14 November, 2011

Todai, Marina Bay Sands - The Mother of all Seafood Buffets

Name HFB a good buffet restaurant and most would churn out restaurants like The Line located at Shangri-La, Carousel found at Plaza Royal on Scotts or Greenhouse situated at Ritz-Carlton. However, with the entrance of Todai at Marina Bay Sands, HFB reckoned that this new kid on the block would give the more established buffet restaurants a run for their money.

Todai (12)

Described as “The Mother of all Seafood Buffets” by Elmer Dills, the famous Los Angeles food critic, Todai is an upscale international seafood and sushi buffet restaurant, which offers a wide selection of food that are considered Asian Fusion Entrees, as well as the most talk-about offering of all – the year round serving of Snow Crab Legs. Wow!

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HFB started with sushi counter and one interesting maki he spotted was the Kimchi Sushi, part of the offering from the Korean Festival Promotion. HFB was really impressed with the variety of sushi offered and he picked up a few that he fancied.

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What’s a buffet without the cold seafood counter? Over here, HFB was delighted with the offering of Oysters, Snow Crab Legs and Salmon Sashimi (belly please!). While he lingered around this section most of the time, there were few hitches that got to him. To begin with, although the oysters were free-flow, each customer was limited to two servings each round. While HFB used to enjoy two dozen or more oysters at The Line, he gave up after 3 rounds at Todai (i.e. half a dozen) – it was simply too bothersome to re-queue.

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Most of the Chefs behind the counters were Koreans, thus communication was an issue. While he did have his salmon belly the first time round, the next chef got no clue what he wanted and HFB gave up without a fight and settled for the norm – it was a little backbreaking conveying the message. While the snow crab was considered a highlight and a delicacy, it was taxing fiddling with it and the meat yield was just not worth the effort.

On a more positive note, there were some really interesting items they had on the hot section, which included the Korean BBQ Short Ribs and the Fried Ginseng. The short ribs were well marinated and packed with great flavours, imagined if it was a good-sized portion, it would have been divine!

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HFB found the fried ginseng pretty fascinating. Not something one would usually find in a buffet offering, the fried ginseng went well with the honey provided at the side, but otherwise an acquired dish that not everyone would truly take delight in. HFB also had a great time devouring the Grilled Shishamo. He probably swallowed a dozen, but he lost count.

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HFB fell in love with Todai’s Churrasco station. With different types and cuts of meat grilled on the spot, what one would have gotten would be a nice cut of warm meat well-rested and really juicy. This was one of the popular station, so be prepared to queue and wait. A word of advice – just grabbed whatever that was being offered at that particular instance and come back for different offerings thereafter – any attempt to converse with the chefs for a particular cut or type of meat was futile.

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As for desserts, HFB picked a few he fancied. Nothing he could pick on or woo him, except maybe the self-serviced soft ice cream machine where one got to churn their own sundae. The texture of the ice cream was pretty decent.

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Kinks aside, HFB reckoned Todai maintained a pretty high food standard throughout its various station offering and for those who enjoy a wide selection of food, perhaps it’s a good time to give Todai a try.

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Hoong An, HungryGoWhere and Todai for their hospitality.

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09 November, 2011

The White Rabbit @ Harding Road, Dempsey

The White Rabbit has established itself around the local modern-dining scene for quite sometime, and HFB was finally able to strike it off from his Gastronomic Wishlist (Yes, it has been updated).

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Housed in a beautifully-restored chapel located off Dempsey, HFB was totally wooed by its colonial charm of stained glass and high ceiling – though the neatly-rowed wooden tables and chairs kinda reminded him of the dining hall of Harry Potter, the movie. Heh!

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The tasting menu was a mixed selection of dishes from The White Rabbit’s Festive Menu starting from Dec 2011, and dinner commenced with the Assiette of Starter from the New Year’s Eve Menu. Diners can looked forward to the trio made of Foie Gras Parfait with Toasted Broiche and Shallot Marmalade, Pan Seared Scallop with Wakame Salad, as well as the Fresh Fig with Iberico Ham coupled with Assiette Parmesan & Rocket.

The White Rabbit

HFB was totally awed by the combination of fig and Iberico ham – it was certainly a marriage made in heaven as the sweetness of the fruit complemented really well with the savoury of the ham, as well as provided the needed texture for bite. Brilliant!

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HFB although a great fan of foie gras (apologies to animal lovers) is not a keen admirer of foie gras parfait. However, even he had to conclude that he was rightly intrigued by the shallot marmalade that went absolutely well with it. Nothing short of excellence here!

Any respectable restaurant should execute a seared scallop pretty neatly and The White Rabbit did just that. While there was nothing to pick on, there wasn’t anything novel to excite HFB’s palate with it. The scallop did retain its juiciness and the wakame provided the added texture to it.

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After sampling The Dining Room’s smashing Red Snapper Fillet, HFB’s expectation was slightly heighten when he noticed that there was a Champagne Poached Seabass on the tasting menu that comes with Mushroom Broth and Baby Vegetables. Under the Festive Degustation Menu, HFB thought the fish was nicely poached (by sous-vide method he presumed) and left a nice clean finishing on his palate. He also liked that there were lots of vegetables to match the dish. The only drawback was the mushroom broth, which HFB felt altered the texture of the seemingly crisp skin; mushroom foam perhaps might be more ideal, but he would never uncover the truth.

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HFB is not a keen fan of turkey because of the perceived dry nature of its meat. But if one executed it in sous-vide style; now that’s a different story! The White Rabbit’s version for its Festive Set Lunch Menu came in Roulade style and stuffed with Chestnut and Smoked Oyster and coupled with Cornbread & Sage on the side, and accompanied with Cranberry Sauce. Tender would be what HFB would describe it, and rightly so. Funnily though – either it was all chopped up, or maybe HFB didn’t really chew well before swallowing it – he tasted the chestnut stuffing but missed the smoked oyster within it. However, what really stood out for him was the supplement of cornbread and sage that he thought was utterly spectacular! Really palatable and provided a much-welcomed subtle sweetness that rounded the dish exceptionally.

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HFB would probably be crucified by The Marmalade Pantry’s ardent fans, but he stood by his conclusion that The White Rabbit’s offering of Sticky Date Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce offered during the Christmas Eve Dinner Menu more than outclassed the apparent (former) yardstick. It was moist, not too sweet and everything just fell in place marvellously. It’s been awhile since HFB enjoyed a really good Sticky Date Pudding, and he was glad he did.

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Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Cheryl and The Lo & Behold Group for their hospitality.

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02 November, 2011

Brunetti @ Tanglin Mall

Having visited Brunetti in Melbourne previously, HFB was really excited when they arrived at our shores. The part-alfresco 140-seater cafe in Singapore (one of the biggest HFB has seen) takes up the space formerly occupied by whimsical fusion restaurant Oomphatico's – and Brunetti was strategically born in Tanglin Mall!

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So if one asked me what were the similarities and differences between the café in Carlton, Melbourne, and the one at Tanglin Mall, HFB would say one of the similarities was the large collection of traditional European cakes on the counter displays. There were so many choices available, so much so that there was definitely something for everyone. As for the differences, Tanglin outlet actually offers an all day savoury selection of Italian food such as pasta and even sandwiches, something that was not offered in Melbourne.

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As for the layout – HFB felt Tanglin’s pastries displays were more subtle compared to Carlton, of which the latter was more of impactful, in-your-face kind, of capturing one’s attention when one enters the café. Unlike Carlton’s prominent long bar counters that churned out their nice coffee or amazing Italian Hot Chocolate (more on that later), Tanglin’s bar was disappointingly non-conspicuous.

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HFB tried the cioccolateria, or chocolate selection which was produced on site, and he was somewhat fascinated by the many colours and textures that greeted him. What he liked about them was they didn’t taste too sweet. He was pretty sure the heart-shaped creation would be a bestseller comes this Valentine’s Day.

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As for the Pasticceria, Brunetti’s cakes and desserts include a selection of Biscotti, Mignon (petit cakes), Cakes and Tarts, Danishes and Shortbreads. So basically customers have the option to have the same-flavoured cake in different serving sizes – Mignon, Sliced or Whole – totally awesome if one just wish to fill their tummy during tea-breaks or buy the whole cake for celebration.

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Similarly for the Macaroons, HFB loved the fact that it wasn’t too sweet. The texture of the shell was also smooth and light, with just a little chewy, thus in his opinion, giving TWG’s macaroons a run for the money.

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But the highlight of it all was HFB’s much missed Italian Hot Chocolate, which was so thick and robust in flavours, akin to drinking molten chocolate. Ask him one thing about Brunetti in Singapore, and he is more than glad to tell you the Italian Hot Chocolate was still as yummy.


And to quote him previously, “Brunetti’s version certainly etched deeply within him with its intense, thick, creamy – almost pudding like concoction. The way it coats your palate makes you aware you have had a lot of chocolate...almost to the point you have no clue you are purring! That was one helluva liquid chocolate!

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this was an invited taste test. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Huntington Communications and Brunetti for their hospitality.

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