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Saturday 28 October 2017

[Media Invite] Dinner at Peach Blossoms Restaurant (鸿桃轩) at Marina Mandarin Hotel

6 Raffles Boulevard, Level 4, AquaMarine, Marina Mandarin Hotel, Singapore 039594
Tel: 6845 1111
Website: http://www.meritushotels.com/en/marina-mandarin-singapore/dining/peach-blossoms.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peachblossoms.sg

Peach Blossoms Restaurant has been a main icon of Marina Mandarin Hotel since its opening in 1987, offering a plush dining setting for hotel guests and all patrons keen on their authentic Cantonese cuisine with a modern twist.

I was honoured to be invited for the hotel's November 2017's monthly highlight, this time being "An Abalone Special", a newly-launched 7-course set priced only at SGD$98++

The starter was Peach Blossoms Trio Appetizer Combination made up of Deep-fried Scallop and Banana wrapped with Mashed Taro, Deep-fried Prawn coated with Mayo and Mixed Nuts, and lastly, Chilled Japanese Cucumber Rolls filled with Jellyfish. Each item was delicious in its own unique way, and this starter platter brought out a burst of textures and flavours, prepping the palate for more good things to come.

Next up, Braised Shark's Fin with Fish Lip and Shrimp Dumpling in Shark's Cartilage Soup served in Stone Bowl, taking "traditional" up one level, hitting all the right notes with the richer, umami flavors of the sea.

Then it was Braised Six-headed Whole Abalone in Superior Oyster Sauce accompanied with Hairy Gourd Rings stuffed with Conpoy. The plump, bouncy abalone was also surprisingly soft, not chewy like how some abalone taste like. The fragrant conpoy-stuffed hairy gourd rings balanced the abalone's flavour beautifully.

Steamed Silver Cod with Black Bean and Preserved Radish Pickle sweetened the palate with its silken, flakey texture; light but extremely pleasing.

Following that, we had the Braised 8-headed Whole Abalone with Fish Maw, Sea Cucumber, Dried Scallop, Flower Mushroom, Prawn and Black Moss served in a mini claypot. This dish reminds me a lot of my favorite Chinese New Year pengcai, where all the quality seafood items convene in one pot, each one redolent of their own tasty aroma. Again here, the abalone is soft, springy, not tough and chewy at all - very scrumptious.

The next dish, Rice Vermicelli with Assorted Seafood, looked deceptively plain and nondescript, but trust me, the first bite had us hooked. It was blissfully delicious, the rice vermicelli hinting at "wok hei" (wok's fiery breath during preparation) and was basked in broth sweetened by fresh seafood. Not a single sliver of the smooth rice vermicelli was left in the bowl!

Finally, to conclude the luxurious meal, we had dessert of Chilled Coconut Jelly with Snow Swallow and Almond Cream. The cool, calming effect this nectarous creation ended with the linger notes of almond's creamy taste, enhancing the pureness of the healthy dessert.

Overall verdict is that this set is definitely decadent, extremely enjoyable and insanely value for money - imagine $98++ for 7 courses of mainly superior seafood dishes, including 2 whole abalone. Take my money already!

Thank you the team at Marina Mandarin for the invite, and for hosting us.

Thursday 26 October 2017

Dessert and Drinks at Conrad Centennial Lobby Lounge

2 Temasek Boulevard, Lobby Level, Conrad Centennial Hotel, Singapore 038982
Tel: 6334 8888

What does one do on a Halloween weekend after dinner? I don't know about you, but chilling out is an absolute must, for me.

Conrad Centennial Lobby Lounge offers a comfortable and intimate ambience, as well as live pianist singer to fill the space with beautiful  melodies. Service crew is excellent and accommodating, ensuring that patrons have a fabulous time there.

There was a "Pick Your Gin" promotion where you could mix and match your own Gin Tonic by customizing it, selecting your own gin, your bitters, tonic water and garnish.

Here is the Brooklyn Gin Tonic (SGD$15.00) composed of gin, grapefruit tonic, strawberry bitters and garnished with wedge of grapefruit (supposed to be juniper berries).

Then the Citadelle Original (SGD$15.00), made of gin, Old World tonic, dry lavender bitters and garnished with orchid.

If you don't take alcohol, fret not. They have other beverages such as Hot Chocolate (SGD$10.00), soft drinks, juices and teas.

The hotel lounge also has a wide selection of cakes, tarts and macarons. This made it tough for us to pick just a few to try out. Like, how does one choose between Ondeh Ondeh Cheesecake, Chendol Tart, Violette, La Royale, Pure Gourmandise, Strawberry Tart, Almond Lemon Tart, Sensation, Lime Coconut Tart and Black Forest? The tarts are mostly priced at SGD$5.00 each with the exception of Strawberry Tart, Lime Coconut Tart and Black Forest Tart, which are priced at SGD$7.00 each.

We tried the 3 mentioned above.  Lime Coconut Tart was unique with its zesty-sweet flavour and pretty design. This tart also comes in the 500gram form, selling for SGD$38.00.

Black Forest should have been my favorite but this tart, while rich in chocolately goodness, lacked cherries for texture and was a little light on the alcohol.

Strawberry Tart scored highest points according to a few of us - sweet, sour and juicy all at once, set against crisp buttery crust.

Overall chilling experience here was awesome and I see myself returning for the food, gin tonic and ambience.

Sunday 22 October 2017

[Invited Tasting] Dinner at Montana Singapore @ PoMo (Revisit)

1 Selegie Road #02-25 PoMo, Singapore 188306
Tel: 6334 3137

The last time I visited Montana Singapore (review here), it was an open concept located at level 1 with signature dishes such as flavoured waffles, savoury waffles and burgers. Food was good, therefore I was honoured to be invited for a tasting session here.

They have now moved up to level 2,  much more spacious and the decor more quaint, with a hipster-meets-chic feel. Menu has been revamped to factor many more items other than waffles and burgers; and signature favorites have been further enhanced.

We started with Sweet Potato Fries with Masala Seasoning (SGD$11.00), crispy edged with soft, sweet interior tipped with masala's saltish flavouring for a good contrast. Usually not a fan of sweet potato, I found myself reaching for  more of these.

Then we had the Whitebait with Fivespice Seasoning (SGD$11.00) - crispy in texture, with a burst of flavours. It strokes the appetite pretty well, especially if paired with beer.

Moving on, Fried Chicken Wings with Garlic Mirim Sauce (SGD$12.00) - crackling buttermilk batter on the exterior. tender on the inside; one of those dishes that delight the teeth very much.

Following that, something from the All Day Breakfast menu - Truffle Egg Rosti (SGD$19.00). I liked this dish because all my favorite items convene upon one plate - poached eggs, truffle hollandaise, waffled potato rosti and parma ham. Dish was a little salty overall; and I thought the waffled potato rosti could be just a little tad crispier. Other than that - it pretty much makes for a happy meal.

Also from the breakfast menu, we had Baked Salmon with Poached Eggs (SGD$11.00) - beautiful flavours concocted into one single delicious dish - succulent salmon with yuzu hollandaise for that mild zesty touch; while creamy yolk of the poached eggs blanket baked cous-cous and shoyu mushrooms to sweeten them up.     

Next up, their Signature Mac & Cheese Waffle (SGD$15.00) - fresh, crispy buttermilk waffle with jalapeno, truffle oil, and mozarella cheese. Light in flavour but aromatic of earthly goodness from the truffle oil, this waffle continues to be unique and is definitely worth a try.

I relished the Spicy Bacon Pasta (SGD$17.00)  - springy linguine tossed with chili, ginger paste, sauteed bacon and crisp bacon bite. The fiery dish pleased the palate immensely and was well-greased so every pasta strand felt smooth upon entry.

Cold Crab Truffle Pasta (SGD$21.00) - angel hair pasta served chilled, enlivened by crunchy kombu (seaweed) and sweet pieces of crab meat. This dish is light in flavour but utterly satisfying at the same time.

Finally, desserts came! We started with Bianco (SGD$13.00) which simply means "white".  Made up of Horlicks Cheesecake, orange gel and passionfruit mousse, this white beauty brought us back down memory lane when Horlicks was a staple for breakfast, many years back. Cheesecake was satin-textured; the malty fragrance not lost on us at all. Orange gel and passionfruit mousse added citrusy notes to shake up the creamy notes; overall verdict was very satisfying.

Last but not least, what won my heart visually and tastefully was Rosso (SGD$13.00) - spun sugar nest encircling rich chocolate brownie and macerated berries; with Irish Whiskey sauce served on the side to douse over the dessert with. The result was darkly enticing, like a seduction of the palate; I would order this again..

Beverages-wise, besides the usual coffee and tea variations, Montana has also jumped onto the healthy bandwagon of coconut-creations, serving up Coconut Cold Brew and V60 Chocolate (SGD$6.80); we tried the latter, and it is first of its kind in Singapore. Cacao nibs are brewed in coconut water to give that light, refreshing taste, and comes in 3 flavours namely Original, Mint and Smoky.

Overall dining experience at Montana Singapore is fabulous with attentive service crew ensuring comfort at all times. On average, expect to spend around SGD$30 per person for a delicious meal coupled with drinks. Thank you Montana Singapore for hosting us, and thank you Kris for extending the invite!

Wednesday 18 October 2017

[Media Invite] Dinner at The Seasons (四季风光) @ Holland Village

275 Holland Avenue, Singapore 278992
Tel: 6463 6568

Located conveniently at Holland Village area is a cosy restaurant run by a young gentleman from Hainan, China, serving up healthy and surprisingly tasty Coconut Soup Steamboat as well as Japanese-style grilled food at none other than The Seasons.

Service crew was attentive and friendly so it added to the enjoyment of dining here. Ambience was cosy and ordering was done via tablets on the table.

We started with Purple Sweet Potato Cheese Balls (SGD$8.00) with a very appealing spherical form coated in deep purple; bursting open to fill the palate with sweetness and oozed melted cheese. This kind of set the standard for more mouth-watering food to come.

The Fried Squid (SGD$8.00) was crispy and umami, easy on the tongue but torturous on the mind (as one craves it for days afterwards).  It was not greasy at all which also scored points pretty well.

Then we moved on to the huge pot of pure Coconut Juice steamed as soup base, tossed with coconut flesh, wolf berries, red dates and tender chicken meat for extra flavouring. This was our Bamboo Fungus Coconut Chicken Pot (SGD$32.80). If we had any doubts about the broth at all, they dissipated the moment we tried the first sip- sweet, pleasing and light; reaping in all the health benefits of coconut such as hydration and electrolytes. Even the chicken used to cook with the soup retained its tenderness.

The tray of ingredients for us consisted Wagyu Beef Slices, Special Selection Pork Shoulder, Sliced Pork Belly, an assortment of Vegetables, Beancurd, Bamboo Pith, Chicken and Cheese Tofu. Meat was succulent and vegetables were fresh.

We also tried the Signature Laamei Rice (SGD$5.00) cooked with preserved (waxed) pork aka lup cheong and mushroom dices.  The result was fragrant and redolent of its sweet, earthly ingredients. This dish is usually served in a claypot.

For dessert, we had the Hainanese Coconut Rice (SGD$8.00) - soft, sweet glutinous rice served in coconut husks, embedded with coconut flesh, red dates and lotus seeds. This was special and heart-warming.

Drinks to conclude - there were Grapefruit Peach Tea (SGD$4.50), Salted Green Tea with Lime (SGD$4.50),  and Lime Peach Tea (SGD$4.50) for us.

Overall, I enjoyed the meal very much and look forward to telling my friends and family about this coconut soup steamboat - healthy and tasty totally. Thank you The Seasons for hosting us and thank you Hungrygowhere for the invite.