Saturday, April 30, 2005

Review: Crystal Jade Golden Palace

[Ed: See my father's comments and updates here.]

Today's lunch was at one of the ubiquitous Crystal Jade outlets, in this case, the one at Paragon.

Crystal Jade Golden Palace specialises in Teochew and Cantonese cuisine, and is, in my opinion, probably the best outlet among all of them. This is because Teochew food is very fine and not as oily as Cantonese food. The Cantonese food that they serve, however, is quite good as well and not as rich as the ones you get in other restaurants/Crystal Jade outlets.

Apparently if you want to impress a mainland Chinese, you should take him to eat Teochew food, because Teochew food represents the pinnacle of Chinese haute cuisine, and not Cantonese fare as is commonly supposed. Not sure how true that is though.

Golden Palace is tucked away near the top floor of Paragon, and unlike most chinese restaurants, this one is actually well decorated. It looks a bit like one of those old opium dens you see in Tintin and the Blue Lotus, but smells a lot nicer.

Interior Decor

Anyway, we had a dim sum lunch, which for you countless international readers is a very popular form of Cantonese cuisine that involves ordering small portions of many different bite-sized treats. That way everone gets to share everything, and you only eat what you think you can finish. Very economical.

We ordered two plates of shrimp fan gun (a sort of rice roll) for $4.50 each, which is a bit expensive, but very yummy.

Dim Sum 1

Next, a basket of lor mai kai (steamed glutinous rice in lotus leaf) and a basket of char siew pau (steamed BBQ pork bun) for $3.50 and $3.00 respectively. I thought the pork in the pau was a little rich and heavy, but it was sufficiently moist and fluffy. The lor mai kai was very fragrant and not sticky and oesophagus-clogging, unlike the stuff they give you in some restaurants.

Dim Sum 2

This is what my pau looked like on the inside:

Char Siew Pau

A restaurant cannot claim to have a dim sum menu without egg tarts, so we had some of those too. I found these a bit dry and lacking in egg taste. For $2.80 I expected a little better.

Dim Sum 3

At Golden Palace, the one thing you have to order is their Teochew porridge. The picture doesn't do justice to it; it's really very good. Unlike Cantonese congee, which is like rice gruel, Teochew porridge is rice cooked in a very flavoursome broth, and they are quite generous with the pork/oysters/fish that comes with the porridge, depending on which you order. It costs between $5 - $7 per bowl, but I think it's well worth it.

Teochew Porridge

Dim sum dishes seem to be either steamed or fried, and from the latter category we had Deep Fried Whitebait ($7). This dish was substantially more expensive than the others, but I felt it wasn't really a worthwhile order, since it's less substantial than the others. It was also a bit bland and soft.

Fried Whitebait

We rounded off with some Steamed Egg Yolk Cake (literally qin cheng gou - Thousand layer cake, not to be confused with the Peranakan kueh of similar name). I quite like this dish; it's very light and spongy. Theirs uses a custard rather than the salted egg yolks that other restaurants use. Although custard is supposedly less authentic, I like the sweetness of it, which gives this dim sum dish a very dessert feel. For $3, I thought it was well worth it.

Dim Sum 4

Altogether a very satisfying lunch.

Crystal Jade Golden Palace is very nicely situated in Paragon, Orchard Road. Since everyone knows how to get to Orchard, it's a safe bet if you ever eat there that you and your guests won't get lost.

In terms of service, like most Chinese restaurants, Golden Palace's staff are well-trained and attentive. It helps if you speak Mandarin or Cantonese though.

The ambience is very nice, as noted; you'd be hard-pressed to find a more tasteful Chinese restaurant.

Crystal Jade Golden Palace (Teochew/Cantonese)
290 Orchard Road #05-22/24 Paragon
Tel: 6734 6866
Location: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 5/5
Food: 4.5/5
Overall: Sets the bar for dim sum in Singapore

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Review: Prego

Okay, first photo-less review to be imported. This is one of the earlier ones, so forgive me if it's not exactly comprehensive. I can never remember if it's supposed to be Prego, Prego's or Pregos'.


Anyway, Prego is conveniently located in Raffles City, and has been providing Italian food to the office folk for a long time. They're a fairly big establishment, and boast a popular antipasti bar new, big-ass buffet selection.


Before the meal starts, Prego gives you a round loaf of bread which can be shared among three people easily. I don't know where they get it or if they bake it themselves, but it's one of the best restaurant breads around. Light and fluffy with just a hint of olive oil, this bread is a pleasure to eat with the dips they serve it with (sometimes olive oil, sometimes a tomato pesto; but usually too small a portion).

The buffet from the antipasti bar is generally quite good (4/5), with old favourites like proscuitto and melon, salami, cheese and bruschetta featuring. If you're looking to have a light lunch, the antipasti buffet is probably a good choice, and at $17, it's not too pricey. For a slightly more substantial dinner, $25 will see you through the antipasti buffet and a small pizza or pasta.

I had a spaghetti alle vongole ($22), which I found to be too salty (3.5/5). Update: It seems Prego's food has deteriorated somewhat. When I had the vongole again a while back, the dish was really shoddily cooked. The clams came out of a can, which gave them a very unappetisingly shredded look. That meal was understandably disappointing.

You can expect to pay about $60 for a four-course meal from the a la carte menu, or $70 if you're ordering fish/meat instead of pasta. Pretty much what you'd expect from a joint like this.

You can't really ask for a better location - since all trains lead to Raffles City, you'll get there eventually. A good place for dinner if you're on your way to the Esplanade or have plans anywhere in the area. You can even do some shopping to work off all the calories you've just deposited.

The service is pretty sufficient. I gave it a 5 the last time, but that was quite long ago and I was probably being generous. As a matter of fact I recall a somewhat over-defensive staff member during one of our meals there. A 3.5 - 4 would probably be more realistic. [See Edit]

In terms of ambience, Prego's got a good range. It has ample space to cater to either dinner gatherings or cosy lunches. I believe the bread is freshly baked and quite excellent, and the aroma of the bread and food work quite well to make the restaurant seem rather homely and inviting.

Prego (Italian)
Raffles the Plaza, Level 1
Tel: 6431 6156
Location: 5/5
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 4/5
Food: 3/5
Overall: Probably a safe, if pricey, bet

[Edit: I went there for dinner on Saturday (10/09/2005), and discovered that Prego has really gone downhill.]

Service was really atrocious. It was a good ten minutes before our water glasses were filled, and the waiters seemed to consistently ignore our table, because it took a while for us to place our orders too. A request for the food to come quickly because we were in a hurry returned the rather lackadaisical response of "I can't promise you". And people think service standards are low because of the customers. Rubbish.

As for the food, my rigatone with bolognese wasn't bad, but I have a nagging suspicion that it left me with mild food poisoning, because I've had stomach cramps and the runs since Sunday morning. That, of course, is the death knell of any restaurant.

[Edit 2: It appears Prego has reinvented itself, making my last edit somewhat inaccurate. Prego has not, in fact, had a death knell toll for it; if anything, it seems to be doing a roaring business - the restaurant was almost full at 1pm on Sunday (15/01/2006).]

Part of the reason may be the new buffet Prego offers. For $40, you get a huge amount of food.

Antipasto Bar

The popular antipasto bar is now part of the buffet, offering traditional favourites like parma ham with melon and tomato caprese.


There is a new meat station, where a dedicated chef waits to carve you pieces of meat from his roast.


A pizza station, which I'm always wary of, since there are never any facilities to keep the pizzas warm, and the pizzas would lose their crispiness anyway.


A pasta station as well, where all your pastas are cooked to order.


There was even a cheese station with an assortment of cheeses, which I thought was pretty impressive.


I did not, however, try the buffet, so I can't tell you if it was any good. Instead, I had the rigatone with bolognese again, mainly because I forgot that it might have been the cause of my previous upset stomach. This time around though, I had almost no complaints. The rigatone was al dente, the bolognese sauce was rich and meaty, but a little too wet. I would have preferred my sauce to have been a little less liquid, a little more full-bodied.

I was quite pleased with our most recent trip to Prego, as this grand old dame of Italian cuisine occupies a fond spot in my heart, and I was getting very disturbed by what I thought was an incurable downward spiral, first into mediocrity, and thence into dreadfulness, but thankfully this trend appears to have been arrested, and reversed.

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Making fudge tomorrow with an extremely easy faux-fudge recipe you can find here. Will be posting pictures of the process.

I have a grubby looking exercise book that contains reviews of many restaurants, which I shall be importing into this blog.

Unfortunately, they all do not contain photos. This means that my blog will be less colourful if I post them. It also means that my blog will be less substantial if I don't.

To get around that, I shall try and post old reviews (sans photos) along, or in alternating sequence with, the new reviews with photos.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Miscellaneous Food: Dinner, 23 April 2005

So my father finally decides to make good on his boast to his friends that he can cook a mean steak.

"How about dinner on Saturday," he asks me, "we'll cook for some friends."

Okay, I think, a joint family effort in cooking dinner. Should be fun.

"Okay," he says, "can I leave you in charge of it?"

How's that again?

In any case, almost everything was prepared while he was out playing golf. Sister, as usual, was in charge of decorating the table, the salad and dessert. I would take care of the soup and the main course, which my father would ostensibly help me with. My mother had the most important job of all: buying the groceries in the morning and generally not getting involved in the cooking.

Dinner went quite well, even if there were some slight blood-thinning surprises along the way. At 4pm I decide to take out the steaks from the refrigerator to marinate, only to discover some were still blocks of ice. Apparently having removed them from the freezer into the fridge a full 18 hours ago was not a sufficient amount of time for them to thaw.

8.45pm, time to cook the steaks. Get the clarified butter out...where's the clarified butter? Not in the big fridge, not in the small one, where the blazes is my butter!

"Oh, I might have used some when my friend and I were trying to make hollandaise sauce," my sister volunteers. Some? I had a tub with 220g of clarified butter - who uses 220g of butter to make hollandaise sauce! What's worse, the hollandaise sauce didn't even turn out right, so my butter was wasted!

But hiccups aside, it was a good dinner.

Sister set the tone with a very pretty table decoration:


Looked a bit like we were getting ready for a May Day fertility ritual, but the guests liked it.

On the menu:

Mesclun salad with strawberries, avocado and edamame. Forgot to take a photo of this one, so you'll just have to imagine it.

Mushroom Soup

Mushroom soup flavoured with Porcini oil


Pan-roasted rib-eye steak with Sauce Bordelaise, spinach, carrots and mashed potatoes.


Chocolate souffle served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Review: Corduroy & Finch

Went to this new restaurant in Sixth Avenue for lunch today. It's a new deli cum restaurant thing that seem to be gaining currency now that more Singaporeans are becoming more discerning about food.

Corduroy & Finch

The inside looks very much like a normal deli, but it also had lots of various ingredients on sale on shelves from floor to ceiling. Nice stuff like duck fat, truffle oil and saffron can be found here, and they've also got a cool room that stocks produce like white asparagus and other thingies. Don't expect to find anything cheap, though.


Sister ordered the Tomato Soup with Saffron ($9) which I didn't find that fantastic. It was quite salty and looked and felt too much like curry (3/5).

Tomato Soup with Saffron

I had a Prime ground sirloin burger with tobacoo onions, fries and salad ($18) as well as a chocolate fudge milkshake ($5.80). The burger was like any other burger (3.5/5), meaning paying $18 just to get ground sirloin instead of ground chuck wasn't really justified, even if the meat was a bit juicier. With such a dearth of good milkshakes in Singapore, I can't really complain about the one I had (4/5); it had a good consistency and they didn't stinge on the chocolate.

Prime Ground Sirloin Burger and Chocolate Shake

I was looking forward to the Vanilla bean panna cotta with seasonal berry compote ($4.8) which seemed very cheap for a dessert, but when it arrived I discovered why.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with seasonal berry compote

It looked cute, but was far too sweet and thick, totally lacking the silky smoothness of a classic Italian panna cotta. Much too tiny as well. Not at all enjoyable (2/5).

In terms of location, Corduroy & Finch is located along Bukit Timah Road, after Hwa Chong Institution and right before Sixth Avenue. That makes it really convenient for me and anyone who drives, but maybe not for those travelling by MRT.

The service at the restaurant was really bad. The poor waiter who took our orders didn't know what a panna cotta was and had great difficulty locating any of the items on the menu. This is despite the place having about twice the number of staff they needed.

As a deli-restaurant, the ambience was pretty decent, quite casual and more suited to brunch/tea than a formal dining experience. There are plush couches on the second storey for loafers.

Corduroy & Finch (casual, western, deli)
779 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: 6463 8038
Location: 4/5 (2/5 if you're taking the MRT)
Service: 2/5
Ambience: 4/5
Food: 3/5 (Average)
Overall: Worth remembering

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Most of the recipes you see here are probably unoriginal modifications of recipes I found somewhere else. If they're entirely the same I'll try and give the original source without running into copyright issues.

As and when you decide to try a recipe you see here, please remember that recipes are only guidelines, not instructions, and should not be followed religiously; you're bound to use a different cream, or type of mushroom, so leave some space for modifications and increment or reductions in measures.

Starters, Sides and Small Things
Aubergine Caviar
Baked Figs stuffed with Rosemary Goat's Cheese and wrapped in Prosciutto
Caesar's Salad
Caramalised Onions
Clam Chowder
Chinese New Year Lo Hei
Fish Soup
French Onion Soup
Garlic Soup
King Salad
Marinated Salmon Roe with Watermelon Ice Cubes
Minted Pea Soup
Momotaro Tomato
Mushroom Soup
Mushroom Vol au Vents
Pomelo Salad
Pumpkin Soup
Roast Potatoes
Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
Sauce Duxelles
Sherry Portabello Mushrooms
Spring Rolls
Steamed Beets with Truffle Oil and Feta Cheese
Tomato and Basil Focaccia
Tomato Gazpacho
Tomato Soup
Tuna Sashimi Salad
Vegetarian Quesadillas
Yorkshire Pudding

Main Courses and Big Things
Boeuf Bourguignon
Braised Lamb Shanks
Braised Veal Cheeks
Braised Veal Shanks with Tagliatelle
Carbonnades a la Flammande
Chili con Carne
Claypot Rice
Coq au Vin
Duck Cassoulet
Konbu Pasta with Prawn Oil
Meatball Pasta
Mentaiko Pasta
Osso Bucco
Pan-Roasted Steak
Pork Stew
Rabbit Stew
Red Stewed Pork
Risotto with Prawns and Asparagus
Roast Beef
Roast Rack of Lamb
Roast Veal
Sakura Ebi Pasta with Prawn Oil
Slow-cooked Beef Ragu
Spaghetti alle Vongole
Spaghetti Bolognese
Stuffed Saddle of Lamb
Thai Salmon Parcels
Tiger Prawn Pappardelle
Vietnamese Pho

Desserts and Sweet Things
A Trio of Cookies
Berry Almond Cream Pie
Berry Friands
Blackberry Pie
Blueberry Cake
Bread and Butter Pudding
Caramel Pumpkin Tart
Cherry Popping Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate Mousse
Coconut Cake
Coconut Flaked Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Cranberry Pecan Bread
Creme Anglaise
Creme Brulee and Creme Brulee 2
Custard Pie with Figs, Apricots and Strawberries
Darjeeling Tea Tart
Green Tea Cookies
Ile Flottante
Lemon and Passionfruit Cream
Lemon Cake
Lemon Cream
Lemon Curd Chocolate Tarts with Raspberries
Lemon Meringue Tart
Macarons and Raspberry Macarons
Mango and Green Tea Sorbet
Marble Butter Cake
Mini Yuzu Tarts
Mocha Soufflé
Molten Chocolate Cake
Orange Cake
Pandan Chiffon Cake and again
Panna Cotta
Peach Orange Vodka with Pomegranates
Pears Stewed in Red Wine and Honey with Marscapone Cream
Pecan Butter Cookies
Pineapple Tarts and Pineapple Tart Dough
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Plum Tart
Pumpkin Cookies
Really Easy Chocolate Fudge
Red Velvet Cake
Strawberry Compote
Strawberry Jelly Hearts
Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie
Sugee Cake
Vanilla Cupcakes
World Peace Cookies

Restaurant Reviews

The reviews of restaurants and eateries contained in this blog represent the sole opinions of the reviewers writing them, and are not intended to be, and should not be understood as being, definitive.

Older posts used to review restaurants on a score of five, but this has proved rather too inconvenient, and so more recent reviews are much more impressionistic.

Reviews arranged below in alphabetical order, sorted by type of cuisine offered. Restaurants that have a stroke through them are closed.

See also recommendations of where to eat in Singapore:

Candlenut Kitchen
Cumi Bali
Garuda Restaurant
Pagi Sore
Thai Express
Viet Lang
Yhingthai Palace
Wok and Barrel


Whitebait & Kale (Closed)




Aston's Specialties
Cafe de Amigo

Cafe Rosso (Closed)

Casa Roma

Corduroy & Finch (Closed)

Dempsey's Hut (Closed)

District 10 (Closed)

Firestation Hillside Gastrobar
Food Opera
Island Creamery
Jumbo Seafood
Jones the Grocer

Karma, Kettle and Rhapsody (Closed)

La Petite Cuisine
Luke's Oyster Bar and Chop House

Menotti (Closed)

Mimolette (now called Cafe Mimo)
Ming Kee Live Seafood
Miss Clarity Cafe
No Signboard Seafood
Once Upon a Milkshake

Papi (Closed)

Phin's Steakhouse

Pizza Pazza (Closed)

PS Cafe

PS Cafe (Palais Renaissance) (Closed)

Raw Kitchen Bar (Closed)

Rider's Cafe
Sha Tin Kitchen

Spizza for Friends (Closed)


The Canteen (Closed)

The Cellar Door (Closed)

The Marmalade Pantry (Closed)

The Tea Party Cafe

Ubin Seafood (Closed)

Chill Out
2am Dessert Bar
Max Brenner

Macaron (Closed)

Tippling Club

Chinois by Susur Lee
Crystal Jade Golden Palace
Crystal Jade Golden Palace (II)
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao (Holland Village)
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao (Great World City)
Din Tai Fung
Imperial Treasure Nan Bei
Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck
Jade Palace Seafood Restaurant
Lei Garden
Majestic Restaurant

Metropole Herbal Restaurant (Closed)

Min Jiang
My Choice Chinese Cuisine
My Humble House
Peach Garden
Spring Court
Swa Garden
Tung Lok Classics
Xi Yan
Village Wok

Bistro Petit Salut
Bistro Petit Salut (II)
Restaurant Au Petit Salut
dB Bistro Moderne
Gordon Grill
Les Amis

Le Bistrot (Closed)

Les Bouchons

Le Figue (Closed)

Nicholas Le Restaurant

Petit Village (Closed)

Raffles Grill

Sebastien's (Closed)

Tarata Bistrot
The French Kitchen

Alba Italian Restaurant
Borgata Trattoria Osteria

Borgo (Closed)

Buko Nero
Forlino (II)
Da Luca
Da Paolo il Giardino
Da Paolo La Terrazza
DOMVS Italian Restaurant

Fabricca (Closed)


Il Gladiatore (Closed)

Il Lido

L'Ancora (Closed)

L'Antipasto (Closed)

La Braceria (Closed)

La Strada
Oso Ristorante
Osteria Mozza
Pietra Santa
Trattoria Lafiandra

Akashi (II)
Akashi (III)
En Japanese Dining Bar
Kinki Restaurant & Bar
Sun with Moon
Sushi Yoshida
Tampopo Japanese Restaurant

Wacha (Closed)


Cha Cha Cha
Viva Mexico


Modern European

2-Door (Closed)

Keystone Restaurant

Le Papillon (Closed)

Novus Restaurant, Bar, Cafe & Courtyard
Pierside Kitchen
Restaurant Ember
Restaurant Ember (II)

Sage (Closed)

Seven on Club
The Screening Room

Tin Hill (Closed)

The Cicada (Closed)

The Dunearn
The Universal
The Universal (II)
The University Club
Upper Club
Wild Rocket
Wild Rocket (II)

My Little Spanish Place
Sol Tasca
Miscellaneous Food

The purpose of this page is to house all those miscellaneous posts that are about food, but conform neither to the Restaurant Reviews or Recipes pages. They still make for exceptional and hunger-inducing reading, though.

Food in Other Countries

Australia Day Ten
Australia Day Eleven

Australia Day Four
Australia Day Five
Australia Day Six
Australia Day Seven
Australia Day Eight
Australia Day Nine

Australia Day One

Australia Day Two
Australia Day Three


Hong Kong
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Food in Hong Kong
Zen Dining
Hong Kong Part I
Hong Kong Part II
Hong Kong Part III
Hong Kong Part IV
Central Hong Kong: Soho
Central Hong Kong: Noodles
Central Hong Kong: Central
Central Hong Kong: Business District
Hong Kong: A 3-Day Itinerary

Food in Macau

Shinori Null

Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe

1e Jour
2e Jour
3e Jour
4e Jour
5e Jour
Dernier Jour
Paris (Again)

1e Jour
2e Jour
3e Jour Cours Saleya
3e Jour Dîner
4e Jour
5e Jour
6e Jour
7e Jour
8e Jour
9e Jour
10e Jour
11e Jour

Jakarta Part One
Jakarta Part Two
Jakarta Part Three

Day 1
Day 2
Day 2: Appendix
Day 3 (Part 1)
Day 3 (Part 2)
Day 4 (Part 1)
Day 4 (Part 2)
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7

Kuala Lumpur
Day One
Day Two
Day Three


New Zealand (Dec '10)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Phuket Part One
Phuket Part Two
Phuket Part 3


United Kingdom
Borough Market
Boxwood Cafe
La Bouchee
Four Seasons
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Signor Zilli
The Fat Duck
The Kensington Creperie

Le Manoir Aux Quat'Saisons
The Eagle and Child

United States
New York
New York 1
New York 2
New York 3
New York 4: Les Halles
New York 5: Artisanal
New York 6: The Spotted Pig
New York 7: Babbo
New York 8: A Voce
New York 9: Nougatine
New York Eats

San Francisco
San Francisco

Washington DC
Food from the Capitol

Special Events
Hairy Crabs
Birthday Dinner at Sebastien's
Birthday Mom 2006
Cooking Class at Canelé
Food Bloggers' Dinner 2006
Weylin's Bee-autiful Cupcakes
Cupcakes and May Birthdays
Mothers' Day 2007
McDonalds Hot Chocolate
Food Bloggers' Dinner 2007: Colin's Review

Awfully Chocolate
Butter: A Taste Test
Espirito Santo
Hariann's Delights
Mycofarm Mushrooms
Petite Sweets
Pitstop Cafe
Sia Huat & Lau Choy Seng
W Concepts
Where to Buy Ingredients