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Raffles Courtyard x Shen Tan

 ~Invited Session~

Shen Tan of Ownselfmake Chef and OG Lemak has collaborated with Raffles Courtyard and presents her own zany food creation. You know you will be in for a good treat whenever you have the chance of trying her dishes. I followed her since her Wok and Barrel days and always craved for her unique take on classic favorite dishes.


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Bee Tai Mak-velous Ulam Pesto

The meal started off with Shen Tan’s stroke of genius using pesto with bee tai mak dish.  She topped the dish with cured barramundi, fresh salted egg, and delicious and glistening prawns which were really juicy. Ikan bilis and cherry tomatoes round off the umami bomb that is this dish.

I highly recommend you eat this dish with her signature sambal, because life is a mistake without chili.

 

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SG Lard (Lao) Ban Mee Sambal Noodles

You’ll be surprised at how filling this dish is. Wok-fried thick ban mee, served up with a heaping pile of lard sambal and runny fried egg, with yummy caramalised 5-spice pork slices. Truly reminds me of her good run at Wok and Barrel. If you haven’t realised by now, Shen Tan’s food is really, really heavy on the lard. Which is fantastic.

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Orh-Nee You (Sweet Wu Kok)


If you only had stomach to eat one dish, this is surprisingly the dish for me tonight. Sweet and crisy taro puff that would not look out of place in a top dim sum restaurant, that are covered in deep fried bee hoon. The star is the taro puff itself, with a luxurious gula melaka middle and even more gula melaka, that is in a butterscotch form drizzled onto it, and with a rich coconut ice cream garnished with lard-fried shallots. This, is the ultimate flavor bomb of the night. 

The Raffles Courtyard x Shen Tan collaboration is available daily until 15 Sep, from 3 – 9pm. Be sure to get there soon!

 

Araki Orchard @ Orchard Plaza

I’ve been curious about Araki for awhile now and with the reservations running long after the 8 days feature, I had to just get my dinner reservation set before it gets too ridiculously long to even wait for. So then, this 8 seater restaurant operates like this – they do not start till everyone at the table arrives and we were late so – dinner started late for all. My super apologies.

Chef does a quick introduction of the dinner menu ahead and he begins preparing our portions whilst the servers attend to our beverage needs and pretty much every one breaks into their own private chatter. Chef interrupts with the introduction of the dishes – the not so interested diners continue their own conversations and everyone gets served. I’m not sure if I actually like this arrangement, because it’s a one man band mostly and we literally wait out for our food to be served and sushi is fine because the pacing is reasonable but when it comes to more complicated dishes where plating is required, the waiting is agonizing.

15 courses for $250++, let’s go!

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Ankimo

Monkfish liver sansho pepper leaf

I like my ankimos despite not being a liver fan, really smooth and delicious.

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Shirakawa, a kind of white tile fish

Mackerel saba from Hokkaido was the star of the next dish, with the skin smoked by straw, there is an unmistakeable fragrance about it. Paired with sesame sauce, chilli oil, ginger flower, baby spring onions, the result is one of a mersmerizing and very addictive dish. I’m so-so with saba but this, is one game changer.

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Kohada from amaksa island in Kyushu

Firm fish and I’m not too big a fan of the fish itself. The seasoning had a vinegary finish and I found it tad too sharp for comfort.

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Shabu shabu kuromutsu Japanese Black Sea Bass

This Japanese black sea bass hails from Kozi island under Tokyo island and boy, this was so so so tender! Literally melt in the mouth and the broth was so comforting too. I wish they served me more soup.

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Hay smoked Sawara

Smoked and served with relish and Chef's version of "tan tan" sauce. This was a treat!

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Kohada isn't my favouritest to eat to begin with, usually is vinegared and beautifully sliced.

 

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Charcoal grilled black nodoguro

Deep throat perch is one of my favourite fatty fish, the meat is mad tender and the burst of oils is pure happiness. Chargrilling it is perhaps the best way to cook fatty fish and the flavours that are showcased – oisshi!! Add on charcoal rice – you’ve got a winner.

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Tempura squid with sour plum sauce

I mistook this for scallop, except the firm yet tender texture made this super enjoyable. Together with the crisp and light batter, I wish all tempura was like this.

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Abalone with liver sauce

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First, we get served up a round of theatrics and Chef Issey is terribly animated. Save for his weak grasp of English, otherwise, he does make really good company. Wonderful knife work here, with the wavy cuts made on the tender abalone. Delicious number, just missing out one some pow wow.

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The famous uni cone gets served and there’s a twist to it, it’s a negitoro-uni cone and Chef Issey serves me two versions – call it being pranked. 

 

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The mini version albeit tiny, is actually quite a masterpiece. The layers of negatoro and sea urchin are evident, only lesser in quantity. 

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Surely, the original sized cone gets you the deal and no doubt, it is one luxurious and enjoyable cone but the caveat is – one must like bafun uni. Mostly creamy, somewhat sweet but lacking in depth. My bias is towards aka uni, so that would have been the dream cone for me. If a repeat order is on the cards, prepare to pay your dues at $80 a cone. 

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Blue fin tuna

Zuke marinated in soya sauce

Shari was hard, rice grains fall apart easily

 

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Shimanto eel from Osaka, butter sauce, truffles from spain is another show piece, the shaving of truffles and an almost neverending rain of truffles makes this a joy to watch. 

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Poaching eel is probably my next favourite way to have eel and it remains most of its natural flavours in the meat and jus. 

 

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Donabes are Chef Issey's siganture and we had a nodoguro donabe! 

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 Creamy and rich goodness.

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Miso soup usually signals the end of a meal. 

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Aoki apple and strawberry ends our 15 courses and I am happy to report, I had a good time. Not sure if a return is quick on the cards but definitely good value and good entertainment. 

 

Araki Orchard

Orchad Plaza

 

Fatfuku x Raffles Hotel Courtyard

~Invited Session~

In the latest edition of the Private Chef Series, Raffles Hotel Courtyard teams up with renowned food writer Annette Tan, who is the chef behind private dining establishment, FatFuku

 

I have always wanted to try Annette’s dishes and her menus ares rooted in traditional Peranakan family recipes and brought forward to modern times with whimsical additions and surprise techniques and ingredients.

 

She has been in hot demand since starting FatFuku in 2017, and brings with her several of her signature dishes to the Raffles Courtyard.

 

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Mee Siam Rosti was a great hit of the night.

 

We started the night off with Mee Siam Rosti. Think of a traditional pan fried rosti with the potato swapped out for a cake of mee siam. Sambal prawns and quail eggs adorn the little cakes and topped with a gravy heavy on peanut flavours, this is definitely a crowed favorite. Don’t worry if you cannot handle spicy food, this one is quite mellow and won’t leave you sweating in the humid courtyard evening. 

 

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Nasi Lemak Buah Keluak, another of Anette’s signature dishes

 

What happens when you combine 2 of the most important dishes in Peranakan cuisine? You get a Frankenstein dish of epic proportions that would leave a Nyonya either amazed at your creativity, or shaking her head in disappointment that you chose to defy traditions. And for this, it’s the former, luckily. 

 

The buah keluak sambal is enhanced with minced dried shrimps and pork, and served on top of a fragrant tower of nasi lemak rice wrapped in a conical banana leaf package, the same type that you will see often in roadside stalls in Malaysia. Speaking of which, I do miss eating nasi lemak in Malaysia. This dish made me long for traveling once again.

 

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Pandan Kueh Koh Swee to satiate that sweet tooth

 

And who can end of a Peranakan meal without desserts? Annette has decided, in true matronly Nyonya style, to include 2 desserts instead of just 1 to make sure you round off the night rolling off your seat.

 

These tender squares of kueh are infused with natural pandan juice and coconut, and bursting with gula melaka flavors, are a great introduction of the myriad world of kuehs, and leaves one wanting to explore this rabbit hole even further.

 

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It’s been a while since I have had ice cream in an old school biscuit cup like this!

 

And for those of you of the more ang-moh-nised disposition, Annette has got your back. She came up with the Roasted Banana Ice Cream with Gula Melaka Syrup, which is a sugar explosion in your mouth. The caramelised goodness of the bananas reminded me of Goreng Pisang, but in a very frosty and delightful way. 

 

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If you also want to try Raffles Courtyard’s signatures, they are also available for order!

 

For super hungry folks, the menu at the Raffles Courtyard is also available, so if you are still feeling peckish after Annette’s dishes, you could always round out the evening, with some crab cakes, satays, etc.

 

The collaborative menu will be available at the Raffles Courtyard daily from 12 May to 11 June, 3:00pm to 9.00pm. Annette herself will be there every Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, to make her appearance and mingle with everyone there, and making sure you have had a great time.

Shabu Shabu Gen @ Shaw Centre

The visit to Shabu Shabu Gen has been one on the cards for the longest time and reservations are easy to get (major plus point these days) and we were possibly just one of the three occupied tables for the night. 

The menu at Shabu Shabu Gen is short and very simple. There are sets and ala carte orders. The sets comes with vegetables, rice or noodles. Dessert is separately charged and it seems they only offer fruit. 

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We start out with a beef appetizer, braised beef and it's super tasty! 

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The trio of sauces that accompany, I ended up liking all 3. 

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A5 BMS Ribeye 8-12 ($180)

Kagoshima beef

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A5 VNS 8-12 Sirloin ($235)

We definitely splurged out on this meal with such high quality beef and when they arrived I questioned if there was even enough to go around. The marbling was beyond beautiful and I was cautious not to overcooked my precious portion. 

 

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Ribeye clearly had more fat and sirloin more flavour. Both were very outstanding and the portion given was more than enough actually. I always overlook what fatty meat does to one's digestive system. 

The vegetable portion too was more than enough for two of us. I'd have to admit everything was top notch, even the leeks tasted different and the very reason why Japanese produce can command such high prices. 


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Wagyu Tongue Shabu Shabu ($85)

We had to order a side of tongue because I've had it grilled many times over but never shabu shabu. Loved the sinewy chew and tenderness of it, worth the top up! 

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There is an option to have the meal with rice or udon, go for both if you can - different experiences with both. 


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The waiter advised us to mix the raw egg and mirin together and dousing my noodles with it. Best decision ever, in all its gooeyness, it was all of creamy and delicious.

As expected the meal did not come with dessert and I could top up for fruit I liked but nah, the indulgence can end with quality Japanese beef. 

I get why Shabu Shabu Gen has a loyal following and I get why too, there is no other shabu shabu restaurant that pairs up with the quality too. Authentic experience and you get what you pay for. 

Definitely would love to return, lunch is a cheaper alternative too!

Shabu Shabu Gen

1 Scotts Road #01-15

Dumplings Ru @ Maxwell Chambers

 ~Invited Session~

 I've never had Russian food or even Ukrainian food so this opportunity to experience both came at the right time! Located at Maxwell Chambers, the restaurant stands out for the mannequin drapped in finery that stares right at you, at the entrance. I'm not sure how diners take to it at night but it would definitely suit Halloween very well.

Dumplings.ru is the brainchild of Russian owners, Vadim Zoubovski and his wife, Alena Zubovska. Missing the comforting taste of their grandmothers’ home cooked Russian food, they began preparing Russian dishes with the very same recipes they grew up on. So yes, I was all ready for some hearty homecooked Russian food! 

 

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Shuba ($9.90)

Salted Herring Salad

 

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Beetroot and potato salad does not sound like much on description but this is totally something I will order again. Tastes way better than it looks! The salted herring like smoked salmon, gave the dish a savoury kick amidst the sweet flavours of beetroot. Yum! 

 

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Ukrainian Borscht ($9.80)

Minnetrones and borscht soups are not my favourite soups but this tangy broth changed my impression of it. Very appetizing and hearty, the portions are great for 2 and comes with a side of rye bread. 



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Combo Platter ($19.90)

 

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Dumplings are a must, given the restaurant are named as such! Russian dumplings are similar to chinese dumplings with its thick skin. We had an assortment and we had a good time playing roulette with the flavours - I enjoyed the salmon best! 

 

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 Pork and Cheese Chebureki ($12)

 

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This street snack reminds me of our curry puff, with more pastry. Loved the layers and fillings! This was really addictive and something I would order on the streets of Russia. 



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 Medovik ($7.90)

Honey cake gets me weak on resolve all the time and diet gets thrown out of the window. Their version was crumbly though and really sweet. Meant for those with a serious sweet tooth!

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I enjoyed this experience and my impression of Russian food is miles apart from what  I originally had and do pay this place a visit if you'd like a different dining experience! Their fermented rye drink is actually really good too!  

 

Dumplings Ru

Maxwell Chambers

Seafood Paradise @ Vivocity

 ~Invited Session~


After a two year hiatus, Seafood Paradise is back! Bigger, better and of course, with it a slew of unbeatable promotions. To celebrate its reopening, the restaurant is holding a month-long promotion: 50% Off Nostalgic dishes. Talk about WOW, no wonder tables were full when I had the tasting.


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Deep-fried Cheese Bacon Roll ($12.80,4pcs)
 
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I love my deep fried snacks and toss in cheese, you have a winning receipe, except, it was a tad too saucy.

  Crisp-fried Baby Squid ($15.80)

MUST TRY. These crunchy nibbles are so addictive, I can easily polish off a plate on my own and live to regret the next day. 
 
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Poached Live Tiger Prawn with Chinese Herb in Superior Stock (Drunken Prawn) ($29/300g, $41/450g, $53/600g)

Succulent prawns in an equally comforting broth, this is so good! Great for rainy days and the broth on its own is already a winner.

Promotion alert! From 3 May to 9 May: Poached Tiger Prawn in Superior Stock with Chinese Herbs is going at 50% off and limited to one order redemption per table per bill.
 


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Steamed Dragon Tiger Grouper with Preserved Turnip ($9 per 100g)

Seafood places do steamed fish best and Seafood Paradise does a mean job with this beauty. Perfect timing and the texture of the meat has a bite and the crispy preserved turnip is truly the icing on the cake. White rice is a must for this dish and no regrets.

From 26 April to 2 May, this Steamed Dragon Tiger Grouper with Preserved Turnip is going at 50% off! Limited to one fish redemption per table per bill.



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Baked Pork Belly Rib with Honey Pepper Sauce ($8.90/piece)
 
 
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This reminded me of champagne pork ribs somehow and they thoughtfully wrapped each rib with foil so it makes eating casy. Meaty and saucy, the honey pepper sauce is barely spicy too! 
 
 
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Crispy Kang Kong topped with Cuttlefish in Homemade Seafood Sauce ($15.80 (S), $22.80 (M), $30.80 (L))

Be in for a treat with this dish of kang kong tempura which makes eating greens so enjoyable - especially for those who don't love their greens! I absolutely enjoyed picking at the crispy greens and the super tender cuttlefish!


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Popular Singapore Style Chilli Sri Lankan Crab ($9.50 per 100g)
 
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Signature Creamy Butter Sri Lankan Crab topped with Coconut Crumbs ($9.50 per 100g)

So stoked to get to try both flavours at once! I had my reservations about the butter crab and coconut crumbs but holy moley, it was that signature dish that got me so sold! I love the balance of sweet and savoury here, so good the fried mantous came in so handy in mopping up all the sinful sauce. Obviously the crabs were meaty and I really have no qualms getting my fingers all icky and dirty for good crabs.

Their chilli style crab although good still lost out to the butter crab dish.

Chilled Lemongrass Jelly in Lemonade and Sour Plum Juice - $5.80)
 
And dessert is a must to cool things down especially after a heavy meal! I would recommend this, very refreshing and a great palette cleanser too!  


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