Food Picks: Festive dishes at Jia He Chinese Restaurant, itameshi at Grissini

Live Soon Hock In Two Styles (left) and Japanese Bean Pouch Stuffed With 6-head Abalone from Jia He Chinese Restaurant. ST PHOTOS: WONG AH YOKE

Festive dishes at Jia He Chinese Restaurant

Jia He Chinese Restaurant opened at the end of 2019, but with the disruptions to dining in caused by the pandemic, I did not get to eat there until recently.

I was greeted by a host of familiar faces - from the manager to the chef - who were all formerly with the Peach Garden restaurant chain and came together to open Jia He.

The Cantonese restaurant, which is among the cluster of eateries adjacent to One Farrer Hotel, does not try to impress with fanciful creations or plating. Instead, it offers traditional cooking at decent prices.

For Chinese New Year, it is dishing out set menus priced from $468 to $998 for five persons. For smaller groups of at least two diners, prices start at $138 a person.

The broths here are very good, whether it is chicken brewed with mushrooms or sea whelk with fish maw and sea coconut. Many of the menus feature a steamed fish.

What is even better is the live red garoupa on the $998 menu, which comes in two styles - steamed and deep-fried. You get to taste two dishes in one and I enjoyed the fried version just a bit more.

Braised abalone - cooked with mushrooms or sea cucumber - pops up in many of the sets too.

Where: Jia He Chinese Restaurant, 01-14 One Farrer Hotel Connexion, 1 Farrer Park Station Road
MRT: Farrer Park
When: Until Feb 15, 10am to 3pm, 5.30 to 10pm daily
Tel: 6694-8988
Info: Go to Jia He Chinese Restaurant's website

Grissini now offers only set menus

Uni with scallops and oscietra caviar (left) and cold somen topped with Hokkaido scallop, uni and oscietra caviar from Grissini. ST PHOTOS: WONG AH YOKE

If you have not been to Grissini at Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel in the past couple of months, you will find some significant changes there.

The Italian restaurant now offers itameshi (Italian food in Japanese) or what it describes as "modern Italian fare with a distinctive Japanese twist".

It has also replaced its a la carte menu with an omakase concept that is so trendy among fine-dining restaurants these days. Meaning "I leave it to you", the term refers to a fixed-priced meal where the chef decides what to serve each day.

Lunch is a four-course set ($88 a person) while dinner sets range from five courses ($158) to nine courses ($258).

Until Feb 2, there is also a seven-course Chinese New Year menu ($228). And the Valentine's Day seven-course menu is available from Feb 11 to 14, at the same price.

Japanese ingredients feature prominently in many dishes, such as uni and wagyu which Singaporean diners love.

A recent seven-course menu I tasted featured a delicious cold somen topped with Hokkaido scallop, uni and oscietra caviar with a touch of Amalfi lemon oil.

Another cold starter of uni - served in its spiky shell with bits of scallop and more caviar in a ponzu dressing - was a winner too.

And for the main course, there was charcoal-grilled Japanese A4 wagyu in a Barolo red wine jus. It is an Italian restaurant after all, so the chef also whipped up a housemade tagliolini with Alaskan king crab in a seafood bisque.

Where: Grissini, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, 392 Havelock Road
MRT: Outram Park/Tiong Bahru
Open: Noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), 6 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays
Tel: 6233-1100

Opus refreshes menu at old Hilton hotel

Opus Bar and Grill has revamped its menu with some new dishes focusing on sustainably sourced seafood. PHOTO: VOCO ORCHARD SINGAPORE

The former Hilton hotel next to Forum The Shopping Mall was rebranded as voco Orchard Singapore at the beginning of the month.

Opus Bar and Grill at the lobby level is still there, but it has revamped its menu with some new dishes focusing on sustainably sourced seafood.

Among the new items is a Saffron Seafood Risotto ($32) that is chock-full of prawns, mussels and clams in rice rich with shellfish flavours. It is a heavy dish and can be shared between two persons if you want to try more dishes.

Seared Tuna Carpaccio ($22) seems a bit dated, but tastes good nonetheless with the pieces of fish perked up by dabs of wasabi dressing. I like the acidity from the wedges of orange and pickled red onion too.

Some dishes from the old menu have been kept and it is a good decision.

Crab Cake ($24) is a classic that is well executed - a deep-fried ball that is crisp outside and moist inside with lumps of crab meat. It comes with mango wasabi mayonnaise - though there is too little of it. But the dish is saved from blandness by a small red shiso cress salad and a wedge of grapefruit.

You have to order one of the steaks too. The 1.2kg Whiskey-Aged Rangers Valley Wagyu Tomahawk ($168) I share with my dining companions is juicy and boasts a robust flavour from the ageing. It is enough for three to four persons.

For smaller groups, the 250g 150-day Grain-fed Angus Rib Eye ($62) from the United States may be a better option.

Where: Opus Bar and Grill, voco Orchard Singapore, 581 Orchard Road
MRT: Orchard
Open: 6 to 10.30pm daily, noon to 2.30pm (weekends)
Info: To reserve, go to 6730-3390 or this website

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