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Thursday, 29 June 2017

[Invited Tasting] Dinner at Oh My Tian Cafe @ Boon Keng

34 Whampoa West #01-79 Singapore 330034
Tel: 6612 1166

A cheery exterior with colorful words forming "Oh My Tian" - the name of the cafe, leads into an interesting cafe interior when one pushes the door open with the brass knockers.

An adorable cart-like counter sits silently at the front; while a large carousel commands attention in another corner. Chandelier lamps, hot air balloons on the walls, faux brick walls and quirky furniture give the cafe a mis-matched yet fun, cheerful, carnival-like ambience.

Many may know that Oh My Tian Cafe was opened by the same guys behind Hatter Street Cafe (review here); it has however changed hands since November 2016, and the menu has been revamped. The owner is Aloysius Chan, who manages different businesses and this is his first foray into F&B.

The first dish was Fries Combo Set (SGD$8.00 for small / SGD$12.00 for large) - comprising crispy curly fries and huge onion rings. Interesting house-made sauces such as Salted Egg Yolk or Mayo Cheese Sauce were served on the side. This was a delightful dish that could not really go wrong.

Following that, we had good old Nacho Chips with Cheese Sauce (SGD$8.00) - the perfect thick, corn-delicious chips that my favorite theater used to serve before they switched to packaged nachos.

We also had a lush green salad, Greeny Protein (SGD$14.80) made with a mixture of green vegetables, grilled Teriyaki chicken fillet with herbs, roasted sesame and hard-boiled eggs. 

Mains were served next, starting with Oyakudon Fillet with Japanese Rice (SGD$15.80) and Oyakudon Thigh with Japanese Rice (SGD$16.80) - juicy, grilled chicken parts with Japanese curry and sunny side-up egg atop the rice. The portions were generous but we thought that the dishes were a tad too salty.

The spicy version of the above was served next - Fiery Oyakudon Thigh with Japanese Rice (SGD$16.80) - tender grilled chicken thigh served with rice and sunny side-up egg and spicy Nonya curry. This dish was pretty tasty. 

Then we had the Dory Voyage Fish & Chips (SGD$18.80), made up of deep-fried beer-battered Charcoal dory fish fillet served with curly fries and mixed greens salad on the side, along with dips such as salted egg yolk and Thai chilli sauce. The dish looked better than it tasted.

Grilled Saba Fish (SGD$12.80)- grilled sake seasoned mackerel fillet, served with fish flakes, Japanese cucumber, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and teriyaki sauce. I rather enjoyed the sweet-fleshed fish and refreshing salad. 

Following that, we had the Grilled Seafood Platter (SGD$51.60), made up of 2 plump, springy lobsters, 3 tiger prawns, grilled potatoes, vegetables and fish flakes.

Next, Seafood Pasta (SGD$18.80), a generous serving of spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce, prawns, fish, clams and mushy squid. Apparently the cafe has a chef who was not able to tell the difference between fresh and mushy squid, spoiling the supposedly-luxuriant pasta with bad seafood.

The final main course was the Waffles Chicken Nachos (SGD$16.80), grounded by charcoal waffles topped with hash browns, chicken pop corn, bacon and house-made cheese mayonnaise. It was a pleasantly texturized dish with some crunch and creaminess.

Moving on, we had desserts. Donut Ice-cream (SGD$6.00) was basically a heated round doughnut supporting a huge scoop of chocolate ice-cream. "Facial features" were added to the ice-cream to look cute, but unfortunately the heated doughnut was still frozen, cold and hard.

Following that, Charcoal Waffle with 2 Scoops of Ice-cream (SGD$12.50) served with marshmallows.

Our favorite dessert was the OMT Dou Fu Hua (SGD$5.00), signature house-made traditional beancurd inspired from Hong Kong, served with brown sugar on the side. This was smooth, creamy and soft.

Drinks wise, we had Eiffel Tower (SGD$8.80) - a concoction of Earl Grey tea, vanilla ice-cream and salted caramel.

Handcrafted Refreshing Italian Soda (SGD$6.80) was exactly like its name implied -refreshing, made of strawberry extract, soda water and steamed milk.

The Heavenly Milkshake (SGD$8.80) consisted of milk, vanilla ice-cream, blended ice-cubes, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and Peppero stick. This was rather rich and indulging.

Then Iced Matcha Latte (SGD$7.50) with quality green tea powder, steamed milk blended with ice cubes.

The grand finale was Affogato (SGD$6.00) created with aromatic double espresso and vanilla ice-cream.

Sad to announce that Oh My Tian Cafe has ceased operations as of 28 June 2017 due to mis-management of a self-proclaimed "partner" named Jay who does not meet qualifications on every single count, including taking up the role of the chef (his only culinary experience horned by watching cooking programs). It is the saddest demise of a lovely cafe and the rightful owner Aloysius sincerely thanks everyone who has visited and supported his venture!

Monday, 26 June 2017

[Media Invite] Dinner at ilLido at the Cliff @ Sofitel Sentosa

2 Bukit Manis Road, Sofitel Sensota Hotel, Singapore 099891
Tel: 6708 8310
Opening Hours: 12pm to 2.30pm (Sat / Sun lunch) / 6pm to 10pm (daily dinner)

ilLido Italian Restaurant has moved from Sentosa Golf Club over to the luxurious Sofitel Sentosa Hotel just beside it, continuing to serve up delectable, contemporary Italian cuisine helmed by Chef Simone Fraternali.

The restaurant is characterized easily by its romantic settings, perched on the hilltop, surrounded by greenery as well as the sea. The bar counter is by the pool itself, so diners can choose the view they most preferred. Interior is an intimate lure done in beautiful shades of white, deep turquoise and mahogany, comfortably seating up to 88 persons with option of private dining room for up to 12 persons.

Service was  impeccable on all levels, from the first greeting we received to the gentle thoughtfulness throughout the meal itself. This was a media invite attended by representatives from Hungrygowhere as well as some other familiar reviewers / food-bloggers. We managed to try dishes off their dinner menu as well as had a sneak peek into their new White Asparagus Menu.

Fluffy house-made Bread started the meal, soaking up the smoothness of olive oil dip and flavour of balsamic vinegar dip, served on the side.

Then we moved on to Pan-Roasted Foie Gras with Raspberries and Duck Jus (SGD$30.00), courting the butter-textured, smoky-tinged liver in the palate gently at first, before it turned into a full-blown love affair when the duck jus set in. One more?

White Asparagus with Lobster Knuckles and Amalfi Lemon Hollandaise (SGD$) was an interesting dish bringing together creaminess, sweetness and citrusy hints onto a single plate, with the notes all flat and nothing distinctive disappointingly.

The Grilled Octopus with Confit Tomatoes and Potato Cream (SGD$29.00) was a feast for the eyes as well the mouth, enticing with its vibrant colors convened. Octopus was juicy and slightly chewy, tamed by the easier touch of the potato cream edging the food arrangement.

Moving on, we had the Hokkaido Scallop Crudo with Tuna Tartare and Sweet Peas (SGD$30.00), another colorful creation that whetted the appetite hugely. From the sweet bouncy scallops to the springy tuna tartare to the umami burst of the salmon roe, this dish led the palate through a vivacious journey of taste and texture.

Following that, we enjoyed the Baked White Asparagus with Egg Milanese and Veal Jus (SGD$), white asparagus baked softly with a gentle crunch, encircled by veal jus and paper-thin slices of truffle. What stole the show though, was the single Egg Milanese perched on the asparagus, sporting a crispy exterior that gave way to luscious, creamy yolk under the knife's touch.

Pastas were served next, taking us up another level of exploration at ilLido at the Cliff.

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Lobster, Cherry Tomatoes and Tarragon (SGD$42.00) comprised of springy, nearly al-dente pasta redolent of lobster's sweet flavour, even before biting into one of the luscious lobster pieces.

Then it was the Tagliolini with Hokkaido Scallops and Bottarga (SGD38.00), flat pasta and notes enlivened by the gentle sweetness of scallops and briny flavor of Bottarga.

The Pappardelle with Iberico Pork Ragout and Guanciale (SGD$34.00) was plain delicious, with well-textured wide pasta complemented beautifully by well-seasoned pork.

Next, we had Truffle Parmagiano filled Gnocchi with White Asparagus, Truffles and Carbonara (SGD $36.00). The spherical, sticky Gnocchi was coated with purple potato for that lovely hue, bursting apart to fill us with earthly goodness.

Meat and poultry dishes dawned next, starting with the Pan-roasted Seabass with Romanesco and Basil Sauce (SGD $38.00) - crispy skin and juicy flesh creamed over by aromatic basil sauce, lending stronger flavours to the mild-tasting fish.

Black Cod with Caramelized Celeriac, Lemon Capers and Vine Tomatoes (SGD$48.00) was immensely pleasing to the tongue, flakes of sweetness so smooth and melty, hitting home from the first forkful.

Following that, we tried the Guinea Fowl with Foie Gras and Black Truffle (SGD$45 00), an exquisite creation that required an arduous 2 days and 5 cooking techniques before it hit the plate. From slow-cooking to reduction to sous vide to confit preparation of various parts of the guinea fowl, to the baking of honey-glazed carrots, you can be sure that this dish is very well prepared to engage one's senses effortlessly.

Finally, the last savoury dish of the evening - Beef Tenderloin with Marsala, Foie Gras and White Asparagus (SGD $48.00). A luxurious dish where succulence and smokey summed up the beef, flanked by buttery foie gras and the gentle crunch of white asparagus for full satisfaction.

Moving on to desserts - one cannot dine at an Italian restaurant and not have desserts, no?

Vanilla and Orange Creme Brulee with White Asparagus Gelato made an appearance first, teasing the palate with citrusy hints and floral notes before the interesting white asparagus gelato set in, proving that vegetables make for good ice-cream flavour too.

Next, House Tiramisu (SGD $18.00) was not your typical dessert in a cup / jar. Fluffy and creamy notes of coffee, chocolate and coffee liqueur made for a good swirl around the tongue while the smattering of coffeebeans around the glass jar lent crunch and notes of my favorite bittersweetness.

The White Chocolate, Raspberry and Lemon Tart (SGD $18.00) offered lovely crusty mouthfuls of zesty, satiny lemon curd. After the Tiramisu, I could safely pronounce this my 2nd best loved dessert.

The grand finale was the Jamaican Pepper and Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries and Rum (SGD $18.00). Rich, velvety in texture and chocolateness, embodying gentle pierces of rum and pepper unto itself as a whole. Well, the palate approved big time.

Overall dining experience was superb, because of the impressive multi-faceted settings, excellent service, and delectable dishes. Hurry and make your book to try ilLido's White Asparagus Menu before end of July 2017.

Thank you  ilLido at the Cliff and team for hosting, as well as Hungrygowhere for the invite!