Category Archives: Fusion

Taipei Travelogue Part 4: Deja Vu Restaurant

 

What To Eat Ah, in Taipei (Restaurants):

 

Deja Vu RESTAURANT

IMG_2436Some people would have heard of this restaurant before, not because they had a sense of deja vu. But because the founder is a famous and popular Taiwanese singer. He is none other than Jay Chou. This was the last night at Taipei and my travelling companions and I had a rough idea of the quality that theme restaurants have to offer. Hence, I entered this restaurant with my expectations lowered than before. High and lofty dining ceilings, lush furnitures, loud brass ornaments and heavily framed paintings hanging on the wall. It may look like Jay Chou got really generous with interior design, especially with a Batmobile replica sitting in the middle of the dining area. So what about the food?
IMG_2451Appetizers: Funny that the menu described this dish as Tapas, the Spanish term for appetizers, when the rest of the menu was rich with Italian cuisine names. Going through this dish was a pretty interesting and scary experience for us. Since the restaurant was so dim, we had to squint and attempt to make a guess the different components that make up the entire dish. Some were a delight to our palettes while some like the raw garlic cloves were plainly shunned.

IMG_2462Romano Potato Pizza: If you’re wondering at the name of the dish, you would be intrigued to know that the pasta and pizza section of the menu are covered in names infused with the Italian language. Thankfully, the brief description provides enough information for patrons like us to decide on our orders. Although the restaurant is pretty famous for their pizzas, I would only recommend this dish to carbo-lovers out there. The mixture of dough and potato is just too intense. You would most probably tap out after the third slice. In addition, this dish could do with more seasoning.

IMG_2467Pizza Ai Frutti Di Mare: A seafood tomato-based pizza. Surprisingly, not only was the topping relatively tasty, the pizza had better seasoning.

IMG_2475Braised Mushrooms with Tenderloin in Marsal Wine: That very night, I was in the mood for red meat. Nothing else on the menu attracted me except for this dish. I just wanted some meat lovin’. When the dish arrived, all of us took some time to adjust our eyes and looked at the plate more closely. It didn’t help that under the dim candlelight, my dish looked like it was plated and garnished in a hurry. Taste wise, I definitely have tried and savoured much better steak in my entire life, but comparing to the other dishes that the restaurant has to offer, I think this is worth a try.

IMG_2479Normandy Seafood: This is is another dish that is worth the recommendation. Under sheets of lasagne lies the deep treasures of tomato braised seafood such as clams, mussels and prawns. Tasty, fresh and delectable, my friend wiped out the entire plate before you can even pronounce Normandy.

IMG_2486Squid Ink Pasta: This was a weird dish to begin with, not that its made of squid ink. Squid ink has been creeping into the menus of our local food industry for the past few years mind you. The pasta took an awfully time to arrive, after I’ve finished my beef tenderloin, and if you could look closely, the chef piled an incredible amount of pasta on the plate. That is just plain overkill and unprofessional.

So one would start to wonder at this point, what is the theme of this restaurant? This is actually a joint venture between Jay Chou and the famous Taiwanese magician, Liu Qian. Magic shows and singing performances are scheduled during dinner time. They might not be David Copperfield, but the tricks are good enough to wow you. Overall, just like the previous theme restaurants, this one failed to impress my tastebuds. Especially when the dishes are pretty pricey. Maybe Mr Chou could cut down on the lavish European interior deco and carry out some taste test for his menu.

Deja Vu Restaurant
台北市八德路一段一號  ( 華山1914文創園區  中四A館 )
No.1, Sec. 1, Bade Rd
Zhongzheng Dist
Taipei city 100
Taiwan.

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Special Post: Taipei Travelogue Part 1



What To Eat Ah, in Taipei (Restaurants):

Diamond Tony’s PANORAMA Fusion Cuisine Dining Pub

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One of the few iconic places in Taipei is arguably the Taipei 101 building. Having being the tallest building in the world in recent history once, the Taipei 101 is a sight to behold. Look forward to the New Year and the Lunar New Year countdowns where fireworks can be seen exploding at the sides of the building in perfect synchronization and harmony. It was my second time to the national landmark and thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I’m dining at the peak of the building.

IMG_1481After you’re escorted to the 87 storey through numerous elevator trips, hopefully you will be greeted by the seats near the window panes that offers a panoramic view of the city skyline. That is if the fog does not set in for the day. The restaurant has a posh, sleek and mainly black interior. Shiny silverware and smooth velvet high booth seats made our wallets shrink by a tiny bit. The lunch set menu allows you to choose one soup, one appetizer and one main course. Price ranges from 580NT -32800NT depending on the choice of main course. Certain appetizers such as foie gras would require a top-up of 300NT.

IMG_1527Complimentary Home-made bread with special Crab sauce: This was divine and comforting for our rumbling tummies. The bread was soft, delectable and well-baked. For once, I couldn’t stop at one piece. In addition, the bread went perfectly well with the crab sauce which was smooth, creamy and savoury. Perfect complement to the mild sweet taste of the bread.

IMG_1538Wild Mushroom and Truffle soup: What more can I say? Though I’m not an expert with truffle, this mushroom soup is definitely one of the best I’ve tried. Deep, woody taste coupled with a smooth and velvety texture. You will find yourself lapping up the bowl.

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Sashimi Salad in Matsuhisa Dressing: Not exactly what I envision when you say salad. Instead of having pieces of salmon tossed in a bowl of veggies, three thick salmon slices are placed immaculately on a round plate, garnished with cucumber, tomato and onion. As you slice through the salmon, you will be delighted to find out that only the edges are cooked and the inside is perfectly raw and fresh. The sweet pinkish meat goes perfectly well with the Matsuhisa dressing, invented and made famous by a Japanese Celebrity Chef, Nobu Matsuhisa. Arguably, the best sashimi or salad I’ve ever tried.

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Smoked Calf ’s Tongue decorated with Capers and Tuna Mayonnaise: Yes, you did not get me wrong. This is smoked calf’s tongue indeed. Concentrated taste liken to your normal ham, the tuna mayonnaise is a great occasional indulgence to pair along. The more adventurous will most probably by piqued by this dish.

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Lightly pan-fried Seasonal Fish with Spices & Lemon-herb Couscous: Slightly crispy on the outside, the fish is yet still tender and flaky inside. The sauce and couscous are the perfect finishing touches. This dish is well-suited for those with a milder palette.

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Pan-seared Duck Foie Gras with Mixed Berry Sauce: This is my first encounter with the highly coveted dish. Foie Gras is French for fat liver, a result after the duck has been force-fed with corn. Ignoring the process of how this dish is created, you will be able to enjoy this dish many times better. According to my friend in company, the foie gras in this restaurant is not top-notch. But to an amateur, the liver is distinctively smooth and melts right in your mouth. A splendid experience for me.

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Seared Beef Fillet scented with Cepes Mushroom and Demi-glace: Despite not being a steakhouse, Diamond Tony serves a mean piece of seared beef that is a notch above most versions I have had. The steak is well-seasoned and not overwhelmed by the taste of the sauce. The slab is tender and yields under the cut of the knife easily, I’m glad that I went along with my craving for some heavy meat.

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Half A Lobster baked in Garlic and Parsley Butter, served with Lobster Bisque and Linguine sautéed with Olive Oil, Chili, Garlic, and Assorted Seafood:Pretty much nothing can go wrong with lobster, unless the chef decides to butcher the dish by making it too dry. But fortunately, the chefs here know what they’re doing. The meat is obviously fresh as its peeled from its shell with much ease and grace, for the benefit of patrons. The pasta is well-seasoned with a citrus tang, giving a refreshing and delicious taste that never bores you.

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Roasted Steak & Seafood (Char-grilled Prime Fillet with Black True, and Baked King Prawn): Just like my steak, this dish does not fail in the beef department. Well-seasoned and well-seared, the steak only desires for more. And for those surf and turf friends out there, this would be a good choice to satisfy both cravings for red meat and seafood. Fresh tantalizing grilled king prawn that excites your taste buds, what more can you ask for?

IMG_1578Tiramisu: This is definitely not my first time having Tiramisu for dessert. But everyone on my table, including myself were blown away by this dish. Perfect moisture of the sponge, on-point density of the mascarpone cheese and the mild hint of coffee. The Tiramisu here has definitely hit the spot for me, or us. This is definitely a must-try, especially since it’s complimentary!

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Excellent food quality, reasonable price range, panoramic view (check out the toilet) and impeccable service. (The service crew is well-versed in both English and Mandarin. Saving us the embarrassment of stuttering our orders.) Fine dining has never been so exquisite. And I highly recommend you to indulge at this restaurant when you’re at Taipei.

Some things to take note before dining at this restaurant. Be sure to make reservations either by their website online or phone. We had our hotel’s reception to do the booking on our behalf. Secondly, the restaurant is located at the office building, not the main shopping building. Take the escalator to the second level and inform that you’re heading to the restaurant. A crew will appear magically, check your reservation and escort you through the gantry and instruct you further. You will need to take at least 2 separate elevators before reaching the 85 storey.

Diamond Tony’s PANORAMA Fusion Cuisine Dining Pub
Taipei 101 Office Building
No.7, Sec5,
Sinyi Rd., Sinyi District,
Taipei City 110,
Taiwan

Updated: Tiong Bahru Bakery, pastries from a French baker.

There was so much hype about this “Tiong Bahru Bakery”. I was curious. Why would you name a bakery after a local street road? And most shocking of all, it’s opened by a French baker, Gontran Cherrier. Born to a family of bakers and pastry cooks for three generations, this Frenchman sure has a pedigree to boast.

Speciality bun with salmon and cream cheese S$8.50: I think I have talked so much about this dish that I sound like a broken record. But let me refresh your memory of my fetish for salmon. Once again, nothing goes wrong with salmon. The savoury smoked taste of the fish was perfectly contrasted by the buttery and smooth cream cheese, that was lathered pretty generously. The speciality bun was so soft that it goes so well with its overflowing contents. The only downside of this dish would be the overzealous amount of rockets, which can be quite a mouthful.

Tiong Bahru BakerySpeciality Bun with Bacon S$8.50: Nope, you’re not seeing double. This is a whole new different sandwich. And when I say different, I really mean different. You may seem sceptical of the taste that this colourful and messy arrangement of meat and veggie can bring to you. Never judge a book by its cover. The juicy streaky bacon. The crunchy fresh greens. The ultra soft speciality buns! Not to forget, sun-dried tomatoes are sprinkled randomly in the mess, giving that extra punch and twist to the sandwich. Thumbs up!

IMG_9348Speciality Bun with Ham: One of the sandwiches that they have in their pretty glass displays. Not the best of the bunch, but the ham slices are delicious and tasty with the bun and rockets.

IMG_9352Kouign Amann (Pronounced as queen-ah-manh): The name of this pastry literally means butter cake. Layers of firm dough folded with sugar and plenty of butter to result in this sinful indulgence. Sweet, light and fluffy, this is an excellent treat for people with a sweet tooth. For once, I’m ok with loading my body with this type of carbohydrates.

IMG_9326Chocolate croissant: The croissant is savoury sweet and delectable. Light and airy with visible distinct dough layers, the chocolate within is an extra boost. A pity that I have not tried the famous croissant.

IMG_9329Mixed Berry Crumble: The mixed berries are a little too sour for my liking but the saving grace has got to be the buttery and sweet crumble layer at the top.

Lemon Tart: I actually like the slight tinge of zest and tang for desserts like sorbets. But this tart is way too sour for my liking. You may have thought like me and try to pair the filling with more tart to neutralize the taste. Wrong move. The tart is almost as hard as a brick and you may find yourself almost impossible to enjoy the tart when you’re trying your very best to bite off a chunk while maintaining your posture.

Chocolate Mendiant with Nuts and Dried Fruits S$6.50: Somehow, the desserts didnt score really well with us that day. We love chocolate. But the combination with dried fruits is just too awkward and mushy for me.

Armed with only one unwilling friend, I could cover only a few pastries. But I am definitely going back for my favourites and try more. People might find this artisan bakery a little too pricey but I think this place is worth trying for an occasional indulgence in artisan pastry.

Tiong Bahru Bakery
252 North Bridge Road
B1-11/12 Raffles City Shopping Centre
Open daily 11am to 10pm

Ambush, a flavour of Europe

With a tomato as a logo, this restaurant is a simple casual dining place that provides a variety of European cuisines. From the bratwurst to pasta, Ambush aims to cater and please several palettes at once. Tagged with affordable and reasonable prices, the dishes may not be top-notched but definitely worth it.
IMG_8931Cream of Chicken Soup: The soup is fragrant and of course, creamy in texture. Although it could be more generous with the chicken essence, it is still a bowl of comfort for the tummy.

IMG_8959Salmon pasta with Chili Crab Sauce: This dish totally caught me and my taste buds by surprise. If you’re a fan of chili crab, you have gotta have a go at this dish. It is literally eating pasta with chili crab sauce, just less thick and strong than the actual sauce they serve with the crustacean.

IMG_8964Bratwurst Sausage with Cranberry Rice: The bratwurst is savoury and crave-worthy. The rice is deliciously addictive and the bits of cranberry provides a unique fruity sweet taste.

IMG_8969Baby Scallop Fusilli with Fish Roe Cream: Another creamy pasta that works wonders with your palates. The cream sauce is full in flavour and overwhelming with the help of the baby scallops. Keeps you wanting for more. 

IMG_8973Chicken Sausage set with Rosti: The chicken sausage tastes distinctively different from the bratwurst with a slightly grainy texture. It carries a less hearty and meaty taste than the latter. Ambush’s rendition of the rosti is commendable but pales in comparison with the ones at Marche.

Ambush (Junction 8)
9 Bishan Place
#02-19/20/27
Junction 8 Shopping Centre

Benten Cafe, and it has nothing to do with the cartoon.

Yes, its Benten, not Ben 10. The latter is a popular cartoon of the kids these days, so people often get mistaken with this particular restaurant situated at the top levels of Jurong Point. Serving a variety of Japanese and Western fusion cuisine that is affordable in the price range, you will be spoiled for choices to choose from. Having being a patron at the restaurant for a handful of times, I think I can help you narrow down your options.

Benten RestaurantSalmon Cream Soup Pasta: One of the three cream soup pasta that the restaurant has to offer, of course I would go for salmon. Besides boasting al dente spaghetti noodles, this dish packs a punch in the flavour aspect. Strong, creamy, slightly buttery and most importantly, the earthy/woodsy taste of shitake mushroom. You know what’s the best part of this dish, you can drink the soup.

Benten Restaurant

Chicken Katsu Curry Omu Rice: Do not be intimidated by the large concave oval plate that they serve up. Focus what’s inside. The rice is wrapped with a layer of omelette that is relatively thinner than most omu rice served else where. But most importantly, the Japanese curry is slightly spicy and yet flavourful, tying the entire dish together as a whole.

Benten RestaurantSeaweed and Bacon Cream Pasta: Uncanny resemblance with the first dish, but do not be mistaken. I was expecting a somewhat similar taste but to my surprise, the dish was totally different. Courtesy of the bacon, the cream sauce carries a strong meaty and savoury taste. It can be a little overwhelming as you reach the bottom of the plate, but nonetheless, this is recommended for cream pasta lovers.

Seafood Garlic Pasta: So what’s in store for people who do not really have a liking for cream sauce? Garlic pasta. The spaghetti tastes fresh, light and of course, garlicky. However, compared to the heavy flavours of the cream sauce, this dish may seemed to be a little bland.

The restaurant may not be busy during the weekdays, but be prepared for a queue during the weekends. Besides its Japanese and Western fusion cuisine, the restaurant also attracts regular patrons with its parfaits of varying sizes. So if you’re down by the west side of Singapore, do drop by Benten and try the dishes.

Benten Cafe
1 Jurong West Central 2
#03-20
Jurong Point
Singapore 648886