngsters hanging out. =p

So yes! Our ‘youngster meal’ came about because Bro 1 wanted to treat. Woohoo! Bro 1 initially asked me for suggestion, but I was stumped. The few places that I could think of were more ideal for couples pairs and not for bigger groups. So thank goodness for my sister-in-law! She was at Asador with her colleagues and enjoyed the food very much. She didn’t mind returning, so it was decided to dine at Asador. Reservation for weekday dinner was made through Asador’s website with 2 weeks’ advanced notice. We went with the latest time possible for the first seating (6.15pm).

It’s a good thing the youngsters all stay in the North. Car pool! Keke. There’s an open air carpark at the junction of Tembeling Road and Joo Chiat Place, which is just a 3 minutes walk from Asador. We easily got ourselves a parking lot. Ain’t sure if it’s because 6.15pm is considered early for a Friday evening, or people don’t hang out as much as we used to because of COVID-19.

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

1) Pimientos de padron, $13 (above)

2) Tosta de jamón ibérico, $9 (2 pieces) (above) – Toasted focaccia with grated tomatoes & acorn-fed ham. This was seriously good. Everything was in perfect ratio. From the liberally applied butter, to the thick layer of tomato puree, and the generous shaving of sweet yet nutty cured ham. A must order.

3) Zamburiñas, $9 (2 pieces) (above) – Grilled baby scallops with kombu butter.


4) Atún, $18 (above) – Tuna tartare, green apple sorbet, ajoblanco cream. Ain’t sure if the waiting staff intentionally poured the sauce in a fancy way, but I couldn’t help linking the pattern made to latte art. Anyone with me?

5) Salmorejo, $16 (above) – San Marzano tomatoes with homemade preserved tuna & smoked burratina.

6) Puerro, $14 (above) – Grilled leeks with carbonara cream & black truffle. Didn’t enjoy this. The grilled leeks were overcooked over-grilled and thus soggy.

7) Huevos rotos, $16 (above) – Hand cut frites with chorizo & runny egg.

8) Gambones, $26 (5 pieces) (above) – Grilled king prawns with garlic & amontillado praline. This was unfortunately my least favourite. The meat texture was soft. But what really got to me was the really weird waxy aftertaste in my mouth after sucking the prawn head for its innards. I had my fair share of these Sicilian prawns (in Australia), so I was pretty sure that aftertaste wasn’t normal. I certainly don’t remember wiping my mouth to see the tissue stained red. Really odd. Give this a miss, I say.

9) Pulpo, $34 (above) – Octopus with roasted sweet potato & olives.

10) Cerdo ibérico, $48 (above) – Grilled pork with moruno spices.

  

11) Cochinillo, $198 (half) (above) – Roasted Spanish suckling pig. This could be ordered as quarter or as half. And it’s only with half order that the suckling pig was placed on a side table beside our dining table where the staff would use plates to chop it into smaller pieces. Apparently this is a tradition to prove the meat is tender. Look! Knife not required. We were also given the opportunity to break 1 of the 2 plates. Not sure if this is also part of the tradition but we were told the ‘plate breaking’ came into play when a chef was chopping and 1 of the plates fell out of his oily hands. The diners who were mostly tourists thought it was a part of the performance and started clapping and cheering. And thus, ‘plate breaking’ was born. But of course, to break the plate at Asador, we were to throw it into a barrel. This actually reminded me of the now defunct Esmirada.

12) Tarta de chocolate, $13 (above) – 70% chocolate, sumac & orange Chantilly.

13) Piña colada, $14 (above) – Roasted pineapple, coconut yoghurt sorbet, rum carame.

14) Tarta de queso ‘la viña’, $16 (above) – Tribute to the original Basque cheesecake. We were hesitant to order this because we had our fair share of Basque cheesecake and we didn’t think we could manage a heavy gooey-centre Baseque cheesecake. But thankfully we went ahead with this! Asador’s rendition was light on the palette. If it’s anything to go by, us polishing off this dessert first despite it being the last dessert to be served clearly showed it’s our favourite.

15) Mango, $15 (above) – Spicy mango sorbet, garam masala chutney, coriander financier. Give this a miss. We didn’t think the garam masala went well with any components of the dessert.

Asador is definitely a place for bigger groups to gather and eat. The portions were meant for sharing among 3, at least. I personally can’t see myself coming here with just a friend because that would mean I can’t order many dishes from the menu. Haha.

We happened to visit on the day when Asador changed their menu. A real bummer because my sister-in-law said a lot of her favourites (from the previous menu) were no longer available. She mentioned the crayfish-bacon dish and snickers dessert. Oh well…

  

And photographs of their toilet! My sister-in-law was really cute. She insisted we should check out Asador’s toilet because it’s pretty. So yes, we made sure we used the toilet. And I thought it’s interesting how each of us had a different take on the stones in the sinks. Bro 2 joked a different outlook can be obtained just by shifting the coloured stones around. Me? I actually imagined diners rinsing their mouths and the food pieces stuck in the grooves of the stones. Hahaha. Gross, I know.

Would I recommend Asador? Well… We definitely had a good time. I say come if one is after Spanish cuisine, and a beautiful space to dress up for. But if paella is a must order dish for you, do note Asador does not have that dish on the menu.

ASADOR RESTAURANT
51 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore
Website, 9836 1792
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Fri – Sun : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sun : 17:30 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8

Dinner @ ANJU | Contemporary Korean in Tanjong Pagar

March 19, 2022 in Korean by thywhaleliciousfay

I didn’t think I would get down to sharing my dining experience at Anju because there’s a lot of reviews of Anju on the internet. But the thing is my friend and I truly enjoyed ourselves. And it’s always experiences at the 2 extreme ends of the spectrum that make me want to write. So yes, here I am… Penning my thoughts of my meal at Anju. Since I also noticed a good handful of the online reviews are from media tasting that Anju hosted. I usually read reviews from media tastings with a pinch of salt. But hey, that’s me. =)

My girlfriend was visiting from Australia in January 2022, and suggested Anju because she saw photographs of their food on her Instagram feed. Power of social media, eh. And surprisingly, I didn’t hear of Anju prior. Shocker, I know. But I am always up for Korean cuisine!

Anju accepts reservation exactly 1 month in advance. So for our mid January dinner, reservation was made in mid December. And we chose to dine during the first seating.


Interior (Picture Credit: Link)

We were assigned to a table right under the skylight, which was lovely! Since we reached at 6.30pm, we got a good amount of natural light before the sun eventually set at 7pm. And from the food menu, my girlfriend and I ordered:-

1) Gyuja salad, $24 (above) – Prawns, squid, kimchi, red dates, mustard dressing. Would definitely recommend ordering this. The tangy sauce cut through the greasiness of the other dishes, which allowed my girlfriend and I to eat more. Keke.

2) Domi carpaccio, $26 (above) – Red snapper, seaweed, chilli, miso, chive oil, yuja. Don’t be fooled by my photographs. The portion is on the smaller side, and is good for just 2 people.

3) Hogam jeon, $26 (above) – Potato, zucchini, prawn, onion pickle. There’s an option to add mozzarella cheese for $3 but we decided not to. And this unfortunately tasted just like any seafood fritters. Barely saved by the dipping sauce. I guess this didn’t live up to expectation because I was expecting some dough since ‘jeon’ is after all a pancake dish. I say give this a miss.

4) Oyster, $28 (above) – Squid ink battered oyster, pickled fennel, flying fish roe. This was so good. Definitely recommend ordering this.

5) Abalone gim pasta, $34 (above) – Fresh abalone, seaweed, pickled shallots, perilla.

6) Bossam, $50 (above) – Pork belly, pickled mushroom, dried squid, dried radish, pickled garlic, baby romaine lettuce. Since bossam is a Korean boiled pork dish, I was surprised to see the pork belly black instead of white. And going by my standard, this would be a fail because I am a traditionalist. I want my white beautifully boiled pork, and paired with well-seasoned crunchy kimchi. Bonus if oyster is included in the kimchi just as how bossam was served when I had it in Korea. But I digress… Nonetheless, the pork belly at Anju was still enjoyable. There’s a good ratio of meat to fats, and was nicely charred.

7) Baek kimchi, $7 (above) – White kimchi, radish, red dates.


8) Sweet potato, $18 (above) – Salted caramel crème, sweet potato ice cream, brown butter crumble, charcoal curd foam, roasted sweet potato skin powder. This was lovely! Looked similar to a tiramisu, if I must say.

9) Black sesame bread, $16 (above) – Korean black sesame bread, black sesame cream, doenjang ice cream, yuzu meringue. Skip this.

So yes, my girlfriend and I had an absolute wonderful time at Anju. Though most of it was contributed by the wonderful service. When the staff came round at 7.30pm to take last orders, I panicked. We had consumed 3 of the 4 (savoury) dishes we ordered, but I was still very hungry. I liked that the staff entertained me and allowed me to go overboard with my orders. Haha. And it was an absolute bonus when the staff said we didn’t have to clear our table for second seating. I couldn’t imagine us wolfing down our additional 3 (savoury) dishes and 2 dishes within an hour.

  

My girlfriend and I also ordered some alcoholic beverages to go with our food. We had to order drinks, especially since it’s read from Anju website that head chef Kim Gi Deok created the food menu to be paired well with all of their drinks. And I would definitely recommend trying their range of makgeolli. We had White Lotus makgeolli (375ml, $30) (above, left) and Champagne makgeolli (940ml, $80) (above, right). Pity we weren’t able to try Ellyeob Pyunjoo makgeolli (750ml, $188). Might pop by just for it cause their alcohol (at least the makgeolli) is reasonably priced.

Would I recommend Anju? Yes.

ANJU RESTAURANT
62 Tras Street, Singapore
Website, 6612 1172
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 8
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Sun

Dinner @ Meta Restaurant | Contemporary Korean in Keong Saik

March 13, 2022 in Korean by thywhaleliciousfay

I’ve been meaning to check out Meta since they opened in 2016. However whenever I updated my list with newer opened restaurants, Meta got pushed further down my to-try list. So yes, Meta unfortunately didn’t become a priority for me until a foodie friend recently nudged me. He shared that none of his friends were disappointed by his recommendation to visit Meta. So when I found another foodie friend who was keen (and it will be his second visit by going with me), my trip to Meta was finally happening! =)

Reservation was made for a weekday dinner via their website with 1 month’s advanced notice. But if one prefers weekend slots, book at least 2 months ahead. And there’s only 1 dinner menu at Michelin-starred Meta. Shortly after my friend and I were seated, we commenced our dinner menu, $288 with:-

1) Foie gras (above) – With Korean strawberry, verjus. To address my friend’s dietary requirement, his foie gras was replaced with monkfish liver (ankimo). And we thought that (replacement) was a bold move. Some may not take foie gras because of how it’s being made, while some don’t because of its texture. But thankfully it was not for the latter reason that my friend don’t consume foie gras. So yes, it was a bold yet smart move since monkfish liver texture is pretty close to foie gras’s. In fact, monkfish liver is also known as ‘foie gras of the sea’. And we enjoyed this. We were off to a good start!

2) Tuna sandwich (above) – With premium fatty tuna (otoro), egg yolk and salmon roe (ikura). This was so good! It was no bigger than my thumb, and I easily had it in one bite. But nothing prepared me for how flavoursome it was. The fragrance of the perilla continued to linger in my mouth. So good! Wished I could have seconds.

3) Gimbap (above) – With venison, comte cheese.

4) Taco (above) – With bossam, pork.


5) Gyeran jjim (above) – Ika, haemultang. Gyeran jjim refers to Korean steamed egg while haemultang means spicy seafood stew. Ask me about Korean steamed egg and I would say it’s fluffy but rough. So it’s interesting how a refined rendition of this dish meant it tasted more like Japanese steamed egg (chawanmushi) instead. But I really enjoyed this. Especially the sauce which had depth in it.

6) Oyster, + $10 (above) – With gochujang, lemon, ginger.


7) Doldom (striped beakfish) (above) – With capsicum, mustard, coriander. Another favourite!


8) Hokkigai (arctic surf clams) (above) – Porridge, lilybulb, kamtae.

9) Kinmedai (golden eye snapper) (above) – Daikon, doenjang. I didn’t like the doenjang (fermented soybean paste) sauce used on the daikon. It was way too heavy, and even salty. But the fish was so good. I am not really a fish person. If I could choose my mains, I am bias towards my red meats. Give me lamb, pigeon or even rabbit anytime. But they aced the execution of the kinmedai. With a slight smokiness in the crispy fish sclaes, the fish was firm, juicy, and even naturally sweet! It didn’t even need any sauce. It was good on its own.


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10) Mechuri (quail) (above) – With potato, morel, truffle. We enjoyed this very much! I probably would have enjoyed it even more than I already was, as I was starting to fill up at this point of the meal.


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11) Korean BBQ (above) – Iberico pressa pork, gobo rice, white kimchi. Replacing what’s supposed to be a beef dish, this unfortunately failed to impress. I was expecting to chew into tender and juicy pieces of iberico (black) pork, but it was tough and chewy instead. The burdock rice was slightly dry, which I only managed to finish because I ate it with the white kimchi.

12) Strawberry (above) – Guava, makgeolli.

13) Buckwheat (above) – Doenjang, injeolmi.

14) Petit fours (Part 1) (above) – Banana creampuff, cassis marshmallow.

15) Petit fours (Part 2) (above) – Gangjeong, yakgwa.

It was a very nice meal. It was what I expected from a restaurant of such calibre. In fact, I echo my friend’s sentiment when he said he couldn’t find major flaws with the meal. Though one particular dish shone for me. The tuna sandwich was mind-blowing. In fact, it was so good that the immediate 2 snacks that came after just paled in comparison. Don’t get me wrong. Those 2 were good, but nowhere as good as the tuna sandwich.

Will I recommend Meta? A definite yes. However, my friend shared that the menu hasn’t changed much since his first visit 5 years ago. So I guess Meta is definitely worth visiting at least once. But it’s probably not for re-visiting unless Meta starts updating their menu regularly to entice diners to return (sooner).

Do note Meta is able to make an additional cake if celebrating events. I ordered the yuzu cheesecake (3 inches diameter, $25) as it was my friend’s birthday month! No picture of the cake though. The only picture I have of the cake is a group picture which I am unfortunately too fat in it. Haha. Nah, I kid. Yes, I am undeniably round. But am not posting because we are camera shy. =p

META RESTAURANT
1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore
Website, 6513 0898
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Fri – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sat : 18:30 – 23:15 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Sun