Dinner @ Beni Singapore

January 29, 2016 in French

It being my (favourite) girl’s birthday, I wanted to treat her to a meal that’s befitting of her. =)

Birthday girl wanted Japanese cuisine. But it being the first week of January and the market was closed in Japan for the new year, we had to cross that idea out and were left direction-less. o_O Doesn’t it happen sometimes? When you want to try a particular cuisine… But when you can’t, you don’t really know what else you want. But I digress. Ha.

Went through my (pretty outdated) list of restaurants-to-try, and there it was… Beni! I’ve been wanting to check them out since they opened last year.

However, after checking their menu from their website, I realised they were only serving their festive menu for the date we plan to head down for dinner. The thing about me is that I prefer to order from the regular menu. Yah, this wanting-to-write-a-relevant-review-after-my-meal is the reason so. Haha.

But after comparing the festive menu against the regular menu, I preferred their festive menu! For the regular dinner menu, Beni has 5-course and 7-course at $168 and $238. As for the 8-course festive menu, it was priced at $278. And the festive menu has all my our favourites of crab, caviar, foie gras and lobster!

And with that, a reservation was made. I was directed to a third-party website where the restaurant would still need to get back to me separately to confirm my reservation. In my online booking, I mentioned it was to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday. And Beni got back to me on the immediate working day. However, I missed their call and received a text message from them instead. Nice. Since I don’t have the habit of answering calls from unknown number too. Ha!

Located within Mandarin Gallery, Beni is located just beside Hashida Garo. Not surprising since both are opened by chef Hatch of Hashida Sushi.

My girlfriend and I were greeted at the entrance by the staff. And I understood why they were there, waiting to bring us in. Cause we stepped into darkness… The main area was hidden behind full height black curtains. So it was off to a “wow” start when the staff drew the curtains for us to see what lie behind. We felt like we were entering a theatre. Which probably was the intention… Japanese reinterpretation of authentic French cuisine with a chef’s table experience.

And with that, we started our $278 festive-menu dinner (menu) with:-

  

1) King of green HIRO premium (above) – Gyokuro Japanese tea. Gyokuro would refer to the tip part of tea stem, which are handpicked. It’s considered to be finest in quality, freshness and richness in flavour. The chef poured warm water into the cup with the tea leaves for us to sip the tea. I had some difficulty trying to drink it without getting any tea leaves in my mouth. Haha. But try to drink as much as possible cause the chef continued to add olive oil and sea salt for us to eat it like a salad. Interesting.


2) Millefeuille de crabe royal au navet shogoin (above) – Red king crab and shogoin turnip millefeuille, shungiku sauce, caviar. With crab from Hokkaido, this was so good! Chef also introduced shogoin as a Japanese vegetable that’s like spinach.

3) Gateau au foie gras (above) – Foie gras cake, vanilla flavour, apple and celeriac puree, apple jelly. Comprised of various layers; Top layer was with apple skin, 2nd of apple celeriac puree. I am not a big fan of terrine. If I am to have foie gras, I would prefer to have it as a steak. You know, like pan-fried foie gras. But this changed my mind. Definitely one of the better terrines I had. I liked how the faint sweetness from the apple balanced the slight saltiness of the foie gras. And because bread was also served with this dish, my girlfriend and I also had the foie gras cake as spread. And it went on very smoothly. Yummy!

  

4) Bread, Complimentary (above) – And we were given sourdough and milk breads. We preferred the sourdough.


  

5) Homard bleu (above) – Blue lobster risotto, cep mushroom duxelles, lobster sauce. And the plating was so pretty! I would be happy even if the plating came without the flowers. Ha. Risotto was cooked to perfection (al dente) with every grain coated evenly with the sauce. I like the additional crunch introduced to the dish with the lettuce. And one can have this dish in so many ways! Risotto on its own. Risotto with vegetables. Risotto with lobster. Lobster on its own. I was in love. A must try!

  

6) Kinmedai origine mer du japon (above) – Steamed red snapper with scallop mousse in butter lettuce, yuzu flavoured cream sauce. The best way to consume this was to eat it still wrapped with the lettuce. Don’t try to take it apart. Eating this gave me that very 满足 feeling. That ‘slightly explode in the mouth’ moment when I bit through the tightly wrapped fish. Taking the dish apart will simply defeat the chef’s intention for the dish. I did not like the yuzu peel in the sauce which was bitter. But my girlfriend liked it, so I guess it’s a personal preference.

  

7) Main course (above) with options of:-

(A) Ozaki wagyu a5 (above) – Salt crusted ozaki wagyu, roasted Japanese green tea flavour, potato puree, black truffe coulis, madeira wine sauce. My girlfriend enjoyed her beef. I could tell even though she did not say cause she finished everything although she was saying before our dinner that she’s watching her weight and will just eat a little of every course.

(B) Chevreuil de nouvelle-zealande (above) – Salt crusted New Zealand vension, roasted Japanese green tea flavour, potato puree, black truffle cream and vinaigrette. While making my reservation, I highlighted I don’t take beef. And thus, I was given 2 options of pork and venison. I went with the latter. And this was pretty good. Eat the meat without the sauce to smell the faint aroma of truffle. Potato purée was on the heavy side with it being dense, rich and sticky. But it was so good and smooth. Good thing the next course was desserts!

8) Fromage (above) – Brie cheese salad. I liked how the chef paid attention to the smallest detail like serving this on a warm plate to ensure the cheese remain melted after served since melted cheese harden once left to cool. So good. We love our cheeses!

9) Pre dessert (above) – Fresh strawberry from murata farm, rose jelly, milk granite. A refreshing dish. I especially liked the milk granite which was sweet. It was almost like eating shaved condensed-milk ice. Haha. Yum.


10) Chocolate framboise (above) (above) – Raspberry mousse in chocolate sphere, chocolate ice cream. The choco-cornflakes that’s on the plate (not within the sphere) was crunchy-ly good. And one must eat this dessert as a whole. Go deep down with the spoon to get to the sponge right at the bottom.

11) Cafe et mignardise of:-

(A) Mignardise (above) – Comprised of caramel coated crispy rice, cherry financier, blueberry tart and calamansi marshmallow. My favourite was the financier while I did not really fancy the tart.

(B) Drink with options of:-

i) Coffee (above) – As always, I opted for latte. Keke.

  

ii) Tea (above) – My girlfriend wanted tea, and was given Japanese roasted tea.


13) Birthday cake, Complimentary (above) – In my online booking, I stated it was a birthday meal for my girlfriend. And when I returned call after receiving their text to confirm dinner, the staff asked for my girlfriend’s name. I threw in her age as well for them to include in the dessert. Haha. But frankly, I didn’t expect an extra dessert. You know… Like how most restaurants would just stick a candle in an existing dessert course. So it was very nice of them. We felt very pampered! =)

The entire set up of us being able to witness the chef plating the dishes before us reminded me somewhat of Waku Ghin and DSTLLRY. o_O Haha. But of course, it won’t be fair to put these 3 together and compare.

But I really like Beni. For the experience, ambience, service and food. If you are looking for somewhere dark yet classy and without the cheesy candle (you know… like candle-lit dinner), Beni is the place! =p But of course, in an enclosed space where everyone can see one another due to the seating arrangement, one can’t be too loud in both volume and actions. But my girlfriend and I were too engrossed in our conversation to care. Haha.

And one could also tell much thought was given into the sequencing of the dishes by the chefs. Just when we were starting to feel full after the potato purée in our main course, we were to be served dessert next. And service was excellent too! I always feel the best service by waiting staff is when they move like shadows; They somehow clear your empty plates quietly, top up your cup efficiently and is there just when you need assistance. All without intruding into your space or disturbing your conversation with your dining partner. And the staff at Beni did just that!

So while this entry is on their festive menu. I still hope it’s useful. Beni? I would recommend them! It’s worth the splurge.

BENI SINGAPORE
333A Orchard Road, Mandarin Gallery, #04-16, Singapore
6235 2285, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 9
Mon – Sat : 19:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 9
* Closed on Sun

UPDATE 1: Restaurant has moved to 333A Orchard Road, Mandarin Gallery, #02-37.
UPDATE 2: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2016.
UPDATE 3: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2017.

Dinner @ Scotts 27

January 24, 2015 in French

It was one of the (rare) few days when I suddenly thought of revisiting a restaurant. Oh yes, if one knows me well, I’m the type who prefers to check out new places. However, while wanting to revisit Le Saint Julien for French cuisine, I realised they have since closed in January 2013. But after more google-ing, I learnt that they’re back in the F&B industry by being the managing consultants for Scotts 27.

And with that, reservation was made for 2 for a Friday night, 5 weeks in advance. Haha. Kiasu-ism was unintentionally at play cause my girlfriend couldn’t match mine.

And what set Scotts 27 apart from the rest was their twin concept of exclusivity and residential private dining theme. 2 weeks before our dinner date, the staff emailed us the menu. However, the mail went into my junk mail cause I did not realise they sent it. Ha. But the staff followed up with a call 1 week later to check with me. =)

And for ours, it was a menu built around the summer truffle season. However, worried about truffle overload and wanting to try some of chef Julien Bompard’s traditional preparation of French dining, I requested to change 1 of the dishes if possible.


The Heritage Room

And upon arrival, we were led to our room. We were housed in ‘The Heritage Room’. The staff also introduced our room as ‘The Tea Room’ which he said most of the female guests preferred. And before we started our dinner, we were brought on a tour of the place.


The Wine Room

So we got to see the other room which was a favourite with male diners; ‘The Wine Room’. With leather seats and over 200 labels of wines in display, the room exuded masculinity. If we had to choose between the 2 rooms, my girlfriend and I were happy to be in ‘The Heritage Room’. =p

And I was glad they were able to accede our request by altering our menu ($198 per person). And again, as with their concept of ‘dining as though one is at home”, we were not rushed into starting our dinner. While my girlfriend and I were catching up at the lounge area within our room, our night started with:-

  

1) Appetisers, Complimentary (above) – Artichoke, duck rillette and chicken terrine. And the idea of the bowl was to place our spoons into it after consuming the small bites.

2) Scotts 27 garden (above) – After moving to the main dining table to officially kick start our dinner, Edith came in to introduce the amuse bouche. Comprised of carrot puree, spinach, shimeji mushroom, raspberry bits, truffle and cocoa powder, we were told chef Julien was inspired by the plantation which surrounded the colonial house back in the 18 century. Although Edith joked that the chef was bringing the garden in since one can’t see the greenery at night. Haha. We were also told this dish would always be on the menu, but with some changes in the ingredients according to seasons like having pumpkin puree instead of carrot.


3) La truffe “louis outhier” (above) – Foie gras terrine wrapped with black truffle, gelee of duck and almond. Made to replicate a truffle ball with vegetable consommé jelly on the sides, the staff joked that it looked like a century egg to her. Haha. I liked how the staff come across more as friends rather than just waiting staff. And for this, we were also given a plate of nicely toasted bread to go with it. This was so good.


4) Lobster bisque with lobster claw (above) – Aiolo and garlic crouton. One of chef Julien’s signature dishes, we really liked the lobster claw which was wrapped with filo pastry. And just when we were hoping there was more when we finished our bowl of soup, the staff suddenly came in with a tea pot and poured us more soup. Nice!

5) Roasted cod fish and langoustine (above) – Truffled creamy savoy cabbage.



6) Stuffed quail with medley of mushrooms (above) – Port wine and truffle sauce. What we did not expect was when the staff set up a mobile station. The staff brought in the whole quail on a metal tray, presented it to us (which I quickly snapped a picture of. Ha) before bringing it over to the mobile station to slice it into halves and plate our mains in front of us. However, the stuffing within the pigeon was a little dry if consumed without the sauce.



7) Crepe suzette “a-la maison” (above) – Grand marnier and chantilly cream. With the option to choose between cheese platter and chef Julien’s signature crepe suzette for dessert, my friend and I decided to go for the latter. And we were treated to a flambe performance by staff Sha Sha. In the midst of preparing our dessert, Sha Sha shared with us that even 1 second in cooking the sugar would change the taste to the sauce. And this was so good. We wished we could have more. I also liked that the sauce had additional bits of orange skin. A must try.


8) Scotts 27 petit fours (above) – And to end our dinner, Edith came in with our petits fours where she mentioned essence of St Julien was still kept in Scotts 27 with chef Julien’s signature financier (small almond cake) and truffle chocolate. I opted to have latte for my choice of coffee. And yes, my girlfriend and I chose to have our petits fours at the low table of the lounge area.

Would I recommend Scotts 27? Definitely! It was a unique experience for us to dine as though we were at home. We even got to play our own music. =) And even though their operating hours was stated to be till 10pm, we stayed till 11.30pm (The group in ‘The Wine Room’ was still around when we left). It was that comfortable. My girlfriend felt like we had come for a staycation instead, and we just needed our beds to complete the picture. Haha.

And when Edith was with us in the room, she filled us in on how Scotts 27 came about. It was in fact an idea they had since they were at The Fullerton Waterboat House. But to partition the space and block the view (back then) was a pity. Thus, they had been waiting for an ideal place. And the dream came to life when their client got them to manage (and run) the operations for the colonial house at 27 Scotts Road. In fact, there’re still ongoing changes to Scotts 27. The reception area will undergo renovation while there’re ongoing works at second storey which will allow for a conference room, etc.

Through Edith, my girlfriend and I learnt that almost every elements within ‘The Heritage Room’ was from them. From the mahjong set (which belonged to chef Julien’s great grandmother) to the cupboard (not pictured), lamp (which the husband and wife team bought from an antique shop in New York) and sofa! I guess one could also call the room ‘The Antique Room’. Or a room full of memories and sentiments through the belongings put together by chef Julien and Edith.

As of now, Scotts 27 is only open for dinner (reservation only) but with plans to have lunch service (reservation only) in March 2015. Although Edith did mention they are still keeping Scotts 27 a little exclusive with almost no publicity done.

For any who may be interested, there’s a minimum spending of $500 for dining within the room. So one may want to come in bigger groups although the smaller rooms could only house up to 5 people. With a bottle of alcohol, my girlfriend and I spent $300 (after GST and service charge) each which we felt was money well spent since we thoroughly enjoyed the dining experience. It felt as though we booked the entire place since we have the room all to ourselves.

But don’t be silly and try to do something funny as there’s a CCTV installed in the room for the staff to know when they should come in to serve the next course, etc.

Side tracking, Edith somehow found me familiar. It was amazing to think she could have somehow remembered me when my dinner at Le Saint Julien was 5 years back! She was the very lady who introduced me (when I was in my early twenties) to the world of truffle.

SCOTTS 27
27 Scotts road, Singapore
6737 0895, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat : 14:00 – 22:00
Ambience: 9
Value: 8
* Closed on Sun
Service: 9

Dinner @ Ocean Restaurant

September 28, 2014 in European

Since staying at RWS ocean suite will set one back by $2000 a night, I decided to enjoy the same underwater effect by dining at Ocean Restaurant. Keke. Ocean Restaurant is opened by Cat Cora, a renowned celebrity chef and first female Iron Chef in Singapore.

My friend and I came on a weekday evening. Reservation is definitely a must. I underestimated their popularity. I called 4 hours prior to our intended 7.30pm visit to learn they only had a 9.30pm slot left.

  

My friend and I decided to go ahead with 9.30pm although the lady on the other end informed the restaurant closes at 10.30pm with last order at 10pm. Worried that my friend and I wouldn’t be able to finish our meal within an hour, I asked if we could continue to linger after 10.30pm. However, the lady must have thought I wanted to hang around to see the fishes cause she replied “But they switch off the aquarium lights at 10.30pm. So you won’t be able to see anything.”

We were also informed that we are required to spend at least $58 per person.

With that, we (actually) arrived earlier at 9pm. Luckily, they were setting up our table and had us seated by 9.10pm. We were also given a table just beside the aquarium. So I guess if one really wants a good table, do state one’s preference when making reservation.

And it could be because we were given a corner table, coupled with the fact that we arrived pretty late, we did not have any issue where our view was blocked by other diners who would stand between the table and glass to get a better view of the fishes.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Amuse bouche, Complimentary (above) – Egg with bacon foam, caramelised onion and a slice of blood sausage which the staff said was pork when I asked.

2) Tartare of pink shrimp, $28 (above) – Dashi jelly, compressed watermelon, avocado & yuzu-soy reduction. I did not like the taste of the chopped shrimps against the watermelon. It was an odd combination. The shrimps left a weird aftertaste in the mouth too.

3) 42 degree sous vide salmon, $32 (above) – Salmon mousse, citrus minestrone, ikura & shaved fennel salad.

4) Beet & cheese tartlet, $22 (above) – Layers of puff pastry with fontina cheese & beet puree. Surprisingly, of our choices for appetizers, it was this dish of non-seafood that stood out. Think layers of crisp, buttery pastry for the tartlet. Nice.


5) Lobster milk, $25 (above) – Raw marinated lobster & creme fraiche. We were first served a bowl without the soup so that we could see the ingredients nicely plated within it. But what took me aback was how the staff roughly poured the soup instead of slowly into the bowl. To the extent that the soup actually spilled over the bowl. That aside, we felt it was weird eating raw lobster meat. We preferred if it was cooked.

6) Seared hokkaido scallop, $62 (above) – Pumpkin bulgur wheat, sea urchin cream, pickled baby fennel, crackling pork skin & apple slaw. One of the better dishes. I would recommend ordering this. Four pieces of fresh, succulent scallops.

7) Roasted monkfish, $60 (above) – Black olive oil, chorizo puree & ratatouille. This was really salty. I’m not one who would ask for my dishes to be replaced, but it was so salty that (for the first time) I sent the dish back to the kitchen to check if it was intended to be this salty. A few minutes later, the staff came out and said the chef could redo the dish or we could change our choice of main. We decided to go for the latter cause from the initial bite, while it was really salty, we also concluded we did not like the texture of monkfish.


8) Buttered fried red gurnard, $52 (above) – Scottish mussels, mussel-basil emulsion, dill cream & preserved lemon. The dish which we opted to replace our monkfish dish. This was much better, although the fish was a little overcooked.

9) Vacherin, $22 (above) – Textures of strawberry & creme fraiche. This was really pretty with its different shades of pink in the dish! And it tasted as good as it looked too! It was indeed a dish of different textures. Really interesting and yummy.

10) Black forest, $24 (above) – Valrhona chocolate sponge, kirsch, caramel ice & cherry compote. This was good. Wrapped within the chocolate were layers of sponge cake and cream. Really nice.

I guess due to the really disappointing appetisers and mains, dessert was the highlight of our dinner. Which was a great shame cause one would think Ocean Restaurant would do well in terms of dishing out seafood items especially with their menu centering around seafood.

The lights for the aquarium starts to dim out by 10pm. So if one only manage to get a late time slot like me, do try to take pictures early! =)

OCEAN RESTAURANT BY CAT CORA
8 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa, SEA Aquarium, Level B1M, Singapore
6577 6688, Website
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 6
Mon – Sun : 11:30 – 15:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sun : 17:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 6
Service: 6