Friday, January 25, 2013

PrimaDeli: Munchies for the New Year

This is an invited tasting

There are two things about Chinese New Year that I remember as a kid. One, the angbaos that I get by being nice and smiley to all relatives and friends (Come on, who doesn't?) and second, the massive pile of goodies on the living room coffee table that make sure you will never ever go hungry.

Pineapple tarts, hae bee hiam spring rolls, bak kwa and melon seeds. Started shopping for them yet? PrimaDeli might have just what you need.

Fortune Pineapple Tarts ($1.60 each)

I had the opportunity to taste some of the new goodies that PrimaDeli has lined up for the year of the snake. The first one is the traditional pineapple tarts with a slight twist in terms of looks; shaping after a real pineapple. Pretty good to compliment that pair of mandarin oranges during visits!

Taste-wise, I rather like the moist filling and its shredded texture, though I would prefer the crust to be more buttery and rich.

Golden Orange Cookies ($14.80 per tin)

The other creation was a fusion between the usual chocolate chip cookies and the auspicious-meaning orange. Good for those who like the citrus fruit's flavour, though I personally felt that the taste of orange essence was a tad overpowering.

With less than three weeks to go, its time to fill up that coffee table soon!

Special thanks to Celina of Foreword Communications for the delivery!

Outlets Islandwide
Check out their website for more CNY goodies and promotions

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, January 18, 2013

Yan Ting III: A Luxurious Feast in The Year of Snake

This is an invited session

You know its that time of the year again when supermarkets (and just about any retailers actually) start blaring chinese orchestral music and stocking up crates of Mandarin oranges. Yes the year of the dragon is coming to an end as we all prepare to welcome the snake this lunar new year.

And with glorious feasts being a huge part of the celebrations, Yan Ting will has plenty in store for you to start the year right.

My previous meals at Yan Ting had always been rather posh and delightful. After all, I will expect nothing less from the Cantonese restaurant of St Regis Singapore. For this lunar new year, Yan Ting has a grand total of 10 different set menus (Yes, 10) and a special ala carte menu for you to choose from, catering to different group sizes of people. As such, I was invited to try out some of these new creations last week.

鸿运鱼生 (鲍鱼三文鱼撈生), Prosperity ‘Yu Sheng’ with Snow Pear, Abalone and Salmon (Part of various set meals)

What's a Singapore Lunar New Year meal without the tossing of Yu Sheng? Besides the usual mix of raw vegetables, Yan Ting has also included snow pear strips and (what I thought to be interesting) raw enoki mushrooms. Premium toppings included salmon sashimi and sliced abalone.

Sprinkling and drizzling with well-wishes, here we go!

While I'm afraid of Yu Sheng that is drenched with overly-sweetened sauces, the version here was just right with bites of refreshing snow pear in between. Chinese salad? Very appetizing I would say.

团年盆菜, Chinese New Year Pun Choy ($428.00++, Availble for takeaway with complimentary Yu Sheng and glutinous rice)

What started out as a village-level-rich dish has admittedly become a over-the-top-rich dish in the past decade with our generation's changing lifestyle and affluence.

With an exquisite lineup of braised abalone, dried oysters, dried scallops, sea moss, fish maw, sea cucumbers and prawns, as well as the traditional poultry items of meatballs, braised pork knuckle, roasted duck and braised chicken, the sauce was undeniably rich and flavourful. And I'm surely thankful for the cabbages that had soaked up every bit of the essence.

年年有余 (珊瑚鲈鱼柳), Steamed Sea Perch Fillet with Special Coral Sauce (Part of various set meals)
嘻哈大笑 (梅汁大虾), King Prawn with Plum Sauce ($32.00 per person)

Moving onto the individually-served items, the fresh fillet had the texture of a good cod but without the oily touch, served prettily in a mixture of broccoli and dried scallops to resemble colourful corals.

The other one used a huge prawn of remarkable quality (Rather unglam to suck on the head, but I managed to dig some out anyway), accompanied by a unique plum sauce that made the dish sweet and savoury, though I thought that the sauce could be served on the side and in a lesser amount so as not to overpower the prawn.

名利双收 (柱侯牛腩煲), Stewed Beef Brisket ($42.00 per portion)
一团和气 (生炒腊味糯米饭), Wok-fried Glutinous Rice with Wind-dried Sausages ($48.00 small)

As a huge fan of beef brisket, I'm glad that they did it right here with a good mix of tender lean meat, not-too-fatty cuts and sticky tendons. A pot of this with a huge bowl of rice will make a perfect meal already.

And rounding up the savoury tour is the very classic Cantonese carb dish, done perfect with chewy texture, smokey fragrance and slighty-charred flavour. Nothing that I can nick pick on!

好事成双 (雪糕紫米露配脆皮年糕), Black Glutinous Rice served with Ice Cream and paired with Crispy Glutinous Rice Cake (Part of various set meals)

For the desserts, our sweet glutinous rice had a scoop of creamy homemade vanilla ice cream in it, paired with their specialty rice cake that is deep fried in a light, crispy batter. Hot and cold goes really well together in this case.

As one would expect, a meal at Yan Ting will have the bill racking up a considerable amount, but time and again I have emphasized that it is catering to the luxury market after all. With the ambience, service and food quality, be sure to expect a pampering Lunar New Year experience.

Special thanks to Jesmine and Jackson of St Regis Singapore and Annabelle of Foodnews for the invite!

Yan Ting
29 Tanglin Road
St Regis Singapore
Tel: 6506 6888

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, January 11, 2013

Bornga: Grilling Beef, Korean Style

This is an invited session

Singapore has no lack of Korean BBQ places; Just take a walk around Tanjong Pagar Road and you will know what I mean. I might be wrong, but it also seem that the buffet ones tend to be more popular, showing how much we can and love to eat. But when you are not in the mood to pig out and want something more than just strips of grilled meat, then Bornga might be where you should be heading to.

Located at the (only, I think) open-air shopping complex of The Star Vista, Bornga is the first Singapore outlet of the popular Korean chain, headed by its charismatic CEO/Chef Jon Won Paik . As I was invited to try out the ala carte menu earlier this week, we found ourselves sitting at the indoor, L-shaped area.

Complimentary Barley Tea

There are alfresco seatings available but with our dear weather at 35 degrees in the day (not the mention the humidity), we were contented with sipping on our chilled tea indoors.

Complimentary Banchan, "Salad Bar"

While the selection of side dishes isn't as extensive as some places, Bornga did have three types of Kimchi available, namely a Chilled Water Kimchi, regular Cabbage Kimchi and Kimchi Turnip Strips. I probably had enough kimchi for a lifetime on my last trip to Korea, so these were just touch and go for me.

Every table that orders BBQ items will be served the standard vegetable platter whose plate is as long as the breadth of the table and yes, the same platter is served even if you come alone. Be good and eat more veggie ya?

Ggotsal (S$38.00)

First up for the BBQ are chunks of unmarinated ribeye whose marbling looked very pleasing to the eye. Once grilled, grab a piece of crisp lettuce and smeared it lightly with sauce before wrapping. Take a generous bite to unleash the juicy meat, greasiness minimized with credits to the lettuce. Feels healthy enough to keep going!

Tteokgalbi (S$20.00)

I always thought that its a waste to mince short ribs but this entirely changed my perception. As the patty was made with grounded short ribs and marinated with in-house sauce, it was flavourful at every bite and retained a firm, chewy texture. Man, find me two buns and it will make an excellent burger.

WooSamGyup (S$22.00)

Moving on to the second and also their signature BBQ item, these very thinly sliced beef brisket were only drizzled with their if-i-tell-you-i-have-to-kill-you secret sauce upon order, thus marinating them lightly and retaining its natural colours before grilling. Its kind of therapeutic to see meat sizzles, no?

Again, grab a piece of lettuce but this time, wrap some spring onions within the beef first then dip it into the special WooSamGyup sauce. The result? A very tasty beef slice that was balanced with the raw-ness of spring onions.

Chadol Duenjang Jigae (S$16.00)

The rice dish for the night was also rather unique, as a pot of bean paste soup was brought to boil, reducing it to a thick stock before stirring in the condiments and rice.

It ended up like Chinese Mui Fan with Korean flavours, while the rice grains were pleasantly solid as it was not overcooked with the stock.

BORNGA Naeng Myun (S$15.00)

For a lighter carb dish, the homemade buckwheat noodles is a really good choice because unlike its Japanese counterpart, it was smooth and chewy, and served in a light, chilled beef broth with egg and turnip slices that felt refreshing after all that grilled meat.

Complimentary Omija

Acting as a palate cleanser, the 五味茶 with shaved ice was supposed to invoke five flavours, but admittedly I could only feel the sourish, hawthorn-like side of it. Ladies, I was told that its good for the skin!

While a meal here might easily be more expensive than a buffet, the quality and different cuts of meat available were rather impressive and the cooked items were also pretty commendable on their own. Short Ribs Patty; marking a return for it!

Special thanks to LeRoy of Foodnews for the invite!

1 Vista Exchange Green
#02-24 The Star Vista
Tel: 66944696

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, January 04, 2013

Equinox II: For The View Only

With an ever increasing number of "restaurant with a view" (think Stellar, Sky on 57, Salt etc), I still think that none of them can beat the now-senior Equinox. Following our pre-meal drinks at City Space, the girlfriend and I hopped over next door for dinner proper.

Window Seat ($20 Surcharge)

And yes, I willingly paid the surcharge this time round to have no tables between us and the unparalleled view of CBD/Marina Bay. Furthermore, we were lucky to be there on a National Day rehearsal weekend, enjoying the magnificent flag fly-past and F16 salutes.

Fiji Water 1 Litre ($15.50)

No tap water served, still water for the night then.

Complimentary Bread, Amuse Bouche

With the dull bread being cold and hard, the chilled tomato juice was rather appetizing for me.

Crabmeat Shooter, Lobster Bisque (Set Dinner)

Sharing a 3-Course Set Dinner of the Month ($108.00++) and a ala carte main course, the starter consisted of two parts; a glass of crabmeat that was chunky and fresh, nicely sandwiched between vegetable mousse and jelly, and a piccolo-sized bisque which (behold) paled in comparison to the version at Dozo.

Miso-Rubbed Salmon (Set Dinner), Pork Tenderloin with Whisky Sauce ($65.00)

Despite the waitress reassuring us that it was the miso effect, we still felt that the salmon skin was burnt and tasted slightly bitter. Texture-wise, it was also too overcooked for our liking.

The tenderloin was also disappointingly tough, with the alcohol sauce hardly able to save it. The accompanying scotch egg was pretty ordinary too.

Creme Brulee (Set), Petit Fours

While great in presentation as the flaming was done table-side, tastewise it was pretty standard with vanilla flavour. Stone sweets to end off the meal too.

Pretty fireworks!

Total bill for two was $304.25 after taxes (including premeal drinks/snacks at CitySpace). Frankly, I had much fonder memories of the food standards at Equinox, having eaten brunches and dinners here not too many years ago. Yet this time round it was surprisingly mediocre as I have expected plenty more out of Equinox's calibre and pricing.

While I feel that the view is still second-to-none, even that doesn't give a strong reason for a return. Off the list till I miss the scenery then.

Equinox Restaurant
Level 70, Equinox Complex
Swissotel The Stamford
Tel: 6837 3322

Taken with Nikon D70