Dinner @ Candlenut [Revisit]

April 14, 2018 in Asian

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

Dinner @ Saint Pierre [Revisit]

March 5, 2018 in French

My IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) was excited much when she saw pictures of Michelin-starred Saint Pierre’s alphabet course. But having just dined at Saint Pierre in August 2016, I requested to delay our visit to Saint Pierre as much as possible. I don’t like visiting the same restaurant too soon. And with that, my IGGF assisted to make reservation for December 2017 through phone instead of via Chope.

Upon arrival, we were led to the private room instead of the main dining area. The staff explained a booking was received for a really big group. And because we made our reservation months ahead, the restaurant decided to host the big group in the main dining area and us in the private room instead. While we understood their good intention, we unfortunately didn’t like the arrangement. My IGGF and I somehow felt our private room was treated like a storeroom. Ie, items which were not required in the main dining area were shifted into our private room. Or rather, items which are better removed were left in our private room.

And to add to our disappointment, we learnt the alphabet course was no longer available. When we made our reservation months back, my IGGF specifically enquired if the alphabet course would still be available in December. To which, the staff assured us it would be. But… Sigh.

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

1) Bread, Complimentary (above)

2) Adventure, $248 comprised of:-


  
  

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Appetisers assortment of i) tomato, parmesan, ii) red pepper crisp, smoked eggplant, miso, iii) smoked trout cannelloni, iv) Hokkaido corn, lime oil and v) nasu, sesame.

(B) Dish #2 (above) – New harvest aquitaine oscietra caviar, parsley royale.


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Hay-smoked buri, ponzu, leek, myoga.

(D) Dish #4 (above) – French petit violet artichoke, turmeric.

(E) Dish #5 (above) – Steamed hairy crab, corn, lemongrass.

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Live Hokkaido scallop, almond, curry oil.


(G) Dish #7 (above) – Blue lobster, apple, kabocha pumpkin, beurre de cidre.

(H1) Dish #8 (above) – Altantic cod, miso, oxtail, roots.


(H2) Dish #8 (above) – Altantic cod, miso, oxtail, roots. Since I don’t eat beef (in any form) and oxtail was used in the original broth, mine was slightly altered. Though I have to admit I was disappointed to see the (thus) new presentation of my cod dish hugely similar to the blue lobster’s (dish #7).

(I1) Dish #9 (above) – Ohmi beef, salsify, hazelnut.

(I2) Dish #9 (above) – Again, because I don’t eat beef, mine was replaced. However, it came with much disappointment. The kitchen replaced my beef dish with a vegetable dish! Like what!?! First, it was not a 1-to-1 substitution. Secondly, one could easily see it was carelessly put together with leftovers. Ie, ingredients from previous dishes were used. After taking one bite, I refused to continue with the vegetable dish. Fortunately, the staff who was assigned to our room sensed something was amiss when she overheard I was done with my almost-untouched dish. She got her manager who came into our room and asked if it would be fine for the kitchen to prepare something else. And in less than 5 minutes, the manger returned to say the kitchen was in the midst of preparing sea bass with chestnut truffle. Which honestly, the kitchen should have done that in the first place. It was disappointing to even be served that vegetable dish, honestly.


(J) Dish #10 (above) – Royal pigeon roasted on the bone, wild mushroom, nori.

(K) Dish #11 (above) – Unfiltered strawberry juice, sorbet.

(L) Dish #12 (above) – Blood orange, chocolate, honey tuile. This was really good.

(M) Dish #13 (above) – It’s either they have done away with the dessert trolley or it’s inconvenient to push it into the private room that our petit fours were served on a plate. Assortment included walnut tart, chocolate hazelnut, chocolate royce, yuzu-orange macaron, chocolate macaron, blackberry jelly, peach jelly and vanilla marshmallow.

Compared to my previous dinner at Saint Pierre, it seemed that much has changed. Unfortunately, it was a change for the South. Pretty alarming given that my IGGF and I were dining after Saint Pierre was awarded 1 Michelin star.

Will I recommend Saint Pierre? Well… I ain’t too sure (I would) this time round.

SAINT PIERRE
1 Fullerton Road, One Fullerton, #02-02B, Singapore
6438 0887, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sat : 11:30 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tue – Sat : 18:30 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon & Sun

Dinner @ Kitcho 吉兆割烹壽司 (Taipei, Taiwan)

February 26, 2018 in Japanese

Common phrases that I get from my foodie friends include “You must eat seafood in Taiwan” and “Taiwan is the next best place to eat sushi after Japan.”

So with that, I started my hunt for a sushi restaurant to dine at in Taiwan. But without the luxury of time to research, I decided to go with what was trending on my instagram feed. Yes, Kitcho. And it was a good thing Kitcho could accept my reservation request through their Facebook page.

Two days prior to my dinner, I received a whatsapp text to re-confirm my reservation.

Arriving punctually at 8.30pm, I occupied the last empty seat at the counter. With no (physical) menu, the staff (verbally) informed me of the menu choices; NT3000 and NT3500 courses, or omakase which ranges from NT4000 to NT7000. The staff continued to explain the exact amount for omakase will only be known at end of the meal.

I did a quick conversion (in my mind) and went with omakase cause it really wasn’t too expensive (compared to Singapore’s dinner omakase). And after stating my dietary restrict (no beef), I started my omakase dinner with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Gingko nuts.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Flatfish (鰈魚).

3) Dish #3 (above) – Geoduck clam (mirugai).

4) Dish #4 (above) – Striped jack (shima-aji).

5) Dish #5 (above) – Japanese spotted prawn (botan-ebi).

6) Dish #6 (above) – Hairy crab topped with caviar.

7) Dish #7 (above) – Red sea urchin (aka uni) from Kyushu. I wanted to ask chef the reason for serving the sea urchin on wood instead of plate since the wood didn’t serve as a spoon, but my poor grasp of Chinese held me back.

8) Dish #8 (above) – Rock fish.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Hand-roll with minced tuna.

  
  

10) Dish #10 (above) – Sushi assortment of 愛魚女, big-eye snapper (kinmedai), baby snapper topped with chicken egg which was prepared with vinegar and sugar, and flounder (hirame).

11) Dish #11 (above) – Abalone served with sauce made with its liver.

  
  
  
  

12) Dish #12 (above) – Continued sushi assortment of lean tuna (akami), arctic surf clam (hokkigai), fin of flatfish (鰈魚的鰭邊), gizzard shad (kohada), premium tuna belly (otoro), sea urchin and egg omelette (tamago).


13) Dish #13 (above) – Chef asked if I was full and I shook my head. So he made me a special dish of caviar, minced tuna sandwiched between wafers. Wished he used something else besides wafers since I don’t like how it stick to the lips. Ha. But that aside, this was such a treat!

14) Dish #14 (above) – Fish tempura.

15) Dish #15 (above) – Clam soup.

16) Dish #16 (above) – Fruits and pumpkin pudding.

My omakase meal came up to NT6600. I reckon the special (item 13) jacked up the cost by quite a bit. So was I happy with my dining experience at Kitcho? Well… I wouldn’t say I was unhappy, but neither would I say I was extremely happy. It was a mediocre experience.

First being my poor grasp of Chinese. And that’s in no way the restaurant’s fault, of course. I had much difficulty understanding the chef. So that probably robbed me (much) of the full pleasure in knowing and enjoying what I ate. Secondly, I wasn’t exactly blown away by the food. Yes, it was good. But somehow, it wasn’t any different from my dining experience at other (equally reputable) sushi-ya. I admit, I’m stricter because it’s an overseas meal.

So if one is traveling to Taiwan, has only 1 slot for Japanese cuisine, and is looking for the sushi-ya, Kitcho may not make the cut. At least for me personally. It was a good dining experience, but not special. And knowing that I’ll be back to Taiwan again, I won’t stop hunting for that sushi-ya which impresses and is worth using our limited meal slots for when traveling in Taiwan.

That said, I am very appreciative that the staff responded to my messages when I enquired the names of (a few of) the fishes after dinner. Yes, I sent them my pictures via whatsapp. Keke.

KITCHO 吉兆割烹壽司
No. 48, Lane 181, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan
+886 2 2771 1020, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

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