It’s that time of year again. The moment, where the second hand strikes 12, and a whole lot of colour in artful bursts fill the night sky. For all my readers out there, I wish you all a Happy New Year 2014! As one year passes, another one begins. It is like the circle of life, with the start at every end, and a year of many firsts. 2013 was an eventful year for me – a significant milestone in my life. As some of you might have read from my earlier posts, my late father departed in June, bringing into realization many things we do each day and yet not appreciate when it is most opportune. Still, while I rejoice the life he had, the year moving forward into 2014 will be significantly different. As I looked into the night sky, one that is filled with the bright light from the fireworks, the quietness amidst the revelry is like the gong in a silent chamber.
I was most fortunate to be able to attend Singapore’s 2014 Countdown party at The Floating Platform along Marina Bay with my mum. With tickets courtesy of American Express, it was my first time being at the Countdown. The night had performances ranging from acts by local artistes celebrating Mediacorp’s 50th anniversary with The Wanted and Wang Lee Hom ushering the new year in. And as the night grew still, the lights from the Singapore skyline was impressive in more ways than one.
For the first half of 2014, this food blog will take on a slightly different nature. I will be away in the United States for half a year and will not be in Singapore to cover the latest gastro scene or my favourite eating places. Nonetheless, I will still update my blog albeit it carrying an overseas tone for the next few months. The last few articles before I leave will feature a selection of this year’s Lunar New Year festive delights and restaurants to dine at.
While we all rejoice and look forward to what 2014 has yet to bring us, I’d also like to share my favourite articles from the past year. Written chronologically, these articles are the places I’ve found particularly interesting and flavourful. Places or dishes, that strike a warm tone and impressionable memories. Ready to check out what are GourmetEstorie’s Favourite 2013 articles?
The month of January was pretty much a busy month with it leading up to the lunar new year. It was my first time at Si Chuan Dou Hua atop the 60th floor of UOB Plaza and was I blown away by the impressive panoramic view in a snazzy and classy environment. Si Chuan Dou Hua is one place I will recommend for classic Sichuan/Cantonese cuisine in a setting that will fit that business lunch or dinner or simply the casual family meal in comfort.
My next favourite article is the piece written about Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionary. With 4 decades of kueh making by hand, this confectionary tucked away in a Bedok housing estate is a hidden gem that carry a scion of Singapore’s identity and past. I loved the Glutinous Rice and Peng Kueh!
February introduced me to a place which redefined how I saw vegetarian cuisine. Original Sin at Holland Village serves up an excellent portion of Spanakopita – A two in one serving of Baked ricotta, spinach, feta and filo pastry and a portion of Portobello and mixed vegetable ratatouille. Many of the flavours included a good amount of tomato, cheese and brightly coloured vegetables, fruits and roots. Visually impressive and tasty.
Also in the same period, I wrote about Barnacles at the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort. Themed as a Sunday garden party seafood buffet, the concept saw the restaurant offering a smorgasbord of quality dishes, sweets and fancies while everyone dined near the beach overlooking the sea. Unfortunately, Barnacles has since closed but the memories from the place remain.
March passed by relatively quickly but not without two lasting delights from both Shangri-La’s The Line and Triple Three at Mandarin Orchard. The Line carried a Turkish delights promotion which featured a whole roasted lamb on display, ready for carving. Talk about an exciting foray into Turkish cuisine. Then, Triple Three wowed taste buds with Norwegian Guest Chef Adrian Lovold’s repertoire of Norwegian cuisine. Highlights included Lobsters steamed over pebbles, and the array of fresh seafood was simply marvellous.
This was a memorable month for me as my personal visit to RISE restaurant at Marina Bay Sands for their Easter Lunch Buffet was a last minute decision for my dad, mum and me. A very decent affair with a good selection of quality dishes that are visually appetizing in a setting that just exudes luxurious comfort, RISE is the place to be for that buffet treat at Marina Bay Sands. I also saw myself covering Ku De Ta’s Sunday Brunch Buffet within the same month. Located at Level 57 of Marina Bay Sands, Ku De Ta’s brunch buffet was simply generous in portion sizes with tasty flavours throughout. With flavours that are for those who are keen in a blend of the East and West, Ku De Ta’s brunch buffet is a wholesome adventure that will leave you stuffed.
In May, I received a gorgeous Steamed Roast Goose Rice Dumpling from Li Bai, Sheraton Towers Singapore in light of the upcoming dumpling festival season. Stuffed with generous amounts of beans, peanuts, dried conpoy, chestnuts, chinese mushrooms on top of chunky piece of roast goose, this was a delectable portion enough for two. Then, I was introduced to English gastrobar grub at The Ascot located at The Grandstand. It was my first tucking in to Scotch eggs, and it was simply a sight to behold as the runny yolk contrasted the portion seductively. The Deep Fried Mars Bars was also good with a nice amount of sweet and savoury balanced within. Worth the trip to The Grandstand if you ask me.
June 2013 will probably be one of the most memorable months in my life. With my dad’s passing, I halted most of my events and writings in the immediate weeks after. I restarted the blog at the end of the month with surprising promotion from Town restaurant at the Fullerton Hotel. When Ah Yoke from the Straits Times recommended the Heritage Eurasian Buffet at Town, Fullerton Hotel, I thought this was a particularly apt moment to connect the dots of my own ethnic heritage through the flows of gastronomic class. It was a particularly poignant visit as my own roots, as that of my father’s, is Eurasian. It was just a dinner I simply had to visit with my family.
Earlier in the month, I dropped by Plaza Brasserie at the PARKROYAL on Beach Road for their Crab Buffet. It was one that was extremely well received and extended beyond the promotion’s scheduled run by date. With up to 8 different crab varieties, and an especially delicious Tan Gui concoction, this was a visit well worth it.
In July, LIME at the PARKROYAL on Pickering was the place to be at if you wanted a Sunday Brunch Buffet with a splendid view from within the hotel. An exquisite experience! Thereafter, I visited Li Bai at the Sheraton Towers for a review of their upcoming mid-autumn delicacies, an eye-opening experience to one of Singapore’s most recognized restaurants.
The highlight for the month goes to Clifford at The Fullerton Bay Hotel for their Summer Black Truffle promotion. Executive Chef Sandro’s menu of black truffle recipes are simply a joy to partake in. Items such as the Honey Truffled Glazed Suckling Pig and the Vincotto Marinated Strawberries with Housemade Truffle Ice Cream were the items that wowed the senses.
I just caught Chef Santaro’s interview in the Sunday Times a couple of days back and it was at the restaurant Hinoki located at China Square Central where I got the pleasure to witness his dishes in person. I was well into my second course and found myself yearning to start writing the article, sharing it with all. The cuisine was unique, the choicest, simple yet memorable. An Omakase experience that found itself well within the books of recommendations.
Later in the month, Triple Three once again wowed guests with their Mini Miyazaki Buffet promotionMini Miyazaki Buffet promotion. With Japanese Wagyu on the buffet line, on top of items such as the Slow Roasted Miyazaki Beef and the tantalizing spread of sweets and treats, this was the buffet to be at for the month.
In September, Waterfall Cafe at the Shangri-La Hotel launched for a limited time only its Sunday Brunch Buffet that was an experience well worth visiting and inscribing to memory. The key highlights included the Organic Herb Crusted U.S. Colorado Lamb Chop, Foie Gras Terrine, selection of fresh oysters and lobsters, watermelon and tomato salad and the range of 12 cheeses.
I then travelled to Ezoca, Sentosa Cove for one of the finest Kaiseki Ryori experiences in Singapore. Intricate detail went into every dish that was presented, with the flavours simple yet finely pronounced. The most premium set on the menu fetched the most premium of prices, but when one looks at the overall adventure with that special someone, sometimes the journey can be well worth it.
Then for a blast from the past, Old Geylang restaurant at Geylang Lorong 23 is the one stop place for all things delicious like Seafood Cze Char, Turtle Soup and even Durians. The Turtle Soup with Plain Rice (I emphasize plain rice because it was just too good) was fabulous, the Live Oyster with Salted Egg Yolk was a sight to behold, the Crocodile Tail in Red Braising Sauce was just delicious. I enjoyed almost everything presented for the night and still had room for a round of durians to quench the palate. Talk about a true blue Singaporean and his penchant for food.
Things got a little atas with the Paradise Group’s latest creation of Le Restaurant & Bar. Neo-modern designs meets contemporary meets traditional Asian cuisine for that unique blend in food, drinks and decor that stands out from any Chinese restaurant and bar in Singapore. A performative experience through and through, with its appeal acquired for the trendy or those open to explore.
Just before the exams hit, my friends brought me to Coocci Contemporary Japanese cuisine located at the Commonwealth Crescent Market. Hawker food becomes redefined with this little outlet, showcasing innovative treats that are priced reasonably, refreshing and tasty.
It is a good month in November with two buffets well worth the recommendation. The first goes to Marina Bay Sand’s Cheese and Chocolate Bar Buffet. While there is possibly a limit to how much sweets and savouries you can tuck into, the sheer glory of being surrounded with all things chocolate and for me, all things cheese, is simply divine. What more, the buffet is only available from 8pm onwards at The Club on level 57 – promising all guests with a beautiful night skyline of the Singapore cityscape.
The other buffet that left to impress was Catalunya’s Spanish Brunch Buffet. Brunch becomes redefined with a little celebration in this upbeat and lively restaurant that features the whole kitchen team coming out every now and then with Suckling Pig, Paella, Salt Baked Fish, and Desserts. Witness the experience live, you have to be there to see it for yourself!
As the year drew to a close, my visit to Pioneer Seafood at the Tuas Amenity Centre was one that invoked distant memories of a Singapore I never knew. While the journey to the restaurant itself was long and quite a distance, the older generation who are familiar with the seafood rich area formerly that of Tuas, will be happy to relish in past memories with creations from Pioneer Seafood. Nostalgia!
The huge fanfare and publicity about Jamie’s Italian in Singapore set many wondering how the popular chef’s cuisine would fare in real life. With the dishes always looking good on tv, many expectations were raised. Now that I’ve tried it with their next menu revamp for the season, I must say that I loved most of the dishes presented for the lunch. The flavours were innovative and heartwarming and a departure from what one would get in a regular restaurant in Singapore. I would definitely come back for a revisit, and look forward to dishes I’ve yet to try. For a first visit, it was an excellent way to draw the year to a close.
And to end this article, here is a video clip of the fireworks taken last night! Enjoy.
Once again, to all my readers out there, thank you for all the support you’ve been giving to GourmetEstorie!
I wish you all a delightful and happy 2014!