Bedrock Grill & Bar – Restaurant Week’s Best Deal

31 03 2011

In the midst of so many (>80) reputable restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, it’s indeed a tall order sifting your way through the interminable list to finally shortlist restaurants that’s actually worth your while visiting. Firstly, we must talk budget, where you must consider if the restaurant’s normal set lunch is priced similarly or gasp…cheaper than the Restaurant Week’s set lunch. One of the better deals I spied on was Le Saint Julien whose normal set lunch is priced at $58++, really wanted to visit them but sadly my friend A’s craving for Oysters saw us dining at Oyster Bar on Restaurant Week Day 1 instead…rant rant.

Secondly, it’s also about location. We all know how busy Singaporeans are,  and according to an article “Don’t blame lack” by the International Labor Organization (2010), workers in Singapore clocked the most number of working hours per week among twelve nations in the survey. So, I’m guessing most of us have only 1 hour lunch breaks, unless you are an Investment Banker where you can eat as long as you want but OT till 4am, which severely limits our dining options somewhat. Even a student like myself isn’t spared, it’s so much easier to convince a friend to dine somewhere near school than at il Lido in Sentosa.

Lastly, I guess its availability. As beggars can’t be choosers, I’m sure that most of us still rather use Restaurant Week as an excuse to indulge in one of the less renowned restaurants that hasn’t been fully booked than eat at some economic rice stall right?

Having identified all these factors, one eatery seemed to fit the bill nicely; Bedrock Grill & Bar. With a normal set lunch going at $35 compared to Restaurant Week’s set at $25, affordability…check! Located at Pan Pacific Suites near 313 Somerset just a few bus stops down SMU, location…check! Bookings available…check!

I really wasn’t expecting much from Bedrock’s lunch because of 2 reasons. Firstly, the previous night’s Lawry’s dinner would surely have increased my benchmark for good beef and secondly, how good can a steak get when it’s priced at $25, inclusive of appetizer and dessert?

Bedrock’s interior has a rather rustic style, lots of wood everywhere. It’s no fine dining restaurant and doesn’t pretend to be, making do with a casual and cosy setting with professional and attentive staff. The only issue that concerned me was the smell of grease from cooking, which was evident once I stepped into the outlet. Thankfully the ventilator did its job after a while…or I simply got desensitized to the smell.

We were served a pita looking bread, together with butter and cooked cloves of garlic, my first time seeing it served with complimentary bread. I’m quite a garlic fan and thought that it really went well with the plain pita.

We were then served a Smoked Tomato Soup. Nothing memorable about it but it did well in simulating our taste buds with its tanginess.

Mesquite Grilled Half Chicken with Roasted Celeraic, White Truffle Butter and Taragon Jus. The skin was real crispy and enjoyable but I found the meat to be a little dry. The tau kwa looking cubes are the Roasted Celeraic, a root vegetable of the celery family, which tasted much like radish.

For the uninitiated, steak is just steak but to the connoisseur, steak can be likened to wine, with many unique tastes and textures. There’s so many factors to consider when choosing a steak; breed, cut, feed used, aging method and whether hormones are used etc. Today I will be focusing on the feed used, where there are 2 main types; grass (duh!) and grain (corn, barley and wheat). Of course grass is a cow’s original staple but the reason why many farmers choose to feed their cows with grain, which is not supposed to be part of a cow’s diet, is because grain like corn is inexpensive and fattens the cows up faster and gives the meat better marbling, moreover it does not require large amounts of grazing land, hence driving up profits for these cow farmers. But as no panacea is without side effects, grains cannot be properly digested by cows, resulting in bloating and discomfort for the cows. Furthermore, grain fed beef is supposedly less healthy than grass fed beef because it has a higher level of saturated fat etc…I shan’t go into the technicals.

There’s some debate on the difference in taste between grass fed beef and grain fed beef, and even within the category of grain fed beef, cows on a pure corn diet would possibly taste different from a cow fed with a mix of barley and corn. Personally tastewise, I prefer grain fed because it’s fattier and more marbled and even though it’s more unhealthy, I guess the age old adage of “eating once in a while” does hold true…that’s what I keep telling myself at least.

Having gone on about the differences in cattle feed, the one I had here was a gorgeous Grilled 150-days Grain Fed Ribeye Fillet Steak. Let’s just say that it’s a whole different league from what you’d ever get from Astons. The meat was well marinated enough to eat on its own without the overly spicy black pepper sauce. The hand cut Fries were really good as well.

For dessert, we were served a Wedge of Chocolate Valrhona Flourless Cake with Hazelnut Nougatine and Creme Fraiche. Best chocolate flourless cake ever! I really loved the inclusion of a thin layer of Creme Fraiche aka sour cream sandwiched within the cake which gave a really flavourful aftertaste, ensuring that the chocolate didn’t overwhelm the palate. The icing sugar decoration was also a nice touch, simple yet awfully effective.

For that affordable steak meal, I’d seriously recommend Bedrock Grill & Bar.

Bon Appetit!

BEDROCK GRILL & BAR

96 SOMERSET ROAD, #01-05 PAN PACIFIC SERVICED SUITES

TEL: +65 6238 0054

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Si Chuan Dou Hua’s $10++ High Tea and Tea-Pairing Charity Drive for Japan victims

31 03 2011

Received an email earlier today by Touch Communications, requesting support to publicize this worthy event to raise funds for the Japanese crisis. Below is the press release:

Si Chuan Dou Hua and Tian Fu Tea Room Conduct Second Imperial High Tea Charity Drive in Aid of Japan Relief Efforts


Following up on the success of last weekend’s charity high tea, the restaurant will continue to pledge its support with a second drive on 2nd and 3rd of April to rally even more support from Singaporeans.

[Singapore, 28th March 2011] Last Friday and Saturday (25th and 26th of March), Si Chuan Dou Hua and Tian Fu Tea Room conducted a two-day Imperial High Tea Charity Drive, raising $10,162 for victims of the recent Japan earthquakes and tsunami.

Encouraged by the overwhelming support of the public, the restaurant will hold a second charity drive on 2nd and 3rd April 2011, from 2.30pm to 5.30pm at Si Chuan Dou Hua at PARKROYAL on Beach Road. Funds will be raised through sale of limited edition Royal Copenhagen Danish Plates and cash donations.

The two-day drive will feature its popular and classic high tea menu of dim sum and tea- pairing, available at $10++, down from its usual price of $20++. Tian Fu Tea Room’s Executive Tea Connoisseur He Zheng Hong will also be on hand to share the benefits of tea- drinking.

In return, guests are encouraged to purchase limited edition Royal Copenhagen Danish Plates at $88 each, for which 100 per cent of proceeds will go towards the Singapore Red Cross in aid of relief efforts in Japan.

As each design is available only in limited quantities, each Royal Copenhagen Danish is a piece of collector’s art, handmade and printed in specific years. The elegantly designed plates come in several themes including Mother’s Day and Christmas, and make for great conversation starters when displayed at home.

Other than Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Si Chuan Dou Hua is also present in Tokyo. Through the charity drive, Si Chuan Dou Hua hopes to make a positive contribution to the community in which it operates in, and to bring relief to co-workers and friends in Japan.

The Si Chuan Dou Hua Imperial High Tea Charity Drive will be held from 2.30pm to 5.30pm on 2nd and 3rd April at:

PARKROYAL on Beach Road

7500 Beach Road, Singapore 199591

Reservations are strongly encouraged. Please contact: Tel: +65 6505 5722

If your schedule permits, do contribute to this worthy cause.





Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Prime Rib Dinner with an OMG Freaking Awesome Creme Brulee!

28 03 2011

Before it shifted over to Mandarin Gallery, Lawry’s used to be housed within Paragon. Back then, I was throughly intrigued by its tasteful decor, which resonated a sense of class and elegance. Of course, these  same vibes do emanate from the new outlet as well. Without so much as a glance at the menu, one would still know that this was a place patronised exclusively by the upper echelons of society…and occasionally by foodies with 1-for-1 main course vouchers here to celebrate a birthday.

Contrary to popular belief, Lawry’s isn’t that unaffordable, especially so during lunch where there’s a 1-for-1 main course promotion going on for DBS cardholders (so you can possibly do lunch here at less than $30) and high tea where there’s a $15/pax high tea set which includes one sweet and savoury course each in addition to coffee or teas (there’s a pretty good tea selection).

Today being my virgin visit to Lawry’s, the signature Roast Prime Rib was in order. Coming in a variety of cuts catering to individual appetites, the smallest cut (for dinner)  would be the California Cut ($62.90++), followed by the English Cut ($72.90++), the Lawry’s Cut ($82.90++), the “Diamond Jim Brandy” Cut ($106.90++) and lastly, a behemoth Beef Bowl Cut ($154.90++). If I’m not mistaken, there’s a smaller cut that’s available during lunch called the Singapore Cut.

C and myself both went for the Lawry’s Cut and I’d say that I severely overestimated my appetite once again, which has been a major issue ever since I stopped exercising regularly 3 years ago. The Prime Rib Dinner is inclusive of the Famous Original Spinning Bowl Salad, Yorkshire Pudding and Idaho Mashed Potatoes with an option to make it a set dinner which we did. The add-on includes a glass of wine, dessert and coffee/tea at an additional $20 odd.

We were served with a decent tray of complimentary bread, of which I especially enjoyed the white bread which was infused with cheese.

I guess it’s just theatrics that the waitress came over and tossed our salad in a silver spinning bowl but the salad turned out great nonetheless! Love their croutons.

Not sure where I read it from but I think the reason why Lawry’s rib roast is so tender and juicy is because they age their meats. This allows some time for the enzymes within the meat to start breaking down the protein fibres which makes for a more tender texture. Like I said earlier, do opt for a smaller cut like the English or California Cut if you are getting a set dinner. Uncommon in Singapore, this is actually the first time I’m having Yorkshire Pudding, though I think it’s nothing more than a fried batter of flour, eggs and milk and so resembles a thinner, crispier French Toast. The mash was decent as well, going well with the thick brown gravy.

For desserts, the English Trifle was unspectacular, tasting much like a really soft Strawberry sponge cake. It wasn’t not bad, but just felt a little cheap coming from a supposed chichi restaurant. Because it was C’s birthday, we were given an additional English Trifle on the house and had pictures taken by the staff as well, which they printed out and handed to us at the end of the meal. A very nice touch there.

On the other hand, I had the most OMG freaking awesome Creme Brulee ever in my life! The type where the consistency is just right (sadly I have seen too many a creme brulee which reminds me more of a chawanmushi), with the sweetness held in check by the berries. It’s the only time I was left yearning for more after devouring the entire dessert myself.

For tea, I selected the Pink Rose Bud. I’m a flower tea person 🙂

Ended the meal with some luscious Hazelnut Chocolates. I’m a happy man.

I really have to commend on the level of service here, where apart from treating us like royalty throughout the meal, managed to do so in a sincere and authentic fashion. Definitely one of my best experiences ever, sans the overeating.

Bon Appetit!

 

LAWRY’S THE PRIME RIB

333A ORCHARD ROAD, #04-01/31 MANDARIN GALLERY

TEL: +65 6836 3333





Oyster Bar – No Pearls in this Oyster

23 03 2011

Day 1 of Restaurant Week. It should have been awesome, with the supposed incentive of dining more cheaply at selected restaurants offering a prix fixe menu. Yet, our luncheon at Oyster Bar proved to be awfully disappointing.

Oyster Bar is a “European fine-dining Seafood Bar” or so they claim. While I do not discount its status as a European Seafood Bar, I found the service and food to have fallen short of fine-dining standards. Overlooking Marina Bay Sands, I guess it caters more as a bar than a restaurant for the post-dinner crowd, where I believe the night ambience would be a whole lot more romantic.

Weekday set lunches here normally costs $44++, which is way overpriced if you ask me given what’s available on the set menu. For Restaurant Week, a 3-Course set lunch is priced at a slight discount at $40++.

We started off our meal with a Pair of Freshly Shucked Oysters each, paired with a homemade Champagne Vinaigrette with fresh raspberries. No doubt the oysters were fresh but it was much too briny for me because I love to be able to taste the subtle sweetness of fresh oysters without my tongue shriveling up like a snail exposed to salt. Anyway, for affordable oysters, I’d still have to give my vote to Greenwood Fish Market where freshly shucked oysters go at $1 a pop on Tuesdays (with any main course ordered).

For mains, the Baked Snapper Fillet was appalling. Not sure if they were trying to infuse a Mediterranean style but it failed, not to mention the snapper was way overcooked.

The Slowed-cooked Duck Thigh nestled on Truffled Mash Potatoes & Orange Confit accompanied by Brie Baked Oysters fared slightly better, but I would still consider it below par, given the few other Confit de Canards I have tried in Singapore. My main grouse was that it was rather soggy (hence not crisp) and extremely salty, though eating it with mash did help to tone down the saltiness…somewhat. As for the Brie baked oysters, I would say that the there wasn’t much symphony, with the flavours of brie and oyster each wanting to stand out on its own.

For desserts, the Lemon Tart whilst generous in portion, was cringingly sour and the pastry lacked butteriness and flakiness.

Likewise, the Raspberry Creme Brulee didn’t pass muster. The consistency was far too dense and eggy instead of light and airy.

Food wasn’t the only concern today. Despite having only 4 other customers who I saw in the entire restaurant, my glass was left unfilled for the longest time. Furthermore I found the high bar chairs of Oyster Bar to be rather uncomfortable for a meal.

Bon Appetit!

OYSTER BAR

70 COLLYER QUAY, #01-01 CUSTOMS HOUSE

TEL: +65 6534 5534





Hand in Hand Beijing Restaurant – Revival of the 小笼包

20 03 2011

Recently I was doing some equity research on BreadTalk and found out that they are the ones who franchised Din Tai Fung over to Singapore which I’m really thankful for. I honestly think that it was this single action that ignited our local xiao long bao craze. But have you ever wondered how the xiao long bao came about? Well, I have a theory…

You know how it gets super chilly during the winter months in China (I visited one of my China classmates in Jilin a couple Decembers ago and it got as low as -16 degrees celsius!) Anyway we all know how the Chinese love their wantons but I’m guessing that they aren’t shown as much love when they and the soup they are in turn cold within 3 minutes being out in the open during winter. So one fine day, an enlightened China man experimented putting his soup inside his wanton to keep it from turning cold and that became what is now known as the xiao long bao!

Not sure if that’s how it really went down but it sure sounds logical, doesn’t it?

While Din Tai Fung might have started the craze, sadly their xiao long bao standards have been falling over the years, leaving many in despair and gloom. But there’s finally some good news!  A really decent xiao long bao has been spotted at Hand in Hand Beijing Restaurant!

It’s more of a neighbourhood joint, somewhere you would go for casual family dinners or even to down a beer or 2 over some small eats after work. The menu is an extensive 10+ pages long which is affordably priced, catering to customers who just want a simple pork rib la mian to the more sophisticated diner who wants his four treasures of the sea (abalone, sharks fin, sea cucumber and crab!).

For appetizers, I would recommend the Sliced Pork with Garlic ($9.80++) if fats aren’t too much of a concern but if it is, just tell yourself that fats contain collagen which is good for you. This goes really well with rice!

As I mentioned earlier, the xiao long baos ($6.80/8 小笼包) are really good. The skin is soft but not too brittle, with a solid soup stock.

The Chinese Chive Puff ($6.80++) was meh. You’d do better saving stomach space for better alternatives on the menu.

Spoiled by mum’s home-made dumplings, I found the Cabbage Pork Dumplings ($13++) to be just so-so. Do eat it with a dash of vinegar!

I loved the Homemade Beancurd ($20++) topped with a layer of seaweed. Really silky smooth and tasty!

Delightful little Deep Fried Prawn with Salad ($27++) they have here too.

The Steamed Grouper ($26.80++) provided was much too small for our large group but given the fixed price (instead of going by weight), I guess there isn’t much to complain about. It was fresh but might have been slightly oversteamed given that the fish was real thin.

Despite being a signature dish, I found the 3 Cups Braised Chicken ($27++) to be nothing spectacular. It was just slightly better than the average economic rice stall.

Stewed Pork with Preserved Vegetables aka 梅菜扣肉 ($15.80++) was pretty awesome. The pork was braised till a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness that went well with the buns provided.

Can’t believe the plain Pea Shoots ($16++) cost more than the 梅菜扣肉!

Overall, dinner here was splendid and satisfying yet affordable at about $25/pax.

Bon Appetit!


HAND IN HAND BEIJING RESTAURANT

141-143 JALAN BESAR

TEL: +65 6297 1398





Foo House Cafe & Bar – The Foo Works

15 03 2011

Simpang Bedok is more or less synonymous with pratas, teh tariks and nasi gorengs. It’s a place where soccer fanatics gather over the weekends to supper while catching a live EPL game; possibly the 2 most favourite of Singaporean pastimes.

However, today was no weekend. I was on the search for a relative unknown in the Singapore food scene, the dark horse better known as Foo House Cafe & Bar and while it’s not the most renowned eatery around the area, I was indeed deeply enamoured by the quality of food served here.

Operated by Grand Hyatt’s former executive Sous Chef (2nd in command after the Chef de Cuisine), Chef Foo has over 40 years of culinary experience. Hence, it’s no wonder why the cuisine offered here possesses a subtle sophistication despite the eatery’s casual and slightly run down nature.

Having worked at western joints such as Pete’s Place, Chef Foo is no stranger to western cuisine but it’s not difficult to spot some tweaks within the food that suggests a slight gearing towards fusion (especially the Roast Duck I had).

Initially, Eunice and I had intended to share some appetizers but was discouraged by the staff taking our orders. Apparently, portions here are big, especially since we had ordered The Foo Works ($20.90++), which is essentially their Picardy Monster Beef Burger ($16.90++) with additional toppings of Bacon, Egg, Caramelized & Onion (additional $1 per topping). Guess we were slightly overzealous in wanting to order appetizers; this was an upgraded version of their Monster Beef Burger after all. Eunice told me that the beef patty here isn’t minced but is in fact manually chopped and so tastes more genuine and also manages to hold together much better. I do recommend adding all the toppings; each one playing a vital role for a wholesome experience. I couldn’t even find fault with the mash which was buttery and smooth. Without doubt, definitely top 3 within my burger rankings.

Curiosity got the better of me in making the decision to order the Foo House Roast Duck ($17.90++). Isn’t Roast Duck supposed to be Chinese? What’s it doing on a bar menu? Is it just a Duck Confit? Too many questions left me begging for an answer. It’s quite interesting really, I couldn’t really decide if the Roast Duck was more east or west. It tasted somewhat like a braised herbal duck expect that it had been lightly roasted. Too bad a mix of 2 cultures just wasn’t for me. I’d prefer either a soft fall-off-the-bone-tender braised duck or a sinfully crisp duck confit anytime.

I was really quite full by then but managed to pull off another Apple Crumble for sharing. I found it pretty decent for a dessert  costing $6 or $7, just don’t nit pick if you don’t spot the black specks of vanilla beans.

The menu here is astoundingly extensive and unless you dined here everyday for a month, you’d probably not be able to try everything. While I tend to avoid eateries that have overly extensive menus (which I regard as lacking focus and having no real speciality), I think this would be an exception and I’m really excited to return to try out whatever else Foo House, Cafe & Bar has to offer.

Bon Appetit!

FOO HOUSE, CAFE & BAR

6 JALAN PARI BURONG, PICARDY GARDENS

TEL: +65 6445 3110





Chikuwa Tei – Inspiring Japanese Cuisine

10 03 2011

While most restaurants target specific income groups, I find Chikuwa Tei to be highly inclusive of its clientele.

Feeling broke? Settle for a Tempura Udon ($12++) or Saba Set ($12++). For that casual dinner, why not go for the  highly popular Chirashi Set ($25++) or Cod Fish Claypot Set ($24++). For that special occasion, let all hell break loose with Sashimi Platter for 4 pax ($108++) or Otoro Sashimi ($50++). There’s really something for everybody.

After getting seated down, we were given a complimentary serving of otoshi in the form of crunchy lotus roots with chili and light sauce. While some of my friends didn’t fancy this, I on the other hand enjoyed this very light starter.

Sashimi Platter here come in 3 sizes, meant for 2, 3 or 4 pax but you will notice that instead a decreasing price per pax (as you would normally get when buying items in bulk), price per pax actually increases as you get the larger sashimi platters. The reason is because for the larger platters, more types of premium sashimi are included.

The Sashimi Platter for 2 Pax ($38++) consists of Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, Scallop and one more sashimi I couldn’t identify.

As for the Sashimi Platter for 3 Pax ($78++), in addition to what was available for the above mentioned platter, it also came with Chutoro and Swordfish. Everything was awesome, with the exception of the Swordfish which I found to be a little too fibrous.

If you come from the school of thought of “more is more”, you will definitely enjoy the Chawanmushi ($5++) chocked full of ingredients such as prawns, chicken and Shimeji mushrooms.

The Cod & Vegetable Claypot Set ($24++) is probably the second most popular item after the Chirashi Set. The stock was a mix of sweet and savoury and it was a sheer delight to pick out the very fatty boneless chunks of cod, dipping it lightly in light sauce, and letting it melt in the mouth.

These are some of the items my friends ordered.

The Unagi Teishoku Set ($20++)

Ten Cha Soba ($12++)

Maguro Nakaochi Don ($18++)

Sushi Udon Teishoku ($22++)

Nabe Yaki Udon ($14++)

At the end of the meal, the friendly auntie served us 2 plates of complimentary chilled Mochi with black sesame filling. Not sure if it’s available on the menu, but it’s definitely worth ordering!

The former operators of Wasabi Tei seem to have gotten their act together in creating a class eatery with their inspiring cuisine and amicable service.

Bon Appetit!

CHIKUWA TEI

9 MOHAMED SULTAN ROAD, #01-01

TEL: +65 6738 9395








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