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Categories : Sichuan | Chinese | Hotel | Restaurant | Dim Sum | Seafood

A long serving stalwart of the Fairmont Hotel Singapore, having opened together over 30 years ago, Szechuan Court is a reowned Chinese fine dining restaurant known for its excellent Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine, impeccable and attentive service, and stunning Imperial Chinese decor. The high level of quality and ability to consistently deliver continues to draw many diners to Szechuan Court, and despite its high prices, makes one feel it's still value for money.
Szechuan Pickled Mustard Tuber

Szechuan Pickled Mustard Tuber

 
Ambience at Szechuan Court exudes a luxurious and sophisticated elegance, having been recently renovated in 2011. The Chinese Imperial style royal decor within the spacious setting is enhanced with gleaming black onyx lacquered surfaces, contrasted by rich fabric colours in red, scarlet, white, and gold. Walk past the Imperial styled entrance, and choose to dine in 1 of 2 areas, the spacious and bustling open restaurant, or the quiet private booths which offer a view of the city skyline. Impressive, all around excellent!

Service at Szechuan Court is courteous, professional, efficient, and hard-working. Staff politely greet guests, and quickly usher you to your selected seats. If questioned about the menu, they are able to describe dishes in basic detail. I realise however, they are more fluent in Mandarin than English. Staff proactively top up tea / water without being asked. Observant and attentive, they arrive quickly when beckoned, offering near personalised service. I also appreciate that staff change your cutlery and plates after every dish, good effort!

Food at Szechuan Court comprises traditional, familiar Chinese Szechuan and Cantonese flavours, presented in modern fine dining style, arranged neatly on clean, white dishes. Staff will present you the dishes, then assist to portion it out. Generally, the ingredients used are fresh, prepared with respect, and well executed, full flavoured with excellent taste. Completely delicious!

We tried mainly the Szechuan dishes, and I must say that looks are deceptive, because while they look non-spicy, there was always the hidden presence of chili, spice, peppercorn, or chili oil. Yet the skill of the kitchen is such that the heat is palatable, not overwhelming. Portions are designed for communal dining. Perhaps the only drawback of Szechuan Court is the high prices, as expected of a fine dining establishment. Be prepared to splurge between SGD $80 - $150 per person for a meal here. I personally feel this is good value for money, as you can expect a consistently high standard.
Chong Qing Style Poached Chicken, Spicy Peanut Sesame Sauce

Chong Qing Style Poached Chicken, Spicy Peanut Sesame Sauce

 
The Braised Bird's Nest, Cabbage, Chicken Broth (SGD $42) is a large, filling, luxurious, individual bowl of yummy soup / broth! The chicken soup / broth is light with a slight savoury taste, filled with fresh chinese cabbage / bok choy, wolfberries, and a generous portion of bird's nest! Quality is evident, the strips of bird's nest are off-white / pearl white and translucent in colour, doesn't stain the soup / broth, is sweet with no fishy taste, and is smooth and slippery in texture, like thick egg-white. Chef says this is his favourite dish!
Braised Bird's Nest, Cabbage, Chicken Broth

Braised Bird's Nest, Cabbage, Chicken Broth

 
The Stir-Fried Duck Breast, Black Fungus, Pickled Wild Chili (SGD $32 / $48) has duck meat which is cooked till tender yet not dry, similar to the texture of venison. An earthy, aromatic, savoury dish with bell peppers / capsicum, black fungus, and soft garlic, the duck has also picked up some spicy heat, and there is a slow burn that builds while eating this. Surprisingly, the pickled wild chili isn't spicy, instead, it's face-scrunchingly, intense sour.
Stir-Fried Duck Breast, Black Fungus, Pickled Wild Chili

Stir-Fried Duck Breast, Black Fungus, Pickled Wild Chili

 
Absolutely loved the Braised Pork Belly Ribs, Crispy Rice, Sweet Vinegar Sauce (SGD $30 / $45)! The pork meat has a fork tender, moist texture, with a sweet, clean taste from the unique vinegar. The exterior is coated with Sezchuan peppercorn spice, which you don't feel at first, until it starts to numb your tongue, though there isn't any spicy chili burn. The small selection of diced tropical fruit lend a tinge of juicy sweetness, while the small bits of crispy white rice is genius as a garnish, eye-catching while lending a crunch to texture. Exotic, and really good!
Braised Pork Belly Ribs, Crispy Rice, Sweet Vinegar Sauce

Braised Pork Belly Ribs, Crispy Rice, Sweet Vinegar Sauce

 
Full Szechuan Court review here: http://ivanteh-runningman.blogspot.sg/2015/12/szechuan-court-tasting-session.html

 
Table Wait Time: 1 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Dec 01, 2015 

Spending per head: Approximately $90(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 5  |  
Service
 5  |  
Clean
 5  |  
Price
 3

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Categories : Italian | Ice Cream and Gelato | Pasta

Bottura in Suntec City was opened in May 2015, by ex-banker and 5th generation Italian restaurateur Luca Bottura, a native of the city of Bologna in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and cousin to 3-Michelin star celebrity chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana. A multi-faceted concept store, Bottura is more than just a restaurant, also offering a cafe-lounge, a wine bar, a gelato bar, and a gourmet retail store stocked with imports from Italy! However, their main draw is still the Bottura restaurant, which offers decent, tasty Italian food in a casual setting, with affordable prices.

Ambience at Bottura is akin to a casual bistro, with simple, modern furniture in tones of metal, wood, and black, neatly laid out within a wide open, spacious area. Its location comes with a balcony which overlooks the main foyer, great for people watching. Suitable place for business meals, or simply chilling with friends. The gourmet retail store itself is rather small and non-descript, you wouldn't even know it's there unless attention was called to it. I like the attractive and bright display of the gelato bar, great eye-catcher!
Gelato Scoop Of Mr. Tobby & Malaga

Gelato Scoop Of Mr. Tobby & Malaga

 
Service at Bottura is their weakest point. While I understand it's meant to be casual, staff aren't observant, and it takes quite a while to attract their attention even during non-peak periods, as they tend to stand around and talk amongst themselves. At least guests are quickly ushered to seats, and orders taken quickly as well. I do commend staff for being efficient at clearing empty / dirty tables, possibly the best thing about the service here. Also inconsistently performed is requesting for feedback, sometimes staff do so, and other times they don't. Oddly, despite being a tableside service restaurant, payment is self-service.

Mistakes are made with requests, staff once asked if I wanted cheese or chili flakes, and even after I requested only chili flakes, the staff brought me pepper and cheese. On another occasion, I had to ask for my dessert twice, and waited over 20 minutes for it to be served. Finally, we once visited at 9:10pm (Bottura last order is at 9:30pm), but staff refused to seat us, saying they had already stopped service. Well, they're right...

Food at Bottura is the closest to authentic Italian you'll find at a really affordable price range... so wallet-friendly that even students can dine here! Portions are medium-sized to large, and usually very filling, making Bottura great value for money. On top of that, the taste of their Italian food is usually average / decent, to above average, though not the best I've had. The highlights are their homemade pastas, made fresh daily, cooked till al-dente, and gently covered in tasty sauces. Even their bread and gelato are made in-house, thumbs up for the level of effort! Overall, Bottura is worth visiting for their decent, affordable Italian food, provided you can stomach the inconsistent service.
Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta

 
The Tagliolini Zebrati Con Gamberetti E Zucchini (SGD $18), or Zebra Tagliolini Pasta With Shrimp And Zucchini, features a visually pleasing duo of tagliolini pasta; a bright egg tagliolini, and a dark squid ink tagliolini. Pleasing to the palate as well, with its combination of al-dente texture, earthy and eggy tastes, and light cream sauce. The fresh, crunchy, thinly sliced zucchini round out the plate, along with 4 fresh but small shrimp / prawns. Completely delicious, and worthy of being a bestseller here. Highly recommended!
Tagliolini Zebrati Con Gamberetti E Zucchini

Tagliolini Zebrati Con Gamberetti E Zucchini

 
Full Bottura review here: http://ivanteh-runningman.blogspot.sg/2015/11/bottura.html

 
Table Wait Time: 1 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Nov 27, 2015 

Other Ratings:
Taste
 3  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 1  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 2

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Tasty, Good Quality Kebabs  Smile Nov 27, 2015   
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Categories : Middle Eastern/Mediterranean

As their name suggests, Qbab is a small kiosk offering Middle Eastern / Turkish style kebab rolls. A cute play on words, the owners hope people "Q for their Qbabs", this stall sources chicken and lamb from Halal suppliers fresh daily, then their meat is marinated overnight. This insistence on freshness extends to their no MSG policy, and the concept of Qbab is rather fast-food style; choose a meat, choose a variety of vegetables, then choose a sauce.
Qbab Facade

Qbab Facade

 
Ambience at Qbab is simple but functional. The small floor space is an open concept area, divided by a long, communal dining table, and several individual tables. You can see the chefs in the open kitchen preparing the meat for roasting / grilling! Part of the appeal of Qbab is watching them handcraft your kebab roll from scratch. Furniture is functional but not very comfortable, this is very much an eat-and-go place, with quite a lot of people ordering takeaway.

Service at Qbab is completely self-service, with ordering, payment, and collection all done over the counter. At least staff are friendly and engaging, able to describe the various choices of vegetables and sauces, and they fulfill orders quickly too. If dining in, staff do help to clear empty / dirty tables, though it's encouraged that you do this yourself.

Food at Qbab is all about Turkish / Middle Eastern kebab rolls. Portions are large for individuals, and quite filling. Besides 2 types of protein (chicken or lamb) to choose from, you can also stuff your kebab roll with between 0 - 5 vegetables (lettuce, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapenos), and cheese. Qbab also offers a variety of 7 sauces, you can choose 1 or 2 sauces to fill your kebab roll. Prices are reflective of its premium, hand crafted status, rather like high-end fast food, budget about SGD $14 for a kebab roll with a drink.
Kebab Chicken With Garlic & Ginger Aioli

Kebab Chicken With Garlic & Ginger Aioli

 
Kebab Lamb With Hummus

Kebab Lamb With Hummus

 
Full Qbab review here: http://ivanteh-runningman.blogspot.sg/2015/11/qbab.html

 
Table Wait Time: 1 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Nov 27, 2015 

Spending per head: Approximately $14(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 2  |  
Service
 2  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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Categories : Japanese | Restaurant | Sushi/Sashimi | Kids-Friendly

In Tokyo, Japan, the Yazaemon & Megumi Kaiten Sushi brand is reowned as being among the best maguro / bluefin tuna and sashimi wholesale suppliers and eateries. In July 2015, they partnered All Nippon Airways (ANA) Trading (which flies in the supplies), Komars Group, and local veteran restaurateur Mr Andrew Tan from Tomo F&B Pte Ltd, to open their 1st overseas foray, Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining.

Ambience here resembles the traditional Japanese homes, with minimalist decor, and ample wooden furniture and panelling. Clean, simple lines, lit with warm lighting, an assortment of varying furniture to accomodate different customers depending on group size, as well as a brightly lit, open sushi / sashimi counter where you can watch as the 3 Japanese chefs prepare your orders. There is a sense of peaceful zen, a tranquil feeling when dining here, though I understand it can get somewhat noisy when it's crowded.
Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining Exterior

Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining Exterior

 
Service here befits a fine dining establishment. Heading up the team is former lecturer turned restaurant manager David Lim, a friendly and knowledgable gentlemen who spent time in Tokyo, Japan, learning all about sashimi. The other staff obviously aren't as knowledgable, but are still professional and friendly. Orders are fulfilled quickly, and empty / dirty tables are also cleared efficiently. You can also converse with the 3 Japanese chefs if you sit at the counter.
Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining Interior

Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining Interior

 
Food here is all about the freshest, premium cuts of sashimi, and excellent quality sushi. To ensure the same level of freshness and quality as their other restaurants in Tokyo, Japan, the freshly caught fish are prepared using shinkeijime, a technique which stops lactic acid from developing, and immediately kept deep frozen in -60°C. Even their premium Hokkaido rice in their sushi is treated with such great care, when prepared, the Japanese chefs use a deliberate diagonal cutting technique which allows air to circulate through the rice, giving it a nice softness without it becoming mushy or clumpy. Each dish is absolutely fresh and tasty! And due to the strong partnership, prices are kept affordable, and cater to all market segments, from SGD $18 - $300 or more. Generally, budget about SGD $50 for a decent meal here, without drinks.
David Lim, Souki Watanabe, Shuji Sawada, Takuya Matsumoto

David Lim, Souki Watanabe, Shuji Sawada, Takuya Matsumoto

 
The 3 Cuts Of Hon Maguro / Bluefin Tuna - Akami / Top Loin, Chutoro / Bottom Loin, Otoro / Belly (SGD $38 Per Portion) is the star dish here. The maguro / bluefin tuna flesh of this 'Wagyu of Fish' is so naturally sweet, clean, and fresh, that I encourage eating it only with a small dab of Wasabi and a light touch of soy sauce, which has been flavoured with katsuobushi / bonito. The deep red Akami / Top Loin is the leanest, meatiest cut, with the most firm texture, savoury sweet with a light bitterness. The medium pink Chutoro / Bottom Loin has a fatty, velvety texture, with a more pronounced savoury sweet flavour. The most luxurious cut is the light pink Otoro / Belly, incredibly soft and tender, with a sweet, pleasant oily taste, super sublime! A portion (2 - 3 slices) of Otoro / Belly elsewhere can cost anywhere between SGD $20 - $40, so it's a testament to the buying power of the Eat At Seven group that the prices here are so cheap!
3 Cuts Of Hon Maguro / Bluefin Tuna - Akami / Top Loin, Chutoro / Bottom Loin, Otoro / Belly

3 Cuts Of Hon Maguro / Bluefin Tuna - Akami / Top Loin, Chutoro / Bottom Loin, Otoro / Belly

 
Hon Maguro / Bluefin Tuna - Akami / Top Loin

Hon Maguro / Bluefin Tuna - Akami / Top Loin

 
Hon Maguro / Bluefin Tuna - Chutoro / Bottom Loin

Hon Maguro / Bluefin Tuna - Chutoro / Bottom Loin

 
Was very pleased with the Kaisen Don / Seafood Sashimi Rice Bowl (SGD $17), with its 7 different varieties of seafood sashimi, sliced over that excellent sushi rice. Featuring 1 slice of anago / saltwater eel (sweeter and softer than unagi / freshwater eel), 1 slice of aori ika / big fin reef squid, 1 slice of sake / salmon, 1 slice of maguro / bluefin tuna - akami / top loin, 2 slices of botan ebi / jumbo Hokkaido shrimp / prawn, 1 slice of hotate / scallop, and 1 slice of hamachi / yellowtail fish. Delicious!
Kaisen Don / Seafood Sashimi Rice Bowl

Kaisen Don / Seafood Sashimi Rice Bowl

 
Full Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining review here: http://ivanteh-runningman.blogspot.sg/2015/11/maguro-donya-miura-misaki-kou-sushi.html

 
Table Wait Time: 1 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Nov 16, 2015 

Spending per head: Approximately $50(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 5  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 5  |  
Clean
 4  |  
Price
 4

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Pretty Milkshakes, Average Taste  Cry Nov 17, 2015   
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Categories : European | Bakery | Café | Kids-Friendly

The Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery / The Benjamins has been around for a few years now, having opened in Forum The Shopping Mall since 2013. But they've flown relatively under the rader, with mostly sub-par food... up until 2015, when they reinvented themselves. These days, they're known for their 'Over-The-Top' milkshakes, an eye-catching, towering dessert, of heart-stopping and photo-worthy proportions. Overall though, I think I'll visit for photo opportunities, or for being 'trendy', and not return again.
Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery Exterior

Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery Exterior

 
Ambience at Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery / The Benjamins is casual European, akin to small Italian bistros. Warm, decorative lighting hang over the small, cramped, floor space. Sturdy wooden and metal furniture, packed closely within the area, result in less privacy for conversations, and the ambient noise level can be quite loud when the place is packed. Queues can stretch up to 15 minutes or more during peak periods. Still, I find a sense of calmness in the midst of chaos, I especially like people-watching from the corner seats here... it's relaxing.
Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery Interior

Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery Interior

 
Service at Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery / The Benjamins can be brusque. The mostly young staff are usually busy, rushing around the small space. Still, they're friendly enough in greetings, though they might show signs of impatience if you take too long to order. At least they have basic product knowledge, which is good, and can provide brief descriptions of menu items. Order fulfillment usually takes about 10 minutes, decent. However, I'm disappointed in the construction consistency of their 'Over-The-Top' milkshakes, peak periods means a rushed job, which results in a milkshake that isn't built well. One of our milkshake orders actually fell over on its own within 3 minutes of being served. Terrible.

Food at Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery / The Benjamins is casual Italian. Taste is mostly decent, as is their portion size, which is slightly large for 1 person. But most people visit Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery / The Benjamins for their 'Over-The-Top' milkshakes. In my opinion, these dessert towers look incredibly beautiful and photo-worthy, but the taste isn't as outstanding, being average at best. Pretty to look at, but no real substance. Prices are reasonable for a cafe, budget about SGD $9 per person for a shared milkshake dessert.
Nutella Banana Milkshake

Nutella Banana Milkshake

 
Full Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery / The Benjamins review here: http://ivanteh-runningman.blogspot.sg/2015/11/benjamin-browns-bistro-bakery-benjamins.html

 
Table Wait Time: 5 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Nov 10, 2015 

Spending per head: Approximately $9(Other)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 2  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 1  |  
Clean
 3  |  
Price
 2

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