pollen, gardens by the bay

[complimentary amuse bouche] charcoal cracker, smoked salmon, taramasalata; chicken liver parfait, beetroot jelly

sourdough, onion butter, leek oil

[à la carte] jamon

[early dinner tasting] cured mackerel, saffron brandade, dill oil

[seven-course degustation] red prawn tartare, tomato

[seven-course degustation] crab, butternut squash, sage ricotta

[early dinner tasting] braised pork belly, crab bisque, quail egg, apple

[seven-course degustation] salmon, ikura, green apple

[early dinner tasting] red bass, buttermilk, kale, cauliflower

[seven-course degustation] duck, pear, anise jus

[à la carte] tarte tatin

[early dinner tasting] rhubarb, earl grey ice cream

technically proficient – but as my clever friend puts it, soul-less.

you get the keen sense that there is something missing here at pollen. take the restaurant – beautiful, but with an ambiance that falls short of the exclusivity it seems to want to exude (and edges far too close to pretentiousness). the food, too, makes you wonder about the chasm between imagination and execution – there are a great many components that I have no doubt are the result of excruciating effort and exhausting manipulations, but they sit together without heart.

we shared both the five-course early dinner tasting and the seven-course degustation menus, and you might like to know that the cooking was consistent (and really, quite skilled) though of course the more expensive menu presents fancier ingredients. I’m not sure any of the dishes really wowed me, although the cherry-looking chicken liver confection was light and tasty (and I don’t even like liver), and the supposedly-vaunted tarte tatin is worth a try if you’ve still got space.

I’ve nearly grown out of this poncy manner of eating, and this meal hasn’t convinced me otherwise. it might be a nice place to bring some out-of-town friends that want something fancy after going through our beautiful gardens, but I’ll point you the direction of the altogether more impressive majestic bay instead.

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dibs, duxton hill

good flavors of the rich and heavy variety at this restaurant along ann siang hill – it’s a trendy place run by young hipster-types, with a clientele that suits the dark decor.

this was shot AGES ago – so I apologise for the photos, but how else would I tell you about this place?


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the halia, raffles hotel

still very good food at the halia – a little expensive, a little exclusive, just the right spot of uppity for a dressed-up weekend lunch. it’s been a while since I last came here, and I’m impressed: they still know how to strike the right balance of intrigue and classic, and prices are just high enough to keep the atmosphere classy.

there’s just something about the way they blend their dishes and flavors that feels interesting, but at the same time hits all the right (comforting) spots.

I’m not too impressed with the photos I took this round, so unfortunately what isn’t displayed is the halibut en papillote, of delicious, tender white fish cooked under parchment in this CRAZY delicious soup of incredible savoriness.

served with sushi rice, you’ll need to grab a smear of the truffle aioli (which imparts yet another savory, umami note) and a mouthful of fish and soup to truly get the experience.

then and only then, do you truly get the experience.

what is pictured here is off their weekend brunch menu, three fluffy pancakes topped with bacon, maple butter, strawberries and what seems like crispy iberico. that last component makes a lot of difference to the dish, bringing quite a bit of sweet pork goodness to already properly-fluffy, well-cooked pancakes.

good food, but definitely on the pricey side – although I can’t help but feel that if I had to spend money, this is a good place to do so.

Halia at the Raffles Hotel
1 Beach Road, #01-22/23
Singapore 189673
tel +65 9639 1148
$$.5: 20-40 per person

level33, marina bay

good fusionish european dining high up in the financial district – this is the first time I’ve done a full meal here, and it was a good one. it’s on the pricey side, but at least the dishes were pretty stellar, and the muscato and beers are reliable.

plus, you very seldom have the option of starting dinner in an air-conditioned, comfortable place (it’s far too hot for an entirely al fresco meal these days), before proceeding outdoors to a fantastic view for some dessert and a sip of something-something.

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plonk, serangoon gardens

chill, so chill. this place is a really nice place to hang out with a glass of wine and your favorite person amidst tables full of people doing the same. the kitchen is surprisingly talented, and churns out some dishes that are pretty wow, and others that still make it past the average mark.

the moscato is lovely, it serves up a tender sticky date pudding – and it’s barely ten minutes away from me in the bustling serangoon gardens. a definite keeper.

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restaurant ember, hotel 1929

to follow on the local-gem theme started with yesterday’s post – ember is a stalwart in the dining scene for good reason: great, comforting, well-executed food and always-pleasant-and-friendly service in a modern space that manages to be business-like in the daytime and romantic at night.

the size is a boon – it manages to keep buzzy with its constant stream of diners, but the smaller size mitigates any too-much-loudness that would come with larger crowds. this was my first visit since the new chef stepped up to the helm – to much initial trepidation, which later proved entirely unwarranted – and the place retains both character and quality.


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sprigs, purvis street

very, very good food at this small, modern restaurant in bugis – very earnest, and it succeeds both in service and space and food. it’s still relatively uncrowded, which is surprising for its quality, but unsurprising for its relative tucked-awayness. add the fact that prices are more than reasonable – especially with a set offered at dinner time – really, I’m not sure I could like it more.

it’s a little like that comforting corner diner we all want – except that it’s quite a bit away from my actual ‘hood.

and, I’m back!

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hong kong, the expat edition

the holidays are coming (!!), and I bet quite a few of you will be making your way over to hong kong, an asian first world mecca. I was there in april with a girlfriend, and we had resolved to eat too much, spend too much and buy too much – and also, we had resolved to spend the time like expats.

it’s not really the usual mode to enjoy hong kong – travellers usually go all berserk on dimsum and roast meats and wanton noodles (coming up in the next post!) – but hong kong has a plethora of amazing dining options that extend past that.

let’s go!

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the waterfall, shangri-la hotel singapore

wholesome, chichi, yummy-mummy-abound buffet of antipasti and salads at this cafe in the rather-tough-to-get-to shangri-la hotel (they serve up some fantastic mains too). I have finally made my way to this place, and it couldn’t be sooner – the food is light and clean (on the palate; hygiene here taken for granted) and varied in both flavor and color, and there’s a relaxing vibe to this place that lends itself to lazy weekend brunches.

great service too, and reasonable prices given the quality and type of food served – it’s worth the drive/ trek.

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