The Clan Restaurant – Classy, Lucious & Noteworthy

14 09 2012

Being inconspicuous is the new cool for the dining scene in Singapore, something The Clan Restaurant is trying to emulate but for someone who frequents Bukit Pasoh Road road often enough (for the affordable wines at Magma Restaurant a couple of shops down), The Clan Restaurant sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

There is no shortage of good great food along this stretch, with Oso and Majestic Restaurant just down the road, and Ember, Bistro Soori and Esquina on the adjacent lane. Daring as it might seem in choosing to locate here given the stiff competition, I had little doubt that The Clan Restaurant would be able to pull it off, and fabulously well at that. After all, it is helmed by Executive Chef Ken Teo, formerly of fusion restaurants Dozo and Tao’s Restaurant. Having eaten twice at both these restaurants, I was expectant of a mind blowing meal should The Clan be anything like them.

The Clan Restaurant claims to serve modern European cuisine, though Asian influences are evident within many of their dishes as well. Prices are not cheap per se with 5-Course Set Lunches and 6-Course Set Dinners going for $42.80++ and $62.80++ respectively, but definitely affordable given the quality and quantity of food. Ala carte is available as well, with mains at the $20ish range and all other courses at the $10ish range but I would suggest going for the sets which works out to be way more affordable. You wouldn’t want to miss out on any of the courses anyway.

From the outside, the restaurant doesn’t all look that spacious but once you are in, it feels like a labyrinth. With a seating capacity of 110, I really wonder if the restaurant can handle a full house. There are 2 levels to the restaurant. The 1st boasts an open concept kitchen that allows diners to view the kitchen action whilst enjoying their meals, while the 2nd floor is a little more dim and cosy to cater for more private moments.

1st Floor Seating Area

2nd Floor Seating Area

While waiting for 1 of my friends to arrive, we starting munching on the complimentary bread, which is served with a tasty dip made of sour cream and a hint of truffle oil. With the dips being this good, we weren’t shy to ask for extra helpings.

Before the 1st course, we were served an Apple Sorbet to whet our appetites.

1st Course: Chef’s Starter

Our first course was the Chef’s Starter ($18++), comprising Salmon Mousse Cone, Pan Seared Scallop with Asparagus & Truffle Foam and a Foie Gras Chawanmushi. Apart from the visual appeal, there was nothing fantastic about the powdery salmon mousse as it tasted like it could be bought off the rack from Cold Storage. The Scallop was seared well but I’m not sure if it was prepared some time ago since it didn’t feel as warm as it should be. What I loved most was the Foie Gras Chawanmushi, a smooth steamed egg custard with just enough foie gras blended in to tease the palate.

2nd Course: Cold Dish

The Cold Dish Course is only available for the set dinners, and is the only thing that differentiates the set lunch from the set dinners. C chose the Alaskan King Crab with homemade Karashi Dressing ($20++). The crab was pretty much left unadorned, methinks to allow the natural sweetness of the crab to shine through.

According to the wait staff, one of the more popular cold dishes is the Oyster in 3 Ways ($18++), which I didn’t manage to try since oysters aren’t ideal for sharing.

For myself, I had the Beef Carpaccio, Truffle Mustard Salad, with Truffle Teriyaki and Horseradish Sauce ($16++). I enjoyed the thin slices of marbled raw beef very much, and thought it went well with a light dab of the sweet teriyaki sauce and truffle mustard (which tasted like mayo). Just be sure not to be too liberal with the teriyaki sauce, as The Clan is with its liberal use of Truffle and Foie Gras in naming the dishes on its menu, as it might overwhelm the delicate beefy flavours.

3rd Course: Sides

The Kurobuta Pork Belly Confit with Pork Cracker & Passion Fruit Sauce ($14++) fared well in terms of moist tender meat, but failed in terms of crackling. I initially expected the belly to be slightly fattier, as the slab we had was rather lean. I want my fat meat!

I was rather taken by the Herb Encrusted Mushroom Escargot ($14++) as the snails were nothing short of plump and juicy.

The Deep Fried Foie Gras, Balsamico Reduction and Cheese Foccacia was somewhat a disappointment. I recently had the Deep Fried Foie Gras at Alkaff Mansion and thought a replication of that would have made my night. However, The Clan’s rendition was off by a mile. My main gripe was that the batter was too thick and drowned out the foie gras. A simple pan-seared one would have sufficed.

4th Course: Soup

I perceive mushroom soups in a negative light. To me, it’s usually something watered down that you get, alongside a drink from a $5 add-on upgrade to a set meal. The Cepes Mushroom with Truffle Paste ($9++) from The Clan however, is far from the cheap mushroom soup you find in such places. It’s chock full of flavour yet not overly thick, retaining a smooth consistency that just warms your whole body as you sip on it. It’s heaven in a bowl, one of the best mushroom soups around surely. I would go back just for this.

Not as awesome as the mushroom soup but nevertheless tasty was the Crab Bisque Cappuccino with Truffle Foam and Prawn Twister ($9++). Very airy and big on flavours to the extent that some of my friends found it too rich and sweet, but it agreed with my palate.

5th Course: Main

T had the 48 Degree Poached Salmon with Japanese Broth, Dehydrated Wakame and Leek Confit ($22++). While the salmon is cooked perfectly in a sous vide style, resulting in a fork tender texture, the flavours are awfully subtle, a huge contrast to the previous dishes that took some getting use to.

I had the Kurobuta Pork Jowl in Pistachio Puree, with Pickled Zucchini and 64 Degree Egg Yolk ($24++), reminding me again of the chef’s history at Dozo where a very similar dish in the form of Kurobuta Pork Cheeks is served. By the way, Jowl is just another word for animal cheeks. The marinade encrusting the pork cheeks added depth to what might have otherwise been a mere savoury dish, and coating the meat with egg yolk balances the flavourfulness of the dish.

Another dish reminiscent to that at Dozo’s is the 48 Hour Beef Short Ribs on Hoba Leef, with Madeira Sauce on Lava Stone ($27++). It’s no surprise that Chef Ken brought this idea over with him, especially since it’s a crowd favourite. The boneless beef ribs are served sizzling atop a hot stone that cooks the beef slowly, leaving the extent of doneness up to the individual to decide. The beef is extremely tender so chewing is kept at a minimal.

6th Course: Dessert

I thought the Madeira Cheese Panna Cotta ($9++) was a pleasant ending to the meal, with the smooth custard topped with a syrup made using madeira, a sweet fortified wine.

One of the more boring dishes I had today was the Chocolate Lava with Raspberry and Homemade Hazelnut Gelato ($9++). Not the best chocolate lava cakes I have come across, but it does its job of satisfying a sweet tooth.

As it was my friend P’s birthday, the staff arranged for a complimentary cheesecake. It tastes alright though it’s rather dry but who’s to complain when it’s free right?

95% of the 75 votes on Hungrygowhere gave The Clan recommend ratings, something almost unheard of and makes one question the authenticity of the votes. However, real votes or not, it’s hard not to love this place. They take care of the small details, like holding 6 different brands of sparkling water and that speaks volumes. In essence, The Clan offers fine dining fusion food that works without burning a hole in the pocket, very much living up to its motto of “classy, lucious and noteworthy”.

The Clan Restaurant

18/20 Bukit Pasoh Road

Tel: +65 6222 2084

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Stellar @ 1-Altitude – A New Star?

29 08 2011

*This dinner was sponsored by Stellar @ 1-Altitude

I was pleasantly surprised when I received an invitation to a tasting session to Stellar @ 1-Altitude last week. This was my first time dining there and I was glad that several other food bloggers were invited as well. It’s always interesting to find out what makes food bloggers tick and their impetus for starting their food blogs in the first place.

1-Altitude is the latest venture by the One Rochester Group, which also operates its flagship gastrobar One Rochester, Coast @ 1-TwentySix and patisserie 1 Caramel (if you haven’t already found out, I hate to break the sad news to you but the outlet between Cathay and Plaza Singapura has relocated to One Rochester quite recently). Perched on level 62 of OUB Centre, be astounded by the panoramic and breathtaking 360 degree view of the Singapore CBD/Marina Bay skyline.

1-Altitude actually manages levels 61 to 63 of OUB centre, with each level catering for different functions and crowds. On level 61, 1-Altitude runs 282 and Citygolf, a sports bar and indoor golf simulator. On level 62 is the fine dining restaurant arm of 1-Altitude, Stellar. Lastly located on the top level is 1-Altitude Gallery and Bar, which is the World’s highest rooftop bar at 282m.

Stellar is helmed by Group Executive Chef Christopher Miller, who in addition to being Stellar’s head chef, also runs his own Thai eatery Sweet Salty Spicy around the Bukit Timah area. He tells us that while Stellar’s modern cuisine carries with it a high level of sophistication, Stellar aims at providing diners with a fun dining experience rather than evoking stifling and rigid fine dining rules.

While Chef Miller specializes in Modern European cuisine, Stellar’s menu isn’t limited as such. There’s food here that caters to most palates, from Japanese, fresh seafood like Sashimi and Oysters, Grilled meats, and even a Charcuterie section (cured meats) but Chef Miller made it clear that Stellar doesn’t serve fusion food.

Our tasting session started off with Stellar’s Twice Baked Gruyere Souffle. For traditionalists who believe that souffles should only be left for dessert, I bid them to try this rendition. The gruyere souffle is served alongside additional servings of 2 different melted cheese sauces (gruyere and blue cheese), meant for those who want an extra cheesy kick. The cheese sauces complemented the souffle as much, if not more, than the typical vanilla sauce to a chocolate souffle. I believe that I would have no qualms eating this for breakfast, brunch, lunch, high tea, dinner or supper 😀

The Seared Hokkaido Scallops and Octopus was a pretty sight. The octopus is cooked in a sous vide style, adding a softer texture to the normally elastic rubbery bite.

The Sashimi: Omakase Taster is an assorted tray of fresh Tuna Belly, Salmon, Tai, Hamachi, Swordfish, Scallops, Ikura, Caviar, and Surf Clams. Typically, “omakase” means entrusting your meal in the chef’s hands such that he would normally bring out the freshest or seasonal ingredients to whip up your meal. Therefore, its probable that one might not get the same types of sashimi everytime, but that’s just my guess. I found the quality and freshness of the seafood laudable given that Stellar isn’t a full fledged Japanese restaurant. After all, who can complain about Tuna Belly?

The Sushi(Spicy Tuna, Swordfish, Lobster and Salmon) was done delightfully well too. I especially liked the Swordfish Sushi (2nd row from top). In addition to the inner sushi fillings of diced swordfish, the sushi was also topped with a slice of creamy swordfish smeared with a rich mayo sauce which was subsequently seared. Really yummy.

There was a small side of lightly seared Ocean Trout and Swordfish Tataki which I found so-so.

There’s so much variety within the Charcuterie Taster that it’s hard to keep track. Apart from the 2 different types of Jamon hams (can’t remember their exact names though), there’s also a fowl terrine which I found too bitter and strong-tasting for my liking, cured sausages of duck and pork which were so-so, and a creamy foie gras parfait which was my favourite mini-item of this Charcuterie Taster.

Transiting to Mains, I harboured ambivalent feelings towards the Truffled Risotto with Poached Maine Lobster. While I liked the texture of the risotto and fresh sweetness of the lobster, I found the use of Truffle oil excessive which threatened to overwhelm the dish’s naturally mild flavours.

The Slow Roasted Suckling Pig with Iberico jamon and Fig Stuffing was pretty decent but objectively speaking, I’m just too much a fan of fat meats to be that reliable.

The Grain Fed ‘Tomahawk’ Rib Eye served with Bone Marrow is sourced from Australian cattle, which according to Chef Miller is what Australian cattle are good for (US cattle are better for their sirloin according to him). If I recall correctly, this Rib Eye was dry aged for 120 days, which is quite long. Just to recap on the similarities and differences between wet aging and dry aging, both types of aging carries with it the same purpose; to allow the beef to become more tender by allowing its natural enzymes to break down the proteins within the beef. The main difference is that for dry aging, the beef (usually of higher quality) is hung and allowed to air while for wet aging, the beef is sealed in a vacuumed plastic bag (hence retaining more water and tasting a bit more bloody). Another tidbit of info regarding food aging that I found out from Chef Miller is that aging of egg whites (for 2 weeks!) is crucial in making a light and airy souffle!

Utterly seduced by the Chocoloate Seduction, I loved every aspect of this creation, from the velvety chocolate ganache to the crunchy praline base, not to mention the Moist Chocolate Cake (much like a chocolate lava cake) at the background. I just think that while 1 chocolate cake is good, 2 is always better.

Topped with Coconut Ice Cream, I’m not an ardent fan of the Tropical Vodka Trifle, which while still passable by usual standards, was dwarfed by the other desserts.

Whenever I used to visit 1-Caramel, I never fail to order the Strawberry Shortcake which is airy and not too cloying. I was simply beaming when I saw it present among the Trio Fraise, which also comprised of Champagne Jelly and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

The Tropical Teaser comprised of a citrus cheesecake and Lemon Sorbet, effective as a last dessert for cleansing the palate after such a heavy meal.

While there was a mix of hits and misses, I generally enjoyed my dining experience at Stellar. After our dinner, we took a short stroll up to the rooftop bar and gallery. Having been to a few rooftop bars in Singapore like Helipad, Orgo and New Asia Bar, I believe that 1-Altitude’s ambience and view is the best of these few. Of course, I won’t be as hasty to say that it’s the best rooftop bar in Singapore, as I haven’t been to LeVel 33 or Ku De Ta etc yet.

Many thanks to the One-Rochester Group and Stellar @ 1-Altitude for their kind and gracious invitation.

Bon Appetit!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude

1 Raffles Place, Level 62 OUB Centre

Tel: +65 6438 0410








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