Dinner @ Takayama

June 27, 2018 in Japanese

When I got to learn about Takayama through my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend), I was really interested in their dinner menu. And it was exciting that my IGGF was keen to join me in trying their dinner menu because she had been lunching at Takayama and she enjoyed the food so far.

However, I was undecided between the $280 and $380 menus. Both were 11-courses with the latter requiring at least 2-days advanced notice. In the end, I decided to go with the $380 menu because I figured I would be getting the real deal. I mean… Since head chef Taro Takayama knew my IGGF and she was contacting him directly to make our reservation, I figured he wouldn’t shortchange me. So with that, reservation was made with at least 1 week advanced notice.

Located at the ground level of OUE Downtown, it’s a 15 minutes walk from Raffles Place MRT station to Takayama. My IGGF went with the 8-course ($190) from the menu while I went ahead with the 11-course menu ($380) as pre-ordered. And with that, we started our dinner with:-

1) Takayama menu, $380 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Young onion, sea urchin from Hokkaido and dashi jelly.


(B) Dish #2 (above) – Tofu souffle with hairy crab and summer truffle.


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Asparagus, somen and corn ice cream.


  

(D1) Dish #4 (above) – Otsukuri platter of baby white shrimp (shiro-ebi), pike eel with plum sauce, big-eye snapper (kinmedai) with vinegar jelly, Spanish mackerel with homemade plum sauce and radish, tuna tartare with frozen yolk within, blue fin tuna and mackerel stick sushi (saba bozushi) with kelp. The tartare was pretty interesting as chef Taro san shared that the yolk within was marinated in soya sauce to achieve its cheese-like texture.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Sandwiched between the wafer biscuit (monaka) were foie gras (marinated with sake and mirin) and pickled watermelon skin (marinated in sake lees).

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Spotted prawn (botan-ebi) and raw egg plant in grape dressing.

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Abalone with two sauces; Sea urchin and abalone liver.


(H) Dish #8 (above) – Wild-caught eel with salt flakes, served with fermented barley and various vegetables.

(I) Dish #9 (above) – Rice with sea-caught salmon and pickles.

(J) Dish #10 (above) – Musk melon and mango.

(K) Dish #11 (above) – Pumpkin and green pea (usui-endo) jellies.

2) Alcohol pairing, $98 (6 types) (above)

It was an enjoyable meal because I had the company of my IGGF. It’s no secret that I am really shy with new faces. But with my IGGF, I was about to converse freely with friendly chef Taro san. However food wise, I didn’t think it was worth the $380 price tag.

Compared to my IGGF’s $190 8-course menu, the additional dishes that I got for my 11-course menu was somen (dish #3) and abalone (dish #7). The other differences were i) eel was used instead of hairy crab for her souffle (dish #2), ii) she got snapper with soya foam instead of blue fin tuna (dish #4), iii) huge sweetfish (ayu) instead of eel (dish #8), and iv) wine-marinated peach instead of mango (dish #10). Which honestly, I felt the dishes only justified a $280 instead of $380 menu. Even the plating between the $190 and $380 were the same. I guess I was disappointed because I was expecting more. At least 1 really special ingredient since advanced notice was even given.

Will I recommend Takayama? Well, for a traditional kaiseki experience, I would recommend elsewhere. But I would not give Takayama a total miss. If one is in the CBD area, one could still check out Takayama but stick to the $190 or $280 menu. Don’t go beyond $280.

TAKAYAMA
6A Shenton Way, OUE Downtown, #01-09/10, Singapore
6224 0864, Website
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 5
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dim sum @ Jade

September 18, 2017 in Chinese

My girlfriend was raving about the food at Jade after her dinner at the restaurant. And since I was craving for dim sum, I thought it would be a good idea for us to head over to Jade. Thankfully my girlfriend didn’t mind returning too. Keke. And for the a-la carte dim sum buffet, Jade has 2 seatings; 11am and 1.15pm. My girlfriend assisted to call and make reservation for the later slot.

Located in The Fullerton Hotel, I arrived slightly early at 12.50pm on the day of our dim sum date. But it was weird there was no staff stationed at the receptionist stand. So I stood around with what looked like fellow customers who have arrived early and was waiting for the appearance of a staff. And at 1.05pm, after the tables were set and ready for second seating, the receptionist finally appeared.

And it was only during our visit that I realised Jade underwent a recent refurbishment with pastel blue wallpaper. Apparently the colour was chosen because it reflected the lustre of jade.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Dim sum with options of:


(A) 01: Deep fried taro paste wrapped with truffles and mushrooms (above)


(B) 02: Crispy prawn dumpling (above)


(C) 03: Pan-fried seafood bean curd roll (above)

(D) 05: Pan-fried radish cake (above)

  

(E) 06: Pan-fried minced pork and chives “guo tie” (above)


(F) 07: Baked fresh milk bun (above)

(G) 08: Steamed glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf (above) – With chicken and mushrooms.

(H) 09: Steamed crystal shrimp dumpling (above)

(I) 10: Steamed pork siew mai with abalone (above)

(J) 11: Steamed pork rib with black bean sauce (above)

(K) 12: Steamed chicken feet with oyster sauce (above) – This was pretty good.


(L) 15: Steamed osmanthus char siew pau (above)

(M) 16: Steamed glutinous rice roll in sesame dressing (above)

(N) 17: Steamed superior stock xiao long pau (above)

(O) 18: Steamed dried longan sponge cake (above)


(P) 19: Steamed green tea custard bun (above)


(Q) 20: Golden ‘man tou’ stuffed with chilli crab meat (above) – Limited to one piece per diner.

2) Soup (one serving per diner) with options of:-

(A) 21: Braised bird’s nest with truffles, egg white in superior broth (above)

(B) 24: Double-boiled winter melon with bamboo mushrooms (above)

3) Appetiser with options of:

(A) 26: Crispy honey vinaigrette sliced sea bass (above)

(B) 28: Roasted five-spiced and sea salt pork belly (above, left)

(C) 31: Honey-glazed “char siew” (above, right)

(D) 29: Deep-fried prawns coated with wasabi mayonnaise (above)


(E) 34: Deep-fried century egg (above)

4) Main course with options of:

(A) 36: Stir-fried french beans with minced garlic (above)

(B) 42: Sauteed pork ribs with coffee sauce (above)

5) Congee/noodles/rice with options of:

(A) 48: Wok-fried silver needle noodles in hometown style (above)

(B) 52: Boiled congee with lobster and dried scallop (above)

6) Dessert with options of:

(A) 53: Dessert of the Day (cold) (above)

(B) 55: Oven-baked egg tart (above)

With only 1.5 hours for our a-la carte dim sum buffet, it was a little rushed as my friends and I attempted catch up while trying to eating lots at the same time. Buffet mah.

One should note that the kitchen takes some time to prepare the food after passing the staff the order slip. I reckon it’s because most tables are giving their order slips at almost the same time. So when one is trying to order more before ‘last order’, one should do it earlier for the food to come out faster and to allow oneself sufficient time to enjoy the food. That said, my friends and I weren’t too impressed with food. It was good but it didn’t wow-ed us.

One should also be careful of the units; Piece and quantity. The order slip indicated the chicken feet was by pieces. So when we first ordered, we wrote ’2′ and were served a basket with 2 pieces. And because we really enjoyed it, we re-ordered as 4 (pieces). But we were taken aback when we were given 4 baskets. Hmm…

Would I recommend Jade? Well… Honestly, I had better dim sum experiences elsewhere.

JADE
1 Fullerton Square, The Fullerton Hotel, Ground Level, Singapore
6733 8388, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 11:30 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Sat – Sun : 11:00 – 15:00 (Dim sum)
Value: 7
Mon – Sun : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Service: 7

Dinner @ Sushi Sabu-Roku

August 19, 2017 in Japanese

Months back, I learnt that the sushi chef at Tamaya Dining left to open his own sushi restaurant. And I immediately shared the news with my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) so that we could check out the place together. However, she got a little too anxious and went ahead without me as she couldn’t wait for me to be back from my holidays. Sob.

So when my IGGF raved about Sushi Sabu-Roku, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed because she and I share the same taste. So yes, my IGGF said she could return and have dinner with me. However, that didn’t materialize because 1 week before our scheduled dinner, the restaurant called my IGGF (who assisted with the reservation) and asked us to change our timing from 7pm to 6pm as they received reservation for a big group for 8pm. And do note that the restaurant asked us to change and not if we could change. Like what!?!

And since my IGGF was very disappointed with the way they handled the booking, I decided to check them out with another friend as I was still very much curious about their food.


So 4 months later, I called to make reservation for a weekday dinner as I was interested to have baby gizzard shad (shinko) which I knew was in the season from their instagram.

Reaching at 7.30pm, we were the last pair of customers to arrive at the restaurant for dinner. And for that, we were seated at the end of the counter, furthest away from owner-chef Koji Koike.

And from the dinner menu (pages 1, 2, 3), my friend and I ordered:-

1) Omakase, $250 comprised of:-

(A) Appetiser (above) – Flat greenling, egg plant and seaweed.


(B) Dish #1 (above) – Threeline grunt (isaki). And it being grilled on skewer, the fish was oily with a nice smokey aroma.

(C) Dish #2 (above) – Mackerel.


(D) Dish #3 (above) – Shellfish (ishigakigai) from Hokkaido, served with raw eggplant.

(E) Dish #4 (above) – Corn from Hokkaido.

(F) Dish #5 (above) – Big eye snapper (kinmedai). The skin was unfortunately grilled till burnt.


(G) Dish #6 (above) – Tempura assortment of shrimp (ebi) and onion, and green chili.

(H) Dish #7 (above) – Grilled white asparagus.


  

(I) Dish #8 (above) – Soup with tuna belly and fish cake.

  
  
  

(J) Dish #9 (above) – Sushi assortment of striped jack (shima-aji), squid, medium fatty tuna (chutoro), big eye snapper (kinmedai), marinated tuna (maguro zuke), sea eel (anago) and sea urchin. Somehow, from the fourth piece, the rice in our sushi became smaller. Not sure if it was because we enquired how many more pieces there was. And the only reason we asked that was because dinner was painfully draggy. Definitely not because we were full.


(K) Dish #10 (above) – Honeydew and grapes.

Unfortunately, dinner was a huge let down. Ingredients weren’t worth the price tag and the interval between the dishes were painfully long. My friend and I got pretty impatient towards the end of our dinner because we would be waiting for our dish but head chef Koji san was deeply engrossed talking to his regulars; Waiting for 5 minutes is understandable if he needs to go one round when making everyone’s sushi. But we were waiting for more than 10 minutes with head chef Koji San not doing anything related to food preparation. It seemed that they have not adapted to what’s needed with the increased capacity. Was talking to the staff, and she happened to mention they recently added more chairs to increase capacity from 8 to 10.

And it was a great disappointment that I specially came for baby gizzard shad (shinko) after seeing many post pictures of theirs on Instagram and we were served none.

Will I recommend Sushi Sabu-Roku? I won’t totally cross them out yet. I am still trying to believe that it was an one-off incident that my friend and I had a bad dining experience. Instead of coming for their dinner menu, I would encourage one to try their lunch menu instead. Which I would return to try. Not anytime soon though. Maybe next year, same time. And I’ll be sure to state clearly in my reservation that I want to try the baby gizzard shad. Yes, by hook or crook.

SUSHI SABU-ROKU
36 Circular Road, Singapore
6532 0050
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tue – Fri : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 5
* Closed on Sun
Service: 7