Saturday, December 31, 2011

Foodtake of 2011

Twenty eleven by far has been quite a year of its own - the eating continues of course from 2010. Eating as much as it is part of life, has taken on quite a journey on its own. Who would ever know that when I started this, I would have amassed such a shocking number of entries and containers of food consumed in totality!

Alot more travelling required which brought me to several places, a couple of repeats though that gave me the freedom to pick and choose the favourites. Just one restaurant made it to my black list, but let bygones be bygones yea!

Fewer buffets consumed...the lousier metabolism rate bans it. Checking out watering holes seemed to take quite a focus in 2011 as well, I believe I have visited the favourites to death already. 2011 has been a year of Laoban soyabeancurd, molten custard paus and roasted pork amongst other things!

To the travel partners who made it through 2011 with me, I know it has been a great honour letting me decide what and where to eat. Still heartfelt thanks for letting me ruin the first most precious ten seconds when the dish is laid on the table.

To the family especially the sis for still being the greatest and most supportive dining partners, thank you for joining me on this gastronomical journey.

Food bloggers whom I hang out with, one passion, many black knights...may 2012 be even better than this year! Keep eating, keep dreaming of what to eat next...we are what we truly eat. :)

As per tradition, I shall list the Top Eleven that made the year so very spectacular;

One. Andre

Not exactly homegrown per se but Chef Andre, at long last! Birthday or not, he made it to one of the most memorable meals. Dinner in 2012? *hopeful!*

Two. Group Therapy Cafe

Found my comfort hole! Though it's only been 3 visits to date but consistently good food and such warm service...keep the awesome job up ladies! Dreaming of that insanely good carrot cake, always!

Three. Bo Innovation, Hongkong

The shimmer of this michelin starred restaurant probably outdid the quality of food but it was an experience not to forget - ever.

Four. Ember

Yet another that falls snugly into the comfort zone. Every course wows. Every single visit leaves me drooling over the next. So glad I ended the year with such a big delicious bang! Such great pity I only discovered it this year but better late than never right?

Five. Cityspace

How can I ever ever ever ever forget about my favouritest bar! Swissotel owes me a membership card for such ardent support. Bubble tea...so awesome!

Six. Morton's Bar

No hidden secret, awesome appletinis, to die for filet mignon sandwiches. I've become such a rambling machine about this place. Only good memories here.

Seven. Da Dong, Beijing

Motherhood of all roasted ducks.

Eight. Naughty Nuris, Bali

All ribs should taste this way! Not just being in such a magical island like Bali but the ribs till today remain so deeply etched in my memory.

Nine. Cherry Garden

My favourite dimsum place this year, though it does not offer my favourite molten custard paus.

Ten. Meng Kee Char Siew, KL

Finally gotten down to eating a piece of heaven. Fats, meat and charred bits...all in one incredulously bombastic bite!

Eleven. Lao Ban Soyabean

The number of repeats done on this one has been beyond numerous. Defying tradition, soya beancurd never did taste the same again.

It is a pity that restaurants continue to open and close so rapidly...but here's to the food scene, only better days await! Happy new year in another couple of hours, here's to happy new beginnings!

Ember Revisited @ Keong Siak Road

It was down to the last Christmas meal of 2011 and to tie in with the heralding of the new year as well, the companions chose Ember - which was and still is always top of the list choice for me. I can probably head back 10 times and still lust after the next visit.  Reservations are hard to get, yet another friend was told "full house" when the night drew past without being full.

I am totally crushed that the camera decided to die on me before the meal started, as much as I would have loved to remember it graphically. Make do with the grainy iPhone pictures and probably let the words sugar-tempt you.


tomato bread

Requests for bread were made so early into the meal and the kitchen was perhaps still kneading dough but it took almost eternity to arrive.  Nothing can stand in between me and my carbs - especially for their tomato bread!

egg foie gras

Ohhh-lala.

crispy parma ham

Crispy chip!

break the egg

A delicious mess.

Pan-roasted Foie Gras with Fried Maitake Mushroom, Porcini Sauce, 1 Hour Poached Egg and Truffle Salt ($24)

So many times I have missed out on their foie gras dishes, this time I had to have it. The only pity about this incredibly aromatic dish is it was not served hot. I was told to break the egg and mix it up. 2011 taught me to eat runny eggs and the yolk was slightly overcooked but I loved it all the same. An atas version of the half boiled eggs in the kopitiam with a whole lot more sass. Don't get me wrong, the whole dish was faultless...flavours worked right down to the crispy parma ham that came with it and of course, that slab of piquant velvety foie gras. Good heavens, I rest my case on livers. Goose livers.



whoa


12 Hour Cooked Pork Belly with Savoy Cabbage, Apple Puree and Spiced Calvados Jus ($36) 

I felt pork-ish as much as beef is the usual calling. It could be the plating but the portion seemed slightly smaller than the last.

pork belly

All of the best captured in one plate - crispy skin, well seasoned meat and best of all, awesomely executed. I felt this was better than the last attempt and officially, picking this as my consistently favourite one from Ember!


On hindsight, the companions did comment that their famed tenderloin underperformed. A conclusion reached about beef is, the accompanying sauces can make or break it which is usually highly dependent on the diner's tastebuds.


banana tart

Warm Banana Tart with Vanilla Icecream ($14)

Having tried most of their dessert items, I was toying between fig cake and banana tart given these were the only two new additions. Their tarts have been so amazing thusfar, that crispy buttery mindblowingly addictive puff pastry meets bananas. Banana, Apple, Pear Tart...all great!


Here's what the rest of the gang tucked into and wiped their plates clean for.  

soft shell crab

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab with Sweet Wasabi Aioli ($13) 

foie gras

Roasted and Poached Foie Gras with Mirin and Shoyu, Shiitake ($26)

pear tart

Crispy Cinnamon Apple Pie with Homemade Icecream ($14)

apple tarte

Apple Tart Tartin with Vanilla Bean Icecream ($14)

Three visits later, I am officially truly, madly, deeply infatuated.  Albeit service level seems to take a nosedive for dinner, Ember's food just keeps me going back time and again. Certainly does not help that the companions are all huge fans. Head for lunch for the same fare and better service though dinner goes at a leisurely pace. Either meals, I am still hooked.

2012, Ember is so on my list of to-return.


Ember
Keong Siak Road

Friday, December 30, 2011

Jiang Nan Chun @ Four Seasons Hotel

The thing about festive seasons is, one tends to indulge in too much of a good thing whether it is turkey for Christmas or bak kwa for Chinese New Year. The companions had some foresight to avoid the regular operating procedure of finding a swanky restaurant with christmas jingles and diners all dressed to the nines with a turkey dish on every table. We headed chinese instead! I reckon I will not be heading chinese for Chinese New Year then!

entrance


Hosted on the second floor, the entrance is easy to miss.

layout

Table setting.

table

The lack of a good view but ambience was good.

menu

They have a limited menu of dimsum selections priced from $14 for 2 pieces. With premium ingredients like perigord truffle, abalone and foie gras, at $7 a pop...it is considerably well worth the price tag. For hardcore dimsum lovers, there is a dimsum menu going at $68 that comes with glutinous rice and mango sago which is a considerably better deal than heading for dimsum ala carte.

cutlery

Thoughtful towels.

mushroom appetizer

Complimentary appetizer of mushrooms which tasted like a cross of figs and mushrooms, particularly tantalizing. 

spring onions

Beautiful spring onions.
full duck

Armed with an insatiable hunger, we headed straight for a full peking duck ($68) in much gusto. Done two ways, the crepe was incredibly delicious.

peking duck crepes

Chewy crepe with a crisp duck skin and four servings later, I was ready to take on the rest of the duck. We had it cut up instead of panfried with vegetables, in its absolute natural glory - tenderworthy bites.

duck chopped

The clear sauce that came with it surprised me for being so tasty and not the least bit sticky. The norm goes with plum sauce, yet this wowed in all simplicity. Totally regretted ordering too much and having to pack the rest of it.

condiments

Condiments to go, particularly loving the shrimp chilli paste.

crab claw mee sua

Steamed Mee Sua and Crab Claw with Egg White in "Hua Diao" Wine ($14/portion)


Highly recommended by JNC fan and the chef, this arrived in a green bell pepper shaped serving dish. The crab claw certainly caught the attention. Bland like plain water, the broth was and we sent it back to the kitchen. Second attempt surely did better, flavourful broth though crab was slightly overcooked. Would not consider this a must try per se.

eggplant


Braised Eggplant with Scallops in Spicy Plum Sauce ($28)

Tasted quite like bittergourd sans any of the bitterness. Homecooked and heart warming dish.

dessert

Complimentary petit fours of an overly sweet pineapple tart and red bean jelly served with a palette cleanser of lime juice. I thought the red bean jelly was more outstanding.

JNC is fairly packed for a weekday night, a rare sight across chinese restaurants especially. Service is faultless and standard of food above average. Dimsum's on the agenda!

Jiang Nan Chun
Four Seasons

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shin Minori @ UE Square

Shin Minori started out quite a number of years back when Japanese buffets were all the rage for me and the companions - if memory serves me right, the chef from Minori used to be from Hanabi.The post- Wong Ah Yoke article syndrome waved me off from patronizing and it was until this day that I paid it a visit.


interior

Spacious restaurant that fills up quite fast. Reservations are highly recommended.

buffet alert

The pair of chopsticks that would last me the whole meal.

order lists

The long list of dishes - try them all at your own risk.

tea

Green tea for neverending and prompt refills.

sashimi

Sashimi Moriwase
Assorted Raw Seafood - Tuna, Salmon, Yellow Tail, Snapper, Swordfish, Octopus,  Cuttlefish


Pretty fresh sashimi which prompted re-orders of this.

chawanmushi1

More of the appetizers to fill the table!

chawanmushi

Chawanmushi
Steamed Egg Custard

Not usually a fan but this was alright.

edamame

Edamame
Japanese Peas

Perfect for nibbling whilst the other dishes arrive.

orange salad

Momo Sarada
Peach Salad

For the psuedo healthnuts.

chicken salad

Tori Sarada
Chicken Salad

Spot where the chicken slices are! Lost in a bowl full of lettuce leaves and delectable Japanese salad sauce. The salad sauce is one of those lifesavers for any bowl of drab salad, just like mayo.
 

agedashi

Agedashi Toufu
Deep Fried Bean Curd in Chicken Broth

The broth was oddly too clear and plain tasting. Tofu though fried was not great. Not a fan.

soups

Miso Shiru
Bean Paste Soup

Ton Shiru
Bean Paste Soup with Pork Belly

Asari Shiru
Bean Paste Soup with Clams

Kani Miso Shiru
Cream of crab bean paste soup
  
Ok, all tasted the same. I could not tell the huge difference between any of that. Miso soup is miso soup, especially for buffets.

handrolls

Spider Temaki
Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab


Ebi Tenpura Temaki
Deep Fried Tempura Prawn

Shoddy work expected, shoddy work delivered. At least seaweed was crisp.


sushi

Ebi Tenpura Maki
Deep Fried Tempura prawn

Decent-tasting sushi though the uneven sizes and thickness was annoying.

california maki

California Maki
Crab Meat Stick/Avocado/Cucumber

Either the skill of the chef or the mat was the culprit.

salmon maki

Norwegian Shake
Chizu Maki Salmon with Cream Cheese

More of these plates to silence the hunger. Cream cheese with salmon is an interesting combination.

chicken mayo

Tori Wasabi Mayo
Chicken Pieces with Wasabi Mayonnaise

As literal as it looks, pity the wasabi mayo did not pack a punch.

fried chicken

Tori Karaage
Marinated Chicken Pieces


Perfect with beer!

fried shisamo

Kisu Tenpura
Fish Tempura
 
Did not attempt was this was supposedly huge shisamos.

fried crabs

Kani Tenpura
One Mouth Crab Tempura

Now this is a must order and must-reorder! Not quite widely found across places, in fact this is the first time I am eating them at a buffet. Loved these little crunchy crustaceans, fried to such crispness.

tempura

Tenpura Moriawase
Assorted Tempura Prawns/Fish/Vegetables

At least this was crispy, nice dipping sauce to go with it.

yakitori

Tori Teriyaki
Chicken with Sweet Soy Sauce

Nicely charred edges though this ain't no Tori-Q.

grilled salmon

Shake Teriyaki
Grilled Salmon with Sweet Soy Sauce

Snapped up too fast to attempt, so I reckon it must have been really good.

beef

Gyuniku Shogayaki
Beef with Special Sauce

Surprisingly tasty, a bowl of rice with this would have been ideal.

teriyaki chicken

Tori Teriyaki
Chicken with Sweet Soy Sauce

Sweetened chicken chunks, oiishii much!

Their yakitori items come with a variety of seasonings - tare and shio yet the differences can barely be discerned.

grilled eggplant

Nasu Dengaku
Eggplant with Yuzu Miso

Miso-flavoured eggplant cubes, meant for the sweet toothed.

grilled chicken balls

Tsukune
Chicken Meat Ball

Dry meat ball.

grilled quail eggs

Uzura
Quail Eggs

Nothing to scream about.

grilled shisamo

Shishamo
Pregnant Capelin

These pregnant fish are always so irresistible, especially on skewers.

pizza

Hotate Be-kon Piza
Scallop Bacon Pizza

Thick biscuit base defines this pizza, very japanese in ingredients. I actually liked it enough - melted strands of cheese, plump scallops and barbeque sauce.

garlic fried rice

Ninniku Yaki Meshi
Garlic Fried Rice

Pretty well done, considering how the rest of the dishes actually turned out. Despite being one of the last few dishes to arrive and a carb dish as well, this was polished off quite fast. Loved the chewy grains.

pasta 

Mentai Supagettii
Cod Roe Spaghetti

Surprisingly tasty, done al dente. 

I am definitely past the stage of gorging myself silly with every buffet or attempting every single item they have - pick and choose wisely to maximise the tum space for the meal. Otherwise, Shin Minori is average at best. No major surprises. 

146 dishes to conquer, if you have the guts. If not, pick good company to enjoy the meal. Service gets increasingly slipshod, orders get forgotten and remembered only to be served after the hunger has disappeared. Like most other Japanese buffets, desserts are nowhere to be found.

Shin Minori
UE Square