San Sui Contemporary Japanese Dining & Bar – Expensive Food for a Cheap Experience

13 05 2012

If you have been to Butter Factory, you might have noticed San Sui’s flagship outlet at One Fullerton, which specializes in Sumiyaki. I tend to mix up the various terms of Grilled Japanese foods and I’m guessing quite a few of us are quite guilty of that as well, so I’m just going to list a few terms to clear the air once and for all. Sumiyaki means “Charcoal Grilled” (Sumi meaning charcoal and Yaki meaning grilled). Kushiyaki means “Grilled on a Stick” (Kushi meaning Stick), in short Japanese Satay. Yakitori means “Grilled Chicken”, so it is more specific than Kushiyaki or Sumiyaki which can be used to refer to other types of grilled meats or seafood too. Hope this clarifies things a bit.

San Sui has now opened its second outlet at Clarke Quay, choosing this time to specialize in modern Japanese Dining. I attended their restaurant launch last week and got the opportunity to tour the restaurant and sample some of its food offerings. This is the second restaurant launch that I have attended and based on experiences, it’s usually not very interesting unless you bother to mingle with random guests there (which we did today by mingling with some Japanese magazine journalists). Food and booze were free flow, though not review worthy since it was geared towards atas catering, rather than a preview of what’s actually available on the restaurant menu. Anyway, here’s some pics from that event.

Open Kitchen Area

As we left, we were given a nice little goodie bag as a memento, which had a nice little wooden box-cup for drinking sake in and some $50 dining vouchers for use at their restaurants (subject to a minimum spending of $100).

So instead of just blogging about the restaurant launch, I thought it would be a great idea to include what San Sui Contemporary Japanese Dining actually serves so I decided to make a reservation there for a Friday 7pm dinner.

Over the phone, I thought it was unusual when the staff asked if I was going to use any vouchers (apparently there’s also a Groupon deal going on). When I said yes, I was then told that it was full house at 7pm and 8.30pm was the next available time slot which I readily took up. Based on pure conjecture, I hypothesized that they might have implemented a policy dictating a limit to the number of voucher users the restaurant can take during peak timeslots (so as not to risk turning away full-paying customers). I only say this because when I was already around the area at 7pm, I decided to try my luck at the restaurant and see if there was sufficient space to accomodate G and me and true enough, the restaurant was pretty empty and we were allowed in immediately. Personally I don’t believe in discriminating between diners with dining vouchers vs regular paying customers but I guess Goldman Sachs was right in saying Groupon is food stamps for the middle class (source: GSElevator Gossip on Twitter).

I received a message from the management of San Sui shortly after this post was posted so I will be including their comments in purple as tastes are subjective and my palate might not be refined enough to appreciate the subtleties of the few dishes that I tried. Hopefully, this allows for a more balanced and objective blog post. The management have also assured me that they do not discriminate between diners with or without vouchers. From a business point of view, our main aim when participating in group purchase programs is to attract more diners at non-peak hours.

Before I start on the food though, I’m going to make one thing clear. I found the food horrendous and the fact that it costs a bomb just adds oil to the fire. I won’t be back even with a dining voucher. The only thing that is laudable is the plating.

The Warm Foie Gras Bamboo Sushi ($18++) was meh. The flavour combination of Foie Gras, Ikura and Cucumber was actually good but my qualms were that the foie gras wasn’t fatty enough, tasted flat and it was almost at room temperature when it was served, making me question if it had been cooked beforehand and just left at a corner. And considering that I (and most presumably most other people) bought into this dish almost entirely for the foie gras, its imperfections were just amplified further.

The Grilled Colorado Lamb Ribs ($18++) was very disappointing. It’s a great specimen that can be used to highlight the difference between nice marbling and just having a lump of fats and there was an unforgivable “chao ta” burnt taste. I wouldn’t be far off in saying you can get something better off Giant Hypermart’s Grilled Meat section.

Management comments: “The Colorado Lamb Ribs is different from the Lamb Rack, which is a more common cut of meat available at most restaurants. We selected this particular cut for its prized marbling and the ‘chao ta’ flavour you picked up is due to the use of Binchotan charcoal from Japan which imparts to grilled foods a characteristic charred but not burnt aroma and taste. The virtue of this charcoal is that it burns at higher temperature, which seals in the juices during the cooking process.”

I ordered the Kurotara ($40++) aka Pan Roasted Black Cod Fillet with Sakura Pesto, Honshimeji Mushrooms & Wakame Salad for main, thinking that nothing could ever go wrong with Black Cod and San Sui is the first restaurant to prove me wrong. The fish was slightly fishy and almost entirely bland so I didn’t finish it just to drop a hint of my displeasure. I couldn’t detect any Sakura in the Pesto, but that was inconsequential since the pesto sauce wasn’t a good complement to the fish anyway. The best thing about the dish was the salad because I like seaweed.

Management comments: “The Sakura leaf used for the Kurotara possesses a very light and delicate flavour while the homemade pesto sauce is quite different from traditional pesto as besides omitting garlic and Parmesan cheese, we used almonds instead of the usual pine nuts. This renders a mild pesto which does not overpower the light Sakura flavour. We are sorry that you felt it was bland.”

Somen ($38++) is a Japanese Noodle made from Wheat Flour and Salt. It is usually served cold with a dipping sauce on the side but the one here is served warm. Topped with Hokkaido Bay Scallops, Lobster Claw and a Prawn & Shiso Dumpling, I joked to G that it was a high class Wonton Mee and tasted as such. It was better than the Black Cod, though a little too simplistic in both its taste and preparation to pay a premium for.

Management comments: “The highlight of the Somen is to showcase the clean and natural flavours of each ingredient, an elemental virtue of Japanese cooking. The base of the soup is definitely meant to be more broth-like.”

Given the limited number of dishes we managed to try, it won’t be fair of me to say that the restaurant sucks entirely. So I’m just going to say that I’m not going to take my chances there again though I am appreciative that the management took the time to care about my feedback.

San Sui Contemporary Japanese Dining & Bar

3B River Valley Road, #01-06

Tel: +65 6336 7737

Advertisements




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





Daikokuya Ramen Dining- Looks can be Deceiving

8 09 2010

One of the new eateries to open after the basement renovation of Raffles City, Daikokuya has a charm that’s exudes professionalism and class, at least from the outside where I stood perusing the menu.

The menu looked extensive enough, with the choice of Tokyo-styled, Kyushu-styled ramen etc. My attempts to capture the menu on footage was foiled by one of the service staff, whom I assume was scared that I used the menu and it’s info for other purposes like maybe to set up a competing ramen-ya? So yea, I can’t really recall what are styles they serve.

They  have a weird policy because at first they stopped me from taking pics of the menu, but acceded to my request to take pics of the food.

I ordered the Chashu Shouyu Ramen($15.80) which is supposedly one of their signatures. It was pretty much a disaster to me since I set high standards for ramen. The tonkotsu broth came across as starchy instead of rich, like a lot of noodles had been boiled using it and significant amounts of flour had contaminated the broth. The Chashu was also overly chewy despite the significant layer of fat and lastly, the noodles wasn’t Q. Quite a disappointment.

Chashu Shouyu Ramen($15.80)

Chashu Shouyu Ramen($15.80)

I added the Tamago($2) and though it looked good, I found it bland and overcooked.

I shan’t go on to what my friends ordered since it was very forgettable.

Much is lacking before Daikokuya’s overpriced ramen is ready to take on the big leagues, at least that’s the humble view of this foodie.

Bon Appetit!

DAIKOKUYA RAMEN DINING

252 NORTH BRIDGE ROAD, #B1-13 RAFFLES CITY

TEL: +65 6336 7456





Shang Palace – Missing an Imperial Chef

19 06 2010

Following last year’s successful 38th anniversary promotion, Shangri La has decided to do a follow up promotion for their 39th anniversary this year! So all online bookings made for The Line(For Buffet), Nadaman(Japanese), The Rose Veranda(High Tea) and Shang Palace(Chinese) will be offered with a 39% discount off the total bill(for reservations made up to 39 days in advance for 39% of each restaurant’s seating capacity). Cool Beans!  

   

It’s a 5 star hotel with 5 star restaurants, or is that just too presumptious of me? I haven’t heard much of Shang Palace, unlike more reputable Chinese Restaurants such as Wah Lock, Hai Tian Lou, Royal China etc but I thought it should be fine, it’s Shangri La after all!    

The interior decor is pretty sheek, especially with the numerous private rooms that can sit up to 18 people for some…I counted.    

    

I shall categorize the dim sum accordingly, the “average” and the “bad”. I couldn’t find any dim sum that deserved to be grouped under “Good”.    

The Average    

 The Roast Pork was crispy indeed but with a strong gamey smell which irked me and it’s damnnnnnnn salty.     

Crispy Roast Pork($12++)

 

 It tastes and feels like a carrot cake from a neighbourhood hawker stall actually, lacking the contrast of crispy exterior from soft mushy interior.    

Pan-Fried Turnip Cake($4.50++)

 

 One of the better items today, I’m just such a fan of scallops… 

Steam Siew Mai with Conpoy($4.80++)

 

 More Scallops…mmmhhh…     

Steamed Seaweed Scallop Dumpling($6.80++)

 

Passable Har Kows.     

Steamed Har Kow($4.80++)

 

 There was less soup than I would like and it lacked the umami component that we all love so much in an awesome XLB. The meat fillings were also too starchy!   

Steamed Xiao Long Baos($4.80++)

 

It’s a more colourful looking and allegedly healthier Har Kow!   

Steamed Spinach Prawn Dumpling($4.80++)

    

Now for the BAD!    

 It’s not foul but just that I have eaten so many better ones around, this one comes across as below average as the prawns fillings aren’t very springy.     

Crisp-Fried Beancurd Skin Roll, Prawn($4.50++)

 

 You don’t even have to go there to try it. From the picture, you can probably already tell that the rice roll layers are too thick and chewy.     

Steamed Rice Rolls($4.80++)

 

We had the Century Egg as well as the Fish Congee and it wasn’t impressive. I gave up halfway and it was only a half-bowl since it was shared.     

Congee(Choice of Century Egg, Fish, Seafood, Pork or Chicken @ $10++)

 

 Didn’t like it. Too bland…    

Steamed Assorted Mushroom Crystal Dumpling($4.50++)

 
That is one badass thick opaque dumpling skin if I ever saw one. It reminds me more of a thick skinned hakka Soon Kueh lol.   

Steamed Teochew Dumplings($4.50++)

 

 I was really disappointed by the dry, almost tasteless Char Siew Paos. It’s worse than coffeeshop or even 7-11 ones.    

Steam Pork Paos($4.50++)

 

I’d prefer if they just stick to the normal Sze Chuan Sauce. 

Steamed Black Pepper Chicken Feet($4.50++)

 

The combination of Black Bean + Salt used was overkill. More tea PLZ!  

Steamed Pork Rib, Black Bean & Taro($4.50++)

Bah. For me this was a real bad dim sum session and I wouldn’t come back even with a discount. Service was fine but really…the food’s not worth the stomach room.  

Bon Appetit!

  

 

SHANG PALACE

22 ORANGE GROVE ROAD, SHANGRI-LA HOTEL 

TEL: +65 6213 4473








%d bloggers like this: