Friday, September 25, 2009

Value for money steaks: Astons Prime

with ieat, sumosumo, Andrew, jems and holybro

How do we figure out what is value? What do we mean when we say value for money? Many business analysts have tackled this problem, and I subscribe to a system which triangulates value into cost, competition and value. Hmm...a bit cyclical, isn't it? Actually it is simple has to cost the right amount of money...affordable under your own circumstances is one way of putting this. Another is who is the competition? If there is no competition, you will often not get good value. And finally, the circular reference to value...this is really determined by yourself...usually based on individual circumstances. Basically, are you prepared to sacrifice something else, and pay for the product. If it is a food item which I find value for money...I will return again and again to eat it...because it is a good balance between cost, taste, competition and value.

Enough theory...on to the steaks.

Chicago Medium Rare...charred on the outside, medium rare and cool inside

In the Singapore worldview of steaks, I have often lamented that possibly because we do not have a strong beef culture, we fall short of steaks served in the US, and even in the Philippines. See my review of Mamou for my personal best steak experience in Asia, and close to the my experience in the mecca of steaks...Peter Luger's in Brooklyn.

But one name consistently comes up for good value. Astons. Their numerous Aston Specialities outlets are well known for long queues, well priced steaks, and sometimes variable service. Aston Soon, the owner extraordinare, is passionate about his food...and recently he moved his flagship outlet - Aston Prime from Joo Chiat to Centerpoint. I have eaten there several times for lunch, and enjoyed the perceived value for money equation being fully satisfied. A piece of regular steak, nicely done, good meat, about 220g is sold for S$18 in the middle of Orchard Road. Does it compare to Mamou? No...but it is absolutely very good value for money.

note the right side is charred almost crisp. This imparts a special charcoal flavour to the meat

Recently he introduced Dry Aged Steaks...regular readers of this blog will know how I often lament the lack of good dry aged steaks in Singapore. I recently tried Bedrock...a swanky steakhouse opened by Keith Loh, of Oriole (and formerly Whitebait & Kale). A 400g cut of USDA Prime dry aged steak is S$110. I think not an unreasonable price if the two other parts of the value equation is similarly judged. But it was not to be. The cut I had that evening did not fully make the grade. While it was acceptable, it did not fully develop the nutty/foie gras flavour and the beefiness did not really come through. Pales in comparison to Mamou's dry aged USDA Prime ribeye.

One of the earlier steaks...cooked to a regular medium rare. We had two rounds of steaks...the first round was lighter, and the latter ones were more charred on the outside.

Aston's version is interesting. Aston has his own specification on how his steaks are to be aged by Indoguna (a very large importer of beef, who also supplies Bedrock with their dry aged steaks). He specifies a particular temperature (4C to 6C), and a specific humidity. As a result, the steaks have started to develop the nutty, foie gras flavour found in the best cuts I have tasted in the US (and Manila)...but not fully. Most American steakhouses age their own steaks. The aging specialist, who can either be a butcher employed by the restaurant or the chef himself is the only person allowed to touch and judge aging of the steaks...and each piece is sliced just at its prime of aging, ensuring best flavour, nuttiness, foie gras, and excellent tenderness.

We had the steaks grilled to Chicago Medium Rare...where the outside is charred...and the insides are just pink, as in medium rare. To achieve Chicago Medium Rare properly, it requires a great piece of meat, well aged, a great chef who is able to judge done-ness totally, and a thick cut of meat.

The regular Dry Aged steaks available at Aston Prime is 220g. And for our special tasting, Aston agreed to do special cuts, at least 1 inch thick, and weighing a min of 350g. But Indoguna made a mistake and did not deliver the larger steaks, but those which are regular - 220g. This made the doneness we wanted - charred on the outside, and medium rare inside even harder to each steak was barely half an inch thick.

However, the flavour was excellent. The nuttiness was begining to show...a little laid back, but I can easily taste the nuttiness and foie gras flavour in the steak. This dry aging quality was much stronger than the Bedrock steak I tried. In addition, the charring helped to fortify this flavour with strong smoky aromas. Even with charring of the outsides...meaning very fierce fires...the insides of the steaks remain cool (about a core temp of 50C). The steaks remained very tender. This was quite excellent steaks. Especially at S$44. Good value. Excellent value.

How does it compare with Bedrock? The charred ones we tasted in Astons is better. But still some ways to go before it competes with Mamou's. Afterall Mamou uses a boned-in cut of ribeye...a more flavourfull cut, an larger steaks...about 1.5 inches thick. Comparison with Peter Luger's is futile...but Peter Luger's has been in business selling excellent steaks for way longer than we have being a in due time, we will rise to the challenge. And passionate steakhouse owners like Aston Soon will help us get there.

Aston's Prime
176 Orchard Road Centrepoint

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Canton-i: ION eatery

with Alan, Rob, Prof Horolographer

The new-ish ION Orchard was opened with much fanfare. Interestingly, though it had been touted as the most exclusive shopping mall in Singapore, I find this only true from ground floor up. The basements...and there are some 4 huge basements, are a bit cramped, and reminds me of the little underground shops inside the Tokyo subway the larger stations like Tokyo station.

The prestige and stature are given by the names who occupy floors 1 to 4, curiously only 4 floors of shopping above ground (4 more, much larger floors below ground). And the decor is equally beautiful. Tucked in one corner of Level 3, is Canton-i. A Malaysian chain serving Cantonese cuisine, the decor is certainly very elaborate, as can be seen in my pictures.

But on to the food. First the main courses for the kakis:

Carp fish balls congee

Traditional Cantonese chok...nice, starchy, smooth porridge. With some fairly large, bouncy deboned carp fish balls. I didn't try this, but Rob thought it to be quite good.

The dry wanton mee:

A bit too dry in my opinion. The noodle is fairly typical HK style, wiry noodles. And the wanton is more prawn than meat. Harry had this, so I don't know how it tasted, but he was happy.

And the soup wanton mee:

Very typical. The soup was a bit salty, but not too much. The same wiry noodles were used as in the dry version. I didn't find the dish exceptional, but not bad either.

The pork leg noodles:

The pork looked succulent, and fat...I did not try this dish, but Alan, who ordered it as his mains thought it was quite good.

We also shared the following:

Mixed roast plate:

Not a bad serving. The duck was quite tasty, the skin had the essential crispiness, and the meat had the slightly powdery feel which I found to be quite nice. The roast pork was de rigeur - but no match to those hand roasted by the folks at Overseas Restaurant. I found the char siew to be quite ordinary...but this is in comparison to the superb char siews I have been getting used to in KL recently.

Prawns in salted egg yolk

Done in a similar style to the ones I had at Zhou's Kitchen and Taste Paradise. All the right things seem to be in place - fresh, succulent prawns, savoury, rich sauce, but in the final analysis, the prawns were not special. I think those from either Zhou or Taste beats it.

Crystal dumplings:

Chives, minced meat, minced prawns in a delicate skin, steamed. Simple recipe, great product. The crystal dumplings are tasty, delicious, but again if one compares to what is available in say Lei Gardens in Hong Kong, the craft of the chef seems to be a step behind.

We also tried the fried fish:

I am not sure what fish was used, it was deep fried, but had a very dry complexion when served. The fish was very tasty. The issue I have with this dish is that they don't bother to remove the bones...which are plenty, and interfere with the enjoyment of the fish. The small chilli padi packs a punch, though.

Overall, nice decor, nice food, but I did not find the food to be spectacular in any manner. A bit pricey given the quality and taste of the food, but considering the outlet is in ION, perhaps justifiable.

Canton-i Restaurant
2 Orchard Turn
#03-14 ION Orchard
Tel: +65 6509 8368
Daily: 11am - 10pm

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Penang comes to Singapore: or does it?

with office colleagues

Twice a year, The York Hotel gathers some real practicing hawkers from Penang, put them on a plane, provide them two weeks accomodation, pay them for their troubles, and allow them to ply their trade at the hotel.

The origins were supposedly because the late Tan Sri Khoo Teik Puat, who used to own the hotel, craved for Penang hawker food, and to satisfy his own needs, as well as make him the millions he is also famous for, he decided to bring the hawkers in himself.

This is the second such lunch my office makan kakis are partaking together. Done a la carte buffet style...the hawkers are arranged into mini hawker stalls in the dining area of the White Rose Cafe at the hotel. Each stall holder doing his/her own prep and cooking in his own area, just like a hawker center. And patrons pay one price for all they can eat, but for each very small serving (you can take as many servings as you like, but to limit the queue size, only two servings per person each time.

I, of course started with the Penang Char Kway Teow:

Supposedly operating a store somewhere in Pulau Tikus, the older gentleman seems to have the right style and moves to make good CKT.

He fries up a wokful of about 6 small plates each time...and have the longest queues...

The CKT is quite flavourful...he is quite generous with the use of lard, and lard crisps, and the fire is quite hot, imparting a powerful wok hei to the CKT. But it lacked the very last bits to rival the goggle lady at Lorong Selamat, or Ah Leng in Anson Road, or the Duck Egg CKT in Bukit Mertajam, or any of the famous ones in Penang. I found it acceptable, perhaps a bit generic if one were in Penang.

The Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee fared a bit better:

The soup tasted quite good and authentic. The noodles, I always have beehoon mee, was a bit overcooked, but the flavour of the ingredients were very good. For some reason, the prawns were pink...and not natural pink, but a strange pink...though it tasted ok. I enjoyed the HKM.

The Jew Hoo Eng Chye (cuttlefish with kangkong)

For me, the best is always the old store in Gurney Drive...I believe its not there anymore, as with the new Gurney Drive, I think the old hawker retired...there is still a JHEC in Gurney Drive, and while good is no rival to the old one. This serving of JHEC was mildly adequate in my books. The cuttlefish was nice, crunchy, and fresh tasting. The eng chye was not bad...youngish, and fresh too. But the sauce lacked the oomph found in the original Gurney Drive store.

The Penang Laksa looks the part

But I think it fails on the was not thick with semi-melted/dissolved fish as I would anticipate. But the heykor was quite nice, and the sour, savoury taste of the soup came through. They even use shaved bits of banana flower. The noodle used was not the right type used in Penang, but a factory made type readily available in Singapore.

The last time we ate here, the ladies were absolutely thrilled with the ban chang kuih:

Unlike the type available here at the Mr. Bean type stores, the Penang BCK is thin crust, very crispy, often with sweet corn added to the peanut and sugar filling. I still dream of the store behind our house in Penang, where a Malay gentleman would whip up the best BCK in town (unusual as BCK is a traditional Chinese snack, but it had no lard or pork, so easily adapted by the Malays)...his had a super crisp crust, a soft thin layer within, and gorgeous peanut, sugar mix, and a nice dollop of creamed sweet corn. The York hawker's version was more typical...and would rate perhaps above average in Penang...the crust was very crispy, but there was no soft, cushy layer of batter within...the peanut mix was not quite as rich, and there was no sweet corn.

The same hawker also served up Apom Balik

While BCK is a typical Chinese snack, the apom is a typical Malay (or more accurately Indian Muslim...mamak) snack. Like the Sri Lankan hoppers, this was a sweet pancake, with embedded slices of banana and sometimes corn. This version was quite nice...soft, tender...the batter is expertly managed such that it is just cooked...quivering as one handles it...and with each bite, it spills forth banana and instead of corn, they used raisins...a nice touch. Quite nice.

We also had Penang Lor Bak, which I feel is let down by the lack lustre lor sauce, so I will not even feature it here. The Kway Teow Thng is also not it was very mild in flavour compared to the real thing in Penang....and interestingly they had Dry Kway Teow can there be a dry kway teow soup (Thng in Hokkien means soup)? The desserts were even more disappointing...the chendol and ice kachang were not worth the calories, and pales in comparison to even the average hawker in Penang, so again nothing to write about.

Overall, a worthwhile event. It is difficult to get the best of Penang to take time off their business in Penang and sojourn to Singapore to show their skills here, so I guess given the situation, getting this quality of cooking is commendable. Will I return again...probably yes, especially when the Penang homesick blues strike.

Penang Hawker Promotion
twice a year for a fortnight, I went on the first day of this season...on Sept 4, 2009.
White Rose Cafe
York Hotel

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pow Sing: not just for chicken rice

with Profs: Horolographer, Massi, Fran

The heartland landed homestead of Serangoon Gardens is a fascination. Small roads leading to some cottage like houses, some renovated by their owners to monsters. Some would say an architectural nightmare with the juxtaposition of old colonial cottages to modern, almost skyscraper like buildings. But I say, more power to diversity.

Serangoon Gardens also is home to some very famous foodie hangouts. Perhaps the only community to be able to support two hawker centers - one, the very famous Chomp Chomp, and the other just a stone's throw away. A town center like place surrounded by shophouses offering all kinds of cuisine. Kin and I used to frequent Grace Cafe and Bar - a dark, slightly dingy bar, serving one of the best mee goreng I have ever eaten. And of course the venerable Pow Sing right next door.

Grace has folded up and retired, and Pow Sing expanded to take over their premises, making a double shop front for Pow Sing.

Pow Sing is famous for their Hainanese Chicken Rice...the rice is fragrant, and quite wonderful, but famous as it is, I feel their chicken is usually a bit undercooked to bring out the tenderness of the meat, but usually with some blood still on the bones.

But they are also famous for their Peranakan cuisine. My mother, the fussy eater and excellent cook has even commended their assam fish as worthy of being eaten...a high praise indeed.

Two fairly generous slices of fish (I suspect ma yau yi), immersed in a sour, spicy curry, garnished with tomatos, ladies fingers. A delectable dish, and an appetite opener.

One of my favourites in Pow Sing, and a must order for me is the crispy squid...

Very fresh squid is sliced, battered, deep fried, and then coated with the most interesting sweet, sour sauce. The squid acquires a crispy exterior from the light batter, and remains tender and fragrant within. The sauce provides the kick and punch to make this my favourite.

Their Ngor Hiang is also quite special:

Prawn and meat balls wrapped in bean curd skin and deep fried. Bits of water chestnut are mixed into the prawns and meat. The deep frying is just right to give a crispness to the bean curd skin, and just cooks the insides.

I also liked their otak otak:

Many varieties of otah otah exist. The Penang peranakan version espoused by my mother is a kind of fish soufle - a light, airy curry with chunks of fish within, and steamed in a banana leaf to curd the curry is one version. Another is a thicker curry with fish chunks, heaped on a banana leaf, and barbequed. Yet another version we found at the old Zi Yean at Stirling Road is the same, but grilled in a hot plate, with tofu in mixed into the sauce. The Zi Yean version is unique to itself, and even they have stopped serving it. The Pow Sing is the barbecued version. Very fragrant, the fish is minced into a paste and chunks are not detected. But the flavour is excellent.

We also had the Pork Rib King

A kind of pork chops, lightly battered, deep fried, and coated with a sweet and sour sauce. This is a mainstay in Cze Char cuisine, and a good cook can whip up a tasty one. Pow Sing's chef, being an accomplished cook did manage a very nice Pai Kut Wang (literally pork rib king).

We also had lemon crispy prawn fritters:

The prawns were very fresh, crunchy, and had a whiff of the sea within. We also had a kankong belachan, but I neglected to photograph that.

All these eaten with chicken rice made a delectable and heavy meal, but we still had to wash it down with some Chendol:

This was no Penang Teochew Chendol at Penang Road...but it was very rich with coconut milk, very sweet and fragrant with the gula melaka (palm sugar). The chendol itself looked factory made, but was reasonably tasty. As was the kidney beans and other ingredients.

A highly recommended restaurant to visit with family...the place is very busy during meal times, with long queues. But service is fast, and cheerful.

65 Serangoon Garden Way
Tel: +65 6282 7972
Daily: 11am - 3pm, 5pm - 10pm

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More KL Char Siew: Oversea

with Larry, Luckee, Prof Horolographer, SJX and Kin

The last time I wrote about Oversea Restaurant at Jalan Imbi in KL, I had wanted to feature their famous Char Siew, and also introduce it to my Italian friends. But alas, when we arrived, it was sold out. This time round, we made a reservation the evening before, and also reserved a medium portion of char siew.

We were rewarded when we arrived for lunch:

Glistening in its fats...the char siew was still warm.

It was gorgeous. As can be seen, the cut is relatively fat, which imbues the meat with flavours, and also made it very juicy and tender. The meat was covered in a thick, sweet sauce, parts of it purposedly and masterfully charred to create a crisp exterior. Wonderful.

Immediately the next lunch after eating at Meng Kee, a comparison is rife. Both are extremely good, and I would call it a draw, but if forced to decide one, I would give the very slight edge to Meng Kee. The Meng Kee portion had a bit more oomph, a bit more X-factor than the Oversea.

We also sampled the exquisite sio bak, or roast pork:

Again, perfect.

That lunch, the sio bak was outstanding. Even better than the last time I had it. The skin was crispy to a fault; really amazing in its texture, and crunch as one bites into it. A small sliver of fat lingers under the crisp skin, and from thence a piece of lean meat. The overall effect of the crisp bite on the skin, to the melting fats, and the firm bite of the lean meat is excellent. Definitely rivals the 1 Michelin star Lei Garden offering in Hong Kong.

We also had their salt and pepper prawns:

The prawns were very fresh. The light batter clinging onto the shell was a bit salty. But deshelling the prawns, the meat was just right.

The vegetables were also interesting that it was cooked with macademia nuts instead of the more common cashews:

The vegetables were done just the right side of al dente...still crunchy, and lightly seared in the hot wok. Lovely.

We also had a hot plate of venison:

This was somewhat more average, but nonetheless tasty.

And also my favourite tofu:

Home made tofu, cubed, deep fried so that a slightly crispy skin develops, and then drenched in braising liquid in a claypot, so that the crispiness turns into a springy texture in some parts while retaining some crisp on others. Not spectacular, but very nice.

I have been told that Oversea is known to overcharge. But in my experience, I have never been charged what I judge as fair for the quality and quantity of the food. But caveat emptor, as I avoid ordering items on the menu listed as market price. The plate of totally awesome char siew was RM40, compared to a similar plate at Meng Kee at RM15; but totally different ambience. Oversea was a proper restaurant, air conditioned, and I can feel relaxed to enjoy the meats. Meng Kee is a dirty, greasy coffee shop, but with overwhelmingly wonderful char siew.

For me, both are mainstays for char siew in KL. And a must try for every visitor.

Oversea Restaurant
84 - 88 , Jalan Imbi
Kuala Lumpur
Tel No: 03 - 2148 7567

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Meng Kee: Again.

with friends in KL

I have waxed lyrical about the char siew many times...see here and here, even crowned it best in the world. In a recent visit to KL with some friends on a foodie trail, I revisited many of my favourites...and the first place we landed was Meng Kee for the char siew.

So have I changed my mind? Absolutely not. This time, we arrived about 12:30pm, the char siew was still a bit warm. The fats glistening. The meat sensous and super-shiok as it slides into the mouth. The mouth feel is absolutely addictive. The crispy, sweet, charred outsides providing perfect counterpoint to the rich, smooth, slippery fats which are ably supported by some (yes, there is some) lean meat. The flavour is exquisite. Heavenly!

We also thought we should add a taugeh (bean sprouts) to balance the enhance the taste.

Even the taugeh is lethal...liberally sprinkled with crispy deep fried shallots and crispy lard bits...the taugeh is just blanched al dente...crunchy, a bit raw inside, but cooked outside. Drenched in soy sauce, oil and the gorgeous shallot and lard mix. Excellent++.

The ladyboss also "forced" us to order some chicken...

She just shoved a plate on our table, even before I had the chance to order anything. I had wanted to send it back, but one of our foodies thought it would be a good idea to add some variety, so we accepted it. Big mistake. The chicken was not good at all. Never order the chicken at Meng Kee.

But overall, the char siew keeps me coming back, despite the dirty, squalid shop environment. Despite the high tension atmosphere (assistants shouting orders, and generally an environment which encourages you to eat quickly and get out, rather than spend time to savour the great meat), the char siew is certainly THE BEST. Read about a comparison to Overseas soon.

Meng Kee
13 Tengkat Tong Shin
Bukit Bintang
Kuala Lumpur
Tel No: 017 -6388648
Open for lunch time only from 11am (but often by 10:30 it is ready)...typically finished by 1:30-pm, closed on Sundays.

There is a sign which says that they are moving soon. But no fear. They are moving almost directly behind the current Jalan Alor, next to Nova Hotel.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Iggy's: Degustation dinner

with good friends

Follow-on to the excellent lunch I had at Iggy's, I decided this was the place to host a few of my watch collecting buddies and their wives to an excellent dinner.

I spent some time mulling over the wine selection. The restaurant had made their suggestions, but I was not quite satisfied, and since I wanted to focus on Burgundy wines, I consulted Jeff Kingston. Jeff is a good friend and companion to many fine meals, and an expert on the wines of Bourgogne. He gave his suggestions. And while mulling over his selection, I spotted the Domaine Fourrier Gervey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques 2004, which seemed to be reasonably priced. A quick reference to some online guides, and a bounce off Jeff...who gave his endorsement: "Jean-Marie Fourrier makes great wine. And this is a 1er cru in addition. This selection is MUCH better than the other two." I was all set.

We started the aperitives with the Jacquesson Cuvee No 730 magnum.

I am not familiar with this champagne, and this was suggested by the restaurant. It turned out to be excellent. Floral accents were detected on the nose, and on the palate, it was creamy, mature, complex and great elegance. Very nice indeed.

The amuse bouche

Sea Urchin, cauliflower mousse, ponzu jelly – Braised beef tongue, sancho pepper. Very interesting to tease the palate. The sea urchin was in the shot glass...the ponzu jelly providing a respite to the rich umami of the sea urchine and mousse. The beef tongue was very savoury, extremely tender.

The first course was a black truffle summer salad:

Slices of black truffle adorn the summer salad pile of potato, onion, tomato, avocado and a sprinkling of truffle jus as a dressing. The truffles did their aromatic magic, and was consumed in double quick time. The greens were fresh and crisp. Well matched.

The Duo Foie Gras:

Unusually a creme brule of foie gras pate. And a lovely piece of foie gras was perfectly pan fried, crisp outer, fantastic explosion of fat inside.

Some preferred the creme brule of foie gras. The creme brule was a pate of foie gras, topped with a typical caramalised top, and a sprinkling of chopped, lightly candied pears. The top cracked open to reveal the rich oppulence of the foie gras pate. But I preferred the pan fried foie gras:

Glistening in its crisp outer jacket, the liver shone with exquisite taste, and wonderful mouth feel. A sprinkling of chopped spring onion not only added to the taste, but also provided a feast to the eyes. The foie gras exhibited a soft after taste, with the foie gras flavour lingering after the swallow. Perfect with a quick sip of the Jacquesson.

We opened the whites next. I originally opted to go with Jeff's choice of the Domaine Pierre Morey Mersault Les Tessons, but they ran out of stock, so I went for the restaurant's selection of Domaine de l'Arlot Nuits St. Georges Clos de L'Arlot Blanc 2001.

Despite being only a Village appelation, the wine outdid itself. On the nose it was fruity, with citrus notes. On the palate, it exhibited good structure, with hints of butter, and a soft finish.

The chef served up a sanma as the next course:

The skin was perfectly seared to a crisp, fragrant result. The fish, extremely fresh, and moist, juicy inside. The fish was served on top of wild rice and olive, and complemented each other very well.

Next course was the pasta:

The cappellini was freshly made, and topped with zuchinni and smoked mullet roe. The roe provided the umami attack, and the pasta was done just softer than al dente. I found the cappellini at Gunter's signature dish to be much finer not only in the strands, but also tastier than Iggy's version. There the pasta seemed to have been infused with either chicken or beef broth, and was flavourful. The Iggy's serving was milder, being a bit more neutral in taste.

At this point, we decided to bring out the reds. The Domaine Fourrier 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques 2004 was an excellent wine. Initially I wasn't very sure of the vintage, and would have preferred an older vintage or the 2005. But the 1996 which was available, was Armand Rousseau instead of Fourrier. And it was S$599 a bottle. But my worry was unfounded.

The Fourrier not only redeemed itself but brought much glory to the Domaine. On the eye, the colour was wonderful...a light ruby red, thinning out at the rim. On the nose, aromas of blackberry and cherry. On the palate it was indeed most agreeable. A bit understated, medium body, but intense. Indeed the mid-palate exhibited complexity and a multi-dimensional quality lacking lesser burgundies. Very impressive indeed.

The next course was a suckling pig:

A small serving of suckling pig, mainly the very crispy skin on a bit of lingering puppy fat, and a small sliver of meat clinging to it. The taste was quite exquisite. Very rich. Crisp and fat providing counterpoint to the palate. It was served with a spear of asparagus, apple, potato and tumeric. The ensemble came together very well - a testament to the ingenuity of the chef.

A palate cleanser was served before the wagyu piece de resistance.

Made from tomatoes, this was the very same amuse bouche I had during lunch some weeks back.

Then, drum roll...the wagyu:

What looked like tenderloin of Blackmoore Full Blood wagyu, was roasted, and sliced into serving sized pieces, each about a cm thick.

The sides showed Maillard reactants. The inside, still almost rare. The meat was very tender. So tender that I could almost cut it with a fork. Wonderful. I only wished it was larger, perhaps triple the size? On second thoughts, perhaps only double would suffice, as this was a very rich dish. The taste, needless to say was superb. The beef was well marbled, but the fat so evenly distributed that I can almost see no marbling on the meat. The effect of the marbling was to be experienced in the palate...each mouthful was tender, rich, and a mild mild foie gras richness and flavour was tasted. C'est Magnifique!

A curious pre-dessert followed:

A tofu/mozerrella like piece of white jelly, presumably made from soursop floating on a shot glass with gin and lime. The waiter adviced to down it in one go, like a shooter. The soursop provided a nice sour kick to the gin. Nice.

Dessert was a chocolate concoction:

A scoop of home made coconut ice cream, with a small slice of chocolate cake, basil, milk and what looked like pandan jelly balls. Suffice to say, it was delicious.

Petit fours of lemon and bananas were then served to round up the magnificent meal.

Indeed an excellent meal. Each dish was spectacular, and even as I realize that serving 21 diners at once is no mean feat for the chef, the quality of the cooking and food was outstanding. As was the quality of the service. Always unobstrusive, always available, and the waiters were very knowledgable. Wine glasses were topped up, water goblets kept full. Food served with no fuss, and very efficiently. One of my friends decided to drop by unplanned, I had invited him to the dinner, but he had to keep his clinic open till 9pm, so he declined. But he decided to drop by mid-way through dinner, and the kitchen and serving crew did not miss a step. He was promptly served the wagyu and subsequent dishes. No fuss.

So after two major meals at Iggy's in quick succession, do I think it deserve Miele's Best Restaurant in Asia title? I don't know, but it certainly is one of the best I have eaten, equalling many 2 and 3 star establishments I have tried in Europe, Japan and Hong Kong. If it were up to me, Iggy's would deserve at least one Michelin star, perhaps even two.