Friday, March 30, 2012

Prime Rib & Lobster Tails at Lawry's

I've always loved Prime Rib. I wouldn't say I love it more than a good steak - I think they're both different ways of satisfying my inner carnivore. There aren't many restaurants that serve it, though, and fewer still that specialize in it - one of them being Lawry's!

If you couldn't tell from the sign outside the door, Lawry's is the place to go to for Prime Rib. It isn't by any means a well-kept secret, either - the restaurant is completely full even on a weekday night. In any case, we get the waitress (dressed up in a cute maid uniform) to take our orders, and whet our appetites on the bread roll. Which sort of sucks - it's as plain a piece of bread as plain can be. Good thing the butter's nice!

Every order of Prime Rib comes with Lawry's "signature" spinning salad bowl. I put "signature" in parentheses because while it's a fancy bit of showmanship ... well ... it is just a salad bowl in an ice bath.

Although it tastes rather ordinary, we're impressed that the waitress also hands us chilled forks with which to eat our salads. Nice touch that more restaurants should emulate, really.

We follow-up the salad with Atlantic Lobster Tails (SGD52.00 for two tails). Grilled and served out of their shells with drawn butter - they're fresh, springy and evoke feelings of the sand and the sea.

After we're done, the chef comes over with the Lawry's signature silver cart, and carves the Prime Rib at your table. The different cuts on offer differ only by size / weight: California Cut costs SGD63, Lawry's Cut costs SGD83. Lawry's Cut is a 200gm piece of meat - so adjust your appetites accordingly. Other options are the English Cut (three thin slices) and the Diamond Jim Brady (extra large for extra large appetites) cut.

Served with Mashed Potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding, it's a perfectly tender, pink (almost) all the way through cut of juicy prime meat, generously doused in Lawry's beefy brown sauce. Heavenly! For those of you who squeal at the sight of red steak, it's actually not blood at all. Without going into too much detail, you can probably quite accurately think of it as the juices of the meat.

Dinner here isn't cheap - after taxes it came up to $233 for the both of us, but in our opinions worth the money. As a special occasions kind of place, of course. If you're not a prime rib guy, Lawry's also serves steaks and pork chops; I have no idea if they do those as well as they do the Prime Rib though.

Lawry's is in Mandarin Gallery over on Orchard Road - do make reservations to avoid disappointment. Non-halal.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tuna Cutting Demonstration at Isetan Scotts.

If you've been following our blog for any time at all, you might have caught on that Japanese cuisine is by far our favorite. And as a subset of that, we're big fans of Sushi/Sashimi ... of which the King of all sushi/sashimi fish is undoubtedly the Oh Toro (fatty tuna belly). So when we found out about a real, live, tuna-cutting demonstration right in our (almost) backyard, we just had to show up and have a look!

According to the Organisation for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries (OPRT), the global sashimi tuna market is estimated at somewhere between 360,000 tonnes to 500,000 tonnes a year. That's a LOT of fish, and is a rate of consumption that is FAR higher than the tuna fish in the wild can replenish. So it's awesome that the "hosts" of the demonstration are the folks over at TEN QOO MAGURO, based in Kumamoto prefecture, who only sell sustainable tuna. Or in other words, Tuna raised in a farm rather than fished from the wild.

Anyway, today's farm-raised tuna was 2 years old and weight a remarkable 50kg ... that's a couple kilos heavier than the darling is :) ... the entire cutting process from start to end was about half an hour - which we've summarized in the video below to about 8 minutes. Available in HD! Apologies for the shakiness as it's not easy to hold almost 1.5kg's of camera over your head for half an hour :)

We had earlier requested the "fattiest" part of the tuna belly to be eaten as sashimi ... which the nice people gladly obliged. After all, the fatter the better, right?

... not really. We were perhaps a little underprepared for how VERY fat the cut came out to be. On one hand the freshness and taste of the oh-toro was awesome ... but on the other hand there being more fat than flesh also sort of meant that it was a little fat/oil overload :)

If you want to attend and see the Tuna cutting for yourself, Isetan Scott's Kyushu Fair is still running! There are upcoming cuttings scheduled at 2pm on 21st, 23rd, 24th and 25th March. Do shop up a little earlier to book a front row standing spot!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pasta & Pizza with a Japanese Twist at Cafe Takahashi

A little while ago, Pavilion KL opened up a corner on the top floor named Tokyo Street, with a bunch of shops, restaurants, cafe's and stalls selling predominantly Japanese stuff. One of the restaurants here, which seems to be a local start-up, is named Cafe Takahashi and aims to serve up Pasta and Pizza with a Japanese twist. How good is the food, though? Let's find out!

We started off with the Takoyaki, which at RM7.90 was sort of on the pricey side. It wasn't really that good, either - we much prefer the ones sold by Gindaco. In all fairness, Gindaco does specialize in them octopus balls.

Beef Bolognese (RM20.90) comes with toasted nori (seaweed sheets) and an onsen tamago (hot spring egg). I thought it was a pretty decent effort, with nice, thick and meaty bolognese sauce.

If you're not a pasta lover, perhaps the Salmon Cream Pizza might tickle your fancy for rm26.90? The darling and I were mixed on this one - she thought it was "OK," but I thought the salmon was dry and the cheese was a little ... chewy.

For slightly over rm30/person, we feel that Cafe Takahashi serves up some decent food for the price, especially considering the surroundings (even the food court in Pavilion will easily set you back rm10+).

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Quasi-Kaiseki and More at Kuriya Dining

I recently found out that Kuriya Dining was's Best Japanese Restaurant in People's Choice 2011/2012. So, having never set foot in Kuriya, or even Great World City (the Shopping Centre that houses the restaurant), the darling and I head over to check out what all the fuss is about!

There are several seasonal courses on the menu in addition to ala carte items - during our visit there was a four-ways crab course, a sushi set dinner, standard set dinner, and the March Course (SGD108), a sort of quasi-kaiseki style multi-course dinner ... which was what we ordered.

Starting off with the Appetizer, being a hors d'oeuvres-ish five bite-sized portions of Smoked Salmon wrapped with Marinated Radish, Simmered broad bean, Simmered octopus, Simmered lotus root and Sakura gelatin. We thought that the salmon with radish combination was pretty interesting, and the octopus was nice and tender (for octopus). The other three items were ordinary, though.

Moving on - Tuna, Amberjack and Baby Shrimp Sashimi. Tuna was uber fresh and smooth - none of that 'flaky' texture you get most of the time with inferior tuna.

The Grilled Item for the March Menu was Southern Bluefin Tuna in Teriyaki Sauce, which was an absolute disappointment. Besides tasting rather uninteresting, the tuna pieces we got were full of cartilage, which made it annoying to eat. We were also amazed that the skin was not properly scaled! I don't expect to need to scale my own fish in any restaurant, what more one that is charging me triple-digits for a dinner.

Fortunately the Refreshment item, Grilled Snow Crab wrapped in paper, sort of made up for it. Lightly salted and grilled in parchment paper with celery as not to overpower the taste of the Crab legs inside.

Braised Item ... Fish Paste and Tofu with Deep-Fried bean curd. Topped with deep fried baby sakura shrimp in a wakame seaweed sauce. We thought this item was pretty good, especially with the crunchy shrimp providing a nice contrasty texture. The sauce was nice too - felt more like a soup, which we lapped up.

The Sushi Selections of the meal were Aussie Sea Urchin (not as smooth or delicious as those from Hokkaido), Ark Shell, Amberjack, and Toro (fresh and delicious). The sushi rice was interesting too, being less vinegary and sweeter than normal sushi places.

The set meal ends up with a trio of desserts - Butterscotch ice-cream, pineapple cream cheese cake, and a Japanese fruit medley - strawberry, mandarin orange and muskmelon. Our favorite was the slice of muskmelon, mostly because it was the first time we tried! Not overly sweet, but very tender and extremely fragrant. At close to $100 per fruit at Isetan, I'm not sure it's worth the money, though ...

The dinner also includes Wild Vegetable Miso Soup and your choice of coffee & tea.

We also ordered some items off the ala-carte menu - some kushiyaki skewers of Scallop ($8), Prawn, Chicken and Pork Belly ($5 each). We thought that there was really nothing particularly special about these skewers. Pork Belly was a bit on the tough side, too.

The Saikyo Miso Cod came a lot sweeter than I was expecting - even coming with the knowledge that Saikyo Miso marinade is a very sweet combination of miso, sugar and mirin (japanese sweet rice wine). The dish comes with additional sweet miso dipping sauce, but unless you have a mouth full of sweet teeth, the cod is plenty sweet on its' own.

Overall we thought the food was above average, and the service was very, very good - friendly and attentive wait staff who chat with you, explain the dishes, and change your plates without being asked. However we are not so sure that it's worth the SGD127 (after taxes and without drinks or other add-ons) per person for the set meal. Especially when you have to scale your own fish.

Kuriya Dining is located in Great World City. There are no MRT stations in walking distance so it's best to just take a taxi here. Non-halal.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fast Casual European Dining at Ambush

Ambush is a pretty interesting name for a restaurant, don't you think? It's almost as if we diners should expect to be ambushed by something (hopefully) delicious on our plates :)

What we also found interesting is that the menu in the restaurant is designed to look like a newspaper (or a publication of some sort). Thankfully it's high(er) quality paper than dirty newsprint! Ambush serves up dishes from several countries all around Europe, so whether you're in a mood for Italian Pasta or Pizza, German bratwurst and sauerkraut or Spanish Paella, it's probably on the menu.

Drinks - Peach Soda (SGD3.80) and Earl Grey Latte (SGD4.20).

We very much liked the Mixed Pot (SGD18.20, with Garlic Bread), which is a large pot of mussels and clams, cooked in your choice of sauce. We chose Vin Blanc (white wine) sauce, which we thought was a good choice as the resulting (relatively) light sauce didn't overpower the taste of the clams and the mussels. Oh, and it came with bits of bacon floating in the broth. Everything tastes better than bacon :)

The Smoked Bratwurst with Rosti (SGD12.20) was only outstanding in its' oiliness; otherwise it was pretty much very ordinary.

Although the food isn't that great, for the price of ~SGD20 per person we feel that Ambush is very good value for money - besides, there isn't really much in the way of competition in the mall.

Ambush is in Junction 8 mall near Bishan MRT. Non-halal.