Ash & Char – Blue Wine, Comfort Fusion Food, Chic Gastrobar in the CBD!

There’s a new place to get food and drink in the Central Business District: Ash & Char. Once a café, it has recently been relaunched as a gastrobar — where you expect not just good alcohol, but also inventive accompanying nosh. To that end, Ash & Char fulfils that promise by presenting a wide menu of treats to go along with your cocktail or beer.

Ash & Char’s signature offering is their blue wine: the Santa Cruz de Alpera Blue Frizzante. Blue is not a colour commonly found in nature or food, so to see it illuminate the wine like this should be a nice novelty for first-time guests to Ash & Char. Its bouquet was lightly intoxicating, and the taste sharply sweet.

What I would go for is the Mixed Berry Bramble! A refreshing, icy, and fruity cocktail with a light gin finish. Iif you’re after something more alcoholic, a good choice would be the Whisky Sour.

Fried and savoury bar staples are also available at Ash & Char. The Crispy Kalemari, which as its name suggests, were lightly breaded calamari rings; gently fried and, to my relief, not rubbery at all.

Another bar staple is the Classic Fish And Chips – crispy thin batter encasing the chunky fish meat served with a creamy tartar dip by the side, and of course, french fries portioned warm and crisp. Basically, a good ol’ fish and chips dish.

No bar would be complete if it did not serve fried chicken wings. Ash & Char has six flavours, although I only got to try three of them: Buffalo, Teriyaki, and Har Cheong Kai. The buffalo wings are a great choice for those who want some spice, while the teriyaki wings will appeal to diners who want their wings coated with a sticky sweet and salty sauce and bonito flakes to top. The har cheong kai version is as well-executed as those you’ll find at other zhi char restaurants, with a generous but not-overwhelming shrimp flavour in the crispy skin.

You can also get really great-tasting (and great-looking) burgers here. We got to try the AC Char-Grilled Wagyu. The aioli carried a strong truffle aroma, and the wagyu patty was done just right, juicy to the bite. The colour of the bun was more of a novelty; it’s still a well-toasted bun with a thin-crisp surface coupled with wholesomeness in each bite.

If you need more meat in your meal, Ash & Char has you covered with their Signature Char Siu and Mayura Choco Wagyu. The char siu comes glazed with a sweet sauce accented with soy and honey over each piece of meat that is layered with a generous sliver of fat.

Comparatively, the wagyu, wasn’t as thrilling. The cubes were mildly sweet but still lacking in taste. I also expected each portion of wagyu to be smoother and more marbled, but each bite was chewy. That said, there was just the slightest hint of chocolate to make the beef a bit more interesting.

Now, for the more unconventional tapas on the menu. The Crispy Cauliflower is a creative choice for a vegetable dish. The name is a bit of a misnomer as the cauliflower itself is roasted, and hence not crispy; any crispiness comes from the addition of breadcrumbs, which is still texturally appealing. But the roasting the cauliflower does add a lot of umami along with the garlic and soy sauce, and so it is a very pleasing dish.

The Chijeu-Buldak, or as it is known in English, ‘fire chicken with cheese’ is another tapas item to look out for. Think cheese and chicken cooked together with Korean culinary spices, forming a savoury morsel that hints just ever so slightly of kimchi.

If you looking for more filling dishes, you can choose between pasta and rice bowls. For noodles, the Tom Yum Seafood has linguine soaking up a laksa-inspired broth with an intense coconut milk flavour amidst the sour and salty notes. The prawns and mussels are succulent.

I have to be honest about the Mentaiko Salmon Aburi bowl though: the taste of the rice and salmon did not match the quality of most of the other dishes here. The mentaiko is a reliably delicious topping for the salmon. However, perhaps due the provenance of the meat, the salmon itself did not taste as good as I’d hoped. Maybe it would have tasted better if the ‘aburi’ in the name did not simply mean that the mentaiko was torched, but also the salmon itself.

Messy Rocker

Creamy Smoked Duck Pasta

In general, Ash & Char has fantastic, well-presented dishes. In addition to the ones I’ve already mentioned, I got to see the yummy-looking Messy Rocker burger and the Creamy Smoked Duck Pasta. Unfortunately, they weren’t available for tasting that evening, so I could only take pictures.

All in all, with very few exceptions, you can’t go wrong with most of the food at Ash & Char. However, there are some issues with the acoustics; I had difficulty hearing the conversation I was having with my plus one over the din of the crowd. I hope they resolve it eventually, because as a space for hosting clients, enjoying the company of friends, or going on a date over tasty food and blue wine, it’s a pretty good spot.

Thank you Ash & Char for the invitation. 

Ash & Char Gastrobar
21 McCallum Street
Singapore 069047

Enquiries: 8341 1951
Website

Opening Hours:
Mon to Thu  – 11am to Midnight
Fri – 11am to 1am
Sat – 5pm to 1am
Closed on Sundays

Pork Belly Char Siew Dreams – Thrilling Grill Fiesta at Lime Restaurant!

There’s one more week till the end of the exciting Thrill of the Grill BBQ Buffet Fiesta at Lime Restaurant at the PARKROYAL on Pickering! On top of the regular select, and quality, buffet lineup, the restaurant has decided for a limited time only (till 21 Oct 2018) to dish out an outdoor meat and seafood grill for dinner! All dishes are cooked over open pits to smoky perfection over authentic charcoal grills, with the deep orange flames lovingly licking each piece of ingredient to a slight char for just that aromatic fragrance.

My favourites include the Oyster Kicap Manis and the Pork Belly Char Siew. The oysters were plump and juicy, and when paired with the slightly slick sweet dark sauce, an enthralling dish was created that boasted of seafood sweetness, that touch of smoky caramel, and robust meaty flavours. The Pork Belly Char Siew was also a delight for just that right amount of fat layered in between skin and meat – captured with a sweet savoury intensity that was worth each bite! If keen, there are also Wagyu Beef Cubes (ok only la), Lamb Shish Kebabs, Seabass in Spicy Yellow Sauce and the Sambal Marinated Squid.

Thrill of the Grill is currently available at PARKROYAL on Pickering’s award winning Lime restaurant till Sunday 21 October. The buffet dinner goes for $88++ per person inclusive of free flow coffee and tea, $44++ per child between 4 and 12 years old. And if you dine from Mondays to Thursdays in groups of 4 adults or more, take another 10% off the bill – courtesy of the restaurant! It is certainly good for diners seeking something extra at one of their favourite buffet restaurants, but if international scrumptious seafood value-for-money is what you seek, then another buffet restaurant for the price would be a better choice.

That said, get yourself hungry with more photos from the buffet lineup 🙂

Thank you Lime Restaurant for the invitation.

Lime Restaurant
PARKROYAL on Pickering
3 Upper Pickering Street
Singapore 058289

Thrill of the Grill Buffet Promotion
5th to 21st October 2018
Dinner only, 6.30pm to 10.30pm
SGD88++ per adult with free flow coffee and tea
SGD44++ per child between 4 and 12 years old

Yue Long Men promises Singapore’s Spiciest Hotpot

It is a trying exercise to decide which Sichuan hotpot restaurant to dine at in Chinatown. Exit the MRT station and half a dozen hotpot joints clamour for your attention.

But Yue Long Men attempts to make it easy for you to choose, especially with its claim of being “Singapore’s spiciest Mala hotpot.” I cannot vouch for this as I went for the lowest spice level on its Mala broth ($7). But that was already enough to numb my tongue semi-permanently during the meal. Intrepid chilli fiends should come test their chops against the restaurant’s claim.

I like that individual diners get their own hotpots. If you’re not in the mood for spice, try the delicious Mushroom broth ($5), which is simmered with mild Chinese herbs as well as shimeji mushrooms. There are also six more soup bases, including a tangy and tremendously popular Tomato broth ($6) and a signature Sour Fish broth ($8).

The broths aside, Yue Long Men is one of the few hotpot restaurants in Singapore to offer exotic ingredients such as pig’s throat ($16) and brain ($8), alongside premium dishes like Alaskan King Crab Leg ($48) and Australian scallop sashimi ($24).

Yue Long Men has a good selection of handmade prawn ($10), meat ($16) and mushroom pork ($18) balls. But try the signature prawn paste ($18) for something different. It’s fresh and fragrant, although you need to shape them into balls yourself. It’s a delicate balance—make them too small and you lose the bouncy texture of the paste. Shape them too big and it becomes tricky to share.

The meats are decent but nothing to shout about, except for the Premium US Snow Beef ($36), which is outstanding. Juicy, firm, and sliced at the right thickness, a serving is probably just right for two people. Still, you might wish to factor in a second helping to relish its goodness again. It’s expensive but worth it.

Many hotpot restaurants in Singapore typically serve seafood such as red garoupa and pomfret. But Yue Long Men goes a step further with its delicious and fresh Ocean Platter ($26), comprising sashimi-grade salmon, yellowtail, scallops and ebi prawns.

The grouper ($36) is also exceptional. It’s firm, meaty, and goes especially well with the spicy mala broth.

What I like about Yue Long Men is that the ingredients are extremely fresh. For a limited period only, diners get a 50% discount off the entire a la carte menu. Sure, the restaurant isn’t exactly affordable without the half-price discount. But its prices are fair because you do get what you pay for.

Other nice touches include a condiment bar ($4) that comes with the usual spread of sauces, fruits and desserts. Yue Long Men has a decent selection of ice creams that go beyond the usual potong flavours. Make sure you try the cute panda-shaped ice cream, amongst the other premium ice creams.

Thank you, Yue Long Men, for the invitation.

Yue Long Men

75-77 Pagoda Street
Reservations:  6909-0611
Website: www.facebook.com/yuelongmen

Opening Hours
11am to 11pm daily

Thrill of the Grill to debut at PARKROYAL on Pickering

For three weeks from Friday 5 October to Sunday 21 October 2018, Lime Restaurant at the PARKROYAL on Pickering will feature, in addition to its buffet lineup, an outdoor meat and seafood grill! The promotion, aptly named ‘Thrill of the Grill’, is probably the latest delight in town that specifically caters to grill gourmands who demand nothing but the best flavours from char-grilled meats and seafood. All dishes will be cooked to smoky perfection over authentic charcoal grills at the wooden-decked barbeque station, enabling alfresco dining enthusiasts to venture outside and watch the chefs in action!

And the menu certainly looks exciting! There will be Lamb Shish Keabs, Wagyu Beef Cubes, Pork Belly Char Siew and Chicken Tandoori. From the sea, there is the Seabass in Spicy Yellow Sauce, Sambal Marinated Squid (omg my mouth is watering), and the Oyster Kicap Manis and Clams with Kam Heong sauce.

And if the grill is not enough, Lime’s guests favourites such as Mushroom Risotto, Potato Rosi Laksa Noodles, Chilli Crab Pasta, and Kueh Pie Tee, will also be available!

Thrill of the Grill makes its debut at PARKROYAL on Pickering’s award winning Lime restaurant for three weeks from Friday 5 to Sunday 21 October, as Lime’s newly appointed Executive Chef Yap Wai Lunn continues to make his mark on the Chinatown icon. The buffet dinner goes for $88++ per person inclusive of free flow coffee and tea, $44++ per child between 4 and 12 years old. And if you dine from Mondays to Thursdays in groups of 4 adults or more, take another 10% off the bill – courtesy of the restaurant!

I’m craving for this Grill fiesta already. Watch out for the upcoming review.

Lime Restaurant
PARKROYAL on Pickering
3 Upper Pickering Street
Singapore 058289

Thrill of the Grill Buffet Promotion
5th to 21st October 2018
Dinner only, 6.30pm to 10.30pm
SGD88++ per adult with free flow coffee and tea
SGD44++ per child between 4 and 12 years old