Simple Quick Eats near ICA on 4May2016

laksa @ toastbox

laksa @ toastbox

went with wife to ICA (Immigration & Checkpoint Authority) to collect passport on 4.5.2016.

queue number a bit high & officer advised we go have lunch & come back later.

we crossed over the other side of kallang road via lavender mrt station & found toastbox at kitchere complex.

wife ordered a laksa set include iced barley drink for S$6.80. i ordered a kopi c gosong tik lok.

laksa @ toastbox

laksa @ toastbox

laksa was lemak, quite tasty, competent if nothing to shout about.

there were lots of taupoks & fishcake, few prawns & no “hums” (cockles).

S$6.80 include drink quite ok i guess in the comfort of aircon environment. my kopi c was S$1.80 already.

needless to say, it’s no comparison with a S$5 laksa & wei yi laksa, tanglin halt food centre la

old chang kee

old chang kee

after that we bought 2 chicken puffs at old chang kee. took with coffee when we got home. 🙂

always like old chang kee. 🙂

poh guan

poh guan

i saw this shop poh guan & decided to buy back some “tausapia”. they said their “low por pen” also good, so i bought 8 tausapia & 2 low por pen all S$1ea so S$10 in total.

poh guan tausapia

poh guan tausapia

i told the shopowner that i think balestier sells only S$0.60 ea but theirs seem bigger.

the girl was quite cheerful not the nazi type. she asked me to try it out & see. 🙂

hoong woh tong

hoong woh tong

this shop reminded us of hong kong guilinggao 龟苓膏,so we ordered small one @ S$5.50 (large @ S$8) to share.

gulinggao @ hoong woh tong

gulinggao @ hoong woh tong

it was good standard. but i tasted better even in singapore la.

they say traditional but the mint taste was kind of overwhelming, not what i like.

the guilinggao 龟苓膏 we had recently at xin cuisine was way better la

c.h.e.f andy

Great Quality Lunch @ Tunglok Signature Orchard Parade on 6Appr2016

1/2 roast London duck - S$32

1/2 roast London duck – S$32

went with friend for lunch at tunglok signature @ orchard parade on 6.4.2016. ^^

just returned from london last evening. had an excellent family holiday in london, lisbon, porto with wife, son & daughter.

my OPS friend bought me an excellent G7 Sinma frog porridge lunch on 11.3.2016 before my trip.

so my turn to buy lunch. 🙂

garlic steamed razor clams - S$12.80

garlic steamed razor clams – S$12.80

we started with a steamed razor clam.

clam was smaller than what usually is served in say ah yat, jumbo, long beach etc. the sauce a bit gluey, but overall the taste was still very good. 🙂

i would order this again, also after 50% palate discounts for 2pax, this dish was only S$6.40++.

Lie tong 例汤 1/2 pot=S$16

lie tong 例汤 1/2 pot=S$16

we shared 1/2 pot lie tong 例汤 1/2 pot at S$16 (full pot S$28).

lie tong 例汤 always good here, and at others like imperial treasure etc. for me, a good lie tong 例汤 1/2 (they usually very good la) is better than taking sharksfin (politically incorrect) or even fishmaw soup.

1/2 roast London duck - S$32

1/2 roast London duck – S$32

& i wanted to let my friend try the roast london duck. ^^

they used irish duck which is fatter & more flavourful.

can’t it’s better than the tea smoked duck at xin cuisine,

but certainly it is better than the very good roast duck at canton paradise.

Rack of lamb - S$15

Rack of lamb – S$15

rack of lamb was good too, tender not too strong gamey taste. but chinese preparation is for me, never as good for this dish c/w with modern european.

we shared one order.

String beans - S$18

String beans – S$18

string beans was more ex, basically S$18 is a good restuarant kind of pricing for veg.

Garoupa fillet noodles soup - S$12

Garoupa fillet noodles soup – S$12

i had a zhajiangmian variation here with my wife recently.

this time, it was a garoupa fillet noodle soup.

it was good, soup very tasty, garoupa fillet fresh & sweet.

we shared one order.

Really Nice Fine Chinese Dinner @ Xin Cuisine on 1Oct2015

this tea infused duck is the best roast duck i tried!!

S$28 – this tea infused duck is the best roast duck i tried!!

wife & i went to xin cuisine for dinner on 1.10.2015.^^

though this is a palate restaurant, we had never use the amex palate privileges here before today.

the last time we had a superb fine dining here was 2.5yrs ago on 31.3.2013 for a ANZ set promotion.

excellent lie tong 例汤

S$9 – excellent lie tong 例汤

in fact, soup looked quite pathetic but it tasted phenomenal!!!

i think this excellent lie tong 例汤 should be offered & served in a nice earthen pot like at tunglok or say lei gardens in hk instead of an individual per portion serving. at the very least, even if it is served per portion, it should be done in a nice bowl instead of a jack’s place kind of soup serving!

excellent lie tong 例汤

S$9 – excellent lie tong 例汤

must try to do this lie tong at home.

this tea infused duck is the best roast duck i tried!!

S$28 – this tea infused duck is the best roast duck i tried!!

the duck & veg were just as phenomenal!

this tea infused duck is the best roast duck i tried!! definitely better than the very nice duck at canton paradise. 🙂

this tea infused duck is the best roast duck i tried!!

S$28 – this tea infused duck is the best roast duck i tried!!

the tea fragrance was so lingering! amazing! restaurant manager said it was because the hk chef not only smoked but also marinated the duck in tea.

maybe i will try my tea infused duck again…

just super! preserved vege with chinese small cabbage & egg plant

S$18 – just super! preserved vege with chinese small cabbage & egg plant

this preserved vege with chinese small cabbage & egg plant was super also.

just super! preserved vege with chinese small cabbage & egg plant

S$18 – just super! preserved vege with chinese small cabbage & egg plant

the flavours of the preserved vegetables with the light soy sauce, not salty, was inviting.

just super! preserved vege with chinese small cabbage & egg plant

S$18 – just super! preserved vege with chinese small cabbage & egg plant

a very fine vegetable dish. 🙂

big prawn crispy noodles

S$14 – big prawn crispy noodles

the big prawn crispy noodles was great, as expected.

big prawn crispy noodles

S$14 – big prawn crispy noodles

crispy noodles & broth all good.

lobster noodles also good

S$22 – lobster noodles also good

lobster noodles also good, but broth tasted perhaps just a wee bit not as good as tunglok’s.

lobster noodles also good

S$22 – lobster noodles also good

overall still a very good dish.

i tried my own king prawns braised noodles previously which tasted pretty good too.

i served this at a 11pax homecooked lunch on 15.10.2015 & everyone loved it!^^

this a really nice enjoyable dinner & with 50% for 2pax amex palate discounts, dinner was just S$69.

for me, the dishes were very fine, the soup was wonderful, & the duck quite divine, delicate & lingering tea flavours, and so was the veg. the prawn noodles & lobsters noodles were more ordinary dishes but very well executed, real good class.

service was ok, except at the beginning server took inordinately long time to respond to taking orders (even after acknowledging which already took long time) when there were just 3 tables including our own.

c.h.e.f andy

Best Lobster 6-course Dinner @ Tunglok Signature Orchard Parade on 19Oct2013

foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap

foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap

foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap

foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap

(P.S. also had dinner ala carte orders here at tunglok signature on 28.11.2012).

had a best value dinner & among the best lobster dinner at tunglok signature at orchard parade hotel on 19.10.2013. 🙂 tunglok has a rather unusual arrangement with palate/amex where you get the usual 1 person off ie 50% discount for 2pax but then only for alacarte during weekdays and only for set meals during weekends. the latter is odd (surely if you give discounts for sets you should also give discounts for alacarte?) but quite fine with me as long as i get my discounts….haha. 🙂

sharksfin with crabmeat & roe

sharksfin with crabmeat & roe

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steamed soon hock fillet in light soya sauce

steamed soon hock fillet in light soya sauce

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lobster noodles

lobster noodles

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we chose the S$98 lobster & seafood set. it was of exceptional quality, both in terms of quality of ingredients & quality of cooking. 🙂

the first course was a foie gras, smoked duck & crispy beancurd skin in pancake wrap (top 2 photos). this was excellent. fusion stuff are novel but frequently fail in taste (and/or matching) departments, but this was excellent! the texture & flavours of the foie gras & smoked duck & beancurd skin combined with the thick pancake wrap was unique & wonderful. 🙂

the crabmeat & roe soup was chokeful of ingredients – sharksfin, crabmeat & lots of roe (the photos tell it all). it was sweet & tasty enough but still lacking c/w the very flavourful braised crabmeat sharksfin soup (or the fishmaw soup) at majestic. we added vinegar & it tasted better (we don’t add vinegar when savouring the soup at majestic). still it was a rather good soup.

the steamed soon hock in light soya sauce was likewise super. flavour-wise almost as good as a chilean seabass done the same way, though soon hock would be inferior in taste & texture c/w chilean seabass. 🙂

the kurobuta was for me the least competent among the very good dishes. it was quite “well done” & little dry & did not taste much different from an ordinary pork chop, and not as good as the kurobuta steak served at the lobster set at chao yue xuan.

the lobster noodle though was par excellence. the lobster & superior sauce flavours were much better than chao yue xuan & as good or better than that offered at the lobster & abalaone set at xin cuisine. the lobster at the recent set we had at ah yat would be far down the list. 🙂

杨枝甘露 with ice cream

杨枝甘露 with ice cream

杨枝甘露 with ice cream

杨枝甘露 with ice cream

lime watermelon drink?

lime watermelon drink?

the 6-course menu

the 6-course menu

& the dessert 杨枝甘露 with ice cream was super as well. in other joints like ah yat & chao yue xuan, they often give you red bean soup etc for dessert just to pass off the course numbers. here we had very good tasty dessert, as we did also at xin cuisine.

the cost for the scrumptious meal was just S$98++ for 2pax PLUS S$3++ for 2 tea covers (ah yat charges S$2.40pax tea covers).  this is one excellent deal which i will certainly do again, & i would also try the other S$78pax set.

c.h.e.f andy

Esquina Degustation Did Not Happen/Other Restaurant Promotions

6 of us had planned to go to esquina to try out the dinner tasting menu. the menu items (including beef tartar, beetroot salad, kingfish sashimi, scallop ceviche etc) & gallery photos from esquina website had looked awfully exciting & most alluring. 🙂

esquina is a tapas bar, sister of Pollen at Marina Bay by Jason Atherton who had worked with Gordon Ramsay in his restaurants including Maze in London for 10 years & received 1 michelin star within 6months of starting out Pollen Street Social at Mayfair London.

i called & emailed esquina to make a reservation for 6pax on a friday. there was no reply to the email (does not look like i will get a reply). when i called to reserve a table for 6pax, the person who answered said they do not take reservations as theirs is a walk-in tapas bar with counter seats.  i told him it was kind of difficult for me to arrange for 6pax to come and try out a S$95 tasting menu if we could not get a confirmed reservation & we have to eat at the counter trying to have conversation among the 6 of us. i asked for the manager and he replied that he was the manager, and the name was Ashburn when i asked for his name. he said perhaps we could be seated outside, so i asked if i could make a reservation for the outside table if there was one. he replied that he would check with the chef & revert to me. he never did – perhaps he was too busy or had misplaced my handphone number haha. 🙂

i decided to google hungrygowhere & tripadvisor (i had earlier saw 1 or 2 good reviews of esquina by bloggers before deciding to try out esquina with my friends). i must say that the majority of the reviews & comments were actually favourable. there was one that stood out rather ominously for us=Waited 1.5 hours for a table and food. Walked out. Scary! 

  • The biggest inconsistency I’ve found with Esquina is the service. I’ve visited 3 times and on the first occasion the service was horrendous. Rude and unaccommodating…. I guess it was stress from the busy Friday night

a second review helped me drop the idea altogether.  A great buzz and original tapas was actually an overall favourable review & i guess quite balanced as it included the not so good parts as well. the only reason i extracted the above was not to highlight the bad part but just that it was immediately relevant to our specific needs as we were going on a friday evening. 🙂

many things are a matter of matching expectations. the restaurant is probably right. if they are positioned as a walk-in tapas bar, and if that is well received by patrons, then they probably got it right. having introduced a 9-course tasting menu (& from the gallery photos a rather exciting array of dishes) perhaps to please its regular supporters & to introduce new patrons to its tapas dishes, whether they should extend the service to include a proper table degustation with full service experience is of course something for the restaurant to decide. 🙂

so it would be that the venue & setting are just NOT matching the needs for our dinner get-together – in the end, food is not everything & we cannot trust every food photo…if service & ambience are not right then the experience is not quite there..(will have to try esquina another time)..

i found though a few other restaurant promotions so giving an update here-

  1. sichuandouhua at Parkroyal has a second anniversary celebration Suckling Pig Feast set at S$288 for 6pax (& S$48.80pax) until 31.7.2013, with added 20% discount for UOB cards.
  2. Oso has a amex 5-course set dinner at S$78 (usual S$98) until 31.12.2013.
  3. Xin Cusine has continued the very good set i reviewed here=S$118 1 for 1 Lobster & Abalaone Set until 18.8.2013.
  4. Azmaya is still offering its 50% discount for wagyu/pork shabu shabu & now sukiyaki (S$45pax & S$50 respectively after discount) all-you-can-eat shabu shabu for the month of sep2013 (updated on 14.9.2013)

well, for this friday, we will be going to sichuandouhua. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

 

Majestic’s Excellent 8-course WGS (World Gourmet Summit) dinner on 19Apr2013

black turffle on hokkaido scallop with gourd

black truffle on hokkaido scallop with gourd

looked at Majestic’s 8-course WGS (World Gourmet Summit) dinner menu on its website & decided to go for this dinner. 🙂 WGS dinners have been around for many years. was never quite motivated to try them as I always believe (& still do) that good food begins with taste, and presentation & creativity (including fusion & molecular discoveries & adventures) are superlative to good taste & superfluous to bad ones; and have always felt it is paying lots of $ to get average (or poor) food & service..

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Majestic’s excellent 8-course WGS (World Gourmet Summit) menu ending 26apr2013

Majestic is our favourite Chinese fine dining restaurant so we are confident with the quality of its cooking (not to say bias..haha..). this 8-course WGS dinner menu is S$99++pax c/w several hundred $ for other WGS dinners & there is a 10% Citibank credit card discount, so it looked reasonable to give it a try & we were happy we did. 🙂

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The lobster soup with a yasai (veg) tempura was a great start. The lobster meat were plump, sweet & tender. The soup was very smooth & tasty – the intense hae mee (prawn noodle) type stock, not the foam cappuccino bisque served at most western fine dining. the tempura batter was good.

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the braised abalone and lotus roots with a minced oyster filling in batter & brocoli in brown sauce was a superb dish. 🙂 Chinese dried abalones in brown sauce are always soooo good. the abalone was smaller than the 5-head ones at Xin Cuisine, probably 8 or 10-heads but still good size. the lotus root with minced oyster though was par excellence, very good indeed! 🙂 next item on the menu (top photo) was plump, sweet,nicely seared hokkaido scallop sitting on a marrow gourd with a sprinkling of tobiko (flying fish roe), and it had an amazingly large black truffle topping it! I love the fragrance truffle & truffle oil add to dishes (especially cold Japanese noodle topped with caviar & some truffle oil at Gordon Grill) but never believe in paying stratospheric prices for them.

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the 4th dish was 1 of the best caramelised (I think honey vinegared) pork rib I had. you can the glaze, glistening..not sure how it is done – whether baked or deep (or shallow) fried & braised. the plating was good with the green tea powder donning some chinese character (京?). 🙂

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teochew steamed promfet topped with pigskin

next was the teochew steamed promfet – as good as any good teochew restaurant, not sure the plating & pigskin topping (odd choice) was an effort in fine dining presentation? whatever –  the taste still a good robust steamed teochew promfet dish. 🙂

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we were expecting panfried wagyu MBS6 – I guess maybe that was too much of an expectation for the price? haha. 🙂 what we got was panfried wagyu guotie (锅贴)..when reading menu I was thinking a panfried wagyu + a pot sticker yum yum..it was not to be..the minced wagyu was very tasty & the dough was good..not quite the same but well can’t have the best of everything, 🙂

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the 2 desserts were I guess another effort at creativity & fine dining.. don’t know what to make of the cherry pie thingy..the puff pastry was excellent, lovely swans too, the filling a bit sweet & not my thing, like a sticky date pudding? maybe.

the ice dessert  I consider a 败笔 (point of failure) of an otherwise outstanding menu..the usual aloe vera sorbet at Majestic is so good no need the trouble to invent something fancy..not that it was bad really, but it was much ado about nothing – an ice jelly in a hawker centre would be more shiok!

overall it was an outstanding & enjoyable dinner. the WGS menu promotion is until 26apr2013. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Value Lobster Set @ Chao Yue Xuan (潮悦轩) on 1Mar2013

Chao Yue Xuan (潮悦轩) S$35nett 7-course set

Chao Yue Xuan (潮悦轩) S$35nett 8-course set

see also the new S$38 8-course lobster & abalone set (21.8.2013).

bought 2xS$35nett 8-course Chao Yue Xuan (潮悦轩) groupon vouchers, so duly visited the restaurant. 🙂

This is the same Ah Yat branch & location at UE Square along Mohamed Sultan Road, only they have changed the name to mean a “pleasing teochew pavilion”..at S$35nett the meal did turn out pleasing enough though nothing teochew 🙂

decor & ambience wise though the place is a bit dowdy, and in fact though this branch is located at UE Sqaure, Turf City has better ambience! there were 3 tables of Chinese tourists this evening – I guess F&B is really competitive here & people do need to survive. 🙂

salmon sashimi

salmon sashimi

the salmon sashimi was actually quite good but not really the belly or fatty type which now even some buffet serve, but it was good, not poor.

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the double-boiled fishmaw(花膠)soup was very good really – sweet, smooth, tasty.

garlic steamed (蒜茸蒸) razor (bamboo) clam with tanhoon

garlic steamed (蒜茸蒸) razor (bamboo) clam with tanhoon (glass noddles)

the garlic steamed razor (bamboo) clam with tanhoon (glass noodles) was good (every restaurant should really be able to do this well) though Ah Yat at Turf City was better & Long Beach @ Dempsey was better than both, and we didn’t think that serving it without the shell instead of on the shell was a great idea. btw, i also did a good steamed razor clam in garlic oil myself.

deep-fried fish chop with strawberry sauce

deep-fried fish chop with strawberry sauce

I cannot really fault this fish chop (2 pieces – very large serving) . The deep-fry was done right crispy & not soggy, but the meal was really filling & we were not into this sweet strawberry sauce thingy & this asian fusion? dish did not match well with the other menu items. I took 1 piece. My wife did not touch it.

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the lobster in pumpkin sauce was very nice. It was a mid-size maine lobster, about 450g (& larger than the one we took subsequently at Xin Cuisine). pumpkin sauce is a favourite cooking style with Ah Yat & goes well with crab, I think more so than lobsters. Comparing this with the very light cheese gratin lobster at Xin Cuisine I would think this is better (& of course larger) – though my wife would disagree – but I guess this was more robust in taste & presentation c/w Xin Cuisine’s which can be said to be more fine.

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poached nai bai (奶白) with abalone sauce

This nai bai vege was very good! 🙂

baked prawns with noodles in superior sauce

baked prawns with noodles in superior sauce

I didn’t get this dish though – the prawn was large & fresh (live right..) & in superior sauce how to go wrong? but it was soggy, not “QQ” (al dente)..& with the fish chop, would be the weakest links in this set.

The red bean dessert does not really deserve mention or a photo..haha.:-)

anyway, it was difficult to fault this S$35nett 8-course set – the ingredients like lobster & razor (bamboo) clam were good quality, the salmon & prawn were fresh, soup & vege were good; quality of cooking was not quite there but still above average.

I may not do this too often but I have bought another 2 vouchers, so I am planning to go back before voucher expires. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Chinese Fine Dining Set @ Xin Cuisine on 31Mar2013

chicken & mushrooms in eggskin dumpling in pumpkin soup

chicken & mushrooms in egg skin dumpling in pumpkin soup

I had not tried Xin Cuisine, despite it being included in Amex Palate dining privilege for a while already. and though I did have intention to try out the food here using palate discounts, it was ANZ card marketing that got me to ask about this lobster & abalone 1 for 1 menu. We were still not sure though, as you could not really tell by menu alone the quality of cooking, so when we got ourselves seated I studied the ala carte menu a little in addition to the the promotion set menu below (which as it turned out payment could be made by any credit card). 🙂

Xin Cuisine Lobster & Abalone Set

We had always felt that Majestic offered the best Chinese fine dining set, and others like Tunglok could not compare on a price vs quality of ingredients & quality of cooking basis though it might be a bit more debatable when comparing fine dining over the whole ala carte menu & ambience etc. For us though since quality of cooking pipped the other considerations, we had more confidence that a dish in Majestic would turn up tasty c/w another place (and of course as justified by the price).

On this occasion, we decided on the set menu, and it was a very good decision! 🙂

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We started with a duo appetizer. There was a roast duck on a pan seared foie gras & cucumber (seems that Xin is famous for their suckling pig with foie gras), & a small saucer of thick spicy jellyfish. Both were very nice. The roast duck felt like a sous vide item, very tender & totally consistent. In terms of fine dining, it was no less fine than western fine dining.

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Next was chicken & mushrooms in a egg skin dumpling in pumpkin soup. This was very, very, very good. It was such a beauty to look at, and the soup was so very, very tasty, as good as Majestic’s 黄焖鱼翅 which was a lot better than Tunglok’s version. And the dumpling was so delicate to behold & so tasty to eat. Very few western fine dining restaurants here offered something this fine!

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5-head abalone (about 2in) on bed of spinach with sea cucumber

The next item was the 5-heads abalone on a bed of spinach with sea cucumber in brown sauce (5-heads mean the size is 5 abalones to 1 kati though I am clueless whether it is the HK old kati=600g or the China kati=500g. In China it is now 1斤10 两 & 1 两= 50g)。 This was as good as Chinese braised abalones went in terms of 口感 bite/texture  & taste.

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and there was the 1/2 lobster, done with a very light cheese gratin. The lobster was smaller (about 350g). My wife preferred the 上汤焗 style so cheese lobster not her favourite but I must say the taste was good & this was really very nicely done. This was a good illustration of quality of cooking – Chao Yue Xuan for example offered a larger 1/2 lobster in a good value set which we had recently, but the quality of cooking & presentation made a  huge difference between fine dining and not so fine dining. 🙂

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and then we had the egg fried rice & spicy pork & this very plain fried rice was very very good – such crisp long grains & so fragrant it was as good as Imperial Treasure’s crab meat fried rice with dried scallops & egg white which was our perennial favourite – & so both of us who avoided carbo mostly had to evoke our “worthwhile carbo” philosophy and finished up all the rice. The spicy pork collar was very nice too.

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snow lotus in almond cream

For dessert,we had the snow lotus in almond cream. Both of us were not very “dessert persons”, and cream 糊 was not my favourite & very less so for my wife. This though was only very slightly sweet & extremely smooth which was what defined a good 糊, be it almond (杏仁) or walnut (核桃) or combined (鸳鸯). I don’t remember eating snow lotus before – thought it was hasma but it wasn’t, texture was good. For us I guess it was an ok above average dessert but it was “fine” alright in terms of quality. 🙂

P.S. – see here for Restaurant Promotions update.

c.h.e.f andy