Dinner @ Candlenut [Revisit]

April 14, 2018 in Asian, Peranakan

Yup!!! My string of re-visits continues. It was a very belated birthday celebration for me by my girlfriends, and I got to choose the venue. So yes, I requested for us to dine at Candlenut. Since my last visit in 2014, Candlenut has relocated to Dempsey and earned a Michelin star yearly since the first edition of Michelin Guide Singapore (2016).

Located in COMO Dempsey, the restaurant is fairly accessible. Just a 5 to 8 minutes walk from the bus stop (that’s right in front of Dempsey). My girlfriend who drove feedback it was fairly easy to find a parking lot too.

In a group of 5, we arrived at Candlenut on a Saturday evening. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Crackers, Complimentary (above) – Subsequent additional bowl is chargeable.


2) Kueh pie tee, $12 (4 cups) (above, left) – Homemade shell, braised local turnip, pork belly, prawns. And since there’s 5 of us, the staff assisted to add 1 kueh pie tee shell at $3.


3) Charcoal grilled snake river farm kurobuta pork neck satay, $16 (4 skewers) (above, right) – With kicap manis glaze. Similarly, we ordered an extra stick for $4.


4) Itek tim soup, $14 (above) – Local duck meatball, salted mustard cabbage, cherry tomato, taro stem. And the portion was meant as 1 bowl per person.

5) Blue swimmer crab curry, $30 (above) – Turmeric, galangal, kaffir lime leaf.

6) Buah keluak of braised local chicken, $22 (above) – With peranakan signature black nut sambal.

7) King tiger prawn, $28 (above) – Gula melaka cocount sauce, lemongrass, Thai basil.

8) Baked cod fish fillet, $28 (above) – With kicap manis glaze.

9) Sambal baby sweet potato leaves, $16 (above) – With dried shrimp.

10) Brown rice, $3 (above) – For a bowl of brown rice, I must say the amount given is appalling. The bowl containing the rice wasn’t big, yet it was not filled to the brim! The bowl was only half filled. Come on…

11) Steamed caramel banana cake, $14Banana compote, gula melaka ice cream.


12) Candlenut’s ice kachang, $15 (above) – Azuki red beans, bandung, rose and pandan shaved ice.

13) Candlenut’s classic chendol cream, $12 (above) – Homemade pandan jelly, gula melaka.

14) Buah keluak ice cream, $15 (above) – Salted caramel, valrhona warm chocolate espuma, chilli.

Since photographs can be deceiving, I’m going to be really honest by saying it upfront that the portion was ridiculously small. The portion works for small groups (and by that, I mean pair) since one could thus enjoy variety by getting to order many dishes (in order) to fill one’s stomach. Ie, the ‘small portion’ which only came in one size (ie, no small, medium or large) didn’t work for us since we were in a big group. I didn’t enjoy the meal as much since I was constantly worrying if I would deprive my friends of sampling the dish if I took more.

So yes, I didn’t think the meal was value-for-money since it was pretty pricey for the small serving. But price aside, the food was good as I last remembered. Would I recommend Candlenut? Well… It was an enjoyable meal though the ‘small portion’ certainly left a deep impression. Not in a good way, if you were still wondering. But I guess an option to go around it would be to opt for their ah-ma-kase menu that’s $88 per head!

CANDLENUT
17A Dempsey Road, COMO Dempsey, Singapore
1800 304 2288, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Thur, Sun : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 6
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Service: 7

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

Dinner @ Ippoh Tempura Bar

January 7, 2017 in Japanese

My friend and I were to meet for dinner, and it was coincidental that I got to know about newly opened Ippoh Tempura Bar through instagram. Upcoming meet up? New restaurant to check out? Perfect. Keke.

Reservation was made for a weekday dinner. However, I am not sure if it was my mobile phone or their telephone that’s spoiled but the lady on the other end (of the line) had much difficulty taking down my details. Had to repeat myself cause she couldn’t hear me properly. It was slightly frustrating cause I called during office hours and was trying to make the call short. Ha.

Did some research before my friend and I were to meet for dinner and got to learn that Ippoh Tempura Bar is an overseas outpost by Ippoh Tempura, a family-owned tempura restaurant which started in Osaka. Fifth generation master chef Masaru Seki was in town during the restaurant opening, serving some very lucky customers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. Sob.

And during the day of our dinner, I was thankful my friend drove cause Ippoh Tempura Bar was located at Dempsey. But if one is taking the public transport, it’s good news that they are not located way inside; Walking in from the main road is still manageable.

Located at COMO Dempsey, Ippoh Tempura Bar occupied a fairly small space. The counter was just 3 steps from the restaurant’s entrance with some some tables (on the far left) for bigger groups. It’s of no surprise that I requested for counter seats since I enjoy watching chef in action. Keke. And I liked that the set up at Ippoh Tempura Bar was similar to the tempura restaurants which I dined in Japan.

And from the menu, I ordered the $200 dinner course comprised of:-

1) Welcome tea, Complimentary (above)

2) Amuse (above) – Sesame tofu topped with sea urchin.

3) Assorted appetiser (trio of chef’s special) with options of:-

(A) Yam, beef, tomato (above)

(B) Yam, eel, tomato (above) – Was given the alternative of shio-marinated eel when I mentioned to the staff that I don’t take beef.

4) Assorted sashimi (above) – There should be a variety of 3 types, but I guess they didn’t have enough that night since we were only served 2 (tuna and squid). And I didn’t like the tuna. It was served too cold. My friend suspected it wasn’t that fresh too.

  

5) 11 pieces of tempura (above), comprised of:-

(A) Tempura #1, #2 (above) – Prawns. One wrapped with shiso leaf and seaweed, and the other plain. I learnt from my trip to Japan that a beautifully fried prawn would have its centre still slightly raw. So with every bite at Ippoh Tempura Bar, I would ‘study’ my half-eaten prawn. However, both prawns were thoroughly cooked. And I couldn’t help but notice the prawns were awfully thin too.


(B) Tempura #3 (above) – Scallop.


(C)Tempura #4 (above) – Shrimp toast. I liked this, although it would tasted better if the toast was pulled out from the oil a little earlier.

(D) Tempura #5 (above) – Cuttlefish wrpped with shiso leaf.

(E) Tempura #6 (above) – Onion.


(F) Tempura #7 – Sweet potato.

(G) Tempura #8 – Mushroom. I got a little flustered when the chef said “Japanese mushroom” as he placed it onto my plate. He didn’t use the word ‘Japanese’ when he introduced the previous ingredients. Does that mean the mushroom is the only vegetable that’s flown in from Japan? I hope not.

(H) Tempura #9 – Asparagus.

(I) Tempura #10 (above) – Prawn.


(J) Tempura #11 – White fish.

6) Uni, caviar and wasabi on fried seaweed (above) – Unfortunately, this failed to impress. The fried seaweed wasn’t as crispy as I expected it to. And oddly, it couldn’t hold well on its own. I had to use 3 (or was it 4) fingers when I picked it up.


  

7) Kakiage on rice with shaved truffle (above) – Served with miso soup. And this was what’s served for the $200 dinner course. However, I was disappointed with the small amount of shaved truffle which was insufficient to enhance the dish. I know truffles ain’t cheap, but restaurants should aim at getting their dish right if they wish to serve it. My friend went for the $180 course and was allowed to choose between tendon and tencha.

8) Dessert (above) – Melon and strawberry.

Manju (traditional Japanese confection) was stated on the menu, but we didn’t get any. Instead, ours was replaced with a vegetable tempura. Not very nice. The staff should have at least informed us of the change up front.

Having recently eaten at Michelin-starred tempura restaurants in Japan, I wasn’t impressed with the tempura at Ippoh Tempura Bar. Though it may be a different story if it was master chef Seki san that’s behind the stove.

That night, our tempura weren’t as crisp. And I thought it was weird that the ‘tempura skin’ easily detached from the meat/vegetable. Dinner felt rushed too. Before my friend and I even touched the piece on our plate, we were served the next. And this observation was based on my friend’s pace who was eating without taking any photographs of the food.

Would I recommend Ippoh Tempura Bar? Well… No. But if one insists, one should come during lunch instead. Lunch menu is almost similar to dinner’s, but at half of dinner’s price. Alternatively, do check their Facebook page for updates as they do mention when master chef Seki san is in.

And rest assured one would leave smelling as good as one arrived. =)

IPPOH TEMPURA BAR BY GINZA IPPOH
17B Dempsey Road, Singapore
1800 304 3388, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30
Ambience: 7
Mon – Thu, Sun : 18:00 – 21:30
Value: 6
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30
Service: 7

Brunch @ Open Farm Community

September 18, 2015 in European (cafe)

Most would probably notice from my recent instagram posts that I’m making the conscious effort to eat clean. Although I got to admit it can be a struggle cause I love my deep fried food. Haha. So when I got to learn about Open Farm Community, I was pretty excited to check them out.

A collaboration between The Spa Esprit Group, celebrity chef Ryan Clift and award-winning food garden specialist Edible Garden City, Open Farm Community sets out to be a farm-to-table restaurant.

And to say they are a restaurant… Isn’t quite accurate. Almost 70% of the area was dedicated to non-restaurant stuff. One would think sane businessmen would want to maximize the land and get as much returns as they possibly can. But at Open Farm Community, they were different in the sense that space was allowed for a big outdoors recreation space (table tennis table and playground) and farm!

Taken from their website, Open Farm Community aims to bring to life the impact of urban farming in Singapore. And in doing so, to strengthen our understanding and respect for food and its origins. In addition to promoting balanced living and education through farming workshops, events and activities.

My girlfriends assisted to make reservation since it was going to be an outing to celebrate my birthday! Keke. We decided to go for their brunch which was from 11am to 3pm. But what took my girlfriend by surprise was that she had to leave her credit card details as $50 would be charged for no show. So one may wish to take note!

And thankfully, Open Farm Community is located at the lower half of Dempsey Hill. So people like me who take public transport (bus) would not need to walk (too) far up from the main road. Keke.

And from the brunch menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), we ordered:-

1) Seared tuna, $26 (above) – With green papaya & jicama salad, fresh coconut & dashi vinegar.

2) Potato rosti, $28 (above) – Scrambled eggs, sliced pork sausages, creme fraiche & red onion brown jus. It’s a little odd that this was called ‘potato rosti’ cause the rosti only made up 20% of the dish.

  

3) Eggs benedict, $24 (above) – With poached chicken, spinach, semi-dried tomatoes, sourdough & green curry hollandaise sauce. Give this a skip. We were expecting a more generous serving. The (可怜) girlfriend’s husband who ordered this was still hungry despite having it all for himself.

4) Truffle scrambled organic egg, $24 (above) – With shimeji mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, baby spinach & sourdough.

5) Buttermilk pancake, $22 (above) – With creme patisserie, poached strawberries & ice cream.

6) Mud crab spaghettoni, $28 (above) – With Thai curry sauce, crunchy yellow squash, coconut, crispy shallot, Thai basil. Said to be homemade pasta, the noodles were thick and chewy. Not too bad, though the portion was a little on the small side.

7) Roasted baby chicken, $28 (above) – Braised leeks with hazelnut butter & wild watercress salad.

8) Lemon tart with basil ice-cream, $17 (above) – Of the 2 desserts we ordered, this was my favourite. Although we ‘destroyed’ it when we tried to slice through; The entire ensemble collapsed under our fork as we couldn’t ‘break’ the top layer successfully. Haha!

9) Hot & cold chocolate cake with chocolate sorbet & mint, $17 (above) – And yes, a candle added for the birthday girl (me).

10) Virgin mojito, $12 (above) – Apple juice, soda, mint, lime. Somehow, this tasted very much like lemonade. Ha!

11) Latte, $5.50 (above)

We certainly enjoyed the ambience of Open Farm Community. There was a certain class about the place, yet one wouldn’t feel out-of-place if one was too casually donned or very dressed up. However, food wise… Well, let’s say the portion could be bigger. Much bigger. It was pretty expensive.

Service was great! Staff were friendly and had a good sense of humour. You know how most staff would just take orders and leave? The staff at Open Farm Community made the effort to be personal as they engaged conversations with patrons, yet without being too intrusive. We made a booking for 6. So while waiting for the rest to arrive, the punctual ones decided to order drinks first. After taking our order, the staff joked and asked, “Would you like a group picture? You could also send to your (latecomer) friends.” Haha.

And have I mentioned how much I love their plates? For real. (^^lll) Keke.

OPEN FARM COMMUNITY
130E Minden Road, Singapore
6471 0306, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Fri : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 6
Sat – Sun : 11:00 – 22:00
Service: 8