Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Four Seasons Singapore One-Ninety Mezze Dinner Buffet

Photo courtesy of Four Seasons SG
Get ready to pack on the pounds with the newly launched Mezze Dinner buffet at One-Ninety in Orchard. This latest instalment features a main course and buffet spread of appetizers and desserts at an unbelievable price of only $58++!! Buffet sounds highly inviting but the showpiece is the main course that comprises a selection of wood-fired steaks and seafood, grilled over apple wood at more than 200 degrees Celsius in temperature. 
Some of the mains require additional charges but they are very worth the extra bucks. Take for example the Rack of Lamb from Australia that truly exemplifies the skills of Chef Owen who is a master at handling tricky cuts. The marinade is nothing fancy, but the meat is superbly succulent and tender, as if I was slicing a raw eggplant.
Rangers Valley Wagyu Rump

Perfectly seasoned and grilled, the flesh of the Rangers Valley Wagyu Rump is rosy pink and each chew releases mouthful of flavourful beefy juices. On the other hand, the Red Label Organic Salmon Tranche turned out to be a huge fish mammoth, bearing the grilled marks after being slapped on the blistering grill. It could shine more with some dash of salt as the citrusy yuzu velouté sauce easily masked the original taste. I wonder how the other fish--Mediterranean Sea Bass tastes but it seems like the red meats are the forte.   

Highlights from the cocktails: Singapore Sangria (a signature exclusive cocktail with addition of Asian fruits such as dragonfruit, star fruit and lychee liquor), Wasabi Martini, Lemon Mojito 
Wine lovers will be in good hands as there is a series of cocktails curated by Head Bartender Sebastian Vaquez to complement the meats.The booze intensity is clearly quite high as even wine lovers squealed at the initial sips. 
From the appetizer table, there is a wide spread of salads, primed cured meats and seafood that are reflective of Italian and Mediterranean influences. Smartly zipped up with subtly sweet thai dressing, the cold lobsters were undoubtedly the hot favourite of many but my eyes and hands maneuvered naturally towards the pot of hummus and tahini. Yes, it was so smooth and moreish that I dunked some onto the crackers which I sneakily smuggled from the cheese platter.
There isn't many things that can taste better than a super creamy, oozing Italian bread, except when the mascarpone filling is truffed. Like a posh "pizza", this Truffle Foccacia is a MUST-TRY from the ala carte menu and I'm glad it's no longer the sole privilege treat to the VIPs. Cheers to this one.
As with every meal, I cannot forget what is arguably the most important part to me: desserts.Helmed by Pastry Chef Yoshihide who was previously from Four Seasons Tokyo Marunouchi, there is a touch of zen on the delicately soft petit mousse cakes. Some were too sweet but the Blueberry Crumble Mousse Cake got me obsessed with the sweet and salt coming through every lick. 
The pastry team seems to know the cacao bean very well as the chocolate treats were clearly the jewels of the dessert table. They were so decadent that one would be forgiving towards the slightly chewy over-chewy macarons. Sparkling like a bar of gold, the well-tempered Chocolate Yuzu Tart doesn't hit one in the face with a sharp citrus taste but it crawls in gradually towards the centre of the tart.

There is a gorgeous dark chocolate ganache cake topped with raspberries but it could not surpass the supremacy of the Hazelnut Royaltine. This signature cake of Four Seasons lives up to its reputation with a satisfyingly thick and crunchy feuilettineProbably a seasonal Italian inspiration, the "chocolate salami" is another dessert snack with its rewarding crumbliness and incorporation of salt that cuts through the cookie beautifully. Even "mainstream" desserts such as mixed berry crumble with buttery rocky-road chunks or the cloud-like bitter Chocolate pot de Crème stood notches above the rest. 

Signature Hazelnut Royaltine

(Clockwise from top) Hazelnut Linzer Torte, Chocolate Salami, Pear and Berries Crumble, Macarons
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons SG
At a very reasonal price of $58, the Mezze dinner here goes beyond the sophisticated meal experience by creating a very welcoming, intimate ambience as if one is dining at home without feeling rushed or disturbed by loud, noisy conversations. Located just right next to the kitchen is the Chef Table which can seat up to 14 guests, making it a highly suitable option to host gatherings with your family and friends.

But ultimately, it's all about the food. Driven by the philosophy of freshness and seasonality, there is of course one big catch: the menu changes all the time, so the yummy lobsters or chocolate yuzu tart might not appear on the buffet table on your visit. No worries, everything here is first rate.

Enjoy 20% off the price of $58 from now till 20th December 2014!

Mezze Dinner Buffet at One-Ninety Four Seasons Singapore
For reservations, book online here or call
190 Orchard Boulevard S'pore 248646
Special thanks to Four Seasons SG

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Narutoshi Taiyaki 鳴門鯛焼本舗 : Taiyaki the Tradtional Way

When it comes to taiyaki, I only looked out for one thing-the pastry skin. I don't expect it to be as thin and crispy like a wafer. I'm contented as long as it's not soggy and stale. The filling is always very sweet, so no point debating about the sweetness. 

Perhaps due to having too many mediocre taiyaki in the past, I was simply amazed and delighted when I found Narutoshi Taiyaki. This shop stresses on the concept of "Tennen Taiyaki" (natural taiyaki), which means that the taiyaki is made using the method of  一丁焼き (icchouyaki) .

Each taiyaki is made on individual 2-kg fish-shape heavy iron cast and slowly grilled by rotating the casts several times. Yes...2kg!! Looks simple from the outside but who would have thought it would be such a laborious affair? 
Hence, this churns out significantly fewer taiyaki than typical taiyaki shops that fills 20-30 moulds in one single iron cast, cover and wait for them to be cooked without flipping. 
The result is an unbelievably thin yet fluffy pancake skin that is bursting with rich, sweet filling. I had the Naruto sweet potato instead of Kuroan red bean (黒あん)because Naruto (a city located in Tokushima Prefecture)  is famous for its Satsumaimo. 
It now has several outlets all over Japan and thus it is very convenient to try it.

On the other hand, there is another taiyaki shop called Ajisaki located at a corner of Seibu Ikebukuro depachika that seem quite popular especially during weekend. I have been eyeing at the regular matcha taiyaki because matcha is used not in the filling but in dough.

Finally, I had the chance to try it but it was a major disappointment. It had committed a major yet common mistake of taiyaki --Too thick dough with too little filling. The seasonal Matcha with Red Bean and Warabi mochi was slightly better, but still no way in comparison to Croissant Taiyaki or Narutoshi Taiyaki 
Narutoshi Taiyaki 鳴門鯛焼本舗 (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
Tokyo outlets in Takadanobaba, Kanda areas
Other nationwide outlets in Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Kobe
Ajisaki Taiyaki  味咲き
Seibu Ikebukuro Department B1
Direct access from JR Ikebukuro Station
Daily 10am-9pm (Sun: 10am-8pm)
Map and details here
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