Friday, July 24, 2009

Taiwan, Here I Come, Again!

I'm leaving for Taiwan tomorrow! Yes I know I visited that place barely 5 months ago, but when I saw the irresistable deal for Jetstar (50% off all tickets for Safra members!), I just jump on it! Besides, I'm going with parents this time round, probably gonna be an expert tour guide!

More street snacks, more bubble tea! Will be back next thursday!
Monday, July 20, 2009

Les Amis: Lunch with a class!

I knew about this place long ago. The ambience, the food and the scary pricing. Les Amis, one of the top rated french restaurants in Singapore. I finally had a taste of it on my 21st!

Situated at a quiet corner of Shaw Centre, the flagship restaurant of the Les Amis group does not attract turning heads from the outside. But inside, its a different story altogether. The sparkling chandeliers, noiseless carpet flooring and solid walls of marble and wood left impressions of posh and elegence, a contrasting change from the world outside.

Compliementary champagne for the ladies on Monday/Tuesday lunchtime

The waiter expertly read out today's lunch options, explaining to us each course in details lest we got confused by the french names. In the end, the 3 of us settled for the daily 3 course set lunch.

Smoked Salmon on Cracker with Sour Cream

They started off by serving a bread basket, with my mom favouring the mixed nuts one best. Awhile later, they brought out the smoked salmon which was oh-so-delicious that made me look even more forward to the actual courses.

Duck Soup with Ravioli and Foie Gras, Hokkaido Scallop with Grilled Tomato

The clear soup was full of hearty goodness, just like the way Chinese spend hours perfecting double boiled soups, The ravioli was filled with shreds of duck meat, with the foie gras cubes adding a luxurious feel, melting in your mouth with that rich one-and-only taste.

As for the scallop, it was lightly pan-seared and wrapped with a thin layer of flour coating, resting on a huge slice of grilled tomato. I would prefer mine to be cooked a little more to taste the layers within, but it was still rather good overall.

Salmon with Cream Pasta, Lamb Rack with Cheese Croutons

This was THE salmon, simply one of the best I ever had. I didn't know it was grilled or boiled or what, but it was so tender that it simply crumbled when your knife touches it. The taste was so refreshing and light, it looked like sashimi but was distinct in pieces lined along its fats. Served with pasta and unknown greens (sorry missed the name, and taste too), it was just outstanding!

The lamb rack was also wonderfully cooked to medium done-ness with a slight pink centre, just the way I like it. Pity about the small portion as I would definitely be eager to have more of that lamb.

Fruit Sorbet with Chocolate Lava Cake, Rhubarb with Cream and Chocolate Pudding

The colourful sorbet came in 5 layers: Mango, coconut, strawberry, banana and pineapple, each having a distinct fruity flavour. The chilled watery texture eaten with a mouthful of warm chocolate lava. Ahhhh!

Okay, I really didn't know what's a Rhubarb beforehand, but I just wanted to try something different apart from the sorbet. Turns out that its the root of a certain plant that has been simmered in a sweet sauce, giving a fibre texture similar to bamboo shoot, but less fine and softer. A new experience for me!

Compliementary strewberry cheesecake

The thoughtful staff brought this out for me, I think they overheard our conversation and toasts. Not too sweet and reasonably good.

Heart-shaped Sugar, Dessert Platter

I just love the way they turn something as simple as sugar into a piece of art. The miniture platter had a Bangawan Solo-like pastry, a tasty almond cookie, a hardened strawberry cream (No idea what its really called, but it was my personal favourite) and a candy jelly. Really nice touch to go with your coffee and tea!

Bill for 3 was $169.49 after taxes. Expensive for a lunch, but definitely in a league of its own. The services, decor and food presentation was part of an excellent dining experience and well-worth the pricetag. I will be back! When I start working and save enough for the dinner, that is!
Sunday, July 12, 2009

Charcoal: A Birthday Party!

Everyone has a 21st birthday, so its my turn! Instead of having small group gatherings, I decided to wham it up by hosting a dinner party for my friends. 50 people, to be exact! Now where do I find a venue to hold this event?

Honestly, it was a stroke of luck that I discovered this place. I simply walked past Charcoal on previous occasions, attracted by its contemporary decor and affordable menu, so I kept in mind for a visit. After read-ups and many discussions with the kind manager, I found out that Charcoal is run by Shatec Institutes, a hands-on training ground for aspiring chefs and service crew in the hospitality industry.

The restaurant had a capacity for 80 sit-down guests, seperated into cafe and main dining area. Specialising in fine dining, I was able to settle on a four-course dinner ($21.90++) for the evening, with their courtesy to cordon off the dining area for my event!

It was my 1st time organising a dinner party and the process was quite an experience! I would like to thank everyone for turning up and my closer clique of buddies who helped out in the preparations, welcoming guests at the reception counter and taking fanatastic shots all over. Really appreciate it!

Organic Garden Salad in Wafu Dressing

And we kick off the dinner! The appetiser was a salad with pear, cucumber and tomato slices, drizzled with a sauce that used sesame as a base. Simple and refreshing, the only complaint I got from carnivores was that it lacked the presence of meat!

Classic Carrot Soup with Herb Croutons

This took us all by surprise! I was expecting a clear soup with diced carrots but instead, we got a creamy one that was was like a potato puree with distinct carrot aftertaste. Complemented by many, it was indeed two thumbs up!

Pan Seared Salmon Fillet in Basil Cream sauce

This was one of the two choices for main course, the salmon fillet being served with mashed potato and long beans. Nicely done with a soft inside, I felt that the fillet was marinated a tad too salty.

Apologies that I didn't have any photos for the other choice, Roasted Cajun chicken with Ratatouile and Mashed Potato. If anyone did take a shot, please send me so that I could update it here!

Semolina cake with Morello Compote, Vanilla Jelly and Crushed Pistachio

This was aesthetically presented with a range of condiments, yellow cake with red cherries, green nuts and white jelly. It was slightly hardened for my liking but made an interesting combination with the rest of the cast.

Mine was a special edition that was served with a slice of the complimentary chocolate truffle cake, which the guests felt tasted better than the main dessert itself!

The birthday boy and his girlfriend, who gave many pleasent surprises for the night

It was truly a memorable night with lots of fun, laughter and catching up. Like I always said, dining with great company would definitely enhance the overall experience. Cheers, for an excellent party!
Monday, July 06, 2009

Fei Sao YTF: Why are you shifting?!

You know there are some stalls that you just keep going back, because its convenient? Because the food is good? Because the aunty serving u is friendly and nice? Yep, Fei Sao Yong Tau Foo is one of them. Located in one of the coffeeshops near my girlfriend's place, we used to visit it weekly without fail. Until..

Anyway, this YTF store is special because they made their own special items, like this one, long bean wrapped with fish paste and fried beancurd skin. And they bother to cut up ur sausage into an open flower before re-frying then. Its the little efforts that count!

I like my YTF with more deep-fried stuffs than boiled ones, and I like it with a mixture of noodles and beehoon, plenty of sweet sauce! Mmmm...

The auntie seeing that we were regulars, asked us if we want to have the noodles served stand-alone, with the items in seperate bowls. She even remembered that my girlfriend liked extra sesame seeds in her noodles, adding more without being asked to!

But then! The aunty told us one day that she's closing the store here already, because she found a place for rental nearer to her home. Oh well... If anyone found out her exact location in Choa Chu Kang, let me know!