25 February, 2007

A V-Japanese Dining

Chijmes was the atmospheric setting for our Valentine’s Day dinner.

Having undergone a stunning facelift as a national heritage site, Chijmes is now a trendy dining and leisure spot.

Having dined at its sister outlet – Sun with Moon Japanese Dining and Café, at Wheelock Place, I was pretty positive that the standard of the food served at Japanese Dining Sun @ Chijmes would pleased both our taste buds.

Without a doubt, we ordered Sashimi Hamachi, or yellowtail, and Salmon Belly for the appetiser. I have to commend that it was one of the best sashimi I have ever tasted.

Not only was the chef generous in the thick slicing of the fish, each serving of sashimi was thoughtfully packed with ice at the bottom, to keep the fish chilled and fresh for consumption. The manager also recommended the Grilled Anchovies with Japanese Mayonnaise, which is pretty tasty when, go along with Hot Sake.

Speaking of which it was pretty interesting as the waitress brought out a basket of ceramic sake cups in different shapes and sizes, and ask us to pick one each.

For our starter, I opted for the Tuna Belly Sushi, or Otoro. Part of the Tuna’s lower belly which contains high fat content, Otoro is a highly prized fish in Japanese dining that is rich in taste and silky in texture.

And it is said the best time for consuming Otoro is during peak winter period (Nov – Feb), where the fish accumulates the most fats. For mains, we went with their signature Kamameshi (traditional steamed seasoned rice pot) of Beef and Foie Gras. They came served in traditional Japanese wooden pots.

Atop each pot stood an hourglass to indicate the end of one minute — the time required for the piping hot steam to permeate the rice casserole within. This method of cooking, apparantly dates back to the 19th century.

The beef slices was tender and marinated to taste, and the Foie Gras was sinfully excellent. Added to the fact that the rice is cooked just nicely as compared to my 1st experience at Sun with Moon, the Kamameshi was excellent this time round.

To round up the wonderful night, I went for piece of delightful Tofu Cheesecake that I have been carving for ever since I tried it, and she decided on the Kyodango & Warabi Mochi platter that comes with opaque yellow bean squares.

I am not a big fan of flour but I have to say that the mochi were delightfully smooth and soft, but however the sweetened thick soy sauce that goes over it is a bit of an acquired taste.

Food: 4.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Ambience: 4.5/5
Price: 4/5

Total: 17.5/20
30 Victoria Street,
#02-01 CHIJMES

Singapore 187996

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17 February, 2007

Italian in the Heart of Holland II

Amici Italian Restaurant in Holland Village exudes a buoyant and cosy ambience perfect for an exhilarating meal regardless of lunch or dinner with your friends and love ones. At Amici, you can also get to dine and watch the chefs create masterpieces in the semi-open kitchen and stone oven.

We started with the Garlic Prawn as starter ($12). And I must say we were pretty surprised that the prawn was cooked in tomato-based rather than a light cream-based sauce, resulting in the lacked of punch from the garlic in this dish.

Since we had a heavy lunch, we decide to share a pizza – the Parma Rucola, a pizza topped with Parma Ham & Arugula (better known as rocket). What is so exceptional about Prosciutto di Parma or Parma Ham is its strictly regulated production. From the breeding and feeding of the pigs, to the gentle salt rugs and the long hanging and curing in progressively warmer aging rooms, each step in the process must meet certain criteria. At the end of the 10 to 12 month aging saga, the five-point ducal crown of Parma is branded into each leg that makes the grade, to distinguish it from other cured hams.

The result is a raw ham, pale pink in colour with a distinctive flavour and a remarkably silky texture. Matched it with my favourite Arugula - herb with a unique spicy and bitter taste, and a dash of cheese powder, makes this Italian pizza a winner. The restaurant is also dedicated to a variety of simple yet satisfying dishes, and some of their popular and award winning dishes include Escargots cooked in Garlic Butter (A dozen for $22), Fresh Baked Oysters with Diced Tomatoes, Spinach, Bacon, Onion, Cream & Cheese (½ dozen for $23), as well as their signature dessert Homemade Tiramisu ($9).

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Ambience: 4.5/5
Price: 4/5

Total: 15.5/20
275 Holland Ave,
Holland Village

Singapore 278993

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12 February, 2007

Italian in the Heart of Holland

Dubbed the “Bohemian enclave” of Singapore, Holland Village is a curious mix between old and new. Traditional coffee shops and a wet market jostle for space aside swanky wine bars and fine dining restaurants. And in the space of one week, I was fortunate to take part in this dining culture twice. And in both occasions, I was indulging in the pleasure of the rich Italian cuisine. Situated at the corner among a cluster of shophouses is Al Dente Trattoria.

At Al Dente, one can choose to dine al fresco or indoors. Unfortunately, although the candlelight adds an amorous atmosphere for the diners, frequent passer-by walking along Lorong Mambong seeks to blemish it, thus our choice to venture indoors.

We were served by an over-enthusiastic service staff that we felt pressured to order more than we should (apparently ice water was a choice of sprinkling or still, and I ended ordering the ice-peach tea instead). He was also quick to note down the order of the Antipasti Sampler Platter – which we haven’t agreed upon – but felt obliged to since he already wrote it.

Thankfully, the appetiser turned out to be pretty fine. A platter of premium salami slices, grilled mushrooms, tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, ham with melon & cold seafood cuts on fresh garden greens was a harmonious dish that suited all three of us. While both my friends went for the Linguine Marinara, or the seafood of lobster, shrimps, clams, mussels & cod fillet tossed with linguine pasta in a wine seafood stock, finished with a robust herbed tomato stew, I was encouraged yet again by the service staff to go for the Penne with Scallops, or the tube pasta with fresh Australian scallops & zucchini slices, sautéed in a light cream sauce, infused with brandy.

The scallops were indeed juicy and fresh, and the taste of zucchini was refreshing as I haven’t had it since my Perth days. The only fault that I would pick on would be that the cream sauce was too rich, such that one cannot taste the hint of brandy in it.

To be continued......

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Total: 13.5/20

22 Lorong Mambong
Holland Village

Singapore 277681

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07 February, 2007

A Wee Bit of Heaven

A wee bit of heaven

Drifted down from above

A handful of happiness

A heartful of love

A mystery of life

So sacred and so sweet

The giver of joy

So deep and complete.

Precious and priceless

So lovable too

The world's sweetest miracle

Baby, it's you.

- By Helen Steiner Rice

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05 February, 2007

Mac and Cheese

Shit... I am getting fat... and it doesn't help that my colleague, who is a mum of two, cooked fantastic macaroni and cheese for tea breaks…not forgetting her banana cake, curry chicken... argh... this is so not helpful to my diet regime...!!!

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