Lunch @ Locavore (Bali, Indonesia)

December 10, 2018 in Asian

When Locavore made it to Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants by S. Pellegrino in 2016, I wasn’t sure if I could ever visit them; I had traveled to Bali thrice and was quite determined I wouldn’t re-visit Bali. My travel policy is the same as my food policy where I prefer to explore new places. Tokyo excluded. Keke.

So when my very close girlfriend said I was to be her bridesmaid for her upcoming destination wedding in Bali, I immediately made my reservation at Locavore. Yes, restaurant reservation came before purchase of flight ticket. Haha. For the curious, my reservation for lunch was made 3 months in advanced on Locavore’s online booking system.

And as read from their website… Locavore is led by chef-owners Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah. Eelke, a Dutch-born chef, met fellow head chef Ray Adriansyah when he moved to Jakarta in 2008. The pair ran the kitchen at Alila Ubud together, where they fine-tuned their philosophy of creating tasting menus using primarily local ingredients. It wasn’t before long that their (at that time) unique approach to using only seasonal and local foods was recognised, and they eventually left the hotel industry to open their own restaurant. Yes, they created Locavore in November 2013.

While dishes were influenced by European and Indonesian cuisines, Locavore was all about local. From ingredients to the cutlery.

I arrived at 12.05pm, 25 minutes ahead of my reservation time. Upon arrival at the restaurant, the staff led me to the counter which could sit 5 people. And the staff started me off with the beverage menu (pages 1, 2). I think it’s the Indonesian Balinese fine-dining culture that beverage menu is presented before the food and beverage-pairing menus are given.

I ordered a mocktail since it seemed like I wasn’t going to be given the food menu until I ordered something from the beverage menu. Although to be fair to the restaurant, I could have told the staff I was good with no drinks. But I was scared. Scared of being judged for not drinking. Haha.

And for the food menu, Locavore offered vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. No-brainer that I went with the non-vegetarian menu. Keke. With a further choice of going with just 5 dishes or the full course of 7 dishes, I went with the latter.

With that, I started my lunch with:-

1) Loloh Bali (mocktail version), RP42,000 (above) – Wild honey shaken with turmeric & mint leaves reduction, tamarind syrup & Tanqueray gin, served over ice cubes, topped with homemade lemongrass soda garnished with pomelo & green leaves.

2) 7-dishes non-vegetarian lunch menu (RP895,000) comprised of:-

  
  
  

(A) Starters, Complimentary (above) – Assortment of pickles (which included garlic, passionfruit, cucumber, etc), watermelon tartare topped with seaweed, dehydrated pumpkin leaf sprinkled with seaweed powder, pickled eggplant with sesame seeds in broth, black rice belini topped with smoked egg emulsion and brown rice puff, and grilled mango marinated with passionfruit juice & pepper.

  

(B) Amuse bouches, Complimentary (above) – The first being cold tomato sorbet on sliced tomato but in warm tomato and celeriac consomme. Although I could only see traces of herbs used, I could taste the pepper which lingered in my mouth long after I finished the dish. Second was prata with 3 types of condiment which I was told to sprinkle everything onto the prata. I tried the prata alone and could taste the coconut since I was told coconut yogurt was used.


(C) Bonito (above) – Anis cured bonito, unripe mango, kecap vinaigrette, coriander, cili oil, caramelised sesame, daun kenikir.

(D) Goat tartare (above) – Lightly grilled, burnt eggplant, pickled eggplant, kecombrang, fermented shallots, charred coconut milk.


(E) Cabbage & bacon (above) – Whole cabbage roasted in bacon fat, bacon dashi, cashew sour cream, bacon shallot crumble, lacto-fermented onion powder. And I was told the cabbage was roasted for 90 minutes with bacon fats over it.


  

(F) Into the sawah (above) – Heritage galum rice (from Tegalalang, central Bali), snails & garlic, 64 degrees duck egg, frog abon, fern tips, wild flowers. I was expecting the yolk to flow out like liquid when I poked into the egg, but its texture was like custard. I was also expecting rice to be crunchy like scorched rice, but it was cooked similarly to risotto. Full of surprises.


  

(G) Mahi-mahi (above) – Sago herb tempura, green chilli emulsion, pete shiitake sambal, pickled shiitake, charred green chilli oil.

(H) Burung puyuh (above) – Roasted breast, ginger cinnamon butter, barbecued leg, smoked pumpkin, charred pineapple, pickled pumpkin. Pigeon breast and thigh were used for the dish. The de-boned thigh somehow reminded me of our Chinese 香腸. Hmm…

(I) Pre-dessert, Complimentary (above) – With mangosteen being the main ingredient, this was refreshingly good.

(J) Nuts about orangeGelato, sorbet, gel, crumble, tuiles. The combination of orange and peanut was certainly interesting. I couldn’t decide if I liked it, but I guess it must be a good sign since I finished it. Or did I keep eating it because I was trying to figure the dish out? Keke. But I certainly enjoyed the orange and peanut components separately; Orange was refreshing while the peanut reminded me much of dragon’s bread candy.



  
  

(K) Post-dessert (above) – Petit fours served on Congklak board; A traditional Indonesian game.

Prior to my lunch, I read that the meal at Locavore can get pretty lengthy. And true enough, I spent slightly more than 2 hours at the restaurant. But hey, I ain’t complaining about the many starters and amuse bouches. Keke.

I would definitely recommend one to check out Locavore when in Ubud (Bali). But try not to plan one’s meal just before… Flying out?

LOCAVORE
Jalan Dewisita No. 10, Banjar Padang, Tegal, Kabupaten Gianyar, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
+62 361 977733, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 17:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
* Closed on Sun
Service: 7

Lunch @ Shinji by Kanesaka (Carlton Hotel)

November 5, 2017 in Japanese

Craving for good sushi, I decided to join my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) in one of her (super) regular visits to 1 Michelin star Shinji where she gets her dosage of head chef Oshino san’s sushi. And with this visit, it was also my first to dine at Shinji’s new space after their relocation to Carlton Hotel from Raffles Hotel.

My IGGF always assist with the reservation at Shinji. And what seem to be a first, I was told there’s 2 seatings for head chef Oshino san. Gasp. We were only able to secure the 1st seating at 12pm. Of which, we were required to vacate by 1.20pm for the second seating. So even before our actual lunch date, I had made up my mind to go for their sushi course once knowing that we had less than 1.5 hours. And it’s pretty seldom of me since I normally opt for omakase cause I like to have variety. Ie, not just sushi. Keke.

And at Shinji’s new space, head chef Oshino san now stood separately from the other chefs. Upon arrival, the staff clad in kimono led me down a long passage, walking by what seemed to be the main dining area where most customers were attended by the other chefs, to finally reach a room that’s small but big enough to contain a L-shaped counter for 8 and a table for 4. And yes, it’s in this room that head chef Oshino san stood alone behind the counter.

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

1) Setsugetsuka sushi course set (yuki), $180 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser (above)

(B) Sushi #1 (above) – Striped jack (shima aji) sushi.

(C) Sushi #2 (above) – Spanish macakarel (sawara) sushi.

(D) Sushi #3 (above) – Medium fatty tuna (chutoro) sushi.

(E) Sushi #4 (above) – Premium fatty tuna (otoro) sushi. Shimofuri cut.

(F) Sushi #5 (above) – Jack mackerel (aji) sushi.

(G) Sushi #6 (above) – Lean tuna (akami) sushi.

(H) Sushi #7 (above) – Sea urchin sushi.

(I) Sushi #8 (above) – Tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi) sushi.

(J) Sushi #9 (above) – Needlefish (sayori) sushi.

(K) Sushi #10 (above) – Bonito (katsuo) sushi.

(L) Sushi #11 (above) – Leather jacket fish (kawahagi) sushi.

(M) Sushi #12 (above) – Mackerel (saba) sushi.

(N) Sushi #13 (above) – Slightly torched Japanese barracuda (kamasu) sushi.

(O) Sushi #14 (above) – Black throat sea perch (nodoguro) sushi.

(P) Sushi #15 (above) – Sea eel (anago) sushi.

(Q) Soup (above) – Clear soup with minced tuna ball.

(R) Rolled sushi (above) – Rolled sushi with filling of minced tuna and spring onion (negitoro), rolled omelette (tamago) and pickled radish.

(S) Dessert (above) – Japanese rice cake (mochi) in yam pudding. It’s almost like the Japanese version of our Chinese dessert yam paste (orh nee/芋泥).


2) Sea urchin rice, $50 (above) – It was of much coincidence that my IGGF’s colleagues were lunching at Shinji too. They were getting the sea urchin rice as an additional a-la carte order and I decided to get 1 for myself too. Keke. And it was so good. I didn’t notice but my IGGF said 2 types of sea urchin was used. And we agreed the portion seemed bigger than usual. It was almost to the brim of the bowl.

Honestly and seriously… Shinji doesn’t disappoint. It’s one of the restaurants that’s consistently good. In my (humblest) opinion, Shinji serves the best nigiri sushi in Singapore. I especially love the sushi rice (shari) which is perfect. One could taste the vinegar yet it’s not too overpowering such that it outshine the sushi topping (neta).

Do I recommend Shinji? Definitely, without a doubt. It’s crazy how price-friendly the menu is at Shinji too. One could opt for $75 sushi course which comprised of 9-pieces nigiri sushi, maki sushi, soup and dessert. I know some non-Michelin starred sushi-ya don’t even offer any set courses cheaper than Shinji’s!

But be very punctual if one is slotted for the first seating. Else, try to make reservation for the second slot. I would reckon one definitely need to go with the second seating as I personally felt that omakase course require at least 1.5 hour for a comfortably paced meal. My IGGF and I could tell head chef Oshino san was rushing towards the second half of our lunch. And because I was also taking a little longer since I had additional order, we offered to shift to the table so that the staff could prepare for the second seating.

SHINJI BY KANESAKA
76 Bras Basah Rd, Carlton Hotel, Lobby Floor, Singapore
6338 6131, Website
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 9
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2018.

Dinner @ Iggy’s [Revisit]

July 24, 2017 in European

Having seen many food posts of Iggy’s bar menu on instagram (yes, the power of social media), reservation was made for a Friday evening. And we gave 3 weeks’ notice, but that’s only because my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend)’s and my schedules kept clashing. To secure our reservation, the restaurant requested for my credit card details.

And it was very timely that my IGGF and I were to have dinner on the immediate night after Michelin Guide Singapore announced Iggy’s was awarded 1 Michelin star for 2017. Hee.

Located in Hilton Hotel, it’s a 8 to 10 minutes walk from Orchard MRT station. It being a revisit, I noticed Iggy’s has changed their entrance from being centre of the wall to the side with their recent renovation. And in my opinion, I felt that was a good move because with their old entrance, it was difficult to locate the door when there’re events in the ballrooms as people would crowd in the lobby and block the view of Iggy’s entrance. Yes, Iggy’s shared the floor with a few ballrooms.

My IGGF and I arrived punctually at 7pm. However, the staff accidentally seated us at the main dining area although I mentioned in my email that we were making reservation for their gastro-bar menu. As the dinner menu (pages 1, 2) differed from the bar menu, we were re-led to the bar counter.

And from the bar menu, my IGGF and I ordered:-


1) Eggs & eggs (2 pcs), $39 (above) – 63C egg, truffle potato “espuma” and kaluga queen caviar.


  

2) Pintoxos, (4 pcs), $26 (above) – Pickled kohada “escalivada” on toast.


  

3) Sardine on ohba leaf, Complimentary (above) – Sardine from Scotland, topped with ponzu sauce and salmon roe (ikura). We were surprised when head chef Aitor Jeronimo Orive personally presented this. “On the house,” he said. Awww. Such a lovely gesture! And this was so good. My IGGF and I agreed this should be put on the menu.


  

4) Croquette (4 pcs), Complimentary (above) – And it’s stated on the menu that the croquette, which cost $16, were made with jamon iberico filling. As we really wanted to try this, my IGGF and I enquired if it was possible to do 2 pieces without the jamon iberico since my IGGF don’t take pork. Unfortunately, the waiting staff checked with the kitchen and informed us that it was not possible as the filling were pre-made. However, imagine our confused but happy faces when the staff came up with croquette and informed us that the kitchen had specially prepared 2 pieces with mushroom filling and 2 pieces with shrimp filling. We were further surprised to learn that it was (again) on the house when we were making payment. Although we didn’t get to try the original flavour, I certainly recommend ordering this! Fried to perfection; Crisp exterior with creamy interior.


5) Ceviche, $28 (above) – Oyster, finger lime, shallots and lemon snow.

6) Tomato Garden, $18 (above) – Heirloom tomato, cucumber and basil.

  

7) Fish tacos, $22 (above) – Mackerel, chipotle emulsion, avocado mousse, skate and sambal, red onions.

8) 2017 Iggy’s burger (2 pcs) (above) – Toriyama wagyu, onion & epoisse, amelia tomato. Now… It’s probably a known fact that I don’t take beef. But having heard much about their burger, I really wanted to try. And we were definitely 2 very happy and satisfied diners because we were informed the kitchen could do 1 pork burger (above, left) and 1 beef burger (above, right) for us. Yeah! And this was so good. We were each raving about our burgers. The pork fillet was thick and juicy. But what I really loved about it was the steamed brioche bun used. So soft and fluffy!

9) Capellini, $34 (above) – Sakura ebi, lobster oil and kombu, sorrel. In 2 serving sizes ($26 and $34), we went with the bigger portion of course. Keke.

10) Watermelon, $10 (above) – Palette of scented compressed watermelon. I won’t deny we were a little disappointed to see a very simple plating of 4 watermelon cubes on our respective plates. But it become an interesting experience when we were told the pieces were flavoured with mint, shiso, basil and gin lime respectively and my IGGF and I tried to identify the flavour to each piece.

11) French toast, $14 (above) – Bourbon ice cream.


12) Petit fours, Complimentary (above) – Green tea macaron, coconut truffle, kiwi bon bon and white-chocolate-soursop popsicle.

My IGGF and I were very impressed with dinner. Although we were only having the bar menu, our dining experience certainly wasn’t any less stellar than the dinner menu’s. Every dish was so good! If it wasn’t for our dietary restriction (of no beef and pork), we probably would have gone on to try every dish on the menu!

Iggy’s? I would definitely recommend them. And if one can’t make it in the evening, one could consider their lunch menu (pages 1, 2) instead!

IGGY’S
581 Orchard Road, The Hilton Hotel, Level 3, Singapore
6732 2234, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sat : 12:00 – 13:30 (Lunch Seating)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sat : 19:00 – 21:30 (Dinner Seating)
Value: 8
* Closed on Mon, Sun
Service: 8

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2018.