Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Restaurant Ember

Went to Ember with the ever-beautiful and lovely S, and it turned out to be one of the best dinners I have had in my life, and for as long as I can remember. Not just the food (which was great), but the company was awesome as well. This is a food blog however so let's talk about the food.

Many people have raved about Ember since it's been open (and practically everyone boasts about its set lunches) and so I booked the restaurant for Friday night. The service was pleasant and effusive and I could make a few jokes without causing them to give me that "what are you doing" stare, which was a welcome change. We started off with an onion loaf shared between the two of us, pretty good. 

Next up, I had one of the signature dishes of Ember that blew me away - the pan fried foie gras with 1-hour poached egg, truffle oil, and morel mushrooms. This was seriously an explosion of sublime flavours, simply an awesome dish - rich, a heady mix of intense flavours that just go so well together. It comes with a parma-ham crisp that you are supposed to crack and mix with your poached egg - so as you do that, you eat the poached egg with the foie gras and the mushrooms. Yummy. I can still "taste" the poached egg and the foie gras as I write about it now, that's how good it was. (9.5/10)

S's dish was a crabcake - this was pretty good as well but nothing to hold a candle to the power of the foie gras. This wasn't bad - nice - with a bit of cumin. Pretty indian-tasting. (7/10)

S had the beef tenderloin which was done very well, I must say - it was cooked medium rare perfectly through, and very evenly done. Served with some sweet potato crisps and potatoes, it was a good competent showing. (7.5/10)

Next came the other piece de resistance of Ember, the pan-fried Chilean seabass with bacon and mushroom ragout and yuzu truffle sauce. Another dish that is soo delicious, the seabass was cooked expertly till it flaked perfectly as a whole large 'slice', and it came with a delicious yuzu truffle sauce that combined brilliantly with the fish. So delicious and tasty. What was nice was also the bacon and mushroom ragout. (9/10).

For dessert, S had the chocolate fondant - and this was very good as well, using very high quality chocolate. I had the apple tarte tartin, which was rather nice although the skin was a bit hard to flake. I expected better though! (7/10)

Overall, Restaurant Ember is a lovely restaurant that has been around for a very long time and boasts excellent cooking, a lovely ambience, professional service and several signature dishes that just make you go wow this is amazing. Just the sort of restaurant for any special occasion. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tonkotsu King by Keisuke @ Orchid Hotel

Food lovers in Singapore will know that this place has hands down the best ramen in Singapore - and I'm not kidding when I'd readily give it such an accolade. It is everything a good ramen should be -- good springy noodles including the ability to customise the 'hardness'/doneness of the noodles, rich creamy thick robust soup which comes in 3 different forms, either the normal tonkotsu, with black garlic oil (super yummy) or with red oil. The eggs are done perfectly as well - creamy on the inside, with an intense egg flavour. The pork is alright as well (would be nice to put in some of Santouka's pork cheeks). But overall this is the best ramen in Singapore. Excellent! Only grouse is that the seating area is very limited hence there's always a long queue to eat this during lunch hours.
Exceptional: (9/10)
Tonkotsu King 
Orchid Hotel

Taling Pling, Central World Bangkok

Just came back from our firm trip to Bangkok - and can you believe it, it's my first time there! Clueless, I managed to get some foodie recommendations from a friend who works in Bangkok. I managed to try 3 of the restaurants there - this was the first. Known as Taling Pling, the original is at Silom Road, and this is its posh offshoot at one of the biggest malls in Bangkok, Central World. 

First up - some pomelo salad - this was very delicious: spicy enough with the heat from bird chillis and lovely mixture of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour, from the lime juice, fish sauce - loved the coconut slices! [8/10]

Some dumplings to carry on the meal - this was alright; quite fresh, with the chopped pork and mushrooms. But nothing to wow me over. 

Green Curry with beef 

The green curry arrived next, with beef, and this was really good - the green curry was very flavourful and the beef extremely tender. Good quality meat. (8.25/10)

The pad thai had enough wok flavour and was delicious enough on its own. (7/10)

We were very enthralled with the Pork shoulder with Tamarind Sauce which was just delicious. Lovely tasty cuts of meat with fat at all the right places, just delicious with the tamarind sauce. (8.25/10)

The tom yum soup (this version with coconut milk) was quite delicious as well - fresh seafood in tom yum, the quintessential thai dish. (8/10)

Last of all - fried soft shell crab. Not bad, although I prefer Thai Express's curry version. haha.

Overall Taling Pling was quite a good place for lunch - consistently good food and in a convenient location, at one of the biggest malls in town. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Teppei Japanese Restaurant

Perhaps I shall let you into my little secret - this little hole in the wall in Orchid Hotel, next to the famous ramen place i.e. Keisuke Tonkotsu King, serves the most awesome Japanese food, especially their tempura and deep fried items, as well as other lovely dishes such as their bara-chirashi. It is all counter-seating, where you can watch the chefs expertly fry their tempura, prepare the chirashi, etc. Teppei himself (the head chef) runs the show, and hails from Fukouka and used to work in Tokyo before setting up shop here. As per the best fastidious Japanese chefs, the quality of the food here is fantastic. He uses top grade quality Japanese rice (he proudly puts it on the wall) and also all sorts of good ingredients.

I would usually come here alone after my gym sessions (They open until 11pm) to eat alone, revelling in some alone time. Love the bara chirashi, which is what I usually order. It's a kaleidoscope of prized cuts of fish already marinated in soy sauce (which means it's good to be eaten), garnishes, that famous Japanese rice, and lovely bursting-with-flavour Ikura for the final touch. Yummy. It may not be the biggest but it's certainly one of the most satisfying. (8.5/10)

A shot of Chef Teppei looking all charming:

As you can see from this photo on the right, the place is relatively small and everyone sits around the chef. 

Big prawn kushige
What this place is famous for, however, is its tempura and deep fried items. The big prawn kuishige is breaded and then deep fried to a crisp, while retaining the prawn flavours and succulent meat inside. One of the best. (8/10)

And you shouldn't miss out on the tempura - it's just yummy. Very light batter and very delicious, each piece is deep fried to order. The sweet potato, especially, is an item of beauty - so crisp on the outside and sweet on the inside, as it comes from Japan. Lovely, lovely stuff. (8/10). 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bistro Du Vin, Zion Road

There has recently been an influx of French bistros in Singapore - with Brasserie Gavroche, Maison Fatien, etc.suddenly this city has started to offer good homely authentic French cuisine with good bistro fare as one would get in Paris. Bistro Du Vin was probably one of the earlier bistros, as its first outlet opened sometime in 2009 (?) - here, we went to the sister outlet which was just opened at Zion Road.
The decor was quite lovely, and really exuded Parisian charm - one could imagine being seated along the Rue de Rivoli, or the Boulevard St Germain, etc.... except that when you look out, all you see is the tacky Great World City, and not a lovely 18th century Roccoco-styled facade. Ah well - we can talk about tackiness another day. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, regarding the decor.
Besides the bread, which was delicious, my first course was the Cod Brandade, which I realise to be an emulsion of salt cod and olives. Whatever it was (this was the first time I had it), it was just delicious. Utterly rich and creamy with the addition of a hollandaise-style sauce, with a poached egg (I believe) and the brandade, it was a hearty, tasty, appetizer. Deliciously done. (8/10)
My mains were just as good - this was a pork shoulder with mash. The pork shoulder (with the fats) had been slow-cooked to perfection, with a lovely succulent texture of the fats melting in your mouth, and a very robust pork taste (strong, but not smelly). Just the way I like it. The gravy helped to cut through the richness slightly. Overall, very well executed. (8.5/10)

Creme brulee is standard fare for a French bistro, and this one was excellent. One of the best I have had so far in recent memory. The use of a flat tray is important, and the addition of vanilla beans elevates it from a mere dish to something superlative. (8.5/10). 
The set costs just S$30++ (for lunch), which is probably a steal considering the items on offer.