PEr FYI

October 16, 2016

Wolfgang Puck Kitchen & Bar, Shanghai…food here is average – nothing compared to Wolfgang Puck everywhere else

The Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck is arguably the most successful chef moguls in history. The man was a celebrity chef before that term even existed. Shanghai has seen a slow and steady trickle of celebrity chef like Jean Georges, ventures over the past decade. And now, Wolfgang Puck has thrown his hat into the ring.

Less formal than Spago, but a step up from the Wolfgang Puck Cafe, the concept of Kitchen & Bar is one of offering dishes that Chef Puck enjoys cooking at home, and everything is shared family style.

The menu is what you’d expect and quite frankly very well priced. You’ll find a blend of the familiar and less familiar but all will come out beautifully constructed. The seafood in the lobster and shrimp roll is finely chopped, the vibrantly fresh seafood mingled happily with sweet curry, apples and dill. However, I usually have a love affair with BBQ ribs but then again, not all ribs are created equal. Hence it is with great disappointment that the BBQ pork ribs here at WP was below average.

Service has always been A+- it’s nice when a restaurant seems well managed.

WP would get 5 stars from me except for that BBQ ribs. I would give Wolfgang Puck another chance since I’m fan of the chef and I know he has high standards. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 23, 2016

Pollen, Singapore…Ridiculously photogenic food

Pollen is the younger brother of Pollen Street Social in London, the Michelin-starred brainchild of culinary alchemist Jason Atherton. This is as impeccably elegant and sophisticated a restaurant as you will find. I was equally impressed with the feel of the place and the front-desk welcome.

The main action, however, is in the open-plan dining room, one whose design is confident, with natural light, huge mirrors on the wall of one side and greenery outside. It’s not every day you can give a restaurant five stars for design and atmosphere, but Pollen’s intimately romantic room is irresistible.

The dishes were sublime. There were no low points – only a competing series of highlights. The masterly BBQ Iberico pork presa, baby leek, chicory, apple, sage polenta was a beautiful sight. The delicious subtlety and artistry butternut and saffron risotto, sunflower seeds, honey croutons, aged parmesan and the Angus beef short rib, celeriac, truffle potato, caramelized onions, too, looked just as gorgeous.

Pollen is simply brilliant. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

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January 16, 2016

Bread street Kitchen, Singapore…Definitely not worth another visit

We were fans of Gordan Ramsay’s television shows (Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares etc) and were bent on dining at his restaurant in Singapore.

Our tastebuds were buzzing when we bit on the bread. Following that, the seared scallop starter had a textbook luxuriousness.

And then, as I thought about the main meal there – the blah baby chicken thing with the blah chimichurri sauce and the blah burnt lemon, the fish and chips with the, yawn, crushed peas – I would doze off only to awake a few days later, my face stuck to the desk.

The baby chicken looked like a science experiment gone wrong. One slice of the knife reveals the grossly undercooked bird. It looks malignant and was so disturbing. How was the fish? Who knows? All I could taste was glop.

Too many other things weren’t good enough. And the mark-up! The cheapest main on the menu is fish and chips for $26. The issue is less the exact numbers, but whether you end up looking at a dish and questioning the value. Here you do.

The compelling sense is that Ramsay, probably England’s most famous chef, draped in Michelin stars, has no feel for this end of the market; and that his name, tarnished or not, is not enough to rescue this sterile venture from sublime irrelevance. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 15, 2015

Salt Grill by Luke Mangan, Jakarta…not worth the hype, reputation and money

For those of you not on the brink of marriage or buying a house, picking a celebrity chef restaurant is probably the most expensive decision you’ll make this week — and the gastronomic equivalent of an inflated “A” can lead you astray by hundreds of dollars.

A high-speed lift whizz you in seconds to the 46th floor. Wall-to-ceiling windows look on to a, as you might expect, stunning view– if you’re pointed in the right direction and, preferably, sitting at a window table.

Sydney crab omelette, enoki mushroom and herb salad, miso mustard broth is the signature dish. The sweetness of the strips of crab meat shone through the mild miso broth but I wished they could be more generous with the crab meat. The beautifully crispy, tender and delicious crumbed chicken makes a great combination of flavours with garlic mushrooms, coleslaw salad. The crispy pork belly, pickled green papaya salad and tamarind dressing shouldn’t be called that. There are two simple things necessary for crackling: a nice dry rind, and a good thick layer of fat underneath it. I’m an out-and-proud fat-fancier. The tender, melting wobble of it, that satisfying oily crunch – how can mere meat hope to compete? Here the crispy pork belly lacked in visual appeal and failed the “crunch test.” The signature dessert – liquorice parfait 2013 – was certainly unique but I will absolutely not order it again. Luke Mangan’s revolutionary reboot of the lamington – lamington sandwich, coconut ice cream, strawberry sauce – would be a better choice for dessert.

High ratings are often deserved, of course, and I’ve found plenty of haunts that can justify their hype but Salt Grill by Luke Mangan doesn’t measure up at all. It’s a fine place, yes, just that it is not worth the hype, reputation and money. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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