The Paramount Restaurant – My First Yu Sheng of 2011

30 01 2011

Managed by the Tung Lok Group, The Paramount is a popular haunt for working adults and aunties. The years have not been kind and despite the obvious facial flaws and peeling skin, The Paramount retains the airs and grace of an aged dame, with a very classical feel about it. With Paramount Hotel being bought over by Far East Organization recently, I fear that it won’t be long before an expiry date is issued for The Paramount, much to the disappointment of its many regulars.

Did you know that just like the Thumb Drive, Yu Sheng was invented in Singapore (and not China!) as well? It was actually the brainchild of Lai Wah Restaurant, which still stands today after more than 30 years in operation. That said, I’m still no fan of Yu Sheng($38++/Small). After all, isn’t it just a plate of coloured shredded vegetables in Plum Sauce? Still, I’m thankful for the Salmon Sashimi or in other places better yet, thick slices or cubes of abalone…shiok!

I used to think that you can only get good dim sum in expensive posh Chinese Restaurants but quickly changed my mind after having the Fried Prawn Dumplings($4.20/3 pieces) here. Bursting with umami flavours, I can’t see how anyone would have been able to stuff anymore prawn fillings into the dumpling even if they wanted to. Eaten with good old mayo, this proves to be one of life’s simple pleasures.

Given a choice between beef and venison, venison always triumphs (unless you used a wagyu or kobe cheat code). While the Sauteed Sliced Venison Meat with Chef’s Special Sauce($22) wasn’t particularly impressive taste-wise, the generous portion size more than made up for that.

Sea Cucumbers are my Dad’s favourite and I love them too so we had the Stir-Fried Sea Cucumber with Deep Fried Fish Maw($28++). Originally tasteless, I just adore how the sea cucumbers manage to soak up all the “zhap” or gravy which makes it just so tasty.

A dish of Stir-Fried Spinach with Garlic to help with bowel movements concludes the pre-CNY festivities.

I was surprised that while many eateries face problems with the lack of a weekday lunch crowd, The Paramount didn’t seem to face such issues and while the food was not mind-blowingly good, it definitely is decent with an extensive menu catering to all palates.

Bon Appetit!

THE PARAMOUNT RESTAURANT

30 EAST COAST ROAD, #01-01/02 PARAMOUNT HOTEL

TEL: +65 6440 3233





The Dining Room @ Sheraton Hotel – Good Dessert Section

23 01 2011

Ever since joining SMU Gourmet Club, I have always desired to attend their heavily subsidized makan sessions to restaurants such as Shin Yuu, Gattopardo, Paulaner Brauhaus and Royal China etc and mingle with fellow like-minded foodies, but somehow my schedule clashed every time single time for the past 6 months, till now…

Today’s dinner at The Dining Room at Sheraton Hotel marks my first actual involvement in the SMU Gourmet Club. Coincidentally, I also had the honour of meeting a fellow ex-food blogger, Zaylene of This Is Yummy, who has been on my blogroll all this while! Interestingly, she came across my blog before too and thought it belonged to some old guy because Peter is such an old-school classic name…

The Dining Room does away with appetizers that simply clutter up the buffet line and focuses mainly on the Raw and chilled Seafood. Can’t say that most Singaporeans would be happy with this allocation of resources. My first plate of sashimi was a little fishy but on seeing the old tray being replaced, I scrambled to the buffet line once more and found the sashimi much better this time. My first time having seen shrimp sashimi at a local buffet and I thought it was pretty decent, relatively better than Sushi Tei’s.

Wasn’t terribly impressed by the variety of the heated food section, thought I thought the Roast Duck was not bad as the skin was still slightly crispy.

There’s live cooking stations for pasta, and a carving station as well.

My favourite part of this buffet was the Desserts! Awesome Chocolate Praline with Crunchy Layer and other assorted cakes, not so commonly seen tray of Chocolate Praline (white, dark and orange chocs), Durian Pengat (raved by my friends though I didn’t try), Ice Cream Station and a live Waffle Station with over 10 types of toppings ranging from the usual Chocolate Sauce, Vanilla Sauce, Maple Syrup to the unusual Aloe Vera and Sea Coconut.

Overall, service was very attentive and my plates were swiftly cleared as soon as I put down my cutlery. Buffet items were refilled frequently as well for which I’m very grateful, especially since sashimi turns stale rather quickly. While the range of the buffet items was not as extensive as The Line or Triple Three, I felt that the dishes were above average for a buffet, especially the Shrimp Sashimi which is rarely seen in buffets, the Chocolate Praline with Crunchy Layer, Walnut Cheesecake and the Waffles which were prepared ala minute.

Towards the end of the meal, we also participated in some games organised by the SMU Gourmet Club which added spice to an already fun-filled night.

It’s a pity that we weren’t able to have a glimpse of the lush outdoor greenery and waterfall, which is a salient feature of The Dining Room in the day but I guess I’m more than content with the good food and company.

Bon Appetit!

THE DINING ROOM

39 SCOTTS ROAD, SHERATON TOWERS

TEL: +65 6839 5621





Pamplemousse Bistro & Bar – Daring and Contemporary French Fare

18 01 2011

When I first heard of Pamplemousse, I thought it was a really bad name for a restaurant, as it evoked thoughts of a pus-filled pimple. However with the wonders of google translator, I later found out that Pamplemousse means Grapefruit in French. So compared with Grapefruit Bistro & Bar, I guess the name Pamplemousse is definitely a great improvement.

Just over a year old, Pamplemousse has already garnered quite a following so I was quite eager to try it out and I wondered if this was going to be one more of those overpriced Dempsey restaurants catering mainly to expats?

Coming in a group of 9, the occasion was to celebrate Min’s and JC’s belated birthdays. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to source out decent restaurants given our student budget and somehow, there seems to be a natural mental barrier for meals costing $20+ and meals costing $30+. Most of the time, I’d rather just top up $10 for tastier food, posher ambience and better service.

While the brunch menu is ala carte and features many interesting dishes such as Baked Eggs in Cocotte which comes with Foie Gras and Port Jus (foie gras for brunch = yummm…), I didn’t spot any ala-carte lunch or dinner menus, but rest assured that diners are still left spoilt for choice with 6 choices for appetizer, 6 choices for main and 3 choices for dessert available for the set lunch.

The 3-Course Set Lunch is priced reasonably at $32++, inclusive of coffee/tea and available on weekends as well, a rarity among Singapore restaurants.

While choices for 3 and 4-Course Set dinners are available, a more extravagant 6-Course Set Dinner sets you back by $98++. However, given that most of the items within the 6-Course Set Dinner can be found in the Set Lunch, I’d recommend the set lunch.

A piece of complementary Ciabatta was serving piping hot and crisp. The downside: it was a little hard.

I’m not sure about the method of cooking employed, but I liked the large slab of Citrus Marinated Salmon with Grapefruit Confit, Saikyo Miso Aioli and Croutons. The flavours are so simple and light, with a nice infusion of lemon within the salmon.

With a supplement of $10, there is the option of opting for the Foie Gras Terrine “Sachertorte” with Apricot Jam and Roselle Espuma as an appetizer. Terrine means “baked in a mold” and that’s exactly what was done with this Foie Gras Terrine but personally, nothing beats an unadulterated slab of pan fried foie gras. Sachertorte is the name of a chocolate cake originating from Vienna, Austria, made by having a thin layer of apricot jam and chocolate cake covered by dark chocolate icing. I found this superfluous and was counterproductive. Chocolate cakes should just be left for dessert! Roselle Espuma means Rose foam. This on the other hand, helped to balance flavours from the terrine.

I’m not an avid fan of Caprese Salad because I find Buffalo Mozzarella too mild a cheese. The pink watermelon foam didn’t do much tastewise but added an aesthetic appeal.

With the Singapore’s weather cooling recently, I ordered the hearty Onion Soup “Breakfast”. The “Breakfast” probably refers to the French Toast and Fried Cheese Balls that accompanied the dish. The French Toast was very special as it had caramelized onions fillings. The cheese balls was a delightful snack as well. The onion soup sadly, was unremarkable.

For the Mains, JC had the Spaghetti Carbonara with Salted Duck Egg Yolk. Among the mains, this was my least favourite, not because it was unpalatable but because the other mains available are simply worthy competition.

The Duck Confit was done marvelously well. While the meat was a little dry, the crisp skin was one of the best I have had so far. The Pomme Sarladaise aka Grilled Potatoes was heavenly as well, it really made me exclaim silently. Ad didn’t like the Lychee Gastrique (Gastrique is a classic sweet and sour sauce made from fruits), but I thought it was good to complement the savoury and unctuous duck confit.

As the description read “Butter Poached Barramundi with Hiratake Mushrooms, Nasu Eggplant, Lemongrass and Saffron Broth“, I thought this was going to be another rich, butter-heavy and thick-as-hollandaise dish. Surprisingly, I felt this was much closer to a Chinese Steamed Fish, which I found awfully refreshing for French Cuisine.

I felt the Uni Tagliolini was more fusion than French, especially with the use of Sea Urchin, Pork Gratons (Deep Fried Pork Lard) and Crustacean Cream Sauce. For those who haven’t eaten Sea Urchin, my advice is to get down to trying it out soon, it tastes somewhat like concentrated prawn brains, very sweet and creamy.

While I was much satisfied with the starters and mains, I found the desserts to be sadly abysmal.

The Creme Brulee had a eggy taste which was overwhelming, and there was too much caramelized sugar. No complaints about the Lychee Sorbet though.

Sticky Date Pudding is my favourite Dessert of all time but I found the version here left wanting. My main gripe is that the pudding was too chewy and dense. However, two thumbs up for the Walnut Ice Cream and Butterscotch Saffron Sauce.

While I find Au Petit Salut nearby serving up more traditional and classic French fare, Pamplemousse comes across to me as daring and contemporary with a cosy ambience.

Bon Appetit!

PAMPLEMOUSSE BISTRO & BAR

BLK 7 DEMPSEY ROAD, #01-04

TEL: +65 6475 0080





Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant – Wallet Friendly Zi Char

16 01 2011

Societal trends are shifting. Much of yesteryears values, ethics and morals are now overshadowed by wealth and materialism, the price paid for a leap towards embracing a capitalistic society. I see the changing attitudes between Generation X and Generation Y clearly, as I see it in the differing attitudes between my father and me.

I guess it’s just the experience of having been poor and humble, having lived in a rented flat, doing all the household marketing and chores at a young age, making do with just the bare necessities that has made my dad who he is now.  Conversely, I have to admit that a large part of my life has been sheltered and lived out in the pursuit of hedonistic pleasures, which has moulded me into what I am today.

Living together but possessing disjointed upbringings, I feel our (Dad and me) perceptions on life are deeply reflected and mirrored in our preferred food choices and dining styles.

To me, less can be more. Small dishes, many courses. I believe in the heart, the passion of a chef who crafts his courses individually, seen to be aesthetically and visually pleasing. To dad, more is more and he looks at value with the highest regard. He finds it hard to grapple why people should pay $30 for a nicely plated dish with 3 prawns when he can instead, pay $30 at a zichar restaurant and get 10 prawns.

I guess there’s no right or wrong in how we perceive our preferred dining styles and food choices, just as there is no right and wrong in how we pave our own life paths. However, I too strongly believe in value maximization, there lies the perks of eating economically in saving up for a gastronomic experience…

Capturing the epitome of what he looks for in food, Dad would truly love Hong Kong Street Family Restaurant. It has even made a fan out of me with its tasty yet value for money zi char. Simple dishes done exquisitely well, I have to give credit to friend Bernard for introducing this place.

Sambal Kang Kong

Pork Rib with Bitter Gourd in Black Bean Sauce

Claypot Tofu

Prawn Paste Chicken

Hotplate Beef with Spring Onions and Ginger

Cai Poh Omelette

Stir Fried Kai Lan

San Lou Hor Fun

Getting stuffed on good zi char doesn’t have to cost a bomb, as showcased by our meal here costing only $17 a pax.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

HONG KONG STREET FAMILY RESTAURANT

273 THOMSON ROAD, #01-01 NOVENA GARDENS

TEL: +65 6252 3132





Tao’s Restaurant – 6-Course Set Lunch @ $19.80++

11 01 2011

Not too long ago, I had a wonderful dinner at Tao’s. This time, I was back for their incredibly affordable 6-Course Set Lunch, priced at $19.80++. I really wasn’t intending to blog on this again due to lack of time (school just started), but I realised it’d be a waste since some of the pictures turned out quite well despite using a compact camera. It’s pretty surprising how my point and shoot Panasonic LX3 still produces better food pics than my recently acquired 2nd-hand Canon 450d DSLR (with kit lens). I will be sourcing out for a DSLR macro lens soon so if any readers have suggestions on Canon lenses for food photography, do drop a comment. It will be greatly appreciated!

The starter of Bacon and Mushroom Gratin acted as a nice spread for the Toasted Bread that came along with this. I would suggest not finishing the bread so as to leave space for the other courses. It’s good to note that the portions at Tao’s are rather substantial.

Insteading of naming it Farmboy Splendour which is totally ambiguous, Tao’s should probably just rename this Chicken Salad served with Oriental Dressing.

Fruit Salad was dressed with a layer of Mango Syrup. It’s quite a light appetizer and I enjoyed the delicate sweetness coming from the amalgamation of flavours from the various fruits.

Prawn Roll with Pork Floss was probably my preferred starter because the serving size is just nice and it’s also pretty tasty. I liked the complementary flavours involved, the savoury pork floss juxtaposed against the sweet tang of the mango syrup and richness from the mayonnaise.

The Cream of Pumpkin was well blended, resulting in a smooth creamy texture.

On my last visit, I ordered the Shark-Fin Melon Herbal Soup too and ranted in my blog how I didn’t spot any sharks fin. It just dawned on me today that Shark-Fin Melon is a Fruit, and is not Shark’s Fin + Melon! So there wasn’t supposed to be any shark’s fin in the first place. I had been conned by their wordplay, and I’m pretty sure many others have fallen to it as well. I do concede however, that this is a very pleasant herbal soup with undertones of Ginseng, Wolfberries and Red Dates.

Boosting an umami taste, the Japanese Fish Consomme comes in a cute looking teapot, to be poured out into a tea cup to drink.

Spicy Stingray is what you’d normally get at East Coast Park or Hawker Centres, a rare find in non-zi char restaurants. The Sambal was too spicy for me though not for my frens Cat and Sam. The fish was fresh and not overcooked which was a plus.

Sam has a penchant for fish and I have observed that he has never before ordered a non-fish main if there is a choice of a fish dish available on a set menu so it’s a no brainer that he ordered the Grilled Snapper with Japanese Sauce. He had no qualms about it so it should have been alright. I sampled some but memory fails me on how it tasted. Personally, I feel Snapper is a fish lacking in fats so it doesn’t rank too highly on my favourite fish column.

It slipped my mind that when placing my order, I should have taken into account my cheese intake for the day, especially with the cheesy bacon and mushroom gratin for starter. However, I was delighted that I was still able to enjoy the Baked Atlantic Flounder with Cheese. I couldn’t ask for more than a tender fatty fish topped with cheese that had been baked to a light crisp.

While the starters, soups and mains are generally good, I feel that Tao’s main weakness lies in their Desserts.

The Finger Biscuits used for the Tiramisu was unevenly soaked, so some portions came across as totally dry while other parts came dripping wet.

Creme Brulee was also left wanting for a creamier and richer and less eggy flavour. The taste of charred caramelized sugar was also fairly evident.

I would recommend the Yangsheng Poached Pear with Red Dates. Despite being most difficult to eat (as you have to use the fork to cut the pear flesh from the pear core and seeds), I found it a most refreshing dessert to have after a meal that had an abundance of cream, cheese and sugar.

For beverages, we had the 3 most popular drinks from the menu. I really love the Fruit Teas here, it’s probably what I would really come back to Tao’s for.

Between the Iced Rose Apple Tea, Iced Summer Peach Tea and Iced Grape Mallow Tea, my favourite was the Apple Tea. I think there’s some flower buds used for the tea as well, which added a nice fragrant aftertaste.

With portion sizes this big, I reckon 3 girls should just order 2 sets to share. After all, sharing is caring and everyone’s happy paying less for more (less Tao’s management).

Bon Appetit!

TAO’S RESTAURANT

1 SELEGIE ROAD, B1-19 POMO

TEL: +65  6333 0779





Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge – Royal Feasting without the Princely Sum

9 01 2011

The life of a Tai Tai really rocks. I can just imagine myself waking up at 10am, with no work commitments apart from personal financial investments, having my nails and hair done after a yoga or gym session, then driving down to town for a facial and spa, followed by High Tea with my fellow Tai Tais at Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge, while waiting for Hubby to finish work and bring me out for an extravagant dinner. I just can’t think of any better way to spend the day…

Sadly I’m no tai tai, so I guess I will just have to make do with being that Hubby who slogs at work all day while my tai tai wife squanders away all my hard earned money…

At the risk of sounding gay, I have to confess that I did a basic manicure recently while waiting for some friends as they did theirs. Of course, I didn’t colour my nails, just the basic filing and varnishing and it felt oddly liberating! I totally couldn’t take my eyes off my shiny nails for the whole day (or was it weeks?)! If there are any guys reading this post, don’t be too quick to judge. Seriously, go for a manicure yourself and then come back and chastise me if you feel I’m talking nonsense. There are really some nail care activities that are difficult to accomplish at home such as trimming off the excess skin btw the nails and the flesh. Other than that, I think there’s also the allure of being pampered, even if it’s for the most trivial of activities…


My first encounter with Royal Copenhagen was in Sydney, a shop selling homemade ice cream but apparently there’s no affiliation with the one found here in Singapore. I was astounded to discover that the main branches in Denmark (where Royal Copenhagen originates) are actually porcelain shops integrated with a cafe. So, it’s no surprise that Taka’s Royal Copenhagen Tea Lounge utilizes porcelain plates for their dishes and desserts, and customers can even buy these porcelain pieces home should they catch their fancy.

Most of the awards won by Royal Copenhagen comes from Women’s Weekly which isn’t much of a surprise, considering such Tea Lounges are primarily meant for tai tais.

Even on a weekday afternoon, friends K, CJ and myself were almost denied of a seat, though the crowd thinned as it approached evening. Having come from a heavy brunch, we decided to share Her Majesty Tea Set  ($29.90), comprising of 2 Mini-open Face House Sandwich, 2 Pieces of Homemade Scones, 1 Slice of Cake, 1 Slice of Homemade Baked Quiche, and 2 Cups of Tea.

For the Open Face Sandwiches, we got the Prawns topped with Tobiko and Tuna topped with Caviar. Nothing special, it actually kind of reminds me of what you would get in the appetizer dish in an airplane meal.

Although I’m not a Green Tea fan, I hid any misgivings I had and ordered the Green Tea Tiramisu, which K had his eye on since stepping into the shop. It turned out surprisingly better than expected though it still has lots of room for improvement. The Mascarpone was thick and creamy, but the moistness of the cake layers was inconsistent.

If you like pies, you would definitely like the concept of a Quiche. Basically an open face pie, meaning there’s no pastry shell covering the fillings, it’s somewhat like a hybrid pizza pie and it’s French so I guess its kind of sexy.

The Homemade Scones was definitely our favourite dish for the day. Leonardo da Vinci once said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Eaten together with Strawberry Jam which I suspect to be homemade as well, whipped cream and butter, the sophistication lies in Royal Copenhagen’s ability to transform a commonly eaten simple Scone to a remarkable tea time snack. In addition, the jam was so good we asked for seconds at no extra charge!

Instead of having the plain old tea, we requested to change our 2 cups of tea to the Fruit Tea of the Month which was mildly fragrant.

We also order a pot of Flora Tea($8.90). I preferred this to the Fruit Tea because it had a more distinct scent. I would definitely recommend this.

With a strong signal of wireleess@sg being detected by my laptop, I really wouldn’t mind just dropping by after school for some light reading and tea.

Bon Appetit!

ROYAL COPENHAGEN TEA LOUNGE

391 ORCHARD ROAD, #02-391A NGEE ANN CITY TOWER A

TEL: +65 6735 6833





Hua Ting – Dim Sum Brunch

7 01 2011

One of my most favourite dimsum places in Singapore has to be Hua Ting, a Chinese Restaurant with an illustrious background situated in Orchard Hotel. It also does help that my parents subscribed to the Millenium Group of Hotel’s privilege card aka ala carte card, which gives a 50% discount to participating hotel restaurants when dining in 2 pax, 33% off when dining in 3 pax, 25% off for 4 pax and 20% off thereafter. Participating hotels under the Millenium Group include Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Copthorne King’s Hotel, Copthorne Orchid Hotel, M Hotel and Orchard Hotel. I think it’s a pretty good card to subscribe to as you get 1 night’s stay in any of these hotels for the year and a stack of vouchers to use for these hotels, in addition to the dining benefits. If I’m not wrong, it costs around $500 odd for a year’s subscription.

With this discount card in hand, dim sum lunches over at Hua Ting has always been rather affordable affairs, and I would normally spend in the range of between $15-$20 when I go in 4 pax. Just imagine what the price would be if I had just gone in 2 pax, though there would be the inherent disincentive of being unable to order a wider variety of dim sum.

One good thing about Hua Ting is that they price their dim sum by individual piece so you can opt for 4 pieces of dim sum in a basket which conventionally comes in 3 pieces. I shall keep this post short and sweet, focusing only on the more delectable items.

I really liked the Har Kows here, the skin isn’t too thick. The prawns are fresh and succulent.

CJ enjoyed the Char Siew Buns the most of all the dishes today. I have to admit it’s pretty good. The bun is airy and the char siew is a nice mix of sweet and savoury.

The Deep Fried Yam Pastries with Minced Pork and Prawn was fair.

Deep Fried Bean Skin Roll with Prawns was a tad dry, nothing special.

Deep Fried Prawn and Mango Rolls was not uncommon either.

Steamed Carrot Cake with Conpoy was pretty good. I preferred this over the Pan-fried version.

Steamed Cheong Fan with Sliced Fish is pretty special since the filling is usually Char Siew, You Tiao or Prawns. I thought this was very well executed, the cheong fan having the texture of smooth pig fats and sliced fish going well with the light sauce.

Steamed Siew Mai with Pig Liver, just a minor tweak to the steamed Siew Mai though I didn’t think the liver added any value to the Siew Mai.

Steamed Siew Mai with Fresh Scallop was great. Lots of crunchy prawn fillings and a nice umami flavour. I find Hua Ting really does well in delivering it’s dim sum staples.

Steamed Chicken with Dried Fish Belly. Wasn’t taken by the steamed chicken but I liked how the sauce complemented the springy fish maw.

Pan Fried Carrot Cake with Conpoy

Steamed Custard Buns were really good. I seldom order this during dim sum brunches but this has definitely made me a convert. Another dish that has a healthy balance of sweet and savoury with a strong hint of salted egg yolk. Really really yummy…

Traditional “Lo Mai Kai” wrapped in Lotus Leaf was unsatisfactory. The rice was too dry and tough.

Hua Ting has revamped its dim sum menu since my last visit and though I’m missing some of the “old” dishes that are unavailable now such as the Char Siew Sou and the Steamed Mushroom stuffed with Scallop, Hua Ting still does a great job with the dim sum essentials, (essentially anything that is steamed with prawn).

Bon Appetit!

HUA TING

442 ORCHARD ROAD, ORCHARD HOTEL

TEL: +65 6739 6666








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