Sunday, July 21, 2019

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Review (Harbour Studio with GHA Black)

๐Ÿ‘ Nice, spacious rooms. Good service. Stylish club / lounge with a gorgeous view.
๐Ÿ‘Ž Hmmm. I guess the view is slightly blocked by the Mandarin Oriental?

There are 2 types of people: Those who staycaytion and those who think it's a ridiculous waste of money and therefore don't. The darling and I are the former; We do enjoy the occasional visit to a nice hotel in Singapore, enjoying the service and the change of scenery. Which brings us to today's post, where we check out the Pan Pacific Singapore for a night at their Harbour Studio with access to their gorgeous Pacific Club (Lounge) courtesy of a Discovery Black loyalty membership (more on that at the end of the post).

The Pan Pacific Singapore's got a pretty good location. It's one of the hotels connected to the large Marina Square shopping mall, which means you're walking distance from Marina Bay, Padang, National Gallery, and a bunch of other nearby malls. About the only downside of the location is that the closest MRT station is a bit of a walk away, but with staycaytions that's a pretty inconsequential downside.

We arrived at the hotel at around 12pm. Pan Pacific's lobby is gorgeous, huge, and bright. In our excitement we forgot to take photos ... so you'll have to unfortunately use some imagination ๐Ÿ˜“

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion

Check in was quick, friendly, and efficient. We initially booked a Panoramic Room, but thanks to Discovery Black, were upgraded to a Harbour Studio with Pacific Club benefits. We were also offered a 6pm late checkout, which we gladly accepted.

Our room was on the 27th floor and was surprisingly spacious (for Singaporean standards). The room is 495sqft, which is literally more than half the size of our entire apartment (915sqft). The King-sized bed and pillows were really comfortable and we had no problems getting a good nights' sleep. The more keen-eyed readers among you might also spot a Herman Miller Aeron chair at the work area.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

The mini-bar area has complimentary tea and Nespresso coffee, and the usual range of non-complimentary wine, snacks, drinks, and alcohol.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

The washroom is nice, and has separate toilet (with manual bidet seat), shower, and bathtub areas. It might not be too clear from the photo, but the tub can fit two adults with a bit of a squeeze. A full range of amenities are provided so you can pretty much leave all your toiletries at home (except maybe facial wash).

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

Pan Pacific Singapore also arranged for a pretty nice welcome gift of chocolates and dragonfruit (I'm not sure if this was because of my Discovery Black membership, or if all guests receive it).

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

The most amazing part of the room was, however, the view. The rooms on this side of the hotel all overlook Singapore's iconic Marina Bay (with Marina Bay Sands out of the camera's field of view over on the left). It's quite nice in the daytime, but absolutely gorgeous at night when the lights come on.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

I mentioned earlier that we were provided with Pacific Club (lounge) access thanks to the room upgrade. This comes with:
• Afternoon Tea from 3-5pm (on both check-in and check-out days)
• Champagne Breakfast in the Club, or breakfast at The Edge
• Cocktails & Canapes from 6-8pm (only on the check-in day)

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge

At all other times you're welcome to rest and relax in the pretty stylish lounge. Outside of breakfast, tea, and cocktail hours, there's a small selection of biscuits, crisps and candy bars on offer, but drinks and other food are chargeable.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge

As the Pacific Club is on the 38th floor, the views are to die for.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge View

For the Afternoon Tea session, the Club provides an assortment of sandwiches and salads, cold cuts, a couple of hot dishes (har gao and glutinous rice for us), and pastries / cakes. As long as you've had a decent (or late) breakfast, the selection of food on offer is more than enough to serve as a late lunch.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge High Tea Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge High Tea Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge High Tea Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge High Tea

Evening canapes & cocktails is pretty similar, except that there's booze and a dress code (smart casual). For the teetotalers among us, fear not! A wide range of soft drinks, fresh juices, and mocktails are available.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge Cocktails Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge Cocktails Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge Cocktails

For breakfast we decided to skip the lounge and head directly to The Edge (Pan Pacific Singapore's huge buffet restaurant). The buffet spread is HUGE, covering all sorts of international, chinese, and indian cuisine. No photos though -- sorry! (we didn't bring our phones / cameras down with us).

Pan Pacific Singapore also has a decent swimming pool, gym, and spa. As we were only on a 1 night stay we didn't really have the time to explore any of them.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Swimming Pool

Now just to come back to the upgrades. Discovery Black entitles to you to up to a 2-level space available room upgrade. If you book a room with no Pacific Club benefits, it is possible for you to be upgraded to another room which also has no Club benefits (or to not get upgraded at all). Therefore the only way to guarantee Club access is to book at least a Pacific Room.

Discovery Black membership can be fast-tracked for free and with no strings attached if you are a World Elite Mastercard holder: Check out the details over on Mile Lion.

To conclude, the darling and I really enjoyed our short staycaytion at the Pan Pacific Singapore. The rooms are nice and spacious, service at the Pacific Club was very good, and the hotel's location right above Marina Square means that it's easy to fill in the time between meals with some window shopping or to just take a stroll. In fact we might go as far as to say that this hotel is our favourite price / performance staycaytion spot in the city at the moment (as long as you get lucky with the Club access, of course)!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Great German/European Food at CURATE, Resorts World Sentosa (a 4 Hands Kitchen dinner)

๐Ÿ‘ Very good German-focused European food. Gorgeous dining area.
๐Ÿ‘Ž Inconsistent meal pacing; Portions a little on the small side.

Another month, another 4 Hands Kitchen dinner: This time heading to Resorts World Sentosa's CURATE! This week, CURATE's Chef Benjamin Halat hosts one-starred Chef Nicolai Wiedmer from STUCKI in Basel (the Swiss-German speaking side of Switzerland). Both Chefs have cooked extensively in Germany / Switzerland, so we're expecting a very heavy German influenced dinner.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

A small note on the dining area, which is cozy but oh-so-gorgeous. Several tables are within full view of the kitchen (and the pass) - which we like - but if you're not interested in observing the chefs, do request to be seated in the corner off to the side.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Up first, an amuse bouche of Eierstich, an egg custard not unlike Japan's chawanmushi. In this rendition it's topped with small cubes of white asparagus, ham, and tomato, which provides an interesting tangy, refreshing complement to the deliciously-seasoned egg.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Next up: Cured Trout (by Chef Wiedmer), with Pickled Cucumber and a starchy, sticky Jasmine Rice Cream. The trout was good, and the cucumbers pickled just right (without being overly sour like gherkins sometimes are). We weren't really that enamoured by the starchiness of the rice cream, though. Acquired taste / texture perhaps.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

My mobile phone camera doesn't do justice to the beauty of Chef Halat's first dish: The Grilled Scallop served with Sauerkraut, sauerkraut consomme, and parsley cream. The scallop was cooked just right, but the amount of sauerkraut might be a little excessive if you're not a fan of pickled flavours. I am, though, so I found the starter delicious and appetite-whetting.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Next up: Chef Wiedmer's Ossetra Caviar, served alongside a delicious earthy piece of eel in yuzu dashi and celery. We were annoyed enough by the 45-minute gap between this plate and the previous one that we struggled to really enjoy it, though.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Chef Halat is up again with a perfectly-cooked piece of Pike Perch. Or at least, the flesh was perfectly cooked; we didn't much care for the limp skin. The lentils and beurre blanc accompaniment was divine, though: Who knew fish and lentils went so well together? Standout dish of the night for us.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Last savoury plate of the night was Chef Wiedmer's Lamb Loin (and lamb belly) served with Hazelnut Dukkah, Carrot, and Dill. With the lean loin and fatty belly - you get the best of both lamb worlds, really. The accompanying sauces and carrot mash was also delicious, with Dill standing in as a surprisingly competent replacement for the more typical mint jelly / sauce.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Finally, Chef Halat presents his rendition of Snickers, with Dulcey (a chocolate from Varlhona), peanuts, and caramel. It's like eating a deconstructed snickers bar, only with much more chocolate than peanuts. Oh, and much, much more delicious.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

We end the dinner with some petit fours and coffee ... and with stomachs perhaps not quite satisfied. The darling and I aren't large eaters by any means, but even we were tempted to adjourn somewhere else for supper.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

CURATE normally prices their dinners from s$148 (5-courses) up to s$228 (8-courses), and so - like pretty much every other fine dining restaurant in the city - isn't cheap. The food overall was really good, though, and perhaps worth a visit just for the fish dish alone. CURATE is in Resorts World Sentosa, and is walkable from the 'free entry' area of Sentosa. Reservations recommended; Non-Halal.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A review of Aura, National Gallery Singapore (4 Hands Kitchen)

๐Ÿ‘ Imaginative Dishes, well-balanced flavours and textures. Gorgeous dining area.
๐Ÿ‘Ž Nothing much ... except maybe for the fish.

Last week the darling and I spent a few hours in Aura's super gorgeous dining room, stuffing ourselves on terrific Italian fare from both resident chef Beppe de Vito, and visiting chef Luigi Taglienti (who hails from one-Michelin-starred Lume Restaurant in Milan). Although Aura itself isn't Michelin-starred (yet?), Chef Beppe's other Singapore restaurant - Braci - is also one-starred, so we go in with pretty high expectations!

Aura National Gallery Singapore

To start - warm, buttered foccacia bread, served with a delightfully fragrant extra virgin olive oil (though strangely, no balsamic vinegar).

Aura National Gallery Singapore Focaccia Bread

The dinner then properly starts with the first amuse bouche: Chef Luigi's White on White (Passion fruit cream sandwiched by rice crackers & topped with edible flowers). Flowers, as always, are really just for show (they're pretty much tasteless), but the airy, light, crisp rice crackers & just-the-right-hint-of-sour passion fruit cream really do whet the appetite.

Aura National Gallery Singapore White on White

Chef Beppe's amuse bouche is the Uni and Scallop, which - as you may have guessed - is Uni and a Hokkaido Scallop. Topped with caviar and wrapped in a shiso leaf. I'm not really sure that Italians traditionally eat uni and scallop like this, but there's no need to complain when the bite tastes this good: Creamy, briny, sweet, salty ... and that nice ever-so-slight pungent flavours from the shiso leaf.

Aura National Gallery Singapore Scallop and Uni

We move on to the first of the hot dishes then, with Chef Luigi serving up a Squid Scampi in Black and White: Tender, juicy scampi with mushroom, sunchoke (jerusalem artichoke) puree and a pork jus. Probably the standout plate of the night for us.

Aura National Gallery Singapore Scampi

Chef Beppe then serves up his Coho Salmon, White Asparagus and Wild Garlic. The salmon was cooked ever so slightly to a 'barely rare' temperature, which was amazing texture-wise. The asparagus was likewise also delicious. We didn't like the crisp skin, though. It seemed to have been cooked and then flattened in the dehydrator, which did result in it being terrifically crispy, but also tasting too much like scales.

Aura National Gallery Singapore Salmon and White Asparagus

We continue again with Chef Beppe's dish: Lobster Tortelli, Fava Beans, and Yuzu Salmoriglio. This was another terrific hit. Perfectly portioned and textured tortelli with just the right amount of well cooked lobster meat. The accompanying lobster broth was perhaps just a tad bit salty, but nevertheless had an amazing depth of (lobster) flavour.

Aura National Gallery Singapore Lobster Tortelli

Chef Luigi's Seabass and Celeriac, however, was a little anti-climactic. The fish itself was juicy and at just the right temperature, but seabass is a very mild tasting fish, and its flavours were totally overpowered here by the strong tanginess of the celariac.

Aura National Gallery Singapore Seabass & Celeriac

The final hot plate of the night ended with Chef Beppe's Kagoshima Wagyu, Kale and Wasabi Oil. As you'd expect from a proper wagyu steak, it was juicy and sinfully oily, and seasoned with just the right hint of salt. The accompanying kale (crispy and light: probably deep fried) and kale puree were nice, but really our opinions are that good steaks are perfectly able to hold the stage alone without needing any supporting cast at all.

Aura National Gallery Singapore Kagoshima Wagyu

For dessert, chef Luigi's rendition of a Black Truffle Tiramisu was a revelation. The truffle-laced mascarpone cream was came in a chocolate / fingers / biscuit-like casing, sprinkled with chocolate powder and topped with more truffle. Utterly delicious.

Aura National Gallery Singapore Black Truffle Tiramisu

And finally to end the night: Chamomile Tea (complimentary) and Petit Fours of Olive Oil macaron, chocolate tart, and limoncello-laced strawberry.

Aura National Gallery Singapore Petit Fours

For just under a hundred (nett) per person, we thought that the dinner was good value, and thoroughly enjoyed all the dishes (except for the seabass)!

Aura is on the fifth floor of the National Gallery Singapore (which, by the way, has free entry for Singaporeans and Singapore PRs). Reservations Recommended; Non-Halal.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Superb Roast Duck and other ducky dishes at Duckland, United Square.

๐Ÿ‘ Extremely well executed Roast Duck, with great balance of fat and crispy skin.
๐Ÿ‘Ž Dining area is very busy and noisy.

A really short and sweet post from us today, covering one of the Tung Lok Group's most recent contemporary restaurant concepts: Duckland!

Duckland Menu

Located in the basement of United Square, Duckland's signature dish is - of course - the Roast Irish duck, but it also has quite a number of imaginative east-meets-west crossover-style duck-themed dishes. Being a shopping mall restaurant, the dining area does tend to be a bit busy and noisy, but at least reservations are accepted so you don't have to queue.

Duckland Restaurant

Speaking of said crossover dishes, we started off with the Duck Liver Terrine (s$15), served on crispy toast and rum-infused marmalade. It's a delicious starter, but it does take a little time to get used to combining these Western flavours with the Eastern style main course.

Duckland Duck Liver Terrine

The star of the show is - naturally - the Roast Irish Duck (s$28 half, s$50 whole). Duckland's execution is superb: The breast portion of the duck is sinfully fatty (as you'd expect from the Irish duck), but the skin of the leg/drumstick area is crisp and delicate: almost as crispy as a good Peking duck. Seasoning is on point, too.

Duckland serves their roast duck with raspberry jam, sriracha, and mustard, but we very much preferred just having it with the gravy made from the duck drippings.

Duckland Roast Irish Duck with Duck Rice

Duck Rice (pictured above) is an s$2 add-on; Duck Broth (pictured below) is a s$4 add-on. We'd recommend adding on the rice (to have a Roast Duck Rice "feel"), but we felt that the duck broth was somewhat mediocre & uninteresting.

Duckland Duck Broth

Unfortunately it was just the darling and I visiting, so we didn't have the stomach to try the other items on the menu. When we return we've got our eyes on the Duck Confit & Waffle and the Duck Fried Rice. Oh, and if any of your dining party doesn't eat duck, there are also non-duck dishes like the Good ol' Fish and Chips and Irish Lamb Stew.

Duckland is at B1-09&64/65 United Square Shopping Mall, and opens daily. Reservations recommended; Non-halal.