Dinner @ IL DEN

July 12, 2018 in Italian

The number of friends I made from instagram once I decided to be less shy and meet up with like-minded people is simply amazing. So yes, I was off to check out IL DEN with newly-made instagram friend @jonathanloong. I have been following Jonathan for years now. But we only exchanged messages this year after I participated in his instagram survey. To which he initiated the first text! I just had to say that. Hahaha.

To make our reservation, I sent owner-chef Javier Low a message on instagram. And I advise one to make reservation at least 2 weeks in advanced. In response to our reservation request, Javier needed our choice of menu at least 1 day prior to our dinner. It seemed to be a trend that restaurants are expecting customers to have done their homework (like reading up on the menu) prior to the meal. But of course, that didn’t pose as a problem since we were stalking IL DEN’s instagram account. Haha. And between the $75 and $120 menus, we went with the former.

We arrived punctually at 6.30pm on a Friday night. And to the people hardcore foodies who mentioned (in their instagram posts that) they chanced upon IL DEN by coincidence, I must say they are impressive. IL DEN was nestled deep within Orchard Plaza. As I walked down the quiet long corridor, I even questioned myself if I got the address correct.

And upon entry, we were welcomed by the immediate sight of a 8-seater communal table and open-kitchen (at the further end). After settling our drink orders, we started our $75 dinner menu with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Pâté. Homemade with ground pork, cognac & pistachio.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Homemade tofu & sea urchin. We were given an extra piece of homemade tofu topped with caviar.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Aburi scallop, caviar & vegetable garden. Served alongside homemade pesto sauce, Javier mentioned he added salmon to our salad as it came in fresh with the day’s delivery of ingredients. “The salmon is special because it’s caught by the younger generation of Japanese fisherman”, he added.


  

4) Dish #4 (above) – What’s supposed to be orecchiette (little ears pasta) as per the menu, we were served tajarin pasta topped with parmesan cheese and shaved truffle instead. And I was pleased with the unexpected change because it allowed us to enjoy his handmade pasta better. I prefer slurping my noodles. Keke. And this was really good; Al dente and very tasty. In fact, I was struggling when I was taking pictures of this dish because of the strong aroma. I wanted to quickly put down my phone to start eating but my phone camera refused to take sharp shots with my first few attempts. (^^lll) A must try!

5) Dish #5 with options of:-

(A) French poulet (above)

(B) Iberico pork jowl (above) – This was so good. The meat was surprisingly tender!

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Yuzu sorbet with ginger jelly and lime jelly.

It was a fun dining experience. Don’t expect fast or personalised service as it’s a one-man show at hole-in-the-wall IL DEN. Javier took on multiple roles as the chef, waiter and cashier. And because of that, I would thus recommend one to be in the first seating if one don’t like a (too) draggy dinner. We were the first to reach, so Javier was tracking our progress well; We didn’t have to wait too long for our next dish. But for the groups that came in after us, I noticed while Javier was slower in attending to them (since it’s a one-man show), the interval between their dishes was much longer than ours. But I say… Enjoy the vibe and have a good time catching-up in between the dishes if one couldn’t start one’s meal at IL DEN early.

And do remember to bring cash as IL DEN only accept cash payment. We didn’t have sufficient cash on us and neither of us had PayNow, so… Yeah. Jonathan had the important task of walking to the nearest ATM machine at The Centrepoint to withdraw money. Haha.

IL DEN
150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza, #04-21, Singapore
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Thu : 18:00 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 03:00 (Dinner)
Service: 7
 
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Rang Mang Shokudo

June 10, 2018 in Japanese

I love my fried chicken. I absolutely love it. But every time I crave for it, it’s difficult to satisfy my craving properly; Arnold’s is in the (far) East while the few Korean restaurants which do better fried chicken are too far from home and I am usually in Orchard if I am out. Haha. So imagine how happy I was when I finally found a dependent eatery in town! So good that I went back thrice within two weeks!

As taken from their website, Rang Mang Shokudo uses free-range chicken. With a 6-hours buttermilk marinade, the chicken are fried twice in low heat. The restaurant’s signature double frying at low heat allows the chicken to remain super crispy even when eaten cold.

For my three visits to Rang Mang Shokudo, I dined at the restaurant on weekday evenings. Yes, fried chicken and beer are great to wrap up a hard day at work. Keke. And although my friend and I arrived on weekdays, the place was really packed. For walk-ins, I recommend reaching by 7pm latest to get seats without having to queue.

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

1) Edamame, $3.50 (above)

2) Value set, $10.90 (above) – Catered for solo diners or diners who want a balanced meal, one could opt for the value set which includes 1 (chicken) flavour, normal or 16 mix grain rice (went with white only because the mixed grain was sold out), potato salad and some greens.

3) Large, $18 (above) – Between small (5 pieces, $6) medium (12 pieces, $12) and large (20 pieces, $18), greedy us naturally went with large. And for large, one gets to choose 3 flavours.

4) Chicken flavour with options of:-

(A) Cod roe mayo (above)

(B) Curry, honey mustard, green onion salt chili oil (front to back) (above)

(C) Black vinegar, yuzupon oroshi, salt (left to right) (above) – And it’s with this order that I realised not all flavours are served in the form of sauces to be paired with the chicken pieces. ‘Salt’ (on smaller plate) being one of them.

(D) Katsuo ume, wasabi cream, soy sauce (left to right) (above) – ‘Soy sauce’ is similar to ‘salt’ where the chicken pieces were served seasoned. Ie, no sauce. Whereas for ‘katsuo ume’, the chicken batter was slightly different with bonito flakes and had an accompanying (plum) sauce too. Which also explained why the chicken were served separately. ‘Katsuo ume’ on smaller plate, plain chicken (for the ‘wasabi cream’) separated from the ‘soy sauce’ seasoned chicken with lettuce on the bigger plate.

5) Yuzu beer, $10

6) Frozen lemon sour high, $12 (above)

7) Frozen yuzu + soda, $4 (above)

The chicken pieces were indeed fried to perfection; Crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. And as what they claimed with their double-drying at low heat, it was indeed nice not having to rush finishing our food since fried chicken loses its crisp when it’s cooled.

Personally, I preferred flavours like ‘soy sauce’ and ‘salt’ where the chicken pieces are marinated/seasoned with it. Although if I have to choose my favourite among the sauces that I tried, I would go with ‘honey mustard’. Whereas for my choice of drinks, I kept choosing those which came with the slushie. Keke.

I would definitely recommend Rang Mang Shokudo. And I really like how accessible the eatery is being located in Wisma Atria’s Japan Food Town.

Instead, I wish I shared my dining experience at Rang Mang Shokudo earlier because I heard that Katsu Shinichiro, in charge of the overseas outpost in Singapore, has just ended his contract and went back to Japan. Am not too sure if the quality is still as good as what I last had. Although, news has it that they will be sending another (Japanese) staff to take over.

RANG MANG SHOKUDO
435 Orchard Road, Wisma Atria, #04-54, Singapore
6262 3504, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Fri : 11:30 – 23:00
Ambience: 6
Sat – Sun : 11:00 – 23:00
Value: 8
Service: 6 

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