Monday, June 21, 2010

Wellness cuisine: does it taste good? Introducing the Ten Restaurant.

with Eddie S

Eddie is an extraordinary foodie...as well as a wonderful friend. He re-acquainted me recently to Porta Porta, and with undampened excitement, he wanted me to try out this new-ish Chinese restaurant. Herbal, Traditional, Organic, Wellness cuisine? I remember more than a decade ago, there was an Imperial Herbal Restaurant in the then new Millenia Walk. It even featured its own Traditional Chinese Sinseh, who would take your pulse and prescribe certain food to either fortify a healthy condition, or to alleviate an unhealthy one. Interesting, methot in those days...and this restaurant featured quite frequently in my entertainment circuit, and watching the angmos who were visiting sometimes squirmish experiences...for often times, the prescribed dishes included insects like grasshoppers, or scorpions or deep sea creatures not often encountered by the Western palate.

Somehow, this style of cuisine caught on a bit in the Singapore dining scene, and several of these restaurants opened...including the Magestic Imperial Herbal, where the chef and Maitre d'hotel of the Ten Restaurant used to work.

Sliced lotus roots, preserved in a pickle, and served as an appetizer

The setting of the restaurant was rather quaint...housed in a shophouse in the pretty Purvis Street area, immediately the chic Garibaldi, the Ten Restaurant, curiously at no 7 Purvis Street, holds court.

We started with a welcome drink...cold refreshing home made lemongrass...very nice and fresh, especially after coming in from the ferocious sun outside.



But the teas were quite interesting too...I had the 7 treasures tea...



I have come across 8 treasure tea quite often in traditional Chinese places, but 7? Hmm...interesting...chasiupau.typepad.com writes, "babaocha, "八宝茶," literally means eight treasure tea in English. A lot of tea imbibers mistakenly believe that it is from the Sichuan or the Jiangzu area of China. Yet, truth be told, it is from the Hui Clan, an ethnic group now inhabiting the Ningxia region of China. Served in gaiwan (porcelain cup with lid), the main ingredient for the babaocha is of course the tea. It could be of any variety but the jasmine tea is by far the most popular. The remaining seven ingredients usually are, sesame, wolfberry, raisin, walnut, flesh of longan, dates and Chinese rock sugar. For those with sweeter teeth, they can swap the walnut with the dried persimmon."

From what I can see the 7 Treasures are very similar...I can detect jasmine tea, and probably another black tea, wolfberry, raisin, walnut, longan, red dates. No sugar.

Doris, the effable business development manager of Ten, spoke fast and furious...in a delectable fluent mixture of English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien...explained to me that she uses only the best qality ingredients in her tea...the crysanthynum comes from France, she claims...more fragrant than Chinese ones.

The tea brews well...and could be extracted again with the addition of hot water. And the ingredients could be eaten...quite nice.

We ordered the Set Lunch, priced at $38++, seemed good value. And Eddie insisted I try the blueberry pork ribs as an additional dish. Which we did...



Very innovative and interesting. Whole, ripe blueberries were used, and the juice extracted from the ripe, rich, sweet fruit was reduced to an essence, and used to marinade and coat with pork ribs and then deep fried. Much like, I guess coffee pork ribs or Lohanguo pork ribs. The taste was rather interesting. I found the pork very tasty, and tender...but not too much...there is a slight requisite crunch with each bite. Rather nice. The sauce was a wonderful complement...blending, cajoling the flavour out from the pork...though I found it slightly sweet...but ever so slightly.

The set lunch proper began with a house special: egg white with dried scallop in a crispy potato nest



Nice dish this one. The egg whites were nicely done...cooked just perfect. Albumin tends to become rubbery with overcooking...but this was done very well. The dried scallops added some dimension to the rather mild taste of the egg whites, and managed to elevate the senses. The potato nest it was served on was crisp, and rather firm...well done!

Second course was soup: double boiled duck with pear:



Pear is a typical ingredient used in cooling soups. But the use of duck was a surprise. The soup tasted nice and savoury...I would have thought it was chicken or pork used to brew the soup if I hadn't already read the menu...the pear was delectable. The duck meat was a bit tough...but in these double boiled soups, most of the meats have been exhausted of their goodness, and many times just discarded.

Next the vegetables: apple and lotus with fresh cabbage



Diced apples, with pine nuts, and sesame. In a nice mixture, held together with a dressing I cannot really recognise...and eaten wrapped in very fresh cabbage bowls. Delectable, and interesting.

And the grand finale: Abalone and Sharks Fin in fragrant rice served in a stone pot.



This was a gorgeous dish. The waitress told us not to stir the pot, but to slowly eat it from the sides...mind you, the ingredients seem to be floating in a bubbling cauldron of thick liquid...even the look of the dish was delicious. On the palate, the liquid was slightly on the salty side...later we discussed with Doris if it were possible to allow the braising to be done with less salt, and for salt to be available at the table for the diner to add to taste. I will spare you of the discussion, but we had a fun little argument over when salt should be applied to a dish. A topic for perhaps a full length post another day.



But the liquid hid a layer of rice, which was developing into a crust, and when eaten with the liquid, and accompanied by a slice of the whole baby abalone or a few strands of the wonderful shark's fin, was quite heavenly. Very well done! Bravo.

A dessert of pear simmered with rock sugar was served as a dessert.

Overall, this lunch was quite an experience. Very well done, delicate balance between creative and clever use of ingredients. I quite enjoyed the light, greasless (ok, the blueberry pork was a bit greasy) taste. And rather satisfying. Food for the soul as well as for the palate.


Ten Restaurant
7 Purvis Street
#01-01
+65 6333 9901
12pm–2.30pm, 6pm–10.30pm
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