Bring out the bubbly
IT'S the beginning of the harvest in France, and to celebrate, the house of Moet & Chandon has tied up with several restaurants to offer special champagne set meals with a glass of bubbly thrown in for the month of October.
03 October 2005
The Business Times
IT'S the beginning of the harvest in France, and to celebrate, the house of Moet & Chandon has tied up with several restaurants to offer special champagne set meals with a glass of bubbly thrown in for the month of October. If you're in a celebratory mood, here's where you can raise your glass without breaking the bank.
From top: The modern European cuisine at My Dining Room takes on a Japanese accent; Food at Club Chinois; Shiro's elegant set lunch with Moet & Chandon champagne
SHIRO JAPANESE HAUTE CUISINE
ITS darkened interiors and intimidating entrance all but say, 'don't come in unless you're rich, have close personal ties with the chef or owner, have a reservation and are willing to splurge'.
But muster the courage to step through the sliding door - or rap loudly enough till someone on the inside lets you in - and the service is warm and welcoming.
It's upmarket for sure, right up to the valet outside who offers to park your car, and the efficient service. The food is slick, and the current $65 nett set lunch offers good value given the quality.
You start off with a glass of bubbly that goes beautifully with the zensai (starter) trio of grilled Japanese scallop that had been marinated in a teriyaki-like sauce, a delicate sea urchin ensconced in a wasabi-infused aspic, and a refreshing bowl of fresh seaweed and diced mountain yam in a sweet vinegar dressing.
You might as well finish the champagne with the first course as it doesn't go too well with the other dishes. A decent portion of sashimi follows, comprising good quality salmon, tuna, yellowtail and sweet shrimp. The grilled salmon was a little on the dry side and the homemade miso marinade was barely discernible. The highlight, though, was a lovely kaisen chawanmushi - a luxuriously smooth egg custard that starred seasonal fish, shrimp and gingko nuts in a fragrant broth perfumed with grated yuzu.
Finally, with a 'main' course of mixed sushi - also good stuff - plus a bowl of clear soup with a yummy spongy fishcake in it, and home-made jelly, your $65 nett just bought you one happy meal.
Shiro Japanese Haute Cuisine
24 Greenwood Avenue,
By Jaime Ee
CHEF Ken Ling's dinner menu at Club Chinois is light, unusual and uplifting - with the best of flavours associated with both Eastern and Western cuisines subtly and masterfully married together for a menu that matched well with the Moet & Chandon champagne.
The courses start with a martini glass of steamed chawanmushi, topped with a piece of pan-fried five-spiced foie gras, while sweet red wine apple slices provided a fruity counterpoint to both the truffle-richness of the foie gras and the soothing chawanmushi. There was just an ever-so-light hint of five-spice so that the predominant taste was that of the foie gras with the steamed egg providing a creamy finish.
It was a lovely segue to the braised shark's fin in lobster bisque which was an outstanding soup. You could practically taste every single ingredient in the soup, and yet all of them blended together so well. It was almost Szechuan soup-like with its sweet, sour and peppery tones, while a light lobster bisque provided the undertow of flavour, enhanced by the fried shallots.
In the dinner menu, two types of main courses will be served, the steamed fillet of marble goby and the roasted marinated rack of lamb, while only the fish will be served at lunch. The flesh of the marble goby is smooth and a tad dense, rather than being flaky soft, so the concentrated mushroom consomme provided a good base for it, balanced with a more neutral winter melon puree.
The roasted marinated rack of lamb with lamb reduction and a dash of fresh chilli-mint chutney on the side, however, is the piece de resistance. Chef Ling's marinating of the lamb took away any gamey taste, although those who prefer stronger-flavoured meat might not like how it's been 'neutralised', while the flesh was tender but springy to the bite.
We rounded up the savoury courses with a light braised mee sua with freshly-peeled crab meat which was a homey, soothing finish. The novel surprise in this dish was the chilli oil and sweet black Chinese vinegar reduction on the side which was almost like balsamic vinegar.
We continued to be pleasantly surprised with the dessert offering of a few pieces of lychee, stuffed with candied ginger inside, and deep fried in batter. The crispy-soft textures and spicy-sweet tastes were novel, uplifted by the sharp calamansi sherbet.
Chef Ling's champagne-inspired menu is, on the whole, elegant and wholesome. It comes with a glass of Moet & Chandon's non-vintage Brut, while prices per bottle on offer range from $108-$148+++. Set lunch is at $68+++ and set dinner at $88+++.
2nd level, Orchard Parade Hotel,
By Cheah Ui-Hoon
MY DINING ROOM
MY Dining Room might have teenage-looking chef Vincent Teng, 31, at its helm, but his youthfulness belies a seasoned and mature cooking skill. For this period, he's given a Japanese accent to his modern European cuisine and the result is refreshingly novel.
For the five-course menu ($78+++) that's paired with a glass of Moet & Chandon's non-vintage Imperial Brut, Chef Teng starts you off with a freshly shucked oyster topped with yuzu sorbet. Yuzu, the Japanese citrus that's a cross between orange and lemon, gave an ice-cold tanginess to the cold, crunchy oyster.
In contrast, the tataki of yellow fin tuna that followed was a warm dish, equally fresh, and the tuna was further coated with seaweed for added oceanic flavour. The scallop on half shell had a light drizzle of soyu and mirin in it, while the baby whitebait as garnish enhanced it ever so subtly.
We enjoyed the four to five slices of oven-baked smoked duck which had a salty-sweet miso sauce to go with it, as the meat was tasty and firm. The grilled lamb loin wrapped with bacon was lovely, the bacon giving an extra dimension to the lamb which wasn't gamey at all, and grilled medium rare rather than well-cooked. The concentrated Japanese curry which was daubed across the lamb gave it a slightly spicy saltiness, while the pumpkin mash was sweet and buttery.
The meal ended on a tart note, with the firm jellied terrine of champagne and whole wild berries topped with tangy blood orange sorbet.
Serving portions are modest, but just right, frankly, because one left with a well-indulged palate but not feeling too guilty for having too much of a good thing.
My Dining Room
81 Club St,
By Cheah Ui-Hoon
SENSO RISTORANTE & BAR
WITH its impressive entryway, intimate courtyard, trendy bar and elegant dining room, Senso remains one of the classiest culinary destinations in town - the sort of 8,000-square-foot place that would enhance any dining experience. Since it made a big splash on the local dining scene five years ago, this classic Italian eatery has expanded its operations to include outlets abroad as well as a sister chain of popular pizza joints.
After the departure of the original restaurant team (which subsequently opened Oso), Senso slipped a little down the culinary charts before bouncing back to more familiar levels, thanks perhaps to Chef Antonio Cocozza, who joined the restaurant about a year ago, and a renovation job that added a touch of informality.
Appropriately enough, Chef Cocozza's last name means 'pumpkin' in Italian, so it seems he was to the manner born - much of his early cooking experience was learned from his grandmother while growing up in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast. Grandma's great-tasting tiramisu recipe - using zabaglione and amaretto breadcrumbs to keep it light and fluffy - still survives at Senso, but Chef Cocozza is also capable of devising his own concoctions.
There is no specific Moet Champagne set lunch at the restaurant, but the chef will gladly customise a suitable menu should you desire a meal to go with your bubbly. At a recent tasting, we sampled starters of foie gras with fresh figs and an asparagus salad with medium-boiled eggs and shaved parmesan. This was followed by steady if not spectacular main courses of beef tagliata and roast salmon and refreshing desserts of ricotta lemon tart plus the aforementioned tiramisu. Champagne proved to be a suitable accompaniment to the entire meal.
Chef Cocozza changes the ala carte menu every five weeks or so. He also offers a four-course set menu from a different region each month ($88 or $98 with a glass of champers). The current menu feature dishes from Sardinia, while Tuscany and Piedmont are probably next.
Senso Ristorante & Bar
21 Club Street, #01-01,
By Geoffrey Eu
Other restaurants which are also part of Moet & Chandon's La Promenade promotion are Esmirada, Sushi Yoshida and Pierside Kitchen.