Thursday, December 27, 2012

Festive Plates of Pleasure at 10 @ Claymore, Pan Pacific Orchard

People always tell you that "with age comes Wisdom." What they don't tell you, is that reduced metabolism, appetite, and stomach capacity also come along for the ride. I mean I'm not old, I'm just now treading water into "medium adult" territory, but even then I find myself going to buffets less and less because I simply can't whack as much food as I used to.

Nevertheless, a good buffet once in a while is still awesome, just that the goal is slowly shifting from "stuff my face with as much food as possible" to "sample and taste the different foods on offer," ha ha!

Pan Pacific Orchard's 10 @ Claymore Restaurant serves up a relatively limited buffet spread, complemented by what they call "Plates of Pleasure." These plates are basically quarter-sized versions of ala-carte dishes, which you can order unlimited servings of.

Their cold appetizers station consists of salmon and tuna sashimi (nice and fresh), some assorted cold cuts, and parma ham with melon, which was pretty delicious. We ended up eating a lot more parma ham than sashimi. A selection of different breads and cheeses are available for you to mix-and-match - starting from mild cheeses like Camembert and Brie, and all the way up to Blue cheese.

The salad bar has some decent variety although strangely enough, we forgot (subconscious desire to skip the veg? Hmmm) to mix up a salad for ourselves.

The two carving stations for the day were a leg of lamb (pink, moist, juicy and tender), and the mandatory Turkey breast (seeing as it was Christmas eve). I'm personally not a huge fan of turkey because it's often cooked up really dry, but the turkey here was nice and decently juicy. Well, as juicy as an (almost) fat-free poultry breast can be.

For the hot foods station, the only dishes that stood out as being "nice" were perhaps the braised lamb shank, barbecue'd Pork Ribs, and the Singapore Chili Crab. The other dishes were forgettable at best.

Moving on to the Plates of Pleasure for the afternoon - House Pressed Chicken Snail Sausage, Penang Aromatic Spicy Prawn Noodle Broth, Norwegian Breed Wild Farmed Salmon, and Victoria Gippsland Natural Fed Tender Cut Angus Beef.

The surprise of the afternoon had to be the Prawn Noodle, which was delightfully faithful to the bowls you'd get all around Penang island. The steak was also nicely flavored and grilled, and it being served with truffle mashed potato was a bonus. Unfortunately the chicken sausage was rather run of the mill, and the salmon (is there even such a thing as "Wild Farmed Salmon?") was a little dry and overcooked.

Moving on to desserts, we really liked that the fruits counter had more participants than just the 'standard' watermelon/papaya/melon combination. Other cakes, pastries and tarts were overall pretty nice stuff, except for the log cake which turned out to be a durian log cake. We don't eat durian :P

For SGD58.00++ per person for lunch, we thought that the buffet was pretty good value for money. What we don't get in quantity is more than made up for in quality (considering the price we paid, of course). The restaurant was also not too crowded, so it doesn't get cramped or noisy.

10 @ Claymore is located in Pan Pacific Orchard Hotel, and gets its' name from the Hotel's address: 10 Claymore Road. Call up 6831 6686 for reservations. Non-halal.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Singapore's Best Burger? Omakase Burger @ (Former) Grandstand

Let me start off by saying that Omakase Burger isn't quite accurately named. It isn't anything like the Japanese omakase where you're at the "mercy" of the chef's whims and fancies (and talents). Instead, you order off a fairly standard list of available burgers, sides and drinks - like any normal burger joint.

Except that the burgers are anything but normal. There's been some talk going on about Omakase's burgers being the so-called current "best in Singapore," but that's a mighty bold claim in a city full of delicious burger goodness including Chef Daniel Boulod's db Burger over at his bistro in Marina Bay Sands.

Our order for the day was the Omakase Cheeseburger (SGD13.90) and Bacon Cheeseburger ($15.90), both Medium Rare, with a large side order of Truffle Fries (SGD7.90). The patties, which are ground, blended and hand-formed daily, are the juiciest I've ever eaten in a burger.

So juicy, in fact, that you really do need to eat quickly otherwise the juices flow out and turn the bottom half of the bun into a mushy mess of wet bread.

The other ingredients were perhaps less special; and in particular the Truffle Fries which could have used a lot more sprinkling of truffle oil. I mean, it's not like anybody this end of the budget spectrum uses real truffle oil anyway - it's all just olive oil with "truffle aroma."

Our burgers were washed down with A&W Root Beer floats (SGD5.50 each), with a generous helping of soft-serve ice cream.

So is this the "Best Burger in Singapore?" It's definitely a very good burger, and priced pretty reasonably too, but "best" is perhaps a step too far. Its' location is pretty crap too - you'll need to either drive here or take a taxi.

Omakase Burger is at The Grandstand of the former Turf Club (on the left of Giant supermarket if you're facing it). Non halal.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Superb Herbal Duck at Dian Xiao Er (Changi Airport T3)

We're back to reviewing yet another restaurant in Changi Airport - this time it's Dian Xiao Er in Terminal 3 (public area). We're pretty frequent diners at various restaurants in the airport, partially because we live and work in the East, but mostly because the public areas here is like a mini shopping centre. Plus, shopping's even cheaper than elsewhere in the country thanks to GST waiver :)

So anyway, Dian Xiao Er. Their main selling point here is their Roasted Duck, which comes in three different varieties - Angelica Herb, Wild Ginseng, and the one that we tried - Duck Roasted with Ten Wonder Herbs (SGD13.60 for a small portion). We really dig the strong herb-ey (in a Chinese way) gravy which complements the well roasted duck very well; although if you're not a duck lover this dish might not be for you as the poultry here has a fairly strong "duck" taste.

If you don't like duck it's OK, though, because the restaurant also serves a variety of other Chinese "Big Fry" style dishes. Our HK Style Fish Slices (SGD11.60) was pretty nice taste-wise, with a nice balance of sweetness and saltiness of the gravy. However what ruined the dish for us was that it had very obviously already been steamed prior to us ordering, and sitting out in the open for quite a while before being served - the slices of fish had already dried out from the air conditioning.

We also tried the Golden Tofu (SGD7.90), which honestly was nothing to shout about. The tofu is the "homemade" style and was sort of a cross between actual tofu and egg-tofu (like Japanese tofu).

So overall we come away with mixed feelings - we were as impressed with the duck as we were disappointed with the other dishes. Nevertheless we felt that the deliciousness of the roasted duck here warrants a return trip - the question then is whether to stick with the Ten Herbs sauce or to try one of the other sauces.

Dian Xiao Er currently has eight outlets around Singapore. Check out their Website for locations. Non-halal.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Personalized Western & Asian Food at Temptations, Bdr Mahkota Cheras

Temptations Restaurant and Bar in Bandar Mahkota Cheras is one of the very few places I know where you can actually call up the Chef and ask him to customize / personalize a meal for you (and your family). If you've got an upcoming date and your partner loves ribs, call up, and the Chef will happily go look for a nice rack for the day. It makes the entire dining experience pretty personal, especially since the Chef will likely also come out of the kitchen and pay you a visit to ask how everything is.

For my birthday lunch with family, my mum called up and requested for a decent steak, so the Chef went out and bought some Angus Rib Eye, served on a bed of mashed potatoes and broccoli. While I thought that the meat was well seared and well rested, I would have preferred a more substantial (read: thicker) cut of meat.

The Crispy Salmon comes with the same mashed potatoes and broccoli, served with a squash puree. I also thought that the fish was pretty well cooked, with the skin giving a nice crisp.

Coming back to the personalization thing. Temptations is a Western restaurant, but because my dad isn't a big fan of Western cuisine, the Chef bought and cooked up a nice pot of Curry Fish Head with rice and pappadum. It's not the best curry in the world, but it's solid enough to hold its' own in a proper curry restaurant.

One small minus point is that the place isn't air-conditioned. While it was plenty cool enough to have a comfortable lunch in, the lack of any (tinted) glass means that it can get a bit glaring for guests facing outside.

Friendly service and personalized food cooked to your liking - what's not to love, right? Unfortunately Temptations is located in Bandar Mahkota Cheras, and it seems the local populace doesn't perhaps have much stomach for medium-range Western Food. Pity, then, because it really is a pretty nice place to have a casual meal. Non-halal.

Phone Number: 03-9010 3020

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Have an Oinky good time at El Cerdo, Changkat Bukit Bintang, KL.

Happy December! December's always a fun time of month, what with the year-end, Christmas decorations everywhere, and with everyone taking a break from work (or to clear off their last remaining days of Annual Leave). Hopefully your December is full of fun and gifts and laughter too!

Anyways, El Cerdo over at Changkat Bukit Bintang has always been one of my favorite "special occasions" restaurants in KL. I've been there quite a number of times over the years but strangely I've never gotten round to blogging about it, so here goes!

El Cerdo is unashamedly all about celebrating porky goodness. The restaurant is decorated with drawings and paintings of pigs, cute little piggy figurines, etc. If you celebrate your birthday here, the staff will even add in a loud "oink oink" in between lines of "Happy Birthday to You."

The menu, naturally, is chock full of different kinds of porcine delights. Like this family-sized Jamon Serrano (RM88) - An assortment of Jamon Serrano and Iberico with Chorizo Sausages, melon balls, olives, nuts and salad. Plenty of different varieties of ham to go around the table!

My favorite dish of the night was the Oven Roasted Iberico Spare Ribs (RM88), served with a fairly forgettable Pineapple Salsa. The Spare Ribs, however, were utterly awesome. An almost-crispy outer crust thanks to the Maillard reaction, combined with the meat bursting with juice and chock-ful of porky flavor, this dish is a clear winner.

El Cerdo's main attraction, however, is the Cochinillo Alestili Segoviano (Roasted Suckling Pig, RM188 for half a piglet). When the piglet is served, one (or more) VIP's for the night gets to chop the piglet with a plate (to signify how tender it is), and then break the plate in a bucket. So that night being my birthday dinner night, I got to do the honours :)

What I've noticed over the years is that (i) the story that the waiter/waitress tells you as to why you're breaking the plate changes from time to time; and (ii) the price you pay for the suckling pig has increased quite a bit.

I also thought that despite the 24 hour soak they put the suckling pig through in the marination process, that the meat tasted relatively ... plain. I loved the crackling of the crispy piglet skin, but once that was done, the remainder of the meat was honestly not as succulent/delicious as I used to remember it.

The downside, of course, is that prices aren't cheap - and especially when you consider drinks (e.g. Peppermint Tea at RM8.50 ... really? Why do I pay 1500% mark-up for you to put a teabag into a pot of hot water?!?)

Nevertheless, El Cerdo remains one of my favorite joints in KL. Thanks to the constant choruses of "Happy Birthday" and all the plate-smashing going on, the restaurant has a very lively and happy atmosphere. Wait staff are friendly and charming, too. Reservations are essential on Friday and Saturday nights. Non-halal.