Sunday, November 25, 2007

Aburiya, Robertson Quay

We had dinner with a friend during the week, and decided to eat at Aburiya, as I had been wanting to check it out for a long time. Aburiya is a Japanese charcoal grill restaurant specialising in yakiniku or do-it-yourself grilled meats. We liked the fact that Aburiya used charcoal instead of an electric grill, and the ventilation system worked well enough that we didn't come out smelling like a BBQ. Best of dinner!!! - the pork belly (buta karubi), with its fat melting and crisping over the hot coals and disappearing smoothly down our throats. This place is not that cheap - budget about $40 per person.... but I think we'll be back again....

Fusilli with Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic and Chilli

A very back-to-basics pasta preparation that is surprisingly amazingly good. Recipe from Salute! written by Gail and Kevin Donovan, the owners of Donovans, a very well-known restaurant in Australia.

- Cook fusilli (the recipe actually calls for bucatini) in lots of salted boiling water till al dente. Drain cooked pasta and reserve 1 - 2 tablespoons of pasta water to add to sauce.

- Sweat crushed garlic (2 cloves) and 2 sliced chilli padi in extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan but don't brown it.

- Add 500 g of very ripe cherry tomatoes to frying pan and roll over high heat, till skins start to pop, about 3 min.

- Add drained pasta to frying pan with reserved pasta water. Add coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (about 15 leaves), sea salt and pepper and simmer for 1 - 2 minutes.

- Serve immediately in a large bown with grated cheese (pecorino romano).

Enjoy! For something so deceptively simple, it is extremely moreish.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mozaic, Bali

Apart from babi guling, I was also absolutely determined to have dinner at Mozaic, which had been given many superlatives such as "the best restaurant in Bali" and "one of only two restaurants in Asia to be a member of les grandes tables du Monde" (the other restaurant is Bangkok's Le Normandie, which i had blogged about previously). I was so dead-set on eating there that I emailed a few times before the trip, and called a few times after arriving in Bali, to ensure that our reservations would remain.

So our second day in Bali ended up as a day of absolute gluttony, starting with babi guling for lunch, and dinner at Mozaic. Mozaic serves set dinners, at 450,000 Rupiah per person excluding taxes (or approximately SGD72), and you can choose whether you would like a 3 course set dinner or 6 course chef tasting menu for that price. We both decided to choose the 6-course chef tasting menu, and E picked the items shown in the menu in the picture, whereas I decided to be brave and go for the chef's choice.

The night started out on a high note with our amuse-boche being a lovely tiny cold glass of grilled eggplant, zucchini and capsicum, with tomato sorbet. This was so absolutely refreshing, sweet and savoury at the same time, that I couldn't wait for the rest of the dishes to come. The next few courses for E continued to be excellent, especially the seafood in clam juice-garden herb broth. In my case, there were hits and misses - I suppose from the chef trying out new combinations some of which didn't quite work. For instance, I had slipper lobster in asparagus emulsion with black truffle shavings, which tasted good, but I felt that the ethereal fragrance of the truffles was overwhelmed by the asparagus. I also didn't quite take to my first main course of baked quail with foie gras and toasted candlenut in filo pastry, more because I don't have a strong liking for gamey meat. My second main course of honey soy marinated suckling pig was actually very good, unfortunately, I was a trifled "pigged out" having just had a big meal of piggy babi guling for lunch.

If I had the opportunity to do so, I would go back again to Mozaic in a shot, but perhaps choose from the main menu this time round, and sit in the pretty garden grotto to soak in the magical ambience of fairytale land. First photo above is taken from Mozaic's website at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Babi Guling in Bali

On this trip, I was absolutely determined to try Bali's most revered and famous dish - babi guling, or roasted suckling pig. As most Balinese are Hindu, pork is widely eaten here, unlike in other parts of Indonesia. Ibu Oka is Bali's most famous and most well-regarded outlet for babi guling, and they prepare 3 pigs each day to serve the hungry hoards that descend upon them each day from 11 am onwards. The dish itself consists of slices of roast pork, crispy skin, sausages stuffed with dried blood, fried cracklings (or lard!), and roasted pig ears, all mixed with spices and served on a bed of rice. Despite the horrific sounding description, it is actually quite decent tasting, but very much a cholesterol overload exercise! Personally, i think good Chinese roast pork (like the one from Kay Lee, Upper Paya Lebar Road) is much better but then, this is a must-try in Bali. Go early, as very long queues start forming from about 1215 onwards.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bali = Chill Out

Had a very welcome and absolutely lovely holiday in Bali, just over last weekend (which explains the lack of posts!). We booked a very nice villa in Seminyak, which was great value-for-money at USD106 nett per night, and fairly centrally located as well. We couldn't stop gawking at the pool, little lawn, and private porch located within our very own villa. Just stepping into the place and hearing the gentle tinkling sounds of water made me relax instantly. As usual, we commenced a eat-fest, but more of that in the next posts.

Seeing Stars

Two weeks ago we saw more stars again, as part of the Gordon Grill (at Goodwood Park Hotel) promotion where they invited guest Michelin-starred chefs to come and present their best dishes. This time round, we sampled the creations of 2 Michelin-star chef, Jean-AndrÉ Charial from France, trying out the 6 course degustation lunch menu. At $128+++ a person, it had better be good. And it was. We had the vegetable parmentier ragout simmered with black truffles, followed by crustacean cream veloute with royale blond liver and crayfish, and then the seared saint jacques sea scallop with potato salad. This was quickly followed by a very delectable roasted mediterranean red mullet with basil (my favourite herb), and roasted bresse chicken thigh / breast (this was a slight let-down for me as I felt that the breast meat was overcooked and a tad dry, although E said that it was just nice). Dessert was just as good:
roasted salted caramel apples with Iced Vanilla Sabayon. As can be imagined, we were all fit to burst after that stupendous lunch. However, if one has to make comparisons, I would say that Michel Roux still has an edge, with that simply divine beef cheek that I am still dreaming about.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

U-Zen, Concorde Hotel, KL

On the way back from Cameron Highlands we made a one night stopover in KL, and took the opportunity to try U-Zen, a Japanese restaurant in Concorde Hotel, Jalan Sultan Ismail, KL. This had received good reviews from KL's Best Eats and was just around the corner from where we were staying at the Renaissance hotel (also, our first choices of Lafite and Zipangu at the Shangri-La were unfortunately, fully booked). We ordered the omakase kaiseki - chef's menu, at RM150 each. Not having any menu to refer to, we were left anticipating eagerly what the dishes coming out would be.
Unfortunately, the entire experience was quite a bit of a let-down. First, the restaurant was completely empty. First warning sign - how can a well-regarded restaurant be empty on a Saturday night? Second, service was very indifferent, with the waitresses seemingly more interested in chatting among themselves than actually noticing that you were ready to have your orders taken or tea refilled. Third, while the food itself was fresh and actually rather good, it was not spectacular enough for us to overlook the fact that the waitresses did not know what each dish was (w: this is the appetiser. me: what is it? w: it's the appetiser ...). In any case, the prices that U-zen charged were considered very expensive by KL standards. When we went back to the hotel, we tried to reserve Zipangu for lunch the next day to make up for the experience, only to find out that Zipangu was fully reserved (yes, even the counter seats!). Oh well.... we need to remember to book it 1 week in advance the next time then. And, to trash KL's Best Eats.

Road Trip to Cameron Highlands and KL

Last weekend, we drove to Cameron Highlands for a short break among the farms and tea plantations. This was very much a relaxing holiday. Even the driving (for 9 hours to get there) was really rather fun, as we had packed lots of junk food and cold drinks (which stayed cold!) for the road. Cameron Highlands consists of a cluster of about 3 - 4 little towns, dotted with farms and plantations along the way. They are famous for their vegetables and fruits, which they export to other parts of Malaysia and Singapore as well. Indeed, the vegetables tasted so extremely sweet and crisp (this comes from a non-veggie/fruit lover) that even I couldn't resist gobbling them down. Of course, we plucked lots of fresh strawberries at RM30 per kilo as well which were so sweet and juicy, since we could choose the largest, reddest, and ripest ones to pick! A nice and slow weekend among nature and a wonderful getaway.