Chin Chin

11 May

Chin Chin has definitely grabbed the attention of all food lovers attention in Melbourne over the past year. New establishment began in mid 2011 but has topped the ‘talk of the town’ list on Urbanspoon for more than 6months! They’ve achieved amazing recognition in such a short time. The food and ambience is based on a modern Thai genre. They’ve got a bar down in the basement, dining area is on the ground floor which has a pretty noisy environment, where frequent laughters coming from happy customers.

Caution: Chin Chin does not accept any reservations. Reaching the restaurant early doesn’t guarantee you a table as well. My first visit was on a rainy Saturday evening at 6pm and the staff told me that I would be on the waiting list and they expect my table to be ready in 2.5-3 hours. True enough, they gave me a text message after 2.5hours but I had already finished my dinner elsewhere. Such hype made me go back a second time. So, on a Friday night at 8pm, I was told that I have to wait 1-1.5hours and this time, I did.

So here we go… My review of the Melbourne hype. Was the food good? Were the hours of wait worth it??

Kingfish Sashimi w Lime, Chilli, Coconut, Thai Basil (A$14)

This appetiser/starting dish, is DIE-DIE-MUST-TRY!! It’s a Thai rendition of sashimi and it is absolutely mind-blowing. Fresh sweet juicy kingfish paired with all the traditional thai spices of lime, chilli, coconut and basil, it’s like having a dynamite exploding in my mouth. This first impression set the standards really high for the rest of the dishes. I like how all the spices and flavours complement each other. Great appetiser, definitely.

Chilli Salt Chicken Wings w Coriander and Fresh Lemon

I’m not too sure about this one. There was just a tiny hint of spiciness, with lots of salt. Sadly, this dish was very much a let-down for us. We could easily get a better quality of the same dish elsewhere. It wasn’t captivating enough, with very ordinary flavours and a very salty skin.

Chin Chin Special Fried Rice w Crab, Chicken, Pineapple and Coriander

The fried rice was somewhere between average and good. It’s got the basic fragrance of how a fried rice should be, but I was disappointed to find very little crab in the dish. Actually, it also tasted pretty plain, which was probably why the bowl of sauce was there, to allow us to blend the saltiness to our taste. Good idea, but doesn’t seem like a very glam thing to do, to be tossing and mixing your rice when other are looking.

Western Plains Organic Pork Satay w Cucumber, Pineapple, Crushed Peanuts & a 3 flavour sauce

I have to say that presentation was really bad. And I was a little hesitant on how to start on the dish. There are several individual components and is there suppose to be a suggested order of eating? There are big slices of cucumber, big slices of pineapple, some green chilli padi and basil. I thought I would go orginal and have the pork satay with the dipping sauce. The sauce had this sweet and salty punch to it, but the pork was a horror. The meat was really tough and difficult to chew. I went on to blend in the rest of the individual components and they actually did go well with the pork, which made it refreshing. Wrapping this up, I would have to say that it could potentially be one of the best dish, but the pork satay being the centre of the plate was extremely disappointing. It would be great if a different cut of meat was used and the presentation could be improved to allow diners to understand how to blend the individual components together.

 Green Curry of Grilled Chicken w Salted Duck Eggs, Pea Eggplant, Kaffir Lime Leaf & Thai Basil

I’m not a big fan of green curry but I would have to say that they are pretty generous in the amount of eggplants in the bowl. It was pretty special in the sense that salted duck egg were used. Again, a Chin Chin interpretation/rendition of a green curry. So as expected, it was slightly too salty. Not the traditional kind of green curry that we are used to having. Lastly, as a warning, it is pretty spicy!

To sum it up, I wouldn’t be willing to queue for hours to get a seat in this restaurant. Most of the dishes were only mediocre and some were pretty disappointing. I don’t see how some people can re-visit this place again and again despite the never-ending queue. BUT, Chin Chin has successfully saved themselves with the unforgettable Kingfish sashimi which is so distinct. I might go back again when the hype has quiet down.

Opening Hours:
Lunch till Late
(Mon to Sun)

Address:
125 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Ratings:
Food: 2/5
Ambience: 3/5
Value: 2.5/5
Service: 2/5
(Kingfish sashimi gets 4.75/5)

Wines of the World

24 Apr

Hola!

Sorry for going MIA for the past 2 months. Made my way back to Melbourne and had been really busy with school since then. I will try my best to constantly keep this page updated with more amazing foodsteps and photos that make you salivate. I promise several (short) post over the next couple of weeks! Have been out eating some incredibly captivating dishes.

For a start, I’m going to introduce everyone to the amazing world of wine. Having just completed my second wine subject in uni, i’ve had great exposure to ancient wine history, wine making and wine tasting. During the first intense 5-day course, we learnt a great deal on the basics of wine, and got a chance to taste and make notes on 50 bottles of wine. The second intense 5-day course was focused more on the history and culture of wine, and tasting and making notes on another 45 bottles of wine. It just fascinates me how a simple concept can be so elegant. Back in Singapore, alcohol consumption is still pretty low on a daily basis. Out of that, beer consumption is probably the highest. Wine generally gives people a misconception that it taste weird and often too expensive to be consumed on a regular basis. In Australia, you can easily get a bottle of wine at A$5, but it is crap to me. A decent drinkable bottle would cost between A$15-25. Comparing it to a same bottle sold in Singapore, retailers are selling them for around S$25-$35. In fact, it is not too much more expensive having consider the exchange rate and the minimal profit the retailers have to make.

I have this secret dream/wish that I want to make wine drinking a popular culture in Singapore. Not sure how it can be done, but i’m sure it’s not impossible. The only way to learn, is to taste. I’m no expert in wine as compared to some of the local Australians, but I do have some decent exposure and hope to share some of my thoughts with our fellow Singaporeans.

For today, I am going to introduce a bottle of Champagne which dazzled me during one of the recent Champagne tastings. We had 7 bottles of sparkling wine, 1 Cava and 6 Champagne. This bottle stood out amongst the rest.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve

First impression in the glass is mesmerising. It portrays a beautiful yellow, almost gold appearance with tiny elegant bubbles rising. On the nose, it gives off an attractive scent of apples. Besides that, some pear, peach and slight floral notes were later detected. On the front palate, a slightly higher amount of malic acid can be detected, as indicated by the taste of apples. On the middle palate, it is fresh and fruity. Compared to other Champagnes, this has less bouquet as indicated by the very slight toastiness which could be an indication of the use of more pinot noir than chardonnay. The finish is remarkably elegant and long lasting.

You can have it with a meal. I would recommend pairing with some fresh light seafood. The food cannot be too complex so as not to steal the show from the star. However, I would prefer to have it on it’s own. Great fruity refreshing drink, beautiful start to any formal events, or even a summer afternoon drink! It is retailing at around A$67 in the local stores. Try it if you havent! You will be amazed.

More restaurant reviews and wine reviews will be coming up soon!

Vintage Tea Party at House@Dempsey

14 Feb

I was there last week on 9th Feb 2012. House, Barracks and Camp is located on Dempsey and it is the furthest block. The high tea buffet was introduced less than a year ago and I am amazed by what they are offering!

Stepping into the restaurant and walking towards the buffet line, there was this strange vibe that hit me. I was fortunate to get a table right in front of the buffet line. There was where everything came into place. It was an old building with some of these old furnitures and walls were pretty much left in their original state. The setting, arrangement and decor on the buffet was perfectly vintage. It was theme ‘Vintage Tea Party’ and it is absolutely brilliant. What’s more, the use of fresh flowers makes our mood especially happy!

It is a very short buffet line but I’m not gonna complain about the variety. It’s tea time and I’ll be happy to be served with quality > quantity treats.

These little chocolate tarts are bite size. Love the soft, wet and semi-liquid chocolate! You won’t feel jelat because it’s not too sweet and girls will like it too because it’s not too bitter. In other words, the flavours are subtle and pleasing to everyone, it’s not too extreme.

I’ll rate this chocolate cake a Good. It’s not fantastic, neither it is ordinary. Similar to the chocolate tart, it wasn’t too sweet that you feel its jelat. There probably wasn’t too much of chocolate that went into it. It was light and gave a subtle chocolaty aroma.

Green tea tart with a lemon curd filling and meringue. I couldn’t tell if the tart base was green tea because the lemon curd was SO sour. Totally jolt me for a moment. Lucky for the slice of sweet orange, it was a very tropical fruity tart. The meringue wasn’t too sweet and it was great.

There are several different cupcakes. I tried 2 of them. The one above which had a little ‘Love’ macaroon was so beautiful! I couldn’t help but take a bite into it. Having tried my hands at making macaroons, I know how difficult it is to make this one. The beautiful blend of colours with hand-written words, is not only aesthetically attractive, there was also a burst of almond flavour! However, it just missed the mark slightly. It would have been perfect if the muffin was a tad more moist.

The green tea cupcake was a bit drier than the previous cupcake. But the green tea was lightly flavoured and not too overwhelming. On the tray behind the cupcakes, the little peanut (butter?) cookie was awesome! It was buttery and so full of peanut fragrance. I secretly wished I had taken a few home.

Above are some of the assorted skinny pizza. This is the savoury part of the buffet and I actually recommend everyone to begin with them before the sweets. The best would definitely have to be the squid ink one. Next best would be the mushroom. The crust on all of them was so thin and crisp and that is the highlight. The centre part of the pizza crust would turn slightly soft because it got in contact with the sauce and topping. But I have to say that they are generous with the topping and every bite into each of them was a surprise with an explosion of flavours in my mouth.

I would have to say that I was slightly disappointed with the Vietnamese rice roll. It was pretty average with all the standard ingredients. Not saying it’s bad, but it’s just ordinary to be featured on a vintage tea party. I thought it was a bit off its place.

I’m not an expert in cheese so I don’t really have much to say about this. What I know is the biscuit might have been placed there for awhile already and wasn’t crispy enough. My friend loved the black pepper cheese alot and thought it was the best. But I felt it wasn’t peppery enough? Guess it’s subjective to everyone.

Isn’t it beautiful? Can’t wait to start!

This was probably one of the best buffets I’ve had in a while. Conclusion? For $23.54 ($22 + GST) [Update May 2012, $26.75 ($25+)], I can’t find a better alternative. Go for it people!!

Don’t forget to start your meal with the savoury items before the sweets if you want to maximise your stomach space. Also, because this buffet is only available on Thursday and Fridays, it is best to call to make a reservation. I’m glad I did because I planned to go a few weeks ago but I called and was told that the venue was booked for a private function. Lastly, try to get there slightly before the buffet starts at 3pm, hopefully you can request for a table in front of the buffet line, it makes the entire experience wonderful and you get to snap some nice pictures before anyone start taking items onto their own plates!

Opening Hours for high tea buffet:
Thursday and Friday only
3.00 -5.30pm

 Address:
8D Dempsey Road
#01-01 to 06
Singapore
Tel: +65 6475 7787

Ratings:
Food: 4.5/5
Ambience: 4.25/5
Value: 4.75/5
Service: 3.75/5

Kith Cafe

8 Feb

Personally love brunch places alot. This is one place that i’ve heard from many people and finally having a chance to be here!

Be prepared: If you are (like me) not driving there, it is very difficult to get there! In the first place, it is not near any Mrt station and it is abit of a walk from the bus stop especially on a sunny morning/afternoon. It was at least 33 degrees that afternoon when I was there and a 7mins walk from the bus stop seems endless. Got there at 12.30pm on a Monday afternoon and still managed to get a table.

Lined along a few other cafes, this part of Robertson Quay is really quiet in the day. The general crowd would be the working professionals in the area and expats who live nearby. Not a big space so if you’re there on a weekend, you gotta be prepared to wait.

Cafe Latté  S$3.80

Steak Sandwich S$10

Turkey Sandwich S$10

It was one of the specials for the day. It came with 2 poached eggs and mine was perfect! Oozing golden yellow yolk, how can anyone resist! It was a pretty simple sandwich but what I love most was the sauce. (Can’t remember exactly what ingredients there were)  It was sweet yet tangy and very appetizing. Turkey was flavoursome and together with the fresh juicy greens, it’s a sandwich that can never go wrong.

I will definitely be back again if I manage to find an easier way to get there or if the weather is better.

Opening Hours:
Daily 7am-7pm

Address:
7 Rodyk Street
#01-33 Watermark @ Robertson Quay
Singapore
Tel: +65 6341 9407

Ratings:
Food: 4.25/5
Ambience: 4.25/5
Value: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5

Fish & Co @ The Glass House

3 Feb

This is a landmark Fish & Co outlet, very different from any other outlets. Needless to say, location and ambience was great. Dropped by earlier today for dinner with a couple of friends. As we didn’t make a reservation, we were a little afraid that we would have to queue up on a Friday evening. But when we arrived at about 6.45pm, the tables were only half filled! My last visit to this outlet was about 4 years ago and my last visit to another Fish & co outlet was about a year ago. First observation was the new menu!

All of us ordered a different version of Fish n Chips and a ‘set meal’. It was an extra $5.50 for a soup of the day (fish chowder) and a drink. I’ll begin with the chowder. It was pretty decent and I quite like it actually! Creamy, sweet and fragrant. No stinky put off fishy smell at all. It would have been prefect if they gave a little slice of garlic bread along with it.

Then came our main course. 4 of our fish arrived at the same time but we had to wait for another 7 minutes before their so called The Best Fish n Chips arrived. I have no idea why this was so but it wasn’t acceptable to me simply because everyone of us order a Fish n Chips and no special variations (eg prawns or pizza or rice).

Now for the main course, my Arctic Fish ($15.95) was a total disappointment. I believe it is similar to The Best Fish n Chips except that a different fish is being used. Pollock fish for my Arctic Fish n Chips. The fish itself was pretty tasteless and dry. Dry fish in a fish n chips is an absolute big no no. But I was happy that the batter was good, thick and crisp which is beautifully cooked through and no floury taste. The chips was one of my favourite as well, perfectly fried and sprinkled with herbs and a bit of chilli powder. Sadly, their acclaimed signature lemon butter sauce was really little and I couldn’t get much out of it. One thing I must mention is the portion size. Definitely big enough!!

Lastly, service. This is another let-down. When the first 4 Fish n Chips arrived, one of the waitress asked if we wanted chilli sauce. This was a great initiative. We said we each wanted one. But somehow the sauce didn’t arrive after 5mins. We asked another waitress if we could have chilli sauce again, but somehow, it didn’t arrive again even after another 10mins. We wanted to ask a third time but realised that we were already 70% done with our plates and it would have been pointless.

Well as a conclusion, ambience was definitely great because a live band was playing inside while we were having our meal. But being a Fish restaurant, i’m not happy to be served with dry and tasteless fish. Batter and chips was great but I don’t think they are the focus of the meal. Service was disappointing as well. Guess I probably wouldn’t be back again anytime soon.

Chinois by Susur Lee

28 Dec

Chinois is one of the Chinese restaurant within RWS. It is under Tung Lok Group of restaurant and features some of the creations by Chef Susur Lee.

I had visited this restaurant in June 2011. Been a couple of months since and have lost the receipt, therefore not being able to give the complete names of some of the dishes and prices for some of them.

It is very easily location on the second floor of Hotel Michael. Could be seen from the central fountain.

This 106 seater restaurant with 4 private rooms, is ready to satisfy your craving for Chinese food with a hint of American influence.

Crispy White Bait Served with Pepper and Salt (S$10)

This is a definitely must order appetizer. These golden white baits are perfectly fried, maximum crispiness and not oily. Dipping into the sauce and feeling the crunch between my teeth is an addiction. We polished the entire plate in an instant and almost ordered a second serve.

Smoked Duck with Jellyfish.

This was another must order dish. There was a subtle smokiness in the duck meat and not too overpowering. Meat was still slightly tender and succulent. It laid over a bed of jellyfish in some spicy mix. The jellyfish was abit too Q and took me awhile to swallow every mouthful.

Crisp Chilli-peppered Cuttlefish with Cucumber (S$10).

This dish came out pretty different from how it was pictured in the menu. But we as Chinese, still very much like deep fried items and started crunching them once it hit the table. However, I thought the chilli was too much for me and I couldn’t get any flavours from the cuttlefish.

This is a really huge bowl of vegetablesthat the four of us had problems finishing. It was well cooked and had the crunch when you bite into it. Cooked with wolf berries, the soup was certainly sweet.

Claypot frog. In terms of Singapore standard, the frog was pretty big compared to those you usually find at your neighbourhood zi char stalls. The frog was just cooked though and the meat was very Q. Mixed with peppers and ginger and soy, the flavours all came together beautifully.

Braised Marble Goby Fillet with Diced Black Truffle, Mushrooms and Sautéed Egg White in “Noble Tanfu” Sauce. This is one really good example of Chinese food with western influence. The fish was cooked western style, sauce and veg in Chinese style, and presentation in western style. The sauce over the fish skin made it soggy and I thought could have been done better. Soft young spinach with soy garlic sauce is simply a classic.

Lamb cutlet. It was a 2 rib lamb cutlet and I asked for it to be medium cooked. I would say that this dish is more western than Chinese and I was pretty surprise to find it within the menu. No mistakes about the chef’s skills. Cutting into the meat and I was greeted with an attractive pink. The only let-down was the amount of fats around the cutlet. There wasn’t enough attention when the kitchen was cutting the meat and I have to carve out the fats myself.

Jackfruit and Mango Custard with Passion Fruit Juice Sauce and Coconut Tulle. Not too happy with this one. The slices of mango was slightly sour and not what I was expecting. Besides the mango jackfruit pudding was just mediocre. The mango wasn’t fragrant enough and there were just few bits of jackfruit in it. I thought they could’ve been more generous with this dessert.

Green Tea Créme Brulee with Sabayon of Lemon and Berries. The green tea crème brulee lacked flavours and was pretty plain. On the other hand, the meringue was super sweet and berries were really sour. Everything was on the extremes and not something I would like. Perhaps some other people could better appreciate the wide range of flavours. To me, they just didn’t gel up too well together.

Overall a decent restaurant. Some of the dishes was impressive and some were just mediocre. Depending on what you order, I would recommend $30-$100 person. It could be more if you order items like seafood and abalone. For me, it was around $50-$70 person (couldn’t remember).

Opening Hours:
Daily
Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm (Last order 2.30pm)
Dinner: 6.30pm -11.00pm (Last order 10.30pm)

Address:
Chinois
Resorts World Sentosa
Hotel Michael
26 Sentosa Gateway
#02-142/143
Singapore 098138
Tel: +65 6884 7888

Ratings:
Food: 4.25/5
Ambience: 4.75/5
Value: 4.5/5
Service: 4.25/5

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Singapore

28 Dec

The opening of this restaurant was delayed a couple of times. But I have to say, the wait was totally worth it. Joel Robuchon is definitely a legend. This man has 26 Michelin Stars under his name, the most in the world.

Stepping into the restaurant and an ambience like that, you know it’s definitely gonna be an awesome experience and you’re in for a treat!

I could’ve chosen to sit at the bar, which gives an entire view of the kitchen and you could see your food being prepared. But I was with my family, it was more appropriate to be at the table and easier for us to share food.

After placing our orders, a huge basket of bread arrived at our table. It was abit of a letdown for me as the crust wasn’t crisp enough. But I guess it is an issue of individual preference, because if it was too crisp, some people would consider it too ‘hard’ to bite into.

L’Amuse Bouche – Foie Gras Custard with port wine and parmesan foam (Complimentary). Very distinctly layered in a shot glass, I was told to finish it in one gulp. I will be a bit of a mouthful for the ladies, but trust me, finish this in one go and you won’t regret. The flavours simply blew me away. There was an instant explosion in my mouth. The foie gras was so fragrant and give some sweetness, the port give it a bit of acidity, and the parmesan foam added some savoury. This combination got me ready for the rest of the surprises.

From our table, we could see into the kitchen where the chef was busy slicing up some Jamon Iberico Ham!

It was served with toasted tomato bread (aka Bruschetta). Beautifully toasted bread topped with heirloom tomato and fresh basil. It was bite size, and I loved it so much for the crispy bread. Should have eaten it with a slice of Jamon Iberico on top of it.

Le Jamon – Iberico de Bellota Ham with Toasted Tomato Bread (S$47).

 A bit of introduction about the ham first. When young, these pigs feed only on barley and maize. Jamon Iberico is a type of ham produced in Spain from black Iberian pigs. They are the world’s most expensive type of ham. However, Jamon Iberico Ham is also subdivided into three grades according to the pigs diet and length of time spent to cure the meat. Iberico de Bellota, is the finest, top graded ham in the world. The ham is from free-range pigs that roam oak forest along the border of Spain and Portugal and eat only acorns during their last period. They are also cured the longest, for 36 months.

Knowing about the pigs and looking at the ham. I knew I was in for another out of this world experience. Putting a small thinly sliced jamon iberico into my mouth, I slowly closed my eyes and started chewing on it. The sweetness of the meat slowly slides down my throat and I can instantly affirm the diet it had been on. It was so beautifully cured that the sweetness and saltiness just lingers on and on and on…

Le Crabe Royal – King Crab with Mozzarella in Monégasque Style Salad (S$43).

Probably the largest crab I’ve ever had. It was so sweet and juicy and succulent. I can’t emphasize in words how good these are. Look at the size of those legs and imagine how huge the entire crab would be. Wooowwww!!

Le Navet – Daikon Velouté Flavoured with Citrus Oil (S$25).

The sweetness and gentleness of the daikon just came though. There was no cream used. It was all about the stock and the fresh daikon that gave it flavours.

L’Agneau – Rare Lamb Fillet Served With Spiced Eggplant (S$35).

 My first time going for rare lamb. You can see from the picture above that it was just very lightly seared on the outside to seal the flavours within. There was a slight hint of the lamb smell when you bite into it. But what’s a piece of lamb if you don’t get that taste. It wasn’t too overwhelming so I loved it. The red juices just flow through and it was all about the tenderness.

La Morue – Fresh Cod Fillet in a Vegetable and Basil Broth (S$41).

 The fillet came from a really huge cod. The chef had to be very careful not to overcook the fish because there was already some toughness in the flesh. If timing was not right, it will be very tiring for the customer to bite into rubbery fish. But I would have to say this was good. The firmness from the fish itself gave it some texture to go with the really sweet tasting broth, gorgeous!

La Sole – Fillet of Sole with Golden Chanterelles and Parsley Zucchini (S$90). Individual portion cost $47, but we had the special for the day which was a larger fish which was good for 2 to share.

 The entire fish was presented before us before it was brought to the side to be divided into two equal portions. This is one portion. I’m not an expert to comment about fish yet, but this tasted pretty ordinary to me.

Le Cochon De Lait – Milk Fed Pig Roasted on the Spit with Braised Green Cabbage and Fresh Ginger (S$41).

 This was the bomb. It was a 2-weeks old pig and the meat was maximum tenderness. Perfect roasting which kept the integrity of the young pig and so packed full of flavours. I really want to go back for this again. In my opinion, this was the best main course of the night.

After we were done with the mains, one of the staff brought a tray of tarts in front of us. It was one of the dessert options which is an assortment of tarts. It looks really good but we were too full for them. So we settled for something else lighter.

La Sphére – The Sphere Coated with Ivory Chocolate and Tangy Raspberry (S$23).

 It originally came in a beautiful round sphere. The raspberry sauce was poured over the chocolate sphere and caused it to melt down. That explains why it looks so messy in the picture above. Probably this was one of the more wow-looking dessert with a special presentation. Nice smooth chocolate which wasn’t too heavy, together with some acidic raspberry and ice-cream from within the sphere, it all sang so beautifully.

La Panacotta – Panacotta in Yogurt with Straberry and Basil Perfume, Tahitan Vanilla Crumble (S$23).

I thought this was abit of a letdown for me. Couldn’t get much out of it and tasted pretty ordinary for a $23 dessert.

This was truly once in a lifetime opportunity for me. Not until I earn enough money to try the other Joel Robuchon restaurant. It was really a bliss and honour for me to be able to dine at such a prestigious restaurant. My top picks would have to be the jamon iberico ham and milk fed pig.

Opening Hours:
Mon – Sun : 5.30pm – 10.30pm

Address:
8 Sentosa Gateway
Level 1 Hotel Michael
Resorts World Sentosa
Singapore

Ratings:
Food: 4.75/5
Ambience: 4.75/5
Value: 4.25/5
Service: 4.75/5