Dinner @ 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) – Ōtoro 大トロ : 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

High tea @ Axis Bar and Lounge

August 16, 2017 in European (cafe)

It has been a while since I had high tea. So when my girlfriend suggested catching up over high tea, I thought it was a good idea. However, as one would know, high tea usually starts at mid-afternoon. But I was glad Axis Bar offered theirs from 12.30pm cause my girlfriend and I had commitments in late afternoon. Keke. And with that, reservation was made via Chope.

With only 1 menu offered that’s rotates every month, we started our afternoon tea ($42 for 1, $40 each for 2) with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Pandan ice jelly with coconut emulsion.

2) Dish #2 (above) – From right to left, we were served i) nasi lemak cornet, anchovies and sambal jam, ii) Singapore chilli crab and mantou bits, and iii) ayam satay with peanut gravy. We didn’t like the chilli crab dish. Because the mantou bits were like crouton instead (really small pieces too), we felt like we were a big shot of spicy chilli crab gravy. .

3) Dish #3 (above) – From right to left, we had i) baker’s red beans pita bao, ii) tomato, sardine and lettuce wrap, iii) mini sub with spicy chicken floss, and iv) pandan kaya and butter toast.


4) Dish #4 (above) – Because I don’t take beef, my kampong style beef rendang pie was replaced with a second piece of nonya potato curry puff. So yes, I had 2 nonya potato curry puff, 1 tahitian vanilla scone and 1 banana scone. Didn’t enjoy the puff as the filling was pretty salty.

5) Dish #5 (above) comprised of:-

(A) 1st tier (above) – Purple yam chiffon cream chantilly (left) and palm sugar masala layer cake (right).


  

(B) 2nd tier (above) – Bandung rosella bavarious (left) and lychee strawberry choux puff (right). I really liked the bandung dessert. It was light on the palate, and not too sweet.


  

(C) 3rd tier (above) – Pineapple coconut sable (left) and chocolate almond kueh pai tee (right).

6) Tea (above) – TWG tea company’s tea was included in menu, and I went with ‘eternal summer’.

What I really like about Axis Bar & Lounge is the space and ambience. It offers a sweeping views over Marina Bay. But what I really liked was that they did not cram the space with many furniture. Oh wait. Axis is a lounge, and not a restaurant. Haha. And mothers would be delighted to know the place is family friendly. The place is equipped with high chairs and children’s plastic plate-ware. Most importantly, because the space was big and spacious, kids could have a ball of time roaming around freely. Just like my girlfriend’s 15-months child!

Would I recommend Axis Bar & Lounge for high tea? Definitely. Afternoon tea is available from 3pm to 5pm on weekdays, and 12.30 to 2.30pm (first seating) and 3pm to 5pm (second seating) on weekends. But do read up their menu before coming. I didn’t really like the August 2017′s menu.

And if one plan to drive and park at The Mandarin Oriental, do note that they do not offer complimentary parking coupon. But because we enquired with the manager who happened to be the one passing us our bill, he gave us a $18 discount instead. Nice. Keke.

AXIS BAR & LOUNGE
5 Raffles Avenue, The Mandarin Oriental, Level 4, Singapore
6885 3500, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Thur, Sun : 11:00 – 00:00
Ambience: 8
Fri – Sat : 11:00 – 01:00
Value: 7
Service: 7

Dinner @ JAAN [Revisit]

June 12, 2017 in French

My last meal at JAAN was in 2014 when the restaurant was (still) helmed by head chef Julien Royer. After chef Julien announced his departure in June 2015, I have been curious since to see the changes that JAAN would undergo with a new head chef. And change, head chef Kirk Westaway did bring. He led JAAN to achieve 1 Michelin star when Michelin Guide first came to Singapore in 2016.

But even so, I held back my re-visit until recently (2017) with their revamped menu; Wanted to be sure I wasn’t going to have the same dishes in the exact same presentation. Think, smoked egg with dry ice effect.

And reservation was made via email. For party smaller than 4, securing the reservation with credit card was not necessary. Thought I should mention that because my girlfriend recently made reservation for JAAN for 4 people upon my recommendation, and she shared JAAN’s cancellation terms were pretty weird. Ie, she would be penalised if she cancel the reservation. Yes, upon cancellation. No grace period.

On the day of our dinner, I received a text message to re-confirm our dinner. Double confirmed lah! Keke. And having been to JAAN, we found our way easily to the restaurant. It was nice that we got a corner table by the window. But do arrive before the sky turned dark to enjoy the view at its best; By night, the glass was pretty reflective. My friend and I couldn’t see much too with the condensation on the window. Yes, our corner was cold. Though one should also appreciate the master piece on the ceiling. Made with Murano crystal from Italy, the manager jokingly shared it ain’t easy cleaning it too.

Food wise, the 10 courses menu got my interest. However, as it’s indicated that the entire table needs to order it, I enquired with the manager if it was possible to make an exception. Keke. But, it was only till the end of our dinner that I realised it wasn’t a good thing that I was persuasive he was obliging. Thus, from the dinner menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4), my friend and I ordered:-

  
  

1) Appetiser #1, Complimentary (above) – Canapés selection of rabbit spring roll topped with parsley and yogurt, truffle and foie gras macaron, fish and chip, and smoked mackerel sandwiched between buckwheat bellini and topped with caviar. And yes, my friend ate the fish and chip before I could get a picture as a ‘revenge’ for always giving in to me. Sob.


2) Bread platter, Complimentary (above) – Assortment of walnut-cranberry bun, milk hot cross bun, and rye sourdough. And yes, that’s seaweed butter! Pretty unique.

3) Appetiser #2, Complimentary (above) – Charlotte potato foam with truffle bullion. I liked the additional of crunchy potato bits.

4) 7 courses menu, $238 comprised of:-

(A) Alaskan king crab (above) – Crazily pretty presentation; Wreath of crab, sea urchin, caviar and fromage blanc sorbet on English spring pea panna cotta .

(B) Golden beetroot (above) – Served with feta cheese, hazelnut and golden beetroot sorbet.

(C) Bacon & eggs (above) – Celeriac, chorizo iberico. And this was served in a big egg-shaped bowl. And when the lid was removed, we were greeted with a sight and smell of rosemary smoke. And we were recommended to mix the organic New Zealand egg with the other ingredients before eating.

(D) Scottish scallop (above) – Served with shellfish broth, kale and pear.

(E) Line caught snapper (above) – Violin courgette.

(F) ‘Forest’ pigeonFoie gras, artichoke. Served with foie gras parfait, western mushroom, pigeon pie, and… Yes, pigeon juice. When we were placing our orders, the staff asked how we would like to have our pigeons done. We went with medium done although chef’s recommendation was medium rare. We don’t like our meat too bloody.

(G) Pre-dessert (above) – Amalfi lemon.


(H) Chocolate espresso (above) – Muscovado. And we were told the blobs of chocolate mousse progresses from 70% to 40% from top to bottom.

5) Signatures (10 course menu), $298 comprised of:-


  

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Tuscan oyster served with cucumber foam and kombu-dashi jelly (beneath).

(B) Dish #2 – Similar to my friend’s; Golden beetroot.

(C) Dish #3 (above) – Pertuis asparagus served with champagne hollandaise espuma and silvers of Joselito ham.

(D) Dish #4 – Bacon & eggs.

(E) Dish #5 – Same as my friend’s; Scottish scallop.


(F) Dish #6 (above) – Cod, organic chicken, quinoa and fish jus.

(G) Dish #7 – Pigeon.


  

(H) Dish #8 (above) – Cheese with dried fruit bread and sourdough crus.t

(I) Pre-dessert


(J) Dish #9 (above) – Wild spring strawberry with timut pepper sorbet.

(K) Dish #10 (above) – Coconut sorbet with lime peel and coconut shredding.


  
  

6) Petit fours, Complimentary (above)

7) Chocolate cake, Complimentary (above) – After seeing pictures of the awesome-looking rich chocolate cake as shared by others on instagram, I knew I had to try it. Thus, when I was making our reservation, I mentioned dinner was to celebrate our anniversary. Friendship anniversary. Keke. And this certainly didn’t disappoint. But word of caution from personal experience, if one is packing the cake home, make sure to eat it within 2 hours or have it stored in the fridge. It melts…

8) Coffee/tea, Complimentary (above) – We went with latte.

I won’t lie. I was disappointed with my 10 courses meal. Having not read much about head chef Kirk Westaway prior to our dinner, I ordered the Signatures menu with anticipation that it would give me a crash course of his best dishes. However, my dishes were almost similar to my friend’s 7 courses. In fact, I was disappointed to be served oyster instead of the crab dish. And for my 3 additional dishes, I was served asparagus, cheese and coconut sorbet. Like what?

It certainly didn’t help that after our dinner, I did a quick search on Google and realised one of chef Kirk’s signature dishes was the heirloom tomato which is currently on the vegetarian menu. Which meant they could have at least included the tomato for me. Right? Sigh! That’s what I meant earlier when I wrote it wasn’t a good thing that the staff obliged and allowed my friend and I to not order the same Signature menu. I am pretty sure I would leave the restaurant happier with the 7 courses based on what my friend had.

I still recommend JAAN though. But don’t be as greedy as me. Stick to the 7 courses menu.

It’s also to note that the restaurant don’t offer tap water at the start of our meal. We had to choose between sparkling and still. We went with the latter and was charged $15 (for a 750ml bottle). So it was odd after we finished our bottle of still water and declined to have another, the staff came along and filled up our almost-empty cups to the brim with tap water. Err…

And for readers who are interested to know more about head chef Kirk, do read the interview which he did with Lifestyle Asia. It’s interesting to know that he’s actually colour blind. Not being able to differentiate bright yellows and greens along with dark reds and browns, head chef Kirk overcome it by identifying the colours by their shades. With an attitude like his, I honestly believe he would bring JAAN to greater heights.

JAAN
2 Stamford Road, Swissotel The Stamford, Equinox Complex, Level 70, Singapore
6837 3322, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 19:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
* Closed on Sun
Service: 7

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2017.