Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Lawn @ AXA Tower

I have paid many visits to The Lawn, a salad place located at AXA Tower (near my office) - whenever I feel that I want some salads and some good meats, and I don't want to fall asleep after lunch in the office. The concept is simple: "Meat your greens!" It's a pretty witty pun, I must say, that succinctly explains what the Lawn is all about. Basically, you choose a salad, and you top it up with a grill which is freshly done on the spot. It's a great way to feast without any carbs: meat + veggies! 

Out of all the grilled items, my favourites are the Cajun Chicken (I had it today - it was awesome), Chicken Breast with Herbs, and Ben's beef rub. The prawns are not bad, too; but I like the chicken loads because it's incredibly tender for chicken breast and retains the moisture of the juices (the beef, made with sirloin, is great too - very flavourful).

For salad, they have the usual garden greens, plus a choice of 5 toppings: I usually go for the onion, bell peppers, olives, and perhaps sliced egg. And the cool thing is their choice of homemade dressings - some of which are pretty funky. I'm a pretty boring person, so I usually stick to the same old choices: I particularly like Me So Spicy which has a thai-style chilli kick which enlivens the entire palate; and the ginger dressing which name eludes me now.

Certainly an excellent salad place when I'm feeling unhealthy and in need of some greens!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Restaurant Labyrinth, Singapore

the layout
Once a while, you come across a restaurant with food so creative that you marvel at the ideas that underpin each dish, and Restaurant Labyrinth is one such place. It's run by ex-banker-turned chef LG, and he's managed to come up with some modern-Singaporean food which is at once familiar and excitingly novel at the same time, which is a pretty hard combination, trust me. It's probably the most creative food I've eaten ever since Restaurant Azurmendi in Bilbao (a 3 star Michelin) and Restaurant Cinc Sentits (Barcelona), which is saying alot. I just love the way all the dishes were created and trust me this is actually fine dining refinement.

We started off with bread, accompanied with garlic puree and olive powder. Creative food and ultimately tasty. A good start.











The amuse bouche of parma ham and mandarin orange sorbet came next; again a delightful sweet-and-salty combination which excited my palate; albeit that the sorbet was slightly too cold and a slightly more 'melted' texture would have been better.

















The next dish was a choice between two: InSalata Caprese which came with Mozzarella balloon, Tomato snow and arugula puree. This was a very light dish, everything lightly chilled. Very refreshing: the arugula puree was a nice herbaceous touch. (8/10)


















The other option was a "Mango Tomato Bruschetta", which was a play on a steak tartare: there was some extremely ripe tomatoes which formed the "steak tartare", and with a mango "yolk", along with some frisee salad. The tomato was extremely tasty: they were extremely ripe, and there was judicious use of very good extra virgin olive oil. The dissolving of the mango was a lovely touch, adding a zesty flavour and some sweetness to the tomatoes. Excellent. (8.5/10)











Next up was LG's play on the local Chilli Crab: here, the dish comprised of deep-fried soft-shell crab, chilli crab ice cream, crab mousse, caviar, and mantou sand. It was a really creative and delicious dish; with the chilli crab ice cream capturing the gingery and spicy flavours of the chilli crab, the crab mousse had some crab sweetness, and the mantou "sand" providing some texture and bite. I enjoyed all of the elements and I just wish there were more crab! (8.25/10)

The mains came next: "Siew Yoke Fun" consists of roasted pork belly, risotto ramen, and pork scratching. This was probably my favourite dish of the night: the risotto was cooked with a ramen broth, full of pork and chicken flavour which was very intense. The pork belly itself was delicious as well, with the pork flavour very strong, and salted perfectly. The crackling was also superb, not too oily. (8.75/10)













I was also impressed with the other option for the mains: the "Chicken Curry" which was a play on Hainanese curry rice. The quinoa was flavoured with curry and was very robust in taste, and I could really imagine myself eating beo crescent curry rice; while the chicken balls were done very well as well. (8.25/10)















The pre-dessert was a chendol xiao long bao - molecular chendol soup dumpling and gula melaka syrup. Basically, the dumpling skin was infused with pandan, and the texture was overall very light. You're supposed to dip the xiao long bao, which contained the usual chendol beans, into the gula melaka syrup "vinegar" (which had the right texture so it wasn't so viscous) - it was a great dessert (8.5/10)












And usually I don't like desserts, but the final dessert was another sublime one: a deconstructed apple crumble consisting of chocolate crumble, yoghurt ice cream, apple jelly. The chocolate was "burnt chocolate" and was absolutely scrumptious that I licked the plate clean; it paired well with the apple jelly which balanced the richness with some tart flavours. (8.5/10)













I particularly liked the fact that all the flavours really came through and were intensified, in line with one of the aims of molecular gastronomy (for example: to reduce water levels in order to intensify flavours). And here, I think Chef LG and his team really succeeded in doing that. Further, there was a certain playfulness about the food as well - I really enjoyed his modern takes on local Singaporean cuisine such as chilli crab and chicken curry, that managed to bridge the chasm between the familiar and the innovative. Exceptional cuisine and a place I would highly recommend. 



























Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gaest

Eatbma was raving about this Nordic deli located at the Clift (McCellan Street) so I popped down during lunchtime to see what the fuss was about. I walked in at about 2pm to find that they had almost completely run out of food! The only thing left was a potato sandwich which came with smoked mayonnaise (delicious stuff), lemon marinated leeks, with bacon bits, hazelnuts and watercress. And boy this was really delicious - the sandwich was really fresh with their homemade bread, and all of the ingredients were fresh and went so well together as a harmonious medley far greater than the sum of its parts. Read: You will have to bite into the whole sandwich to eat all the elements together, rather than eat them deconstructed. Totally scrumptious: 8.5/10



Coffee beans are from Smitten. It was alright: I've tasted better. The ambience is that of a usual cafe: this one is pretty Nordic-like, with light wood on the cabinets.


I was so impressed by the food that I visited the next day to try the Pork Sandwich, and this was amazing and divine if sinful: crackling pork, red cabbage marinated with orange and vinegar, with a mayonnaise and mustard dressing. Every element really came together very well, and sandwiched in a delicious homemade bread that they make in-house. The apples gave it a required crunch to balance out the fattiness of the crackling pork while the mustard accompanied subtly. Overall, a very good dish. (8.75/10). It certainly left me a very happy man.