Friday, February 19, 2010

Forlino - Lunch

I was curious to try the Forlino lunch menu, since I have only been to Forlino once for dinner and once for a special occasion. Their lunch menu is reasonably priced $38++ for starter, main, coffee/tea and petit fours.
I was again positively impressed by the Chef, who can certainly prepare good Italian fare with a modern touch.

This focaccia is a Forlino's classic and they serve it with every meal.

The amouse bouche was a small salad with a very well balanced vinaigrette.

I really enjoyed this turkey salad with herbs. It's a healthy starter, but it's really an explosion of flavours around lean slices of turkey meat. I enjoyed the mustard decoration, and I wished there was more of that.

I decided to order gnocchi in addition to the regular lunch set menu since I had consistently good pastas both times I had eaten at this restaurant, and I wanted to test the Chef once more. The gnocchi was served with a rustic mushroom sauce that had a robust and well rounded flavour of carrots, mushrooms, parsley and a tinge of meat stock. The actual gnocchi dumplings were fantastic. Since I often cook gnocchi myself, I could appreciate the skill of the Chef required to put these together. There was a very low content of flour, which made the gnocchi extremely light to the palate. It felt like they disappeared in my mouth. The lightness of the gnocchi, combined with such a simple but robust sauce, really made me feel like I was back in Italy. I loved it. No cream / truffle oil shortcuts, just proper cooking.

The pork cheek with rosemary polenta and radicchio rosso was my second favourite. The cheek was very tender and well seasoned. The polenta was unlike what I am used to: it was a much smoother and richer paste, with a grainy texture, and a rosemary flavour which added that extra interest in this otherwise ordinary staple. Great, simple, classic combination, well executed.

I already had this cod with Champagne sauce at my previous visit. It's an OK dish, but in my opinion not in the same league as the pork cheek, primarily as the cod tasted a bit drier than I would have liked it.

To conclude the meal, I ordered a taster of three flavours of ice cream: Aceto Balsamico, Chestnut and vanilla, Robiola cheese. The balsamic vinegar flavour tasted like candied fruit. There are many candied fruits lovers around, but unfortunately I am not one of them. I have been wanting to try this ice cream flavour for a long time, and I was a bit disappointed to find out that it's not for me. I really liked the taste of the robiola cheese ice cream, although its texture was a little rich in crystals, which might not be to everyone's taste. The chestnut ice cream on the other hand was extremely smooth and rich, and I would personally give it an higher score than all others.
I had a very pleasant lunch at Forlino, and I will certainly be back for more. I am especially interested in trying more of their pasta, since good pasta in Singapore is unfortunately such a rare find. After all, how much value can an Italian restaurant offer if they can't display pride in their pasta?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Forlino - St. Valentine's Menu

I went to Forlino for St. Valentine's and really enjoyed the menu. Given the dark lighting, I didn't take any pictures and the exact same menu has already been reviewed in extreme detail by Camemberu.
In a couple of sentences, the menu was well designed and balanced, beautifully presented and attentively served. I have to say that when you consider the beautiful ambience, the gorgeous food and first class service, your money is well spent at Forlino.

I particularly liked the "Tortino di Barbabietole su Fonduta di Robiola" - absolute genius!
Their "Tagliolini al Nero con Zabaione ai Ricci di Mare e Pomodorini Semi Canditi" was also superbly done. I loved the subtle sea flavour infused into that delicately thick (very importantly, no cream added!!) pasta sauce. Work of a master. I will definitely come back here again to try more of their pastas, as I haven't had much luck before with pastas in Singapore, besides Cugini's.
Finally, the last highlight was the "Filetto di Angus Prime con Radicchio Candito e Salsa di Fegato Grasso al Porto". I was delighted to have Radicchio Rosso served on my plate here in Singapore! This is something I really miss, a true rarity, and worth having this meal for.
Thanks to Chef Giuliano for the wonderful meal, I will be back for more.

#02-06 One Fullerton
One Fullerton Road Singapore 049213
Tel: 6877 6995

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wahiro - Roxy Square

Finally, it's back! After 2 long months, my favourite neighborhood Japanese restaurant has reopened in style! While Wahiro was closed, I tried a couple of other places, looking for reasonably priced but good sushi and Japanese food, and failed miserably. My unsuccessful search is over, now that they are open again.

The new venue has a different feel as compared to the old cozy and traditional restaurant: It's more modern, brighter and spacious. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. I wasn't surprised by the fact that 2 days after opening the restaurant was already fully packed with their regular customers, which is a sign of how appreciated this restaurant is.

The menu is basically the same, as I believe most regulars would want it to stay the same. And of course the staff hasn't changed too, as they seem to be so attached to this business and its cheerful owners.

The logo outside the door has been modernised. Very "zen"!

I don't think too many comments are required for their food. It's traditional, simple, fresh, authentic, and above average for what you pay. This is why they have been so successful and have such a solid customers base.

Their kushiyaki is as good as it has always been. The asparagus was firm and juicy.

The fish arrived the day before, and I have to say I went for 2 days in a row and the previous day it was even better! However, not to complain, the fish was firm and fresh even on the day I took the pictures.

I love this seasonal dish. Steamed bamboo shoots (Takenoko) with katsuobushi. It tastes so traditional, just the dashii smell stimulates your appetite.

Chicken thigh with salt.

I love their amaebi nigiri. It's impeccably smooth, firm, fat and sweet...

...and the heads follow either as a soup or deep fried.

Ankimo with Miso dressing is superb. A nice alternative to the usual Ankimo ponzu.

Wahiro - Katong
50 East Coast Road #01-01,
Roxy Square Shopping Centre, Singapore 428769
Tel: 6342 2252

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Private Affairs - Lunch

Located in the heart of Katong where fine dining has not yet penetrated is this new (about 3 months old) establishment that serves refined French cuisine. Quite a contrast from the surrounding local coffee shops, in a neighborhood that has a tradition for local delicacies. Nevertheless, since I live in Katong, I am delighted that someone took the initiative to try to introduce something more upmarket in an area that is quite wealthy and hopefully will be able to sustain it.

As always, I would rather try the lunch menu before committing to a full dinner, and since the restaurant is located around the corner from my place why not...
Their lunch menu offers 3 ($38) or 4 ($46) courses of your choice.

The beetroot salad with cucumber sorbet was very creative, beautifully presented and had a distinct, clean flavour. The cucumber sorbet in particular was very refreshing.

I wasn't particularly impressed by the fish carpaccio which was quite standard, but it wasn't bad either.

The purple carrot soup with open lobster ravioli was served dry, and the soup was poured by the chef onto the plate in front of the customer. Quite a good, well presented idea.

The soup was nice, although the carrot flavor didn't emerge as much as it could have. The piece of lobster was the highlight to me. Meaty and juicy, loaded with shellfish aroma.

The beef Parmentier was a tad too robust and sweet for our palate, and the sauce lacked of depth. The idea is food and well presented, but it needs some work.

The fish was cooked to perfection, and complemented by a slightly sour and creamy sauce and chopped vegetables. A few crispy tidbits added texture to the dish. I liked the accompanying semi-dried tomatoes.

The banana crepe with black sesame ice cream was quite nice, although nothing outstanding. The ice cream deserved more attention than the crepe.

A much better dessert was the strawberry sorbet with yogurt sponge and nougat. I have to say that I enjoyed every bit of it. From the poppy chocolate bits to the soft and creamy nougat stick, the soft and spongy yogurt texture and the refreshing, mildly sour sorbet.

I was pleased with the lunch, although a couple of the dishes could definitely be improved on. I will go there again for dinner to try what the full chef's course set tastes like. Being a Katong resident I am pleased that someone is trying to introduce sophisticated food in this neighborhood and I am hopeful that more similar initiatives will develop in this up and coming area.

Private Affairs
45 Joo Chiat Place
Tel: 6440 0601

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sui Japanese Dining

I haven't been eating sushi on a regular basis since Wahiro closed in Katong Mall. I have been thinking of looking for a replacement for the time being, although it is expected to reopen quite soon.
Today I was craving for sushi, so I decided to try Sui Japanese Dining. Both staff and sushi chef were welcoming and friendly. We sat at the sushi counter and I asked the chef what the best fish of the day was.

Based on his recommendation, I ordered some traditional nigiri, which is the best way to tell the quality of the sushi. The chu-toro was OK, I have no complaints with the fish, but the rice was so dry that I couldn't appreciate it at all.

Needless to say, the same dry rice problem haunted me over...

...and over...

...and over, for all the sushi I ordered (and regretted for ordering). A bit upsetting really. I could excuse this quality of sushi rice if I went to Sakae Sushi (which is something I don't do), but not for this kind of price!

The deep fried botanebi head was good, and so was the miso soup with the second head.

The "salted raw squid" was also quite nice, with a very strong fishy taste. I would describe it as smooth, slimy and salty, with a strong flavor of egg roe, almost like concentrated bottarga.

The grilled cod with mentaiko was OK, although a bit junkie due to the generous mayonnaise-mentaiko mix.

The painful bit was the bill, which was $104 in total (the two of us had ice water and green tea as a drink), out of which $70 was the net cost of the sushi. If the sushi had been satisfactory, I would have thought the price was OK, although I would have still preferred Wahiro in terms of fish quality. But since the quality of the rice was so poor, I felt ripped off. Fair enough, my search for reasonably good sushi for a reasonable price continues...

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