Monday, September 21, 2009


Fridays are my favourite day of the week, how better to celebrate the start of the weekend than to enjoy a slow lunch at a nice restaurant? Our pick last Friday was Prive, located at the very glamorous Keppel Bay Marina, on a teeny-tiny man made island just next to Vivocity. Perfect for gawking at the rich and famous and the shiny white yachts bobbing serenely in the waters.

Oddly enough for such a stunning and uber-chic location, the restaurant itself was windowless and had a boxed-in feel, not helped by the low ceiling. Wonder why the restaurant let such great views go to waste? While the furnishings were obviously plush and luxe, the decor was somewhat characterless. No matter, we were there for the food, so this did not detract from our enjoyment of the day.

We were there for the very good value set lunch ($32 for 3 courses, 4 choices for each course, and includes coffee / tea) - this started off on a good note with an assortment of warm delicious bread (sourdough, hard roll, and foccacia), followed by an amuse-bouche of tomato and capsicum gazpacho. Simple it might be, but with its slight tanginess this was a refreshing treat for the palate, sparking our appetites for what was to follow.

I chose the ocean trout confit (with citrus emulsion, ponzu jelly, fennel salad) for my starter and WOW, this dish was beautiful to look at and even more beautiful to experience.... The smorgasbord of flavours melded wonderfully together, giving a beautiful Asian hint to this dish, and the texture of that fish, oh! so smooth and melting that it quivered and slithered right down my throat in one second.

W chose the furikake crusted tuna tataki (with julienned konbu and carrot, sesame seed), another dish with a strong Japanese influence to it, which I thought was okay but not fantastic. Y had the broccoli soup which I didn't sample, since thick soups are not to my liking (maybe that's why she keeps on ordering soups when eating out with me, haha!)

For my main, I went with the sous-vide chicken roulad (with celeriac puree, snow pea salad, brazil mushroom emulsion) since I adore anything cooked under a slow heat. As expected, the texture was very soft and smooth, and both W and Y had nothing but praise for it .... but the devil in my head couldn't help but compare it to my own brined chicken which I think is even more succulent and tasty. I also felt that there was also a bit too much stuff happening on my plate, for instance, the brazil mushroom emulsion didn't add anything to the overall taste and feel of this dish. The chef would have done better to put fewer distractions on the plate!

W's main of slow baked golden snapper (with squid and ratatouille cannelloni, scented shoyu beurre blanc) fared less well. We both agreed that it tasted slightly fishy, although the skin was nicely crisp.

While Y decided upon her usual pasta dish of fettucine aglio olio (with prawn, onion, garlic, chilli, italian parsley), which was alright although the sakura ebi and scallop cappellini that I had the night before at One Rochester seemed to be better.

Desserts, always a difficult choice. Y had the best pick of the day, with her trio of citrus sorbet (blood orange, orange, lemon). That blood orange sorbet was downright addictive - in W's words, "like a very delicious and sweet grapefruit". W opted for the red bean creme brulee (red bean paste, black and white sesame tuile) which was rather good. Less happily for me, my dessert turned out to be the blooper of the meal - apricot gratin (almond pain gene, tahitian vanilla honey glaze) - it tasted like a super ordinary cake with a little bit of almond and honey flavouring, and the apricots weren't caramelized sufficiently to bring out their sweetness either.

Overall, the three of us had a good and definitely value-for-money lunch at Prive, despite the uneven quality of some dishes. When their attempts at infusing Asian flavours into western dishes work, they pull it off in spades and the diner is well-rewarded for taking the risk. It is a place that I would go back to again as a destination dining locale (despite the bizarre lack of windows), although taking care to select the right dishes.
2 Keppel Bay Vista
Marina at Keppel Bay

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