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Friday, 28 February 2014

Porridge Buffet (Dinner) at Quality Hotel Marlow

Having been to the Quality Hotel Marlow's Porridge Buffet at least twice for dinner and once for supper, I gathered *Edwin and *Gerald here for our gathering again. This time, I decided I have to write about it. Quality Cafe is located at 201 Balestier Road, Level One, Quality Hotel Marlow, Singapore 329926 , the number to dial is 6233 6363.

I was never a porridge fan, hence the raves about this Taiwanese porridge buffet did  not entice me at all, even though I resided just a stone's throw away from where I stay. The first time I went there was with my family - and to my surprise, the spread was impressive and the sweet potato porridge was extremely smooth.

Over these couple years, I returned to enjoy the sumptuous comfort food, even converting *Gerald who was definitely not a porridge fan as well.

As one coule see, Quality Cafe itself is simply furnished, in light, laid-back colors giving a very "clean" and homely feel. There are several stations offering meat, little dishes to go along with porridge, two selections of porridge, a Laksa station and dessert counters.

This is the Laksa counter, where the friendly Chef is on stanby, ready to pour piping hot, tasty laksa soup into the prior-prepared bowls of noodles whenever a diner stands in fron of this counter. Look at the steamy hot Laksa - spicy and rich in flavor, and the Laksa is filled with lovely ingredients such as dried tofu sponge (taupok), quail eggs, beansprout and cockles. 

Now, this is where the two large pots of porridge are - usually they would have a pot of plain porridge and a flavored one. Tonight, in lieu of sweet potato porridge, they served a very delicious peanut and cuttlefish porridge - light, and flavorful. From the the array of cheese, preserved vegetable dishes, salted eggs, shallots etc, I decorated my porridge with a little dash of this and that, adding on to the flavor.

Moving on, the colorful Desserts section - one could either enjoy hot desserts such as Red Bean Soup or cold desserts such as ice-creams. If not, one could choose to get creative and create your own Chendol or Ice Kacang.

Next, here is another Desserts section to attack- assortment of healthy fruits, warm Bread Pudding or brightly-colored Kuehs (Asian Sticky Cakes). As I was full, some honeydew and water-melon slices suited me just fine.

Lidded metal capsules concealed a lot of other savoury goodies, fret not. Let's see what else did I feast on here. There you go - check out the sumptuous spread of fried fish, fresh shrimps, tantalizing Chilli Crab, delicious Chicken Curry, and a variety of braised items - eggs, duck meat, chicken feet and dried tofu sponge (taupok). 

I was a little disappointed that they no longer served squids like they used to - I loved the succulent, chewy delicacies here. But nonetheless, these items were good enough for me. 

Finally, the counter beside the Laksa counter actually serves Popiah (steamed spring rolls), also prepared by a standby Chef. The vegetables within were crisp and refreshing, and the shrimp paste was a burst of deliciousness. The skin was soft and gently melting upon entering the mouth.

Each of us spent merely SGD$25.00 on this scrumptious and fulfilling dinner, in a gentle ambience with low noise level suitable for catching up and a little business ideas generating. This was fun!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

High Tea at Chihuly Lounge @ Ritz Carlton

So, after a hiatus from high tea indulgences, I finally managed to get *Charliez to go to Chihuly Lounge with me for afternoon high tea. Having heard good reviews about it from several sources, we both harbored rather high expectations. After all, this was situated at The Ritz Carlton Millenia at 7 Raffles Avenue, Lobby, Singapore 039799 and the number to dial is 6434 5283.

The lounge was comfortably done in rich earthly tones, complete with elegant furniture and plush carpetings, a pianist playing beautiful music to provide a soothing ambience, and rather attentive service crew constantly fluttering around our table.

We understood that the high-tea concept here does not go by buffet style, like the others I have enjoyed. We selected the 8-course set without alcohol since I had to return to settle some work stuff after the high tea.  Pots of aromatic tea were served to us in pretty teapots and dainty cups - *Charliez had the Strawberry-yogurt tea while I selected the Wild Cherries Black Tea.

The First Course and Second Course were served once we were settled down - Passion Fruit Mocktails and a bowl of crackers - lobster crackers, fish crackers and kale chips. While the cocktails were cooling and tasty with its blend of sweet-sour overtures, we were a little surprised that these crackers formed part of the set. The XO chilli sambal dip was rather tasty though.

Next, the Beef Wellington for me, and Vegetable Roll for *Charliez since she does not take beef.

The Beef Wellington is from their Carving Station next to the glass window - served with horseradish cream and Port Wine Jus. The beef was very tender and well-marinated in a delicious Port Wine Jus - juicy and flavorful. The pastry skin around the beef was so thin it melted in the mouth.

As for the Vegetable Roll, it was wrapped in a crusty skin and filled to the brim with goodness such as mushrooms, capsicums, tomatoes and corn etc. It tasted sumptuous as well, a burst of flavors of fresh vegetables well-prepared.

The 4th-5th courses came in a three-tiered tray, consisting of an assortment of sweet pastries and tiny sandwiches. The miniature pastries looked tantalizing, and the waitress explained to us what each item was in detail after setting it down upon our table.

On the top tier lay two different types of Scones - the ones with tiny raisins and the plain ones. These were the fluffiest, softest scones I have ever came across - unlike the hard ones I was accustomed to. These had the texture of tarts, except looser, and tasted very lovely. The light dusting of powdered sugar atop the pastries added hints of sweetness to the fragrant pastries. We enjoyed the scones very much, especially eaten with their homemade butter.

Now, we moved on to attack Tier Two - the open and closed sandwiches. The Smoked Salmon Buns were rather tasty - soft, saltish salmon and cream sandwiched by mini, soft-textured almond-topped buns. Next, the Triple-Layered Wholemeal Sandwich with Cream Cheese and Mashed Avocado, and a slice of Cucumber - this one had little taste and was a little disappointing as we felt like we were merely eating plain bread.

The one next to it was delicious - Smoked Chicken and Watercress in Laugen Roll - the smoked chicken was savoury and blended well with the refreshing "grassy" taste of the tiny watercress stalks. Lastly, the Parma Ham on Olive Baguette - a tasty sandwich especially when chewing on the semi-hard texture of the bread. At this point, both of us were already feeling very full.

Nonetheless, we moved to Tier Three. The Caramel Brownie was a tiny slice of sweet, chocolatey haven, blended nicely with caramel centre. Next, the Raspberry Macaroon - the crust was flaky and hard at the same time, and the raspberry centre came with an odd "lemongrass" or herbal spice taste. 

The Cuatard Tart was next - an aromatic egg-pudding centre with softened crust and meringue atop. Finally, the Lemon Cheesecake with fruits atop - soft and refreshing blend of citrusy flavor.

Now, for the 6th Course - they rolled over a large glass trolley filled with tea cakes, cookies, praline chocolates and kueh lapis for our selection. We ordered one of each to share - and savored the tasty sweets slowly.

They brought over the 7th Course - Passion Fruit Sorbet that was very refreshing and we gladly welcomed the slightly sourish, thirst-quenching soother to steer us away from the array of savoury and sweet items we had been consuming. 

Last course finally  - the Berries with Bora-Bora Vanilla Cream - something we gladly polished off and asked for the bill. The high tea cost us a whopping SGD$55.00 each, but I must say it was not as fulfilling or lovely as our expectations had been. I'd had better ones at Rose Verandah, The Landing Point and Tea Lounge for certain.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Dinner at Switch by Timbre

Tonight's dinner destination was held at SWITCH by Timbre at 73 Bras Basah Road #01-01 NTUC Trade Union House, Singapore 189556, and the number to dial is 6336 7739.

Having enjoyed the comforting and relaxed outdoorsy setting of Timbre at various outlets, we looked forward to the cooler ambience of Switch, with air-conditioning and glossy interiors. The neat little low dining tables and high bar counters both looked inviting, but we opted for the lower seats as they are larger.

While browsing the menus, we were entertained by the live band performance. The performance was rather decent, and the female lead singer has a rather strong and clear vocal. They did songs in various languages / dialects, and had some guests singers from Taiwan who sang some songs as well. 

We began with the hearty Happy Hour drinks first - beers, cocktails and blackcurrant kirins. They did a rather lovely Snowball - sweet and not too diluted. The Blackcurrant Kirin was very cooling and frothy, a sweetie for those seeking to chill over a very ladylike beverage.

Finally, the Crab and Prawn Bisque was served - crustacean of creme prawn and chunks of crabmeat, with drizzles of Brandy and served with a slice of garlic bread. It was piping hot, thick and totally delicious. The crab bits within the soup were silky smooth, and the prawns were fresh and springy in texture. Every sip was a treat.

Next, the Salted Egg Prawns - deep fried battered prawns tossed in butter, chilli padi, curry leaves and salted egg, and topped with fried garlic and soya bean crumbs. There were five pieces in one serving. This dish was a little disappointing as the flour encrusting the shrimps was rather thick, and the salted egg's text and sandy texture was almost non-existent. The only enticer was that the entire shrimp was crispy, right down to the tail, so one could eat the entire shrimp.

Our Roasted Duck Pizza came next  - thin crusts with roasted duck breast, sauteed shitake mushroom with hoisin sauce, topped with crispy popiah skin and mozarella cheese. The overall taste was a savoury blanket of scrumtiousness, made more so by the crispy crust, however the duck meat was hardly detectable. The spread of sauce made the pizza a tad too sweet after a while, so it is advisable to finish it ASAP upon being served.

Finally, the Seafood Risotto - arborio rice cooked with prawns, scallops and crabmeat and its a very flavorful seafood broth. The scallops and prawns were both fresh, bouncy in texture and tasty. The rice, infused with the richness of seafood gravy, was, needless to say, spoonfuls of heaven. 

There were four of us sharing these items, and having two drinks each. The total bill came up to SGD$50.00 each - very reasonable for a fun night out of rather lovely food, relaxing ambience, entertaining live band performance and catching up with good friends.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

High Tea at Tea Lounge @ Regent Hotel

After high teas at L'espresso at Goodwood Park Hotel and Rose Verandah at Shangri-La, I decided to go for Tea Lounge at Regent Hotel, because these three supposedly served English-style high teas. Tea Lounge is located at 1 Cuscaden Road, Ground Floor, The Regent, Singapore 249715 and the number to dial is 6725 3246.

So, besides providing a luxurious ambience and elegant, tasteful setting complete with polished marble floors and ornate furniture, Tea Lounge also offers a wide selection of delectable-looking items for the high tea session. After ordering my Shanghai Rose tea, it was time for us to check out the buffet counters.

The first station we checked out was the Salads section. They had a wide varity of greens, as well as special items such as Chicken-Barley Salad and other grained salads as well. 

After circling one round, I stopped by the next section-  a cheese haven complete with accompaniments of fruits and crackers. Everything looked tempting but I knew I would avoid the Blue Cheese.

Next, the station with lots of delicious tarts and puffs, such as chicken pies, fig tarts, vegetarian tarts etc to tantalize the taste buds. Oh, look at the golden-crusted skin of the puffs and tarts.

After this, I wandered over to the Sandwiches section, where an assortment of finger / mini sandwiches awaited. Amongst them were ham-and-cheese sandwiches, shrimp sandwiches and salmon sandwiches.

This station comprises of Japanese food - there is a rather delightful spread of Scottish smoked salmon, beef slices, sushi and caviar. I knew this would be my favorite station to attack later.

Next, the counter where the chefs hand out piping hot bowls of laksa, as wellas roast beef and roast duck. The tiny bowls of laksa looked very appealing.

After that, it was the Desserts counter. This is simply mouth-watering, no? See the candies, chocolate sauce, cupcakes and marshmallows all looking so colorful and it was all I could do not to grab something right there and then and pop them into my mouth.

Finally, another drool-worthy treasure trove of more desserts - macarons, panna cotta, creme brulee etc. This was a station I knew I would be saving space in my tummy for, definitely.

So, I began to dig in, beginning with this modest selection of Chicken Pie, Fig & Walnut Tart, Mini Sandwich with Smoked Salmon, Mini Sandwich with Shrimp and a slice of Mushroom Quiche. Everything was dainty and tasty - but I thought that the Fig & Walnut tart had kind of an acquired taste, a heavy "woody" flavor.

My next indulgence was a platter of Chicken Barley Salad, Scottish Smoked Salmon, Smoked Tuna, cheese, fruits, crackers and caviar. I loved the Scottish Smoked Salmon the best - unlike the usual smoked salmon which was salty and dry, this was succulent, bouncy and had a sashimi texture. 

Now, a plate-ful of more Scottish Smoked Salmon, Roast Beef, Sushi, Grapes, Caviar and Salmon Confit. I loved all the salmon items - fresh and springy in texture, I could eat plates and plates of these.

Finally, the sweets. Ok, but first, see the Shanghai Rose Tea? This is an absolute darling - fragrance of roses infused with the aroma of lychee. 

Desserts consisted of Raspberry de pate, slice of chocolate cake, brownie on ice cream stick, macarons, marshmallow with hot fudge sauce and Panna  Cotta on the side. I absolutely enjoyed the Brownie-on ice cream stick - what a unique concept , the sweet, crusty pastry mounted on a stick.

We spent SGD$60.00 each on our afternoon tea buffet here, and left very satisfied.