When Skyve-ing Is A Very Good Thing

As MRT stations go, Newton is an oft-overlooked one, even though it’s an interchange station between the North-South and Downtown Lines. Nestled in a fairly quiet neighbourhood without high-density housing estates, it’s usually more associated with its eponymous hawker centre (though, tourists beware).

However, just a few minutes walk away from the station sits the hidden gem that is Skyve Wine Bistro. Helmed by the Le Cordon Bleu-trained Executive Chef Jachin Tan, it’s recently launched a new revamped menu of modern bistro fare to go along with its recent facelift.

Stepping into the compound at 10 Winstedt Road, you get a sense of calm already: it’s tucked away enough to make this a wonderful date spot, or a weekend recharge hideaway. But that’s not enough, of course. If we’re here to eat, then the spotlight must be on the food.

And shine the food does. Chef Jachin’s new menu hits the sweet spot: it’s produce-driven, and I often found it hard to figure out what sort of cuisine this was. But that’s not a bad thing, since he’s not limited by a single culinary tradition, and so the quality of the produce really shines through.

Smoked Tomato: Who cares what cuisine this is, if it’s this good?

One example of this is the Smoked Tomato ($12++). Featuring Momotaro tomatoes from the Cameron Highlands, with buffalo snow, heart of palm and a basil sorbet. The tomato is slow-smoked, and together with the heart of palm, really bursts with flavour that is complemented by the buffalo snow. What then rounds it off nicely is the refreshing sorbet: I’ve never quite been a basil person, but this was a surprising pairing that I really enjoyed!

Mediterranean Octopus: My only regret is that an octopus only has eight tentacles.

Another appetizer that went really well with me was the Mediterranean Octopus ($18++). Pickled eggplant, vandouvan (a French derivative of masala spices) and cauliflower puree accompanied this dish. The octopus was chewy but not tough, and its char-grilled flavour was absolutely delicious. This was one of the best octopus I’ve had in a while, because most places either deliver on the flavour, but produce tough octopus, or a wonderful texture but slightly lacklustre flavour.

Beef Tartare: A French classic with a twist.

But not everything here is all new and fancy: Chef Jachin delivered in the Beef Tartare ($18++) a French classic. But of course, as you probably can figure out by now, he’s not the sort to not mix things up a bit: this came with miso-cured egg yolk, shallot dust and gherkin gelee. Beef tartare is hard to get right, if only because most people aren’t that used to the gamey taste of raw beef. But here, the grass-fed Australian beef takes centre-stage, with just a hint of truffle to get the heady aroma. The miso-cured egg yolk contrasts the flavours wonderfully, a bit of beef, a bit of egg yolk, and you start to believe that perhaps you could live a life of food untouched by fire at all.

Lobster Sang Mee: If it means something to the chef, you can bet it’ll taste very good.

You can’t live off appetisers, of course, even if these are that good. So we move on to the mains: first up is a childhood classic of the chef, a Lobster Sang Mee ($32++). No one really expects a zi char dish to show up in a chic bistro, but I’m not complaining if it’s as good as how he does it. With egg drop soup, mussels, and “abalone” (actually a type of mushroom), the dish is intensely homey, but the lobster and the plating remind you that this is quite a step up beyond what you’ll get at your friendly neighbourhood coffee shop. Clearly, never underestimate a chef when he prepares a dish that is emotionally important to him!

Smoked Tenderloin: A garden, with soil, greens, and an animal I could eat over and over again.

Continuing on the smoked theme, I had the Smoked Tenderloin ($38++). Now, it comes with gobo, braised shiitake and truffle soil, but these are merely the accompaniment to the real star: the excellent meat on offer. It is juicy, and the smoking has clearly managed to lock in the flavours, with a depth of taste that I find difficult to describe in words. Maybe it’s the smoking, maybe it’s the quality of the meat already, but this was quite the tour de force. What added a lot of joy to my dining here was the way the other ingredients came in to play: the braised shiitake offered incredibly earthy tastes that contrasted with the meatiness of the tenderloin, and the truffle soil was just excellent mash. I am very picky about my mash, since potato can be boring if you don’t do it right, but I had zero complaints here.

Semifreddo of Lime: Nothing done halfway here in this semifreddo; wholly goodness.

A meal that begins this well, carries this well through the mains, must also end well. To this end, I enjoyed the two options available: a light and refreshing Semifreddo of Lime ($10++) and the simpler but richer Molten Chocolate ($12++). The semifreddo comes with a lovely aesthetic, using blue pea flower caviar, alongside a distinctively floral treat from the crumbly sable that gave depth to the lime notes of the ice cream. Texture-wise, the dessert developed over the time it took to eat it: first with distinct notes from each flavour, then commingling of flavours as the ice cream melted and each spoonful became a delicious potpourri.

Molten Chocolate: What it says on the tin, in a real celebration of chocolate.

But if you’re not into light finishes, then the option for decadence will also not disappoint. Skyve’s chocolate lava cake is as good as I have had anywhere else, with a candied zest that manages to cut through the richness. This dessert is exactly what it looks like: an elegant chocolate cake that degenerates very quickly into a wonderfully sticky and gooey mess that celebrates chocolate gloriously.

Ah, all that satisfaction. Ultimately, there’s a whole host of options for dining that begin from brunch, till dinner, and I think the setting really just is perfect for the food. Come in for lazy brunches, quiet lunches, and charming dinners. They really do hit the right spot.

Thank you Skyve Wine Bistro for the invitation.
This article was written by Lan Yingjie

Skyve Wine Bistro
No. 10 Winstedt Road

Block E #01-17
Singapore 227977
Reservations: 6225 6690

Website

Discover an Omakase and Sake secret at Kakure Bar

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Exquisite omakase restaurant Ki-Sho has expanded its service and now includes the new boutique bar Kakure, located on the second floor of the restaurant bungalow. After a first breathtaking visit to Ki-Sho, I was intrigued in what else the brand could offer. Kakure, envisioned as an intimate bar experience, boasts one of the largest sake lists in Singapore, specially curated by Ki-Sho’s chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto, and the restaurant’s two kikisake-shi John and Makoto. Unique to Kakure is a sake range that focuses on handcrafted liquors that are not widely available, and each of these sakes are brought in limited quantities. Pairing each sake with the bar’s omakase selection is an art in itself, making each experience and visit one that is truly unique. With a cozy dining and drinking experience, one where you get personalized attention from the sake sommelier, Kakure is the place to be at for aficionados of Japanese culinary and beverage finery.

Continue reading “Discover an Omakase and Sake secret at Kakure Bar”

Dance into the Splendours of Spring at Li Bai, Sheraton Towers Singapore!

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The Splendours of Spring beckons upon Li Bai this year with a slew of delectable classics ranging from the exquisite Lobster Yu Sheng Loh Hei Platter to the Eight Treasures Duck with Abalone. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Executive Chef Chung Yiu Ming has prepared 9 exclusive dine-in celebratory menus for various group sizes this year. As the Lunar New Year is a season where families and friends reunite and gather, all in the same spirit to rejoice and usher in another bountiful year of prosperity, a round of good food is always symbolically delightful. Curious to find out what are some of the highlights?  Continue reading “Dance into the Splendours of Spring at Li Bai, Sheraton Towers Singapore!”

A Hairy Crab Indulgence at Li Bai, Sheraton Towers!

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The Hairy Crab season is back! In marking its return at Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant, Sheraton Towers, 4 spectacular Hairy Crab dishes will be served up in addition to the existing menu with some new, creative dishes. The Hairy Crab is well known for its sweet succulent meat as well as its luscious rich golden roe. Join Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant for this epicurean adventure from now till the 30th of November 2014. Ready to see what I had for dinner?

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Start off with a quaint serving of Baked Chicken and Abalone Pie served with Steamed Charcoal Shrimp Dumpling. The Shrimp Dumpling is bright and crispy, with a good amount of prawn flavour to encapsulate the entire serving. I was well enchanted by the baked chicken and abalone pie for its savoury and well bodied filling. Crisp, with a good amount of gravy and heat, this was an excellent starter to the entire night.

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One highlight to go for is the Braised King Prawn and Sweet Potato with Hairy Crabmeat and Crab Roe ($36 per person). A luscious, king prawn is perched gingerly atop creamed sweet potato and vegetables before being lavished over by a golden sauce made out of hairy crabmeat and crab roe. The sauce is velvety thick with a good flavour that hints of crab – nicely complementing the sweeter and more textured prawn. A very nice portion for that single serve.

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As a break between crabs, we were served up the Red Garoupa prepared in 2 ways – Suateed Fillet of Garoupa and Deep-fried Fillet of Garoupa. My preferred choice goes to the deep fried variant for its sharper flavours and firmer textures. It carried a deeper savoury aromatic that made the portion stand out more so than the sauteed serving.

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Hairy Crabs don’t get any more traditional that it being steamed with ginger and served with a sweetened ginger vinegar dip. Priced at $60 per piece, guests can request in advance if they would prefer their crabs to be male or female (subject to availability). The female Hairy Crab will carry roe that is firmer, while the male Hairy Crab will have its a more creamier milt that is usually velvety and rich.

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For the night, I had the male Hairy Crab. Look at the gorgeous golden orange hue. It makes you want to almost slurp it all up. The crabs are served with a side of sweetened vinegar and ginger dip that complements well with the crab. It is essential to consume ginger throughout the meal as the crabs are very ‘cooling’, and a counter ‘warming’ dish is always necessary. After you consume the roe/milt, enjoy the rest of the sweet meat around the entire body. Use the pair of scissors provided and skillfully cut through the shell. If you have trouble or would simply prefer to be served hairy crab without shell, do let the staff know. After the serving of hairy crabs, tuck in to a bowl of hot and sweetened ginger tea.

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New on the menu is the Fried Crispy Rice with Diced Scallops and Asparagus. A portion of rice is deep fried to achieve rice crisps, and then stir fried with regular rice and other ingredients to make a portion of this novel dish. Crunchy, textured, flavourful and fragrant, this was a unique creation that deserves a mention. The only trouble I had was rice getting caught between each bite, and would thus prefer regular fried rice anyday.

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End off the night with a serving of Sweetened Ginger Tea with Hasma. I found this serving of ginger tea to be slightly less spicy than the one served after the crabs, and is probably more of a dessert that will nicely round up the entire dinner of ‘cooling’ dishes. Kudos to the chef for ending off on a sweet note.

The Hairy Crab crustacean indulgence will be available from now till 30th November 2014. In addition to the Traditionally Steamed Hairy Crab ($60) and the Braised King Prawn and Sweet Potato with Hairy Crabmeat and Crab Roe ($36), guests can also order the Braised Bird’s Nest with Hairy Crabmeat and Crab Roe ($88) and the Stewed Crystal Hor Fun with Hairy Crabmeat and Crab Roe ($78 for a small portion). This feast will also take shape in a Hairy Crab wine dinner on the 7th of November where a degustation menu priced at $180++ is specially prepared for guests. Ready for a gastronomic high with this seasonal specialty?

Thank you Li Bai for the invitation

Li Bai
Sheraton Towers
39 Scotts Road
Singapore 228230
Reservations: 6839 5623
Hairy Crabs are available from 1st October to 30th November 2014