Nespresso Limited Edition Capsule – Aurora de la Paz

The Aurora de la Paz limited edition capsule first caught my attention while following Nespresso’s instragram account. I was looking forward to getting it when it was revealed that this capsule is only available in selected countries and Singapore was not on the list.

This limited edition capsule is rather special as the Pure Origin Aurora de la Paz is a rare variety of coffee that has remained inaccessible for decades in Latin America due to instability in the region. This coffee is of medium intensity level 5 and had a well-balanced profile. This is possibly my favourite medium intensity capsule offered by Nespresso. Most of the other medium intensity capsules were too fruity and light. Glad my jie-mei used her contact to ask someone to bring it back from Australia.

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El Tardeo by Binomio

Based on my observation, Mondays are usually slow days in drinking holes. Was surprised to see that Binomio‘s tapas area was almost filled to the brim on a Monday so we decided to head over to their sister restaurant El Tardeo next door.

They serve a Tapas Tasting Menu for 2 pax at 5 dishes for $59 on top of the ala carte option. So we round up a few of our favourite Spanish tapas dishes starting with Fried Padrón peppers with sea salt. If I could borrow a slogan from a famous potato chips maker, these small green peppers were so addictive that “Once you pop, you can’t stop”. They seems so easy to cook and make good drinking accompaniment.

Another iconic tapas – Jamon and Chicken croquettes freshly fried with a light batter and warm soft potato mash inside.

Not forgetting the meat dishes, we had Salmon tartar served with avocado salad and “ajo blanco” sauce and Shrimps sautéed in confit garlic olive oil. Between the two I preferred the salmon tartar with the popular Spanish cold soup sauce. The milky and smooth sauce mixed with avocado and chopped salmon was one of the highlight of our meal. We wished the gambas dish could be more flavoursome as we didn’t really taste the olive oil and was missing a bit of the garlicky taste. It was somewhat different from the version we had at Binomio.

The final dish we tried was something new to us – Deep Fried Baby Squids served with slow cooked egg , asparagus & chorizo. Guess this was the closest we could find from the menu in replacement of calamari – a staple tapas dish of ours. I thought the chorizo was pretty salty and outweighed the baby squids in terms of ratio and proportion.

I guess if I had the choice, I would still prefer to dine at Binomio‘s tapas counter as there are more of my favourite dishes in their menu compared to the one here.

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Marble Bistro

Marble Bistro could probably pride themselves as the only place in Singapore where you can find a 7-course meal at $38 per pax (no GST & service charge)!

The bistro describes their food as modern cuisine with the use of contemporary culinary techniques. Most of the dishes in the 7-course meal comprise of light bites except the main course.

We warmed our stomach with the Mushroom Macchiato essence of trio mushroom, truffle foam which was served in a cup such that it could pass off as a hot cuppa. Mushroom lovers would enjoy the earthy flavour of this broth.

Rustic Bread sourdough bread, smoked kombu butter, maple bacon chutney Sourdough bread was a bit dense but the special spread was the highlight. We cleaned out the butter and bacon bits.

Deviled Eggs spiced yolk mousse, pesto cone, bonito flakes, smoked shoyu quail eggs was well-presented. Love the crispy pesto cone and smooth yolk mousse combi.

The last finger food was my favourite of the lot – Fish & Chip aburi unagi, triple-cooked potato, wasabi furikake, tobiko Instead of the usual fried fish fillet, the fish was aburi unagi, placed on top of a slice of crunchy potato. An innovative interpretation of fish & chip in the style that resembles Basque pinxtos.

For the next course, there were 2 choices and we opted one of each with one cold noodles and one warm risotto. Although both were nice, I preferred the cold Prawn Pot Noodles somen, glass prawn, soft-boiled egg, chilled prawn tsuyu broth which was very Japanese style not forgetting the generous dose of tobiko topping. A refreshing small plate dish which I would love to enjoy on any hot day. P.S most of the dishes in the set course menu are also available as ala carte item though the course menu would offer more value-for-money.

The risotto was perfectly cooked to the right texture in the Crab Porridge pearl barley risotto, blue swimmer crab, kaisho seaweed, ponzu.

For the main there were 3 choices: Beef/Chicken/Pork. We tried 2 out of the 3 with Beef Steak 6 hr sous vide flank cut and Leg of Poulet 5 hr sous vide whole chicken leg served with charred seasonal greens, king oyster mushroom. Both the meat were tender since they had used the sous vide method to cook them.

Ended our meal with Double Chocolate Brownie with fig & manuka honey ice cream.

It was a satisfying and interesting meal as they attempted to create quality dishes at a fraction of the price one would pay in fine-dining establishment. I appreciate the eatery’s effort in offering a 7-course meal at $38 considering the amount of effort required to create so many dishes. They could have taken a short-cut route by offering a 3-course meal for the same price and just upsize each dish. From this I could feel the team’s passion in their cooking.

Hope they could continue to invent and introduce new dishes in their menu.

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Tsuta Ramen, Singapore

Maximising my time in Orchard road area to visit an eatery that caused quite a stir when it was unveiled that they would be setting up an outpost in Singapore. On the first few weeks of their opening, reports of long queues and waiting time was not uncommon. That was the charm of Tsuta Ramen. Their shop in TokyoJapan was the  first ramen joint to be awarded 1 Michelin star in 2016.

Thankfully when I arrived at 6pm on a weekday, I did not need to wait in line and was immediately ushered to my seat after placing an order at the machine. There are 3 types of soup base available: Shoyu, Shio and Miso. However their signature was the truffle oil blended Shoyu Ramen (soy-based sauce flavoured ramen).

Standard toppings included a slice of Char Shu, Bamboo Shoot, Leek & Truffle pureed in truffle oil and I added an Ajitama (marinated egg) to mine.

Based on my observations, all the seats in the shop are counter seats facing the open-kitchen. I was seated near the station where the staff was operating the slicer on their freshly made Char Shu. The Char Shu was much better than most of the other ramen joints as this was really succulent and tender, exceeding my expectations.

Noodles used are the thin and straight type (Hakata style) to go with the light Shoyu broth. My usual preferred ramen soup base is the rich Tonkotsu followed by Miso. Hence you can deduce that I’m bias against Shoyu ramen already. Nonetheless I tried to have the signature broth since it was their original and famous recipe. The Shoyu broth was light and clear but I was puzzled by the addition of the truffle puree and truffle oil that seems too overwhelming. The soup was so perfumed by the truffle taste that the efforts which had gone into making the stock using fully-matured soybeans, asari clams and chicken broth seems wasted. In fact I felt that the truffle taste made the soup tasted slightly bitter.

Not exactly my kind of ramen but the saving grace was I managed to try it without having to invest my time queuing.

[Update in Jun 17]

The Pacfic Plaza outlet was awarded Bib Gourmand in Michelin Star Singapore Guide 2017.

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Yentafo Kruengsonge

Despite having been to Bangkok a couple of times, I did not had the opportunity to try the Thai  – Yong Tau Foo (Yentafo). Decided to try the dish at the Yentafo Kruengsonge at Cineleisure Orchard. They are a chain store from Thailand established since 1999 this is their first Singapore outpost.

As we visited during lunch, we had the set meal comprising of choice of either Tom Yum Noodles (Soup) or Yentafo Kruengsonge (Soup) with chicken wings, choice of drink and a coconut cup. Naturally I picked the specialty pink soup kway teow which has 3 customisable spice level from non-spicy to screaming spicy.  The colour of the soup was a result of the addition of fermented bean curd paste that gives it a pink tone.  The chilli was made by pickling organic yellow Bird’s eye chilli. The staff had added the chilli into the soup according to our order and was covered by the fried salmon skin, hence not to be mistaken with the chilli for the chicken wings at the side.

The Yentafo was filled with 8 Treasures such as fishball, squid ball, fried tofu, black fungus, boiled slices of fried tofu, morning glory, fried salmon skin etc. Interestingly the staff left out the fried salmon skin for my bowl and I had to return to the counter to ask for it~ The effort was well worth as it was the highlight for me! The crispy and crunchy fried salmon skin was not to be missed.

Quenched the fire from the spicy meal with the Iced Soy Milk with Grass Jelly.

Having not eaten any Yentafo in Thailand, the version served here was a nice introduction to the dish. I believe there are stalls in their native country that would serve an even more authentic and flavoursome version.

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Salmon Samurai

Salmon Samurai took over the premise of Shinkansen but I later found out that they belonged to the same group. The group changed their Shinkansen outlets to the new concept which focuses on customizable salmon donburi, noodle, and salad bowls.

Similar to the popular poke bowl concept, you first pick a bowl from the few standard pre-fixed combinations. This is followed by the choice of base, though the highlight was the option of udon (my fav) on top of the regular choices of brown rice or mixed salad.  I chose the Spicy Salmon bowl along with brown rice and topped up with additional onsen egg. The spicy salmon was decent but it didn’t excite my tastebuds.

The aburi Salmon Mentaiko when paired with udon was my favourite. The smoky aroma from the slightly charred bits of the mentaiko sauce was hard to resist. The rich and buttery sauce had me slurping up the udon non-stop! My only gripe was the portion was a tad too small even for a lady. This probably can’t get me through the day till dinner time if I had it for lunch…

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Personally I think Keong Saik road could be a classic example ideal for showcasing the diversity of food choices available within our tiny nation. Within the short span of around 300 metres, you can find eateries serving Indian, Indonesian, Chinese, Western, Caribbean, Japanese etc. Not only that, they are available in different price range, from the humble coffeeshops to fine-dining restaurants. Located along the same road, you can find bib gourmand eatery Kok Sen Restaurant listed in the Singapore Michelin 2016.

There are another 2 restaurants along the stretch which I thought was worthy of Michelin’s notice – Cure (helmed by Chef Andrew Walsh, formerly from Esquina) and the one I’m writing about in this post – Meta. (PS. Meta was awarded 1-Michelin Star in the results announced on 29th Jun 17).

Meta is helmed by Korean Chef Sun Kim who serves French-inspired cuisine with an Asian flair. Chef Kim honed his skills at the acclaimed Tetsuya (Sydney) and Waku Ghin (Singapore) before setting up a place of his own.

We were happy to snag places at the counter where we were in close proximity to witness Chef Kim in action. Before starting our degustation menu proper, we were served several amuse bouches, beginning with the Octopus with rice cracker and salmon roe. Popping this bite-size snack into our mouth, we were treated an explosion of textures on our palate. From the crispy cracker, chewy octopus, rich cream cheese to the delectable burst of umami-filled roes.

The second amuse bouche was Beef tartare with white kimchi and mushroom topped with grated parmesan cheese. Both these “tartlets” had rich and strong flavours, prepping our taste buds and getting us ready for an exciting night.

Our first dish was Irish Oyster ginger, lemon, gochujiang. Gochujiang is Korean Spicy Miso, aka hot pepper paste, a condiment used widely in their cuisines. The chive oil accentuated the freshness of the oyster and the gochujiang was a perfect replacement for the typical Tabasco. We washed down the succulent oyster with the pairing wine of the light and crisp Sauvignon blanc.

Japanese Hamachi avocado, yuzu, creme fraiche was light and refreshing.

The next wine pairing was Greco di Tufo an Italian white grape variety and we enjoyed it with the Bibimbap spanner crab, seaweed, zucchini. Instead of having to describe how every grain of rice, every bit of the veg and shredded crab meat contributed to a well-mixed color, flavour, and texture; I would summarise this as “possibly the best bibimbap I could ever find in Singapore!

Bossam iberico pork pluma, romaine is another dish with its roots from Korean cuisine. I first tried Bossam (boiled pork wraps) at a Korean bar (Joo Bar) and fell in love with this dish. Chef added a few other elements such as topping it with oyster leaf and a fried garlic chip to create more depth and added texture to this commonly found dish in Korea.

Grouper mussel, clam radish had crispy golden brown skin and firm meat. As grouper has very mild flavour it was prepared with very light seasoning. This dish was served with Cotes du Jura Chardonnay. 

The next dish was Duck breast potato, kimchi paired with Pinot noir from Burgundy. While it was easy to have our attention drawn to the duck breast that had a dark, charred and crispy skin with the pink centre; I was equally impressed with the pickled kimchi pave and the ultra-smooth potato on the side.

For the main there were 2 options: Lamb or Beef and we opted for one of each. A quintessential ingredient used for Korean stews – doenjang (fermented soybean paste) made its grand appearance in both the dishes. Here’s the tender New Zealand Lamb Loin parsnip, kale, doenjang.

The Westholme Wagyu Tenderloin bone marrow, black garlic, doenjang was paired with Howard Park Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River. The doenjang flavour was more intense for this dish which was challenging my threshold for the slightly “stinky” taste.

Time for some sweet treats to end our meal, first up was the Melona melon, fromage blanc. Thinly sliced melon strips were carefully plated around the dollop of fromage blanc forming a flower dome. This dessert was fragrant and beautiful.

The second dessert was Camouflage chocolate, black sesame, gochujang. I loved the crunchy bits which was nutty and spicy (this is where gochujang was secretly added). It was an interesting combination as I could not have imagined adding a touch of spiciness to a sweet dessert dish.

The petite four comprised of strawberry discs, white chocolate, mochi, matcha powder and back sesame mochi.

While waiting for our desserts, the section that Chef Kim was manning had completed service. He was seen washing and cleaning up the section together with his other staff before changing out from his uniform. I must say as with most Koreans, Chef Kim has a good fashion sense.  As he made an exit from the restaurant and zoomed off in quick energetic strides, we were wondering if he was happy to end his shift to go home or to go chill?

In any case, after finishing our meal we also left the restaurant feeling happy and satisfied. Undoubtedly Meta is a hidden gem waiting to be uncovered.

[Update in Jun 17]

Meta was awarded 1 Michelin Star in Singapore’s 2017 list. Thankfully we visited them before they were thrust into the limelight.

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