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

[√† 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.

yamazaki japanese restaurant, one fullerton

no.. that’s not a glass of yamazaki. the eponymous whisky made no appearance at my meal, though a slew of rather (surprisingly) delicious dishes made it onto our table, and very quickly into our stomachs.

this place looks pretty much like a tourist/ yuppie trap, with its location at one fullerton and its disarming views across our beautiful marina bay area. but the food is prepared by bona fide japanese, and there are plenty of japanese clientele to provide credibility to the kitchen (or perhaps the well-stocked bar). slightly pricey, but no more than you’d expect for the location and the slight fine-diningesque feel about the place.

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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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satay by the bay

a short one for a bad one – this one was nearly on the same scale of disappointing as the refurbished lau pa sat. I had read rather lackluster reviews about this place before visiting, but one must appease one’s mother confirm such opinions, so we came here for supper one late saturday night.

the turn into the carpark is a pretty out-of-the-blue sharp ninety-degrees, so be careful – and we missed it once before finally arriving at a half-occupied complex smelling very strongly of satay (I know, duh, but this was a clothes-soaking, grease-sticking sort of smell). many stalls were actually closed, or closing (and it was only just before 10), so we settled only for a plate of chicken and beef satay and some cut fruit to wash away the fattiness.

I applaud the effort that went into creating such beautiful space, but really, it’s nothing without good hawkers. the satay was average at best, and could do with rendering a bit more fat and grease, and the fruit was cheaper than I expected.

neither of which makes for good advertisement or reason to return, however.

Satay by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Singapore 018953
$$: 5-15 a person (it really depends on what you’re ordering)

cut by wolfgang puck, bayfront (take 2)

still utterly fantastic, and wonderfully enjoyable dessert at the marina bay sands. it is understating it to say that this place is now my favorite in singapore – and no, I’ve not had their steak, and no, I’m not quite planning to. I have an incorrigible sweet tooth, and it aches for this behemoth of a chocolate souffle.

their other desserts are pretty much up there with the best I’ve had locally, but it’s the souffle that shines – there’s some magic in the substantial lightness, and all the textures and temperatures in it. I could wax lyrical all day (and I’ve done it once before), but really, just look at it – chocolate sauce dribbling down the side while creme fraiche and ice cream sink their slow way into that airy nest of chocolate.

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catalunya singapore, bayfront

showy see-and-be-seen posh-masquerading-as-rustic spanish in this ball floating by the marina bay area.

this place is gorgeous, all dark intimate lighting and architectural elegance, the people inside as dressed up as they come – and it’s got some serious pedigree (el-bulli trained staff, hello). so while it’s probably no surprise that while the food here does exhibit certain expertise, I think it better visited for an experience per se, than explicitly for the cooking.

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cut by wolfgang puck, town

utterly fantastic and wholly incomparable bliss-out desserts at this famed steakhouse in marina bay sands. I have unashamedly fallen in deep mire with this place – it’s now my go-to for indulging in sweets, and I’m afraid that it might just become an uncontrollable habit.

I’ve wanted to come here for a long time – and while I’m bursting with adjectives, let me objectively say that the souffle was high, fluffy, barely deflated even after standing, and when eaten with the chocolate ice cream and creme fraiche on top – was a revelation in deep dark chocolate and that gorgeous play of hot and cold. truly, this ranks as one of the best mouthfuls I’ve ever had.

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