First time round, Saveur at Far East Plaza was an absolute sweet talker. (you can read about it here). With humble beginnings from a coffee shop in Ali Baba eating house, the boys from Shatec have pushed their earnest attempts at serving up fashionably austere cuisine to a new level, with their recent opening of Saveur Art located at Ion Orchard. Since crowds were diverted to the new establishment, the partner and I took the opportunity to visit the original branch, the fears of being greeted by obscene queues significantly lowered.
For starters, we got the Saveur's Pasta ($4.90): chilli oil, finely chopped kombu, minced pork sauce, chives and sakura ebi. Having had all of a forkful on my first visit, I was instantly smitten by the different dimension of flavors presented; this time round, not so much - the strands of pasta congealed and starchy, perhaps from pre-cooked pasta taking a dip in not so hot water. This dish got a lukewarm reception from the both of us. If not for the minimal price tag, this would probably have induced some angst over the table.
My Sea Bass ($14.90) came with a haphazard curtain of limp french beans overhead. The fish cooked to perfection within, lacked the desired crisp crust that it's skin-on presentation suggests. The pan seared potatoes could have benefited from some browned crusty edges, the savoury mix of crab meat it is tossed with pleasing my jaded taste buds.
The partner's Duck Confit ($12.90) translates in such a way that you get what you pay for. Results would be more felicitous if the chefs paid more attention to the rendering of fats on the duck. The sight of a smashing thick layer of white fat trimmings on the side of the bird sending shivers down my spine. The orange scented confetti of citrus segments and sauteed shitake elevates this humble dish and was an excellent accompaniment to the succulent flesh.
Saveur's noble attempt to make usually 'atas' fare more approachable to the general public is commendable. However, with lack of attention of detail paid to execution, the eminent fear of a case of cuisine 'lost in translation' surfaces.
Under the same roof of Ramen Champion Dining comes Shabu Shabu Ramen, targeted at ramen lovers whose cravings can't be satisfied with just one bowl of ramen. Think about it, what's better than indulging in an ambrosial spread of shabu shabu ingredients with bowlfuls of aromatic flavoursome soup on a rainy day (which happen more often than I like it in December)? To top off the experience, a tray of tantalising home-made ramen noodles accompanies the feast instead of the conventional white rice.
The unique selling point of this concept is the residence of so many different dining options on common ground. Giving families a larger range of selection; everything from award winning ramen to mouth-watering snacks such as gyozas, crispy tebasaki, and now, the shabu shabu experience. Since its launch in April 2014, constant R&D have resulted in fair-valued sets and a variety of soup base choices targeted at pleasing the most finicky of palates. I put this to the test today.
We ordered the Shabu Shabu Set A for 3-4pax ($59++) and settled for Paitan soup and Spicy Soup upon recommendation (the other choices being Miso, Tom Yum and Kelp Soup). This set comes with 2 boxes of Pork Loin, Pork Belly and Beef Loin, 1 box of chicken, the seafood platter and a plate of assorted vegetables.
The Seafood Platter ($14.80 ala carte) is essentially a mix of prawn, scallops, crabsticks, cuttlefish ball and salmon ; I skipped the prawns, choosing to dunk its sweet but somewhat dubiously unfresh flesh into the paitan broth to kick it up a notch. The scallops and crabsticks attracted my attention with its rufescent hues, these were delicious, it's delicate soft texture accentuated by the racy tang from the spicy soup base.
If you know me well, you would know that i'm a huge sucker for meat. Shabu Shabu Ramen has my heart with a commodious spread of carnivorous grub procured from around the globe. My favourite would be the Pork Loin from Australia. It possesses the right amount of fats that render the thin slices absolutely besotting after a quick swishing action in the scalding soup. Perfect with the accompanying condiments of ponzu, goma and spicy chili sauce. Not to be missed is the Australia beef loin, so expertly sliced that it curls with silent resolute, ready to be eaten within a few seconds.
Shabu Shabu Ramen now offers 3 sets to feed 1-2 pax, 2-3 pax or 3-4pax at $29++, $47++ and $59++ respectively. With such attractive price packaging, good selection of soup bases to choose from as well as premium ingredients used, this Japanese hotpot may be a good venue to consider for your next big family or office outing!
Skyve wine bistro & bar was my destination choice for dinner after being arrowed the mammoth task of choosing a venue for our long awaited family gathering. With the rather lacklustre District 10 taking tenancy of the same spot before Skyve, I made the mental preparation to face the mediocrity of the food I was about to dig into, as if in sync with the mundane and somewhat accusational talk from the parents.
Skyve Wine Bar & Bistro sports a rather cliched look, low sofa seats strewed across the dimly lit room highlighted by incandescent spot lights that puncture the cold muted air. Pardon my antagonism, but conversations with the apprehensive mother just leaves me in shambles.
However, Skyve's food proved to be a diamond in the rough, shedding some light on the sombre atmosphere. The Herb dredged Calamari ($14) takes on newfangled flavors with its togarashi coating and a side serving of ancho malt aioli. Sure, there's no debate as to whether this is the better calamari in comparison with Hurricane Grills'; freshness issues being a big disadvantage, but points go to Skyve for attempting the novel. The malt vinegar in the aioli evoking memories of fish and chips in brown paper eaten on the sidewalk, the ancho paste busting out sea savouriness that heightens the dish.
My brother declares the Truffle and Thyme Fries ($12) to be better than the faddish rendition over at P.S cafe and that says a lot. For me, it is not jaw dropping but nonetheless clever techniques have reaped golden crisp fries with fluffy innards. And that remained, all the way through to the bottom of the basket. Kudos. The usage of truffle oil, restrained with a wise hand and a shower of grando padano over the top completing the picture perfect dish.
More commendable are the mains. The Confit of Duck Leg ($36) presents a study of textures against a background of sweet smooth pumpkin puree. The skin shatters with an inaudible crunch that causes food envy with every bite. Not to be missed is the Spicy Kalbi Beef Short Ribs ($36) that succeeded in pleasing the nit-picking taste buds of the folks at the table. Employing the sous vide method of cooking, the meat was meltingly succulent, the sticky kalbi glaze reminiscent of Korean barbecue flavors, injects a subtle note of heat into the mixture that grows on you exponentially.
And just like watching a circus act, you're waiting for the clown to come in and maybe slip on a banana peel, sending shots of awkward laughter to bring the show to a close. As sadistic as it sounds, we ordered desserts with a strong conviction that the kitchen was bound to trip up somewhere after such a flawless service.
Boy were we wrong...
The Snickers Bar ($12) with its provocative plating and even more magnetic flavors almost conjured up fist fights over the table. Layers of salted caramel pudding, peanut butter, chocolate ganache and a dainty band of crunchy feuilletine teases the eyes with its meticulous nature. The flavors melding perfectly with the caramelized banana and vanilla gelato - not the largest scoop I've had but it would suffice. Definitely one of the best restaurant desserts I've had this year.
Skyve Wine Bar and Bistro ain't exactly the talk of the town but with such a consistent performance on the food aspect and not dismissing the attentive and sometimes over-gregarious service, it is a food mecca worthy of special occasions and repeated visits.
Skyve Wine Bar & Bistro is one of the merchants featured on the Entertainer app 2014 and also for the 2015 version which has just been released. Purchase the app here to enjoy one-for-one deals at the many dining, travel and leisure outlets dotting the island!
The thoraic warmth of the creamy homemade mayonnaise mixed in with the succulent chunks of butter poached lobsters; the smell of grilled, slightly charred bread filling my nostrils. This makes for such a umbrian treat.
Repeated visits, and I've always called for the same item. Like a blindfolded mission evoked by memory sensory pleasures. Not tonight, not this night cause when 5 and a 1/2 unite , a larger congregation of seafood delights can come together.
We had the Crustacean Bowl as appetisers. Small in size but big on flavors. There was an explosion of flavors on the palette that made an impressive amuse bouche, especially with so many mouths to feed. The uni creme forming a sticky mixture with the Japanese rice; a treasure trove of all things delicious, the butter poached lobster, honey ponzu, caviar and cheddar cheese provided plenty of sharp twists and turns on the flavor profile. I would definitely be delighted to tuck into a bowl of this on a solo act if not for the enormous damage it would do to my already dimpled thighs. The same can't be said of the Lobster Bisque that obviously had a problematic acquaintance with the salt jar, the natural sweetness of the lobster lost in that unnatural processed salinity. The Truffle Crisps attack the senses with full force, causing grown men to salivate at the table with its heady wafts of truffle mists. But that was just an illusion that dissipated quickly with the passing winds. Crisps being crisps have a way of conducting mysterious vanishing acts on the dinner table and likewise, these were gone in a jiffy. A perfect snack for the peckish.
Moving on the main leads, the lobster rolls. They were seemingly smaller than I recalled them to be, however, their golden hides and generous creamy contents do not betray its identity. The Spicy Diablo Roll ($19.90/roll) with its piquant garlic spice and meek heated condition was enough to lift the sweet lobster and make it absolutely irresistible. I just wish it was a little bigger...
As much as I am a purist at heart, I'm not immune to the appeal of the zanier specimens such as the Caramel Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding ($12). A little bit on the sweet side but totally good for sharing; just go easy on the chocolate sauce.
Take note that for you Platypus lobster roll fans out there: they are also available at the new Bugis location. So do make sure to make your reservations before going down!
I've always had a penchant for vegetables, noming my way through my plate of greens like a meek cow during meal times. No signs of rebellion whatsoever. I would often stare with awkward befuddlement whenever another kid would shove away his vegetables, nudging it to the side of the plate and then subsequently throwing a fit when circumstances gets to forceful. 'Why?' Don't they see its' allure?
Growing up, and gaining access to the covers of the vegetable dictionary; I embraced my edible greens with a tighter affection. My stint in Australia reinforcing our relationship with love gifts in the forms of ruby red beetroot, bitter endives and hybrid broccoli. It is a libation that brings back many happy memories - a time where getting your hands on a superb salad at any deli or even making your own at a fraction of the cost was as easy as pie. The salad maker driven by a purpose to to do as little as possible to highlight the vitality of the greens. I've since then feasted on countless salads, ranging from those of more innovative nature, incorporating deep fried quinoa; to the classics like caesar salads with a glorious homemade anchovy dressing that throws it into a class of its own.
I miss all that. Supermarkets brimming full of seasonal produce, and mixed leaves that don't cost you an arm or a leg. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that in Singapore, with everything being imported in, salads are expensive. Still, with the notion of eating healthy with conscious effort on everyone's' mind, salad joints have been doing a roaring business.
One such outlet is Foodology Fresh, located beside Maxwell food centre. Talk about choices, chicken rice versus a roasted chicken salad; you know where my allegiance lie. But lets give the cleaner choice a go shall we?
Working with a self-serve concept, Foodology Fresh empowers customers to make their own meal choices. Enforcing power to the hands of the office workers to make the healthier choice. What works for me? Shall we find out?
Neatly stacked, you'll find a good selection of wholesome lunch options. Do take note that a current promotion includes a soup, quiche or muffin at just $3 with every purchase of a salad, sandwich or wrap. A few of the standouts for me from the salad section were the Smoked Duck Breast Salad and the Roasted Chicken, Grape and Apricot Salad.
For something a little more hearty, go for the Chili Con Carne Wrap or the Club Sandwich. The former carrying a slight spicy kick in the mix, mingled with a good amount of greens, the entire dish comes together quite nicely.
And if you're flat out starved, consider topping up $3 for the Wild Mushroom Soup (original price: $5.80); a bowl of comfort perfumed with the robustness of roasted mushrooms; seemingly perfect for a pick-me-up on a rainy afternoon. The Pumpkin Soup is commendable as well but a tad too bland for my liking.
Quiche fanatics might want to give the quiches a miss. The 3 varieties of Salmon & Asparagus, Spinach & Mushroom and Chicken Ham, all missing the mark with their limp anemic crusts which to be brutally honest, were all a tad raw in the middle. Perhaps a few minutes in the microwave would do the trick *snorts*
Among the tasting portions on offer, the Smoked Duck Breast Salad which consists of mesclun, beetroot, sweet potato, red chicory, feta cheese, crisp caramelised walnuts and a tangy orange dressing is enough to warrant a singular visit to the joint. Earthy in flavors punctured by the salinity of the crumbly feta cheese and then twisted round the bend again with the jewels nubes of caramelised walnuts, this is one salad to invogirate the appetite for sure.
Desserts are yet again another shoddy affair with the sweet muffins leading the way over the lackluster tarts that have obvious issues with their gelatine content; resulting in a lemon curd that is somewhat more of a lemon jelly devoid of its desired creamy texture. For a good afternoon treat, pick up the banana walnut muffin instead, its moist innards and aromatic wafts of familiarity a good accompaniment to a piping hot cup of coffee.
Foodology Fresh, for me, does not hold up to its end of the bargain, it's offerings lacking the persuasive power to convince me to choose the healthier route over a quick trip to the hawker next door for a belly busting meal (which explaints the beer and Xiao Long Bao I indulged in after this tasting). Still, its' cause is inspirational and perhaps in it's residenceý, the conversion of mindsets will be slow and ardous but still proceeding.
Belgian Beer Cafe
Rostang at the Atlantis
Almaz by Momo
Le Pain Quotidien
Lime Tree Cafe
Fundamentally-flawed is Lee Sihan. 26 going on 27, she is a dessert enthusiast,
food nomad, wanderer of lands and a pastry chef currently working in Sydney.
Fueled by a lifelong addiction to all things sweet, and a burning desire to travel the globe
follow her as she embarks on delicious escapades both in and out of the kitchen