MARTIN FOO'S CREATIONS AT CRYSTAL JADE
Chef Martin Foo, who had helmed the kitchens of VLV and Tong Le Private Dining, is now group executive chef of Crystal Jade Group and is responsible for renewing the menus of all the restaurants under the group.
For starters, he has launched a $128 six-course set menu as well as a special a la carte menu of his creations at Crystal Jade Palace in Takashimaya, where he is based.
Standouts from the set menu include a grilled USDA beef short rib with honey char siew sauce, which combines the tender and fatty meat with the chef's delectable sauce.
And from the a la carte menu, try the clean-tasting dish of poached Australian baby spinach with fresh beancurd skin, ginkgo and whole garlic ($24), which presents a new way to eat the salad leaf.
WHERE: Crystal Jade Palace, 04-19 Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Road MRT: Orchard WHEN: Till Sept 30, 11.30am to 3pm, 6 to 10.30pm (weekdays), 11am to 10.30pm (Saturdays), 10am to 10.30pm (Sundays) TEL: 6735-2388
NASI LEMAK ICE CREAM
Every time August comes around, eateries try to whip up something crazy revolving around a popular local dish - all in the spirit of National Day.
This year, the most bizarre must be Cold Stone Creamery's nasi lemak ice cream. The idea sounds crazy enough - coconut ice cream tossed on a cold stone with roasted peanuts and spicy sambal ikan bilis. This is then scooped into a pandan waffle bowl and topped with rice puffs, more peanuts and ikan bilis and two fresh slices of cucumber.
When you eat it, you get a mix of sweet and savoury flavours that seems odd at first, but it slowly grows on you.
There isn't much sambal, just small swirls of it, so you don't taste it with every scoop. But when you do, the spicy kick is definitely something you get from nasi lemak.
It is not brilliant, but it is not bad either. In fact, it's turned out to be so popular that Cold Stone has extended its sales beyond this month until Sept 30.
There is also a pulut hitam ice cream created for the same promotion period, but it is such a common flavour it is hardly worth exclaiming over.
Each ice cream costs $8.50 a cup, but since there is a one-for-one offer till Sept 30, you can have two cups for that price if you like. Just make sure you share them. The servings are big.
WHERE: Cold Stone Creamery, at Waterway Point, Orchard Central, VivoCity and HillV2 MRT: Punggol; Somerset; HarbourFront; Hillview INFO: For more details, go to www.coldstonecreamery.com.sg
CANTONESE WITH A TWIST
Shang Palace has launched a series of monthly menus, called The Chef's Table, which features special dishes by chef Mok Kit Keung that are not among the restaurant's usual offerings.
The first menu for this month features six courses of traditional Cantonese dishes given a signature touch by the chef that makes each of them unique.
An example is a wok-fried French pigeon breast with preserved vegetables. The pigeon is done three ways - the drumstick is roasted Cantonese-style, the breast fillet pan-fried and drizzled with a reduced jus sauce, and the last is a steamed patty of minced pigeon and the sweet preserved vegetable called mui choy in Cantonese. The vegetable is also deep-fried to a crisp and used to form a bed for the meat.
Another dish I like is a combination of sauteed boneless chicken wing and frog leg skewered with abalone, vegetables and Yunnan ham. The chicken has a good, firm bite and the frog is smooth and sweet.
Priced at $128 a person, this is the best menu by chef Mok I've tasted since he joined the restaurant after transferring last year from the two-Michelin-starred Shang Palace in the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong.
WHERE: Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: Noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), 11am to 3pm (weekends and public holidays), 6 to 10pm daily TEL: 6213-4473
YOSHIYUKI IS NOW YOSHI
Kaiseki Yoshiyuki at the basement of Forum The Shopping Mall is now called simply Yoshi. The fine-dining kaiseki restaurant has also become less formal, with a brighter entrance and a simpler menu.
Lunch has donburi menus from $58, but there are also three eight-course set menus for lunch and dinner - the maguro menu ($158), the wagyu beef menu ($178) and the uni menu ($188) - with sake pairings at extra cost.
Except for the main course, the sets are similar, with appetisers, soup, sashimi, chawanmushi and desserts.
I tried the wagyu menu and, though not as lavish as the kaiseki meals I had eaten at Yoshiyuki, it was substantial enough. And the starters and sashimi were just as refined.
The wagyu was served in the shiizakana course - a clear broth with vegetables, tofu and thin slices of the beef.
The rice course, which was supposed to be a wagyu beef don, was swopped to sakura ebi on rice instead as the tiny shrimps were in season.
I would have preferred more beef, but the shrimps were good too.
WHERE: Yoshi, B1-39 Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: Noon to 2pm, 7 to 10pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays TEL: 8188-0900