Monday, October 26, 2009

Azur: Lobster Fiesta!

Some time back, a buddy of mine celebrated his 21st birthday at Azur, the international buffet restaurant at Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel. With 50 other guests, he secured a private corner for the dinner affair!

The restaurant used a mixture of blue as colour theme, giving the place a dark cool image. Staffs were relatively quick to change plates given our sheer crowd, refilling water every now and then. As with all buffet, its difficult to comment on every single dish. So lets just zoom onto the good ones!

Topshell and Salmon Sashimi

You don't often see topshell being served at buffets. With resemblence to abalone in shape and taste, it was chewy and had a subtle ocean flavour to it. The quality of salmon took me by pleasent surprise. Although not the belly portion, the cut was fatty and fresh enough for an excellent sashimi experience.

Cold Lobster

Believe me, everyone was rushing for this! The hottest item on the cold seafood counter, it was cleared as quickly as it was being replaced! Juicy and chunky, lobsters are really the crown jewel among shellfishes. The only greedy feedback I could give was that it would taste even better when baked with cheese!

Penne in Cream Sauce, Drunken Prawn in Herbal Soup

One of the live stations made pasta with choices of linguine, penne and sphaghetti and a variety of toppings and sauces. It was rather good with al dente texture and not-too-overpowering sauce.

The prawns were another major highlight. Large tiger prawns were 'drowned' in alcohol, then scalded quickly in a boiling pot of soup. Juicy, crunchy flesh with hints of chinese herbs and wine, with the soup itself being a pleasure to drink too. Shiok!

(Clockwise from back) Pork Ribs with Grilled Pineapple, Cream Fish, Chicken 'Something', Irish Lamb Stew

Some of the other hot dishes were rather good too. I particular liked the combination of ribs with pineapple which was sweet and savoury, and the lamb stew with tender chunks of lamb shank.

Desserts selection

I always try to save some stomach space for desserts despite being a rampant carnivore. These were mostly served in little platters, a considerable act for you to sample different types alongside the usual chocolate fondue and ice cream counters. I particularly like the banana cheesecake which was thick and rich with a nice crusty base.

Special thanks to my friend's parents for hosting and treating us to the fantastic dinner. All of us had a great time mingling with friends and well-wishes for the birthday boy. I would probably be back for more lobsters and drunken prawns. A good way to celebrate after semester exams!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marble Slab Creamery: Rich and Thick!

I used to think that Haagen Daz's Macademia Nuts was my favourite ice cream, until Ben and Jerry's came to take over with their Chunky Monkey. Then there was the close compeitor of Azabu Sabo's milk tea flavour. But it was until I went to Taiwan and discovered the wonders of mix-in ice cream at Cold Stone, which totally swipe me off with their Apple Pie creation. Although not available in Singapore, I discovered a really close substitue: Marble Slab!

Situated right opposite Hua Li Xuan in Iluma, it had a small eat-in area with coach seats and round bar tops. I was attracted by their claim of being the first to introduce mix-in ice cream on a cold stove. The creator must be good right?

You could either choose one of their signature creation or create your own with a large variety of base flavours and mix-ins, ranging from pecans, biscuits, cutted fruits and even Nutella spread! There's also a spread of ice cream cakes, sundaes and smoothies available on the menu.

Berry Rush in Waffle Cone ($9.00)

The strawberry ice cream has a smooth and creamy texture, being a sourish base with sweet aftertaste. Topped with generous amount of blueberries and raspberries, the overall feel was pretty good. Still, I wanted to relive the Cold Stone experience, so I went back on another day for my own creation!

Original Creation ($8.00)

I chose Apple & Spices as the base, mixed in with caramelised biscuits and sliced bananas. Despite the unimpressive look, it tasted really good! Thick, rich cream with a strong apple cinnamon flavour, eaten with mouthfuls of slightly sticky biscuits crumbs and banana. Alas, they don't serve caramelised apples as a topping, else it would be even better!

At $6.00 for a regualr base and $1.00 for each topping, it could be pretty expensive if you go mix-crazy. But the quality of the ice cream has justified the price and the serving was reasonable too. Will definitely be back for more!
Monday, October 12, 2009

DAC: JB Seafood Trip!

During the recess week, NTU Deli Aprecio Club (DAC) and 90 of its members went on a half day seafood/kelong trip in Johore Bahru. Being one of the largest outing ever organised, we catered two full buses for this!

Located at Danga Bay, the fishing kelong was about 10 minutes ferry ride away. We were greeted and brought upon a mini tour by the friendly guide, who explained to us that the kelong was built afloat of many emptied oil barrels. Quite an amazing feat eh!

He then gave a live demonstration of opening an raw mussel to the woos and ahhs of everyone, followed by a mass feeding of mouldy breads to the hungry fishes!

Banana Leaf Otah, Goreng Pisang With Ice Cream

Danga Bay was lined with a variety of restuarants. While waiting for the other batch to return from the Kelong, we had some snacks in an oriental cafe. The otah was slightly moist and had a pleasent sweet taste to it, while the combo of ice cream and fried bananas went rather well!

We then travelled to this kelong restaurant for our 8 course seafood lunch. The place reminded me of Batam with its laidback and rustic surroundings. And the famishing people dig in!

Unfortunately, it wasn't that fantastic. My table of kangkong had a burnt taste to it (apparently its only ours), the crispy chicken was not bad with sour lemon sauce, prawns and mussels were alright and like I always say, you could hardly go wrong with steamed fish in soy sauce. The crab though looking good, had a disappointing bland chilli sauce while the butter sotong could easily pass off as normal deep fried calamari .

The best dish, to our surprise, was the dessert of Yam Paste. Smooth and creamy, it wasn't overly sweet and had a decent mix of riped pumpkins and ginko nuts. We nearly ordered a 2nd serving of this!

Group Shot

Next outing would be Oktoberfest @ Werner's Oven on 23rd this month. We are also opening up the event to the public and still have 7 seats left! Do let me know if you are interested to join us with a couple of friends!
Monday, October 05, 2009

HLX Fusion: 馒头Burger!

Notice: This restaurant is no longer in operation

There seems to be a burger craze in Singapore, with gourmet joints sprouting everywhere using premium ingredients. Not exactly a threat to the Golden Arch, but a refreshing change from your usual variety. And at Hua Li Xuan, they are doing it fusion-style!

Located at Iluma, its one of the restaurants in the open area on level 5. I always liked such settings for its non-claustrophobic feel and people-watching ability. The staff here were mostly mainland Chinese but they could comprehend English fairly well, pleasently taking my orders without a hitch.

Pepper Beef Burger Set ($7.80)

Given a choice of steamed or fried mantou, I went for the healthier choice as I reckoned it would softer and lighter. Came wrapped like a real burger, it revealed white buns sandwiching a beef patty, lettuce and tomatoes. The black pepper sauce was thick, flavourful and not too spicy, complementing the mantou rather well.

The patty was alright with a moist texture, but mine contained too much minced vein that was hardly chewable. It could be just this one that the proportion could be improved. Coming with standard tasting fries and coleslaw, the set was rather filling overall.

Mini Burgers ($4.80)

My girlfriend ordered this as she wanted to try a range of stuffs. And when they say mini, they really meant it! Each was probably the size of two stacked-up macarons and could easily be devoured in one mouth. My girlfriend had the mantous to be garlic-baked and chose fried fish, teriyaki chicken and sweet and sour pork for the fillings.

Taste-wise, they were actually pretty good, each having a distinct flavour and texture, with the mantou tasting abit like garlic bread. Good for a light snack, but hungry men would probably find this barely an appetiser! We added some piping hot onion rings($2.00) to make it more complete!

Total bill for two was $17.65, which was rather affordable for a quick dinner. They also had a wide range of la-mien pasta and hot grills on their menu. I would probably be back to give those a try!