When it comes to Pizzas, a combination of factors are absolutely essential to making the dish right. There is the dough, the elasticity, sweetness and chewiness of it. There is the sauce base, the toppings and the very heat itself which is used to either smother the pizza with a smoky fragrance or to envelope the crust till it becomes a crisp biscuit.
Just think about it. That sweet, aromatic fragrance which slowly develops upon each chew, coupled with the tantalizing robust taste that bursts into surprise when the layer of mozzarella is exposed.
Today’s journey brings me to California Pizza Kitchen at Forum The Shopping Mall. And for lunch that is where I have found a tantalizing delight of home made pizzas which simply beckoned the taste which my heart relishes.
A wide menu was presented to me, and by estimation I guess there are over 60 dishes to choose from ranging from appetizers, to soups, to salads, pizzas, specialties, pastas, sandwiches, desserts and drinks.
For my first tasting of the day : Moroccan Chicken Salad. As described tantalizing by the menu, the dish consists of Moroccan-spiced chicken breast with crisp romaine lettuce, roasted butternut squash, dates, fresh avocado, toasted almonds, fresh beets, chopped egg, carrots, dried cranberries and red bell papers tossed with the restaurant’s homemade Honey0Dijon vinaigrette.
Exceptionally long in description, and exceptionally colourful on presentation. I had only the Half size portion at $12.90 and even then it was plentiful – almost enough for at least 3 people. A good blend of sweetness and creaminess, the toasted almonds added good crunch and texture. Personally, I have something against beetroots but seemingly the root goes very well with the avocado and the occasional chopped date that comes by.
The next dish that was recommended to me was the Cabo Crab Cakes. They are handmade, pan santeed blue crab cakes and served with freshly made roasted corn and black bean salsa with a roasted red pepper aioli.
Delightfully, the meaty crab cakes contained a strong saltish naturally crabby flavour which goes exceptionally well with the smoky salsa and the zesty sauce.
This is one dish that would entice me to come back though I do believe that the particular aromatic crab taste is a personal choice. $15.90 for a serving of 4 patties and salsa.
The first pizza I had was highly recommended to me by Shentley and Amy. According to them, The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza is the pizza which made California Pizza Kitchen famous in the US when introduced in 1985.
When served, the slight waft of barbecued sauce was obvious. The dough itself carries a slightly sweet flavour which develops into a complex taste with each chew. The BBQ sauce is sweet, saltish and carries a heavenly smoky and lasting flavour that will certainly make you grab another slice. Essentially, the combination is good, and with the tastes right, this is certainly a pizza that will make me come back for a return visit.
The low fat mozzarella cheese which is used reduces the cheesy stringiness and particularly for California Pizza Kitchen, it somehow makes the pizza enjoyment different on an entirely new scale. $19.90 for a whole pizza.
The next pizza I had was the Peking Duck Thin Crust Pizza. An infusion of Oriental delights with that pizza base, this is a combination of roasted duck breast, mozzarella cheese, soy-glazed shitake mushrooms, crispy wontons, slivered leek and ginger hoisin sauce. I had the pizza served on a thin crust at an additional $1.50.
Still, while previously the BBQ Chicken Pizza set the bar, the Peking Duck Pizza was a little lackluster in shine and taste. Focus lies too strongly on the topping and unnaturally and the more saltish shitake mushrooms instead of the roasted duck breast. There should also be more scatterings of chopped duck meat and while the crispy wontons are a delight, the slivered leeks adds little to the overall taste. Very oriental flavour because of the hoisin sauce but other than that, I personally feel a little more work needs to be done. $20.90 for a pizza + $1.50 for thin crust.
As a main recommended by the restaurant, the Jambalaya Pasta was ordered. A Cajun inspired dish with Blackened chicken and shrimp in a spicy Jambalaya sauce, Andouille sausage and Tasso ham served on linguini and topped with fresh green onions.
I enjoyed the linguine cooked al-dente, and it gives real pleasure as the natural starch on the pasta carries the spicy smoky jambalaya sauce up with each forkful. Still, it is a little oily and the chicken tends to get a little saltish here and there. The blackened prawns were delightful as it gave a strong accented smoky flavour that simply creates marvel to the dish. $22.90 for a serving.
For desserts, I simply adored the Chocolate Souffle Cake. The dish is a Belgian chocolate souffle cake served warm with CPK’s triple thick hot fudge on a vanilla bean sauce. Heavenly with each bite, you know that this is one decadent dish that will leave you craving for more. $8.90 for a serving. A la mode add $3.00.
The Tiramisu is of high mention at California Pizza Kitchen. Sweet Italian cream cheese and marsala custard between layers of espresso and rum-laced lady fingers topped with shaved bittersweet chocolate make the dish.
I can literally taste the liquor soaked at the bottom of the sponge fingers making the entire combination moist, smooth and velvety. One gripe I had though was the excessively rich cream cheese which makes the dessert a little tiring after the first few mouthfuls. $11.90 for a serving.
The setting is largely family oriented with my visit today having a section of the restaurant catered to a children’s party and workshop in pizza making. An easy ambience meant for gatherings and foodies alike.
All in all, California Pizza Kitchen is one restaurant which serves good home cooked Italian cuisine the American way. Delights such as the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza and the Cabo Crab Cakes are not to be missed. But then again, there are so many dishes to choose from. Who knows what might impress you.
Many thanks to Shentley (Director of Operations, Golden Pillars Pte Ltd) and Amy (Corporate Communications Manager, Golden Pillars Pte Ltd) for hosting this invited tasting session.
|California Pizza Kitchen
FORUM The Shopping Mall
583 Orchard Road
Tel : 6836 0110