Dinner @ Eatanic Garden 이타닉 가든 (Seoul, Korea)

September 14, 2022 in Korea, Korean by thywhaleliciousfay

My (fine dine) meals for my September ‘22 Korea trip were booked with much referencing to Michelin Guide Korea. With the exceptions of 2; Eatanic Garden and The Green Table. I got to learn about Eatanic Garden when chef-owner of Le Du (Bangkok, Thailand) posted his meal on Instagram just a few weeks before my trip.

That naturally piqued my interest. But I’ll be honest… I dragged my feet in making the reservation because the restaurant name (ie, Eatanic Garden) made me imagine the meal will be vegetables-heavy. And I really ain’t a vegetable person.

So I count myself very lucky that Eatanic Garden was able to accept my reservation just 2 days before. I strongly do not recommend anyone to follow my poor example. Purely because this place is still under (international) radar. It will be a challenge securing a reservation in future because I honestly foresee they’ll be getting their Michelin stars with the next Michelin Guide Korea announcement.

Eatanic Garden’s website indicated reservation has to be made by phone. However my Korean SIM card did not allow outgoing calls. So I sent them a message on Instagram. They responded promptly and requested for my details (name and email address). Do note because of the very short notice, they accepted my reservation with the trust / good faith that I will not pull a fast one. Most (if not all) fine dine restaurants will require one to secure the booking with a (credit card) deposit.

Do dress appropriately because as the hotel name sounds (Eatanic Garden being located on level 36 of Josun Palace), the venue is very grand.

There are a few seating areas in Eatanic Garden; Dining hall of table seats, private rooms, balcony with couple sofa, and counter seats. I was glad to be given a seat at the counter. And may I add, the best seat too with straight view of the ‘stage’ where head chef Son Jongwon and his team do the plating.

Upon seated, the staff took my order for drinks (I went with just still water). And with that, I commenced my Autumn tasting dinner menu, ₩320,000 with:-

1) Welcome drink, Complimentary (above) – Sap water collected from birch trees. Wow.

2) Gamhong 감홍 (above) – Served in an apple-shaped hop (traditional Korean bowl), the texture of this apple dish was interesting. It’s like a cross between soup and oat porridge.

3) Alcoholic drink, Complimentary – Was given a cup to enjoy with the apple (gamhong) dish.


4) Plum blossom 오얏꽃 (above) – Staff shared that back in the Joseon dynasty, plum tree blossom (oyat flower) was used to represent the imperial family of the Korean empire. So it’s as though head chef Jongwon was expressing royalty through this really intricate ‘glass chip’. And to be honest, I was blown away by its level of intricacy. I can’t imagine the amount of preparation works that went into it. And beneath the gorgeous glass chip was roasted chestnut, chestnut purée, fermented plum and salmon roe.

5) Jujeonburi 주전부리 (above) – Trio of small snacks; Chewy and sticky donut made with sweet rice and topped with pine mushroom, tart made with tofu and filled with potato egg salad and confit dried anchovies, and folded seaweed on parae seaweed (파래) paste. These were so good! I like that donut was fried such that it had a thicker crust, and I personally thought the tart was cleverly playful with different ‘crunch’ from the fried anchovy and thinly chopped vegetables. And again, I was blown away by the folded humming bird. I mean, origami with paper is hard enough. Origami with seaweed? Wow wow. Apparently it’s made by drying and then frying, before it’s folded into the shape of a humming bird which symbolises ‘happiness’.

6) Hydroponic herbs 수경재배 허브 (above) – When the staff told me the skin was radish, my jaw literally dropped. For the colours to come through so vividly, the radish must be really thin yet big enough to be rolled up. Served in a tangerine vinaigrette, the roll also contained aged yellowtail (sashimi) and Korean pine nuts within. A very refreshing and light-on-the-palette dish.

7) Soy bean 콩 (above) – By now, the staff noticed I take pictures of my food. And that I hadn’t been very fast at it. Haha. So for this particular dish, the staff stressed the dish is very time sensitive because she really wanted me to enjoy it as per chef’s intent. Smoked soybean curd beneath the egg veil and fermented shiitake mushroom glaze, and topped with Korean caviar. I listened well and tucked in after just 3 snaps. But what happened next was a total surprise and touched impressed me. Staff came out with a tin of the Korean caviar, showing it’s specially curated for Eatanic Garden, and gave me a big scoop. She shared it’s because she really wanted me to enjoy the soy bean dish with caviar of the right temperature. And indeed, the caviar that came served in the dish had turned warm and its taste was muted, whereas the freshly placed cold caviar was more salty. The cold caviar’s sharper/more intense flavour was a great contrast to the soy bean which is usually bland on its own. Am grateful to have tasted the contrast of warm and cold caviars with the soy bean pudding. And it’s learned from their menu card that this dish is an homage to freshly made ‘dabu’ (traditionally a dish made in front of diners at temple restaurant).

8) Cabbage heart 알배추 (above) – Heart of the Baechu cabbage done in 2 ways (pan-fried and chopped white kimchi), and served with charcoal-grilled sea perch. The fish was executed very beautifully, and the deceivingly plain-looking gochujang sauce was full of umami! “Secret”, the staff said with a wide smile when I asked out of plain curiosity if fish broth was added into the sauce.

9) Burdock 우엉 (above) – And with every course, the staff would place a menu card informing us of the upcoming dish’s main theme/ingredient. Was surprised when the card showed burdock but a crab was placed in front of me. Not that I am complaining. Hee. And mixed with the blue crab flesh was japchae (stir-fried sweet potato starch noodles). I thought it’s interesting that the japchae was intentionally grilled to have some burnt crust (similar to scorched rice). And the vegetables (burdock included) in the japchae helped to cut through the heaviness of the creamy sauce, though maybe they could have gone a little easier on the sauce quantity.

10) Pine needles 솔잎 (above) – Minced duck balls grilled over charcoal and smoked with pine needles. Served alongside a flavourful duck bone broth infused with pine needle oil.


11) Autumn mushrooms 가을 버섯 (above) – Seven types of Korean autumn mushrooms prepared in various ways, served with abalone that was steamed before charcoal-grilled. Head chef Jongwon came out to personally introduce the dish, and I think he mentioned starch water was also used for the glutinous rice wrapped in chard leaf. And what a surprise when I chewed into it to realise the bottom of the rice was grilled to obtain the same crunch as scorched rice. Nice!

12) Cosmos 코스모스 (above) – Love the subtle effect of the pomegranate sorbet (hidden out of sight beneath the sugar flower) fizzing when the staff poured the juice into the cup.

13) Sweet pumpkin 단호박 (above) – Sweet pumpkin and green tea cakes. The former was airy while the latter had a cheesecake texture. And on the plate was butter squash and pumpkin purées. I genuinely thought it was just a colourful plate! Was also told this plating was inspired by a famous Korean artist (Yoo Youngkuk)’s painting.


14) Mother of pearl box 자개함 (above) – And inside the drawers of the mother-of-pearl lacquer box were berry drink, rhubarb jerky, white chocolate bon bon with makgeolli filling, stuffed date and Korean melon.

15) Tea/coffee (above) – I chose to go with tea.

Words alone can’t express how much I enjoyed my meal at Eatanic Garden. Everything was just perfect!!! Ambience was needless to say grand and posh. Food was exceptional. Not just the taste, but the plating too. And when I say plating, I am also referring to the crazy amount of preparation works the team had to put in! That ‘plum blossom glass chip’ and ‘folded seaweed humming bird’.

And instead of the usual menu, Eatanic Garden used menu card. The staff would place the pictorial menu card showing the key ingredient of the next upcoming course. And at the end of the meal, the cards would be placed into an envelope for diners to take home. It’s only after I reached home that I realised there’s commentary at the back of each menu card. And I enjoy such stuff. The commentary allowed me to further appreciate the meal with the newly gained insight of chef’s thought process when he put together/planned the menu.

I also did some stalking surfing on Instagram and the female staff who attended mostly to me was Winter Woo! She is such a dear. She certainly elevated my dining experience with her bright smile and sincere heart. :) And thank you head chef Jongwon for the private tour of the kitchen! I was dining solo, but never did I once feel alone.

Eatanic Garden debuted with the opening of Josun Palace in May 2021, but it’s interesting the staff said 14 February 2022 when I asked how long they have been in operation. Apparently head chef Jongwon became part of Eatanic Garden team only later (which meant he now oversees Eatanic Garden and L’Amant Secret), and 14 February was their renewal opening date.

Will I recommend Eatanic Garden? Yes! YES! One may find their dinner menu slightly pricey at ₩320,000, but I say it’s totally worth it. If not one could also check them out for lunch.

Now… Michelin Guide Korea announces the winners every November, and I am definitely rooting for Eatanic Garden to be awarded at least 2 Michelin stars in the upcoming Michelin Guide Korea 2023.

Level 36, Josun Palace, 231 Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
+82 2 517 4654, Website, Instagram
Overall: 9.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 10
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 21:00
Ambience: 9
Value: 8
Service: 10

Dinner @ Monzushi Singapore 紋ずし | Sushi Restaurant in Tanjong Pagar

August 28, 2022 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Eating sushi in Singapore ain’t cheap. Especially when it’s at reputable sushi restaurants that’s helmed by Japanese chefs. So imagine my surprise when I came across Monzushi; Opened by third-generation chef Keisuke Kaneko, with dinner menus ranging between $148 to $288. Now… Before anyone start protesting that $288 is considered expensive, do note I am comparing Monzushi against other most sushi-yas which dinner omakase menu easily starts from $400.

Excited at my surprise find, I immediately went to their online reservation system and booked myself for the immediate weekend. And it seems like pre-selecting one’s choice of menu is the new norm. And from the dinner menu, I went with Chef’s Special menu ($288). Monzushi had 3 seatings; 5pm, 6.30pm and 8.30pm. I chose 6.30pm as I was going to be in the area and be done by 6pm.

It rained almost the entire day on the day of my dinner. I only managed to arrive at the restaurant at 6.40pm. Could I blame the rain? Keke. But prior to stepping into the restaurant, I was praying hard I wasn’t the last to reach. I was hoping chef-owner Keisuke san doesn’t wait for everyone to arrive before starting. Else, I be so embarrassed.

However, I was surprised to see I was the first to arrive. The sushi counter could sit 8 people and it turned out the other 7 customers had contacted the restaurant earlier in the day to cancel. Say what! That instead got me nervous in a different way. It wasn’t my first time dining solo, but it was my first at having the entire place to myself with no one joining later. Gasp.

After taking my drinks order, I started my Chef’s Special menu, $288 with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Sea urchin on tofu skin (yuba), fish cake, and (cooked) bonito.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Sashimi platter including bonito, mackerel (saba), various cuts of tuna, and shellfish.

3) Dish #3 (above) – This was massive! And the thing was… I had a phobia of oyster. Like I couldn’t consume oysters for a good 5 years? So while I have since overcome it 2 years back, the sight of this huge oyster set off some bells in my head. But thank goodness this went down smoothly. Its texture was very creamy. Really good.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Milt (shirako). I was really happy to see this as it has been a while since I last had milt. Was told this was the start of the season. Glad I came! :)


5) Dish #5 (above) – Green eggplant. Was told this is also a seasonal ingredient that’s only available 1.5 months a year. Really nice. The sauce served alongside it enhanced the eggplant’s sweetness.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Deep fried river crabs. I got curious and asked if they feed the (live) river crabs, and was told they don’t. That the crabs could survive a good 5 days and it be really smelly if they do feed them. Ahhh… I see.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Turbo shell soup with mushrooms.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Blowfish.

9) Dish #9: Sushi 1 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro) nigiri.

10) Dish #10: Sushi 2 (above) – Baby gizzard shad (shinko) nigiri.

11) Dish #11: Sushi 3 (above) – Baby squid nigiri. Baby squid legs was served separately on its own but with sauce. And this was really good. Very tender.

12) Dish #12: Sushi 4 (above) – Baby sardine nigiri.

13) Dish #13: Sushi 5 (above) – Torched (aburi) sea perch nigiri.

And at this point of my meal, sous chef (local) shared there be 2 more pieces of sushi, soup and dessert. To which I said I was still hungry and requested for 3 more pieces of sushi. And because I was the only diner, I had the opportunity to converse a lot with the chefs. While conversing, I mentioned my love for shellfish. So I was extremely appreciative when head chef Keisuke san went to his fridge and took out goodies for me.

14) Add-on dish 1 (above) – Giant clam (ishigaki-gai) nigiri.

15) Dish #14: Sushi 6 (above) – Open roll of sea urchin rice and sea urchin. Was told to hold it up by pinching the seaweed together. Yum!

16) Dish #15 (above) – Rolled egg omelette (tamago). This was served piping hot, which head chef Keisuke san shared it’s done intentionally. “Must be hot to taste good,” he said.

17) Add-on dish 2 (above) – Salmon roe in sac (sujiko) with grated radish. So good! Was told to eat in small mouthfuls so that it wouldn’t be overwhelmingly salty. I didn’t think it was salty at all. In fact, I thought it’s brilliant that head chef Keisuke san paired it with grated radish.

18) Add-on dish 3 (above) – Arctic surf clam (hokkigai) nigiri served with sauce made with its liver and ginger.

19) Dish #16 (above) – Sea eel (anago) nigiri with salt and coarse black pepper.

20) Dish #17 (above) – Soup with seasonal mushroom.

21) Dish #18 (above) – Melon.

Despite being the only diner for that night, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Monzushi. It was a little uncomfortable when I was having my first 2 dishes because I had like 5 pairs of eyes looking at me. But head chef Keisuke san broke the ice. I relaxed. And we, including sous chef, enjoyed a group conversation. I got to learn Monzushi celebrated their 4-years anniversary just the week before. Head chef Keisuke san addressed his father affectionately as papa. And yes, his papa also flew in from Japan to celebrate with them. But papa couldn’t stay long (in Singapore) because of their sushi restaurant back in Tokyo.

As taken from their website, Monzushi started off as a yatai (stall) in 1933. It was originally called Monchan-Ya and was founded by head chef Keisuke san’s grandfather. Following the success of the yatai, grandfather went on to open his Edo-style sushi restaurant in Tokyo called Monzushi. Monzushi Tokyo is now helmed by head chef Keisuke san’s papa and brother.

I asked head chef Keisuke san, “Why Singapore?” To which he laughed and shrugged his shoulders. But he went on to share he started working at 14 years old for others in Ginza right from the bottom (washing plates), before returning to be trained under his papa and then heading overseas including Shanghai (4 years).


Head chef Keisuke san and his sous chef were friendly and easy to converse with. And head chef Keisuke san is a drinker. So go ahead and offer him a drink too! I am a little embarrassed to say I got a little carried away with my drinks. Ha.

Would I recommend Monzushi? A big fat yes from me. It’s a rare find for omakase menu that’s by Japanese chef to be affordably priced at $288. And I really appreciate the omakase menu included less common (and seasonal) neta (sushi topping) like baby squid and baby sardine. Usually one only gets such if opted for nigiri-focus menu. And yes, he used 2 types of sushi rice (shari). Red shari for oily fishes, and white shari for less oily fishes. Head chef Keisuke san shared the recipe of white shari was passed down from his grandfather, while the red shari was created by himself.

It’s a pity Monzushi doesn’t get as much attention on social media. Head chef Keisuke san mentioned 70% of his customers are his (Japanese) regulars with the remaining 30% being working crowd from neighbouring offices and hospitals. I do hope more will get to know of Monzushi and give them a try.

If one is only after small bites and drinks, Monzushi also has a bar! :)

13 Neil Road, Singapore
6227 7088, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 17:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 7
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ OUROBOROS | Japanese Chinese Restaurant in Orchard

August 21, 2022 in Chinese, Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

Ouroboros has got to be the first Tokyo Chinese restaurant in Singapore. In fact, dining at Ouroboros was also my first at trying Chinese Japanese cuisine. So naturally, I was excited. I mean… What exactly is Chinese Japanese cuisine? How different is it going to be from Chinese Chinese cuisine?

There’s actually very little information about Ouroboros on the internet. But what I managed to find is that Ouroboros is helmed by chef-owner Kou Otsuki, and he has years of experience serving Chinese (cuisine) in Tokyo. Roppongi to be exact.

It was great my friend was open to trying Chinese Japanese cuisine with me. There’s 3 time slots to choose from (6pm, 7pm and 8.15pm). We only managed to snag the 8.15pm seats because we made the reservation 3 days in advanced. And when reervation was being made, we had to pre-select our menu. Between Classic Omakase ($88) and Chinese Fusion Omakase ($128), we went for the latter.

Locating Ouroboros was not as straight forward as I imagined. But that’s because I assumed it’ll be located along the same stretch of units as Sage by Yasunori Dori and Bistro Etroit. Ouroboros was interestingly located right at the back of Orchard Plaza, facing Kramat Road.

Upon entering the restaurant, what struck me the most was how dimly-lit the space was. Lots of black was used for its interior decor. So naturally, attention was drawn to the table as that’s the only area that was illuminated. So yes, it seemed intentional that head chef Otsuki san wants his customers to focus on his food by drowning out the other distraction with darkness.

We were presented with the menu after taking our seats. Not so much for us to select our food options since we had pre-selected our course menu. But more for us to order our drinks. And with that, we started our Fusion Omakase menu, $128 with:-

1) Dish #1 (above)

2) Dish #2 (above) – Assorted appetiser combination. Including Japanese pork (char siew) with chicken soya sauce, sea urchin and tofu skin (yuba) pudding, Japanese spotted prawn (botan ebi) marinated in shaoxing wine⁣, spinach with sesame sauce, ⁣⁣tofu and spinach salad, tomato with ponzu jelly, jellyfish, and squid with mushrooms.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Striped jack (shima aji) with mala sauce, shredded crisp, pesto and chilli oil.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Spring roll containing greater amberjack (kanpachi), shiso leave and asparagus. Served with lime and snow salt.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Shark fin soup containing mushrooms and truffle oil. I was actually a little taken back at how dirty the bowl was. I tried wiping the bowl (for the photograph) but couldn’t because it had… Harden? Which set off alarm in my head because it got me wondering if I was really served soup in a used bowl.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Steamed sea bream served with scallop in a concoction of shiso broth and chilli sauce.

7) Dish #7 (above) – And to replace the mala wagyu beef dish, I was served braised pork belly and abalone.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Somen served in a cold broth with a XO sauce base, with salmon roe and cherry blossom shrimp (sakura ebi).

9) Dish #9 (above) – Osmanthus pudding with mango sauce and fruits (peach, strawberry).

It was a nice meal. The cooking station in the open kitchen was in full view from our assigned counter seats. So in addition to enjoying our food, my friend and I got to witness the entire process of cooking and plating.

But what my friend and I didn’t enjoy about the meal was the pace. It was really fast. It was to one point where we were eating Dish A, Dish B was ready and placed in front of us, and head chef Otsuki san was already plating Dish C. Super stressful. It made me wonder was he in a rush to close for the day. But if a restaurant is going to allow a 8.15pm seating, they should also anticipate a good 2 hours is required for customers to enjoy the meal comfortably. For us, our 8 dishes (9 dishes if including the edamame small bite) were all out within 1 hour. That’s only 6 minutes to eat between courses. (^^|||)

Did I learn the difference between Chinese Japanese and Chinese Chinese cuisines? Hmm… Probably not. Ha. Except for maybe noticing more Japanese ingredients being used? Prior to dinner, I was hoping we be able to try head chef Otsuki san’s mapo shirako (milt). But we didn’t get to, probably because it’s a seasonal dish.

Will I recommend Ouroboros? Yes. I really like their concept. The thing about (Chinese-)Chinese cuisine is that food portion is usually for sharing between 2 to 3 people. So I really like how one can enjoy multi-courses that’s portioned for individuals at Ouroboros. If I am working within the vicinity, I can picture myself dropping by for late after-work dinner. In fact, I was looking at their instagram account and they’ve recently introduced a-la carte menu for walk-in after 10pm. Ideal for early supper! But hopefully they ain’t imposing minimum 2 person for walk-ins too.

150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza, #01-24/25, Singapore
6684 4567, Instagram
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 23:30
Ambience: 8
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon