Skyve Elementary Bistro & Bar – What Was Lost Is Now Found

27 02 2012

Despite opening shop only late last year at where the former District 10 Bistro (which has since shifted to UE Square near Robertson Quay) used to be at, Skyve already sees a stream of loyal patrons, myself included after this recent visit. This is no surprise though, since the team behind Skyve used to run the now defunct Table 66, one of my favourite European joints when it was still in operation.

While keeping true to what Table 66 is good at (namely Modern European fine-dining with a strong inclination towards sous vide style cooking), Skyve caters for a more casual dining experience, adding in aspects of a brunch menu and a bar which were previously absent at Table 66. An affordable 2 and 3 Course Set Lunch is priced at $25++ and $30++ respectively but I think it’s only available on weekdays.

The wine list is pretty extensive though the bottle prices are pretty pricey in relation to the food. However, if you just want to knock back a beer or house pour, the happy skyving hours are anytime before 8pm daily, where Hoegaarden and Stella Artois are available on tap at $5 per half pint, and house pours go 1-for-1, definitely value for money.

Not every item on the menu is available throughout the day however, as I discovered this visit. On Sundays at least, they do away with the lunch menu entirely, seemingly expecting everyone to be loafers and arrive at Skyve for brunch/breakfast even at 2pm. This was quite unexpected for Raina and me, since we had dropped by earlier around 11am for brunch and had intended to do a late lunch here, revising for our upcoming mid-terms between meals. Hence, we ended up having 2 breakfasts items each.

Compared to the conventional Eggs Benedict where the eggs are poached, the Skyve Sous Vide Eggs Benedict ($12++) here uses the sous vide style to cook their eggs, resulting in a more delicate egg white and runnier yolk, as the eggs are cooked under a vacuum at low temperatures. This dish is accompanied by a whole grilled Portobello mushroom slathered in creamy Hollandaise Sauce and crisp Brioche, useful in soaking up any excess yolk and Hollandaise.

Other items worth trying would be the Potato Rosti ($12++), which comes with slices of Smoked Salmon, Tomato and Avacado Salsa. The Rosti resembles the generic hashbrown only on the surface where it is fried to a nice crisp, whereas it retains a mash-like interior where the potato mash is mixed with bits of bacon.

The Ricotta Hotcakes ($12++) are awesome too!  The pancakes are light and goes well with the caramelized almond flakes (tastes almost exactly like caramel popcorns!) and maple syrup that is served along with it. Definitely one of the best pancakes I have come across in Singapore.

If you like something a bit heavier, the Classic Breakfast ($18++) will be perfect, where you get 2 Eggs (either scrambled, poached, overeasy or sunny side up), Mushroom Fricassee (aka mushrooms sauteed in white wine), Pork Sausage, Grill Tomato and choice of Brioche or Sourdough. I had my eggs scrambled and was pleased to see that it came out evenly coloured and not overcooked, though I felt it could have done with a bit more cream and seasoning. I really hate it when I get cheap sausages filled with more  starch-based fillers than ground meat, you know the kind our primary schools used to sell at 30 cents a pop? Thankfully, Skyve makes no such folly and serves up very chunky and tasty ones.

I like how Skyve is slightly off the beaten track such that you don’t see long queues of customers all glaring at you from the reception, at least for now. Unhurried meals, a suitable environment to chit chat, and best of all, good food, that’s all I can ask for in a day meant for skyving.

PS: It might get a little noisy once the crowd starts filing in so studying here might not be that conducive. (Just me showing some love to like-minded mugger toads out there :D)

Skyve Elementary Bistro & Bar

Address: 10 Winstedt Road, Blk E #01-17

Tel: +65 6225 6690

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Toby’s Estate – Assessing Food, Assessing Life

15 02 2012

Summer internships applications are finally in full swing and with that, university students eagerly await their interview call ups at the various hiring firms. One of the typical questions interviewers love to ask is “what are your strengths?” and my usual response is that “I have good time management and motivation towards activities that interest me, and that has allowed me to juggle school work, cca commitments, competitions and writing a food blog all at one go, sustaining a well balanced lifestyle that most students nowadays fail to achieve.”. But actually when I think about it, I find myself working a bit too hard over the past year in building up my resume, that I’ve been neglecting getting a life. So I have embarked on a mission this semester, dedicating my lesson-free Sundays/Mondays chilling at cafes, perhaps sitting at the communal tables or bar counters, chatting up random strangers as I have brunch, you know doing the whole indie thing you’d only normally do while overseas alone. Then after a satisfying meal, I would then sip a cappuccino, whip out some readings and let my imagination drift randomly. That’s what a pretty well-balanced life would sound like don’t you think?

This was my 2nd week doing something like this (Was at Prive Cafe for brunch last week which I have yet to post about). I wasn’t alone though, good friend R was with me. We didn’t bid for any modules together this semester so Sundays were now our catch up days. We decided to drop by Toby’s Estate, which came highly recommended from friend J and I have to say, I wasn’t left disappointed.

Originating from Australia where it has already established its brand name, Toby’s Estate founder Toby Smith continues his mission of educating the public on the diversity and complexity of coffee with the recent opening of his first Singapore branch located at Robertson Quay. Unlike 0ther western brunch places, Toby’s Estate really does well with the whole communal dining thing, where the interior seating area comprises just of bar seats and a central table, providing a great avenue for friendly strangers to strike up random conversations.

They weren’t kidding when they said they specialized in coffees. The Cuppaccino ($5+) I had carried with it a rich aroma and milky froth, just what I needed to get the day going. R had a Flat White ($4.50+) which she enjoyed as well.

Toby’s Breakfast ($16+), comprising Free Range Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Roasted Tomatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms and Brioche was hearty enough to be considered my lunch. Everything was pretty standard I suppose but I have to give extra credit to the scrambled eggs which were super creamy and evenly cooked.

We both preferred the Poached Eggs, Salmon with Brioche ($12+). The yolks were runny and the smoked salmon was extra tasty for some reason, probably because it tasted rather fresh (I find smoked salmon tends to get noticeably drier and less smooth when left in the fridge more than a couple of days) and had just the right amount of saltiness to go along with the egg and brioche. A side of sauteed baby potatoes with onions for accompaniment would have been good though!

Sometimes, we just have to take a step back and reassess our lives. Take the time to smell the roses and enjoy the greenery and not be too engrossed in meaningless work. Carefree and happy, can I be like those kids in 20 years time? I really hope so.

Toby’s Estate

8 Rodyk Street, #01-03/04

Tel: +65 6636 7629





Shin Yuu Japanese Restaurant II – Higher Expectations, Lower Standards

11 02 2012

The last time I visited Shin Yuu was 2 years back. In my view at that time, it was one of the best ala-carte Japanese Buffets around for its price range of about $50. I knew of some friends who loved it so much that they visited it on three consecutive weeks after discovering it. My lastest visit though, confirmed rumours that standards have since fallen.

However, I wouldn’t consider it a wasted trip since this was a SMU Gourmet Club event and I only paid $20 for the lunch buffet, the remainder being subsidized by school/club funds. The usual price for Lunch Buffet is $36.90++, while Dinner Buffet is priced at $49.90++. The buffet menu is essentially the same for lunch and dinner and the only difference would be the one-time only (premium) orders that are served at the start of the meal.

Personally, I’m not really the buffet sort. I hate having to sieve through mounds and mounds of dishes just to find a few semi-decent ones, not to mention most non ala-carte buffets have their dishes being left out for god knows how long, compromising on quality and freshness. Fortunately for us, such problems wasn’t faced at Shin Yuu since it’s an ala-carte buffet and dishes are freshly prepared upon order.

We first had a one-time only order of Seared Minced Tuna Belly Sushi and Smoked Duck (seen in background). The tuna sushi is pretty good and I would have ordered seconds if it wasn’t a premium item, but don’t go expecting to taste much of the tuna belly though as the savoury sauce more or less conceals its taste. The Shin Yuu Special Aburi Special (in foreground, multiple orders allowed) is in essence a seared salmon sushi coated with a layer of mentaiko sauce. This combination works and I had multiple orders. I have to say the minced tuna sushi and salmon aburi sushis are probably my Shin Yuu favourites.

Just a meme that I made to complement this post. We know this is too true.

The Sashimi Moriawase aka Mixed Sashimi Platter included slices of Salmon, Tuna, Swordfish, Kingfish and Octopus Sashimi. The sashimi tasted rather muted and barely thawed (especially the swordfish), but this is to be expected of buffet standards.

Tamago Nigiri Sushi

Had I not been so full already, I would have probably enjoyed the Shin Yuu Special Sakana Chiizu (“Dory Fish topped with Cheese”) a whole lot more. I had a few rich dishes and by the time I reached this dish, the excessive cheese coating came across as much too cloying. The dory is fried well though with a nice light crispy batter.

The Ika Sugatayaki (“Squid with Sweet Soy Sauce”) suffered a case of over-grilling, such that it became too tough to chew in some areas. You can probably skip this.

While friend C commented that the Buta Misoyaki (Pork Loin with Miso Sauce) had an overly porky taste, I thought it was fine as the thick miso sauce helped to mask the gamey scent she had mentioned. I’m a sucker for fatty pork dishes anyways.

One of the better dishes from Shin Yuu, I found the Hotate Mentaiyaki (Grilled Scallops with Cod Roe Sauce) pretty fresh, with the scallops having a nice springy texture.

The Saba Shioyaki (Mackerel with Salt) comes across as very average to me, probably not much different from what you can get at a nice Japanese food court stall. The one at Kaiho Sushi, ah that’s one to be remembered.

The Ebi Tempura is something worth ordering too. The prawns aren’t as sweet as I would have liked but it’s fried nicely, with the batter remaining crisp for a noticeably lengthy period when it was left on my table.

The Shin Yuu Special Ebi Miso Mayo Yaki (“Prawns with Miso and Mayonnaise Sauce”, left of picture) is one of my favourite items on the menu. It arrives looking like an orh lua (oyster omelette) with a slight outer crisp of fried cheesy mayo that is really yummy. On the other hand, the Tebasaki (“Grilled Chicken Wing”) is glazed in a sweet sauce and proves to be simple comfort food.

The most disappointing dish today was the Kuruma Ebi Teriyaki (“Tiger Prawn with Sweet Soy Sauce”). The prawns had a fishy odour, so much so that I left it untouched after a small nibble.

The Wafu Tenderloin Steak (left) is forgettable as well. The beef isn’t marbled, nor is the sauce remarkable enough to warrant an extra order. I liked the Spare Ribs Teriyaki (right) though, the pork is well marinated, tender and falls off the bone easily. As for the Grilled Salmon Head (background), you can just give it a miss as well.

I really love Kani Karaage (Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab) but the ones here lack flavour. The crabs lack its natural sweetness and I tasted more batter than crab.

The Shin Yuu Speicial Chawanmushi with Salmon Roe is competently done here, exceeding expectations. The egg is light and smooth, lacking any discernable air bubbles. The Shin Yuu Special Makimono (“Unagi with Avocado Sushi”) would have been better if they were more generous with the eel.

One of my grouses here was that the sushi tends to have less ingredients and more rice as lunch progresses on. All in all, compared to the time I last visited 2 years ago, I’m now finding it hard to think of a good reason to come back and at the lunch price of around $45, I’d rather settle for a simple lunch set at reputable Japanese restaurants elsewhere. For buffet lovers however, it might possibly be worthwhile to drop by Shin Yuu if you are around the area.

Bon Appetit!

Shin Yuu Japanese Restaurant

16 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park

Tel: +65 6763 4939





Antoinette (Mandarin Gallery) – Of Surprises and Letdowns

1 02 2012

Despite being open for business for less than a year, Antoinette has already proven its mettle. Its marketing strategy has worked in its favour, having a classy name and luxurious store layout with a moderated price tag on its food has definitely drawn in the crowd. It does help that the man behind this venture is none other than award-winning ex-Canele pastry chef Chef Pang Kok Keong.

I popped by Antoinette about a week back for a meetup between my clique of Secondary 1-2 friends, as D was flying off to Spain for his exchange program the next week and its been really almost a year since our last gathering. As it was an early Saturday afternoon, no surprise that we had to wait about 45 minutes before we could snag a table, especially since Antoinette functions primarily as a tea lounge rather than restaurant, where customers come in to have their nice little tete a tete sessions over an all day breakfast and dessert. Something interesting we noticed was the severe disproportion of guys to girls ratio here. There were only 2 other guys in the entire filled restaurant! So we might have seemed a little out of place coming as a group of 5 guys (we came from an all-boys secondary school booyah!).

Anyways, with no complaints about the gender distribution of clientele,  we proceeded to order our mains. My personal favourite was the Gnocchi Carbonara ($18.50++), “Parisan Gnocchi sauteed with Caramelized Bacon, White Wine Cream Sauce, served with Poached Egg and Aged Parmesan Cheese”. Gnocchi is typically a small dumpling shaped pasta made with flour and potatoes, but from what I have read online, the ones served here does away with the potatoes but includes gruyere cheese to get that awesome taste and texture. A light pan frying after blanching secures its crisp outer layer and mildly chewy interior. The cream sauce resembles that of Canele’s Carbonara to me, which I find quite delightful because it doesn’t coagulate quickly but still manages to retain its flavourfulness. Something I also like about this carbonara is that the bacon is not the least bit salty to me, so you get to savour the meaty juicy goodness without overwhelming the mild cream base.

If cream is just not your thing, you can try the Gnocchi Forestiere ($18.50++), “Parisan Gnocchi sauteed with onions and an assortment of Field Mushrooms in a Pink Tomato Sauce with Italian Parsley and Aged Parmesan Cheese” instead. The tomato base doesn’t complement the gnocchi as well though and it’s a little too overpowering as well, blocking off the delectable morsels of gnocchi.

The crepes are done decently here, which I find it better than what is available at Canele. There’s 5 savoury crepes to choose from here, of which we tried the Nordic Crepe ($16.50++), made with Smoked Salmon, Capers, Red Onion and Dill Cream Cheese.

It definitely wasn’t my idea to order the Burger Royale ($18++), “Pan Fried Beef Patty on Brioche Bread, Mayonnaise, Home-made Tomato Relish, Lettuce, Red Onions, Mustard, Aged Cheddar Cheese, Chips and Petit Salad with House Dressing”. After all, who orders a burger in a french tea lounge?! That said, this Beef Burger exceeded expectations with a nice juicy and flavourful patty though I would have preferred the usual burger buns to the brioche used.

We had very mixed reviews on the Wild Mushroom Risotto ($24++), “Creamy Arborio Rice simmered with exotic Field Mushrooms & White Wine, garnished with crispy Serrano Ham”. For myself and H, it was probably our least favourite main of the meal, but to my other friends S, D and YQ, it was their favourite. The reasons why it didn’t suit me was because the risotto was rather one-dimensional and too mild in taste for my liking. I’d prefer a cheesier oomph!

We love to pamper ourselves once in a while, and there’s no better way than to have feast on dainty little desserts.

The issue with cakes coated fully in a chocolate mousse is that they are an enigma, you never know what you are going to find as you dig your fork deeper into its core. The signature Antoinette ($9++) is one such cake. Having not researched on Antoinette prior to this meal, I was going in blind on this one. I grazed my fork against the velvety milk chocolate lining the cake for a taste test. Nothing unusual, I thought to myself, the chocolate’s texture is just a little too thin. A deeper prodding of my fork this time, where is that bitter taste coming from? My doubts were confirmed when YQ mentioned it was earl grey. The ball-shaped protrusion is actually raspberry coulis (a thick french sauce made from fruits). I find too many things going on in this cake which leaves me slightly confused. Somehow the mix of sweet chocolate mousse, bitter earl grey and sour raspberry doesn’t work for me.

I’m more a fan of the Strawberry Shortcake ($8++). The sponge is light and the use of strawberries generous. However, still not as good as the orgasmic one from One Caramel.

There have been some mixed reviews about the Macaroons here. I managed to try 5 different types (Antoinette, Chloe, Passionfruit, Pistachio and one more I can’t recall), of which the Antoinette (tastes of white chocolate) is my favourite.

 

Mont Blanc is a common French Dessert made using pureed chestnuts and cream. I’m not sure if its the case of the Mont Blanc ($8.50++) here being too average, or the one at Flor Patisserie by Chef Yamashita being too good. Might be a little of both or the fact that I might seriously be pampered too much.

Overall, I like Antoinette. The gnocchi carbonara is reason enough to come back, not to mention the nice semi-atas vibes you get here. Sadly, I expected more from their desserts which failed to shine through today.

Bon Appetit!

Antoinette

333A Orchard Road, #02-33/34 Mandarin Gallery

Tel: +65 6836 9527








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