Dinner @ Ryo Sushi

June 23, 2018 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

When Ryo Sushi first opened its door in September 2016, my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) said we should hurry down to try their opening special menu which was a 10-course priced very affordably and attractively at $18 but limited to the first 18 customers. However, the thing about me is that I prefer regular menus. So Ryo Sushi ended up on my restaurants-to-try list… For 1.5 years. Oops. Out of sight area, out of mind lah. Cause shortly after Ryo Sushi opened at Orchid Hotel, my office shifted out of Tanjong Pagar.

And the reason why Ryo Sushi returned back to my radar was because a foodie friend, whom I recently befriended on instagram, was also interested to check out Ryo Sushi. Yeah. And let’s call my new friend IGBP (InstaGram Bottomless Pit). Haha. But making the reservation was tricky. Tripadvisor reviews mentioned Ryo Sushi’s booking system was atrocious. And it’s claimed that one stand a higher chance of securing seats if it’s mentioned in the reservation call that one is getting the most expensive menu ($98).

In our first attempt, I called at 11.30pm and was told that they only accept reservation 1 month in advanced. In our second attempt, I called at 10.30pm but my call was not picked up. In our third attempt, I called at 10am. Thankfully they answered my morning call because I was making reservation to have dinner on the same day.

I was informed they were fully booked that night for all 3 seatings (6pm, 7.30pm and 9pm). The staff put us on the waiting list instead, and I was informed later at 3.30pm that we were confirmed for 6pm seating. Which honestly, it’s hard for me to comprehend how they managed to squeeze out 2 seats when they said they were full house when I called earlier. Was it pure coincidence that someone cancelled their reservation or was it really work of the magic words “we are ordering the $98 set”. But in any case, IGBP and I were thrilled to get our reservation confirmed.

And we started our dinner with:-

1) 18-course sea urchin menu, $98 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Edamame.

(B) Dish #2 (above, left) – Hijiki seaweed salad.

(C) Dish #3 (above) – Truffled onsen egg with salmon roe.

  
  
  
  
  
  

(D) Dish #4 (above) – Sushi assortment of flounder (hirame) with pink Himalayan salt, snapper (matai), squid, scallop with kombu crumble and a dash of fresh lime, striped jack (shima-aji) with citrus and pepper, big-eye snapper (kinmedai), prawn (namba ebi), marinated tuna (maguro zyke) with yuzu zest, medium fatty tuna (chutoro) with soya foam, salmon roe, and sea urchin (bafun uni).

(E) Dish #5 (above) – Crab hand roll. And I liked the attention to small details; Chef Louis added (3 to 4) slits to the seaweed before passing us the hand roll. The slits made it easier for eating.

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Super mini rice bowl of sea urchin (bafun uni) and salmon roe.

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Miso soup.

I went to Ryo Sushi with no expectation and I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed the dining experience. Don’t expect top quality for the sushi topping (neta) since we get what we pay for. But the sushi was pretty good. Although chef Louis could use less “thank you so much”. A “thank you so much” would follow after his every introduction of the sushi. Hmm…

And while I was having my dinner, I noticed everyone but one was having the $98 menu. So one could still get reservation with the $68 menu (which is also 11-course, but without sea urchin). The $18 menu is only for walks-in which I personally think would be quite hard to get unless one try to walk in during lunch. And for lunch service, Ryo Sushi also offered a $38 menu in addition to the $68 and $98 menus.

Do I recommend Ryo Sushi? I certainly do. But I hope one’s experience won’t be marred by the reservation process before the actual meal.

RYO SUSHI
1 Tras Link, Orchid Hotel, #01-06, Singapore
6443 3463, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 11:45 – 14:45 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Magic Square

June 20, 2018 in Asian, Peranakan by thywhaleliciousfay

It was through instagram that I got to know about Magic Square; A year-long pop-up restaurant initiated by restaurateur Tan Ken Loon (also the man behind The Naked Finn and Nekkid) for young, promising Singaporean chefs. The project with its good intention certainly piqued my interest. So when my newly-made instagram friend @abbey_thebolobao asked if I was interested in heading down to Magic Square together, I jumped at it.

There’re 2 seatings; 6pm to 8pm, and 8.15pm to 10.15pm. Since we were dining on a weekday, we went for the second seating. Employees mah. However, the restaurant was located inaccessibly in Portsdown. To reach Magic Square, I took bus 191 from One-North MRT station. And the thing about going for the second seating, bus service would have already ended when dinner was over. So the only way out of Portsdown was either by car, cab or foot.

Bus 191 stopped directly in front of Magic Square. With an open-concept kitchen and a 7 metre-long communal table, one could either think the space was designed as though one is entering a friend’s house or it was just designed minimally since it’s afterall only a year-long project. But it’s not wrong to think the latter because in the opening speech, it was mentioned that Magic Square was not to earn money. Ken Loon was also not shy from sharing that he got inspiration from Noma for the lights. Yes, I noticed the similarity.

Magic Square offered a 9-course menu which rotate every month. For June 2018, the kitchen was led by chef Marcus Leow. After an opening speech by Ken Loon (or general manager Gabriel Chan if Ken Loon is not in), Marcus stepped up to introduce his menu which was Peranakan-based. But instead of the cuisine, Marcus mentioned the meal focused on the ingredients. And with that, we started our 9-course menu ($78) with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Smoked tomato stuffed with belacan creme fraiche and coated with belacan crumb. Belacan was homemade where small shrimps were salted, cured, dried under the sun and toasted.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Slightly poached mozambique lobster paired with belimbing and starfruit (burnt, fermented, pickled) and served in starfruit juice and pomelo oil. This was really refreshingly good. The sweetness of the mozambique lobster was enhanced by the sourness of starfruit and belimbing.


  

3) Dish #3 (above) – Pickled egg yolk jam sandwiched between brik pastry and sprinkled with coffee powder, and tart with kaya jam and sugar snap pea. The latter was really good. I had a few renditions of pea tart (MUME and Cure), and I have to say Marcus’s rendition surprisingly came out top for me. When I first heard kaya was used, I was skeptical. But Marcus’s bold choice in using kaya turned out impressively well; The saltiness of kaya was balanced nicely by the clean taste of pea. The fragrance continued to linger in my mouth after I finished the tart.


4) Dish #4 (above) – Rice porridge served with broth made from yellow bean, cabbage and taucheo sauce. Cabbage was burnt in brown butter, while fried tempeh (cultured soy bean) was added into the rice porridge for contrast in textures. I really liked this. A very comforting dish that warmed not just the stomach, but also the heart soul.

5) Dish #5 (above) – Potato flour coated hairtail with candlenut-infused milk, calamansi zest and juice, curry leaf oil, and rempah sauce made with onion, shallot and lemongrass.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Brussels sprouts, buah keluak emulsion with olive vegetable and shaved cured egg yolk. I liked that the sprouts were fried and sauteed for its sweet and bitter tastes. This dish even had us, self-proclaimed meat lovers, falling in love with vegetables.


7) Dish #7 (above) – Pork belly paired with chinchalok (fermented small shrimp), prawn head oil emulsion and burnt pineapple puree. We were told the pork belly was brined before grilled over charcoal fire. Out of the 9 courses, this was unfortunately my least favourite. We unanimously agreed a better fattier cut of pork would make this dish perfect as the pork belly was a little dry.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Belimbing sorbet, celery granita and sweet pickled celery. A very refreshing dessert which served more like a palate cleanser.

9) Dish #9 (above) – Corn kueh salat and corn tea. The tea was not exactly a tea since no tea leaves were used. Instead, the drink was made from corn silk and corn husk. It was super impressive. A very aromatic drink with depth in its taste. As for the kueh salat, I just wished the custard layer was thicker; I still had rice left in my mouth after the custard layer (of reduced corn kennel) melted in my mouth. But this was definitely one of the highlights of my meal.

It was a fun and wonderful meal. Although the chefs had to work with a tight budget, that they did not deter them from delivering an impressive meal. After our dinner, it was through our interaction with Marcus that we learnt the tight budget also meant they had to think of all ways to not let any part of the produce go to waste.

And because Marcus introduced every dish before we tucked in, I felt I was in a classroom at that moment instead of eating in someone’s house because I was learning new things. Marcus would share interesting facts like ‘buah keluak is buried in soil for a week to neutralise its poison’ or ‘belimbing is acidic in nature, so it was fermented before used for the mozambique lobster dish’, etc. A unique dining experience.

But it was also after my meal that I realised while Magic Square was created as a platform for young, promising Singaporean chefs to showcase their creativity and talent in food and learn the ropes of business, not any chefs could come. The present 3 chefs at Magic Square (Desmond Shen, Marcus Leow and Abel Su) were handpicked by Ken Loon.

I definitely recommend Magic Square. I am not one who return to the same restaurant soon, but because of the solid meal by Marcus (for June 2018), I’m joining my newly-made instagram friends @abbey_thebolobao, @free.the.umami and @thetravellingcow to return to Magic Square in July. July’s menu will be led by Abel Su and his theme is Chinese kaiseki. Interesting…

MAGIC SQUARE 田
5B Portsdown Road, Singapore
8181 0102, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sat : 18:00 – 22:15 (Dinner)
Ambience: 7
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon, Sun

Dinner @ Cure

June 15, 2018 in European by thywhaleliciousfay

When Cure opened in mid-2015, it was trending a lot on instagram. Not surprising since new restaurants often receive a lot of attention. But after reading mixed reviews, I decided to wait it out. However, it accidentally went off my radar till I recently saw pictures of their peach dessert in (late) April; Shaped like a giant opalescent pearl, one would crack the sugar shell to reveal the peach compote, granite and sorbet within. I was super intrigued. Maybe even mesmerised? I immediately made reservation for two.

But unfortunately for me, the instagram picture of the dessert was a latergram. And because Cure updates their menu regularly (not the whole menu but some dishes), the peach dessert was no longer available by the time I dined in (early) May. Sob.

After working in Michelin-starred restaurants across Dublin, London and New York, chef-owner Andrew Walsh brought his wealth of experience to start Esquina in 2011 before opening Cure in 2015. The restaurant name being inspired by the Latin word ‘curare’ which meant ‘to take care of’.

My friend and I arrived at Cure on a weekday evening. And from the menu, we decided to go with the 5-courses ($120) comprised of:-

1) Bread, Complimentary (above)

  
  

2) Canapés, Complimentary (above) – Wasabi spring pea tart, smoked eel parfait and seaweed (nori) on chickpea panisse, ‘Linzer cookie’ but with a twist of chicken liver mousse and raspberry jam sandwiched between parmesan sable, and marinated trout roe on charcoal rice cracker.

3) Appetiser with options of:-


(A) Beetroot (above) – With horseradish, cashew.


(B) Scallop (above) – With kohlrabi, almond.


  

(C) Foie gras torchon (+ $15, supplement) (above) – With kampot pepper, milk bread. I really enjoyed this. And because the toasted bread was also good on its own, I ended up with insufficient bread to spread the rich and creamy foie gras on. A must try.

4) Main with options of:-

(A) Steamed snapper (above) – With fennel, garlic leaf.I am usually a ‘red meat’ person when it comes to choosing my main. But between fish, gnocchi and beef, fish was the obvious option. And thankfully it didn’t disappoint. The steamed snapper was good! It makes me really happy when the fish dishes are executed really well.


  

(B) Roasted aged squab (for two) (+ $15 per person, supplement) (above) – With white asparagus, black truffle. The pigeon was a little too bloody for our liking. When my friend and I enquired on its degree of done-ness when our plates were cleared, the staff replied “Well raw”. Hmm… I guess he meant ‘raw’, or even ‘blue raw’. The pigeon thigh, on the other hand was ‘well done’, and we loved it. We were also served a white asparagus tart with almond and cured yolk, but we didn’t really like it. I wasn’t sure how the tart complemented the pigeon too.

5) Dessert with options of:-

(A) Chocolate (above) – With spring herbs, praline.

(B) Earl grey tea (above) – With plum, thyme. I really liked this. A refreshing dessert of earl grey panna cotta, plum and malt ice cream.

6) Petit fours, Complimentary (above) – Chocolate macron and ice cream biscuit.

Although I was sad I missed out on the peach dessert, I enjoyed myself nonetheless. While there were hits and misses for the food, the few hits (foie gras torchon and earl grey tea dessert) that we had were good enough for me to recommend Cure. But of course, if one really wants to try the 2 ‘must try’ dishes, I say “head down soon” in case chef-owner Andrew plans to replace them next from the menu. Gasp.

CURE SINGAPORE
21 Keong Saik Road, Singapore
6221 2189, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Wed – Fri : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun