Author Archives: yin

Lalimes!

Because I’m a cheat (and I’m cool), I have two birthdays (: After Gary Danko, Lalimes was the order of the month and this quaint little establishment won me over the instant I stepped in :) ZY had been here once during summer and was sufficiently impressed to designate it as the restaurant for September.

We had (I’m sorry but we forgot to take down the prices of the appetizers):

Lalimes Oyster Salad

I ordered an oyster and spinach salad for my appetizer in an attempt to feel healthy. These deep-fried pieces of sin encased in a golden wonder were anything but. I’m not complaining. The thick batter did interfere with the fresh taste of the oyster, but being the junk foodie that I am, I was more than happy with it.

Lalimes tomato soup

ZY ordered the tomato soup. This was really… fresh. Like the tomato juice we once had at the Berkeley Farmer’s market.

Main courses:

Lalimes beef

ZY got the Grilled Angus beef filet, red wine-onion risotto, Roquefort butter. (USD 28.50)It was very creamy. I think he found it a little hard to stomach but I loved it in all its creamy goodness. The butter blended well with the medium rare beef and made the meat a perfect compliment to the risotto.

lalimes_polenta.jpg

This was my FAVORITE dish of the night. Braised lamb shank, creamy polenta, rosemary gremolata. (USD24.50) To put it simply, polenta with lamb. The lamb was fall-off-the-bone tender, but my attention was completely on the cornmeal mush. I know some people think it tastes like baby food, but BABY FOOD IS GOOD okay. This was delicately flavored, nothing intensive, but the mildness had an exciting quality to it. The lamb was relegated to the back seat. Mui bien!

On a side note, I suddenly remember there was once during my singing class in Lee Wei Song when Stef Sun came for her recording, and she started telling us how she likes polenta. Haha, it’s interesting that I would remember that now. On an even further note, I recieved an email from the modeling agency that I used to work with in Sinapore, and they asked me to do a FOOD AD. Oh my gosh FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD! But I guess that’s for the 1.75m, 48kg me. I don’t quality now.

Unadulterated bliss.

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This is a place I wouldn’t mind returning to, over and over again. Not just because of the food. I think it’s more of an attitude that rings out from this restaurant. I can’t quite put a term to it, but ZY summed it up pretty well when he said that if he were to open a restaurant, he’d want it to be like Lalime’s.

Lalimes (web)
1329 Gilman Street
Berkeley, CA

Rating: cookie!cookie!

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Gary Danko

This is very embarrassing okay, I am the queen of procrastination, in fact I am so good at it I think I transcend the natural boundaries of civilization and I can go be a prideful little dame in my own country with my own special band of procrastinator sidekicks. I amaze myself!

Gary Danko Setting

Anyway, on to more important things! So ZY was a dear and made a reservation at Gary Danko, one of the top-notch, most widely-acclaimed restaurants in the Bay Area and the proud owner of two Michelin Stars. It was a very special day indeed (: Reservations are really hard to come by, so even though he called about a month in advance, we only managed to secure a 10 o’clock spot because we wanted a Saturday night. But I’m not complaining because 10 o’clock dinners are cool okay (plus they minimize the possibility of the horrifying tummy growl in the middle of the night).

It was obvious that they tried to squeeze as many tables as possible into the limited space they had, but the elegance of the establishment was not lost. The lighting was dim and the quiet, slight chatter in the background eased the butterflies in my stomach – I was actually slightly nervous about the dress code and having to pronounce all the exotic menu items that I was sure would trip up my tongue. This place was packed at 10 o’clock, and we got really interesting seats side by side along the way. (Even now, when the occasion lends itself to our having to be seated in a similar fashion Mr ZY would often affectionately refer to it as being reminiscent of the “Gary Danko Days”.)

Okay, fast forward past our very friendly waitress and the ordering. Between the two of us, we had:
Amuse Bouche on the house
Seared Ahi Tuna with Avocado, Nori, Enoki Mushrooms and Lemon Sauce Dressing.
Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Red Onions, Seckel Pear and Huckleberries
Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Fall Root Vegetables and Sage Oil
Seared Sea Scallops with Butternut Squash Puree, Roasted Cauliflower, Pistachios and Sour Cherries
Beef Tenderloin with King Trumpet Mushrooms, Potato Gratin, Cipollini Onions and Stitton Butter
Cheese Cart
Chocolate Souffle with Two Sauces
Trio of Creme Brulee with Cookies
Complimentary Birthday Mignardises on the house
Coffee service
Pineapple Muffin on the house

First up was the complimentary amuse bouche, of which I did not catch the name. It’s a Thai-concoction that tasted like fusion tom yum soup, but there was a very interesting milky flavor laced within that made for an exciting combination. A great palate teaser!

The appetizers we chose were the ahi tuna, the lobster risotto and the foie gras. While ZY immediately fell in love with the tuna and later proclaimed it to be the highlight of the light, my first taste of authentic foie gras made me an instant convert. The delightful fattiness of the foie gras melted into the sweetness of the caramelized onions and was absolutely stunning. Being the carb monster that I am, I was absolutely won over by the lobster risotto that was a star in its own right, the creamy buttery cheese studded with large generous pieces of lobster that provided a refreshing contrast to the otherwise heavy dish.

Tuna:

tunalfinal.jpg

Risotto:

risottofinal.jpg

Foie gras:

foiegrasfinal.jpg

I thought the scallops were nothing out of the blue, but the cauliflower puree that came along with it was lip-smacking delicious and completely upstaged the sea gems. ZY liked the beef tenderloin but it was forgettable for me, I was never much of a steak person anyway. The cheese was a novelty for the both of us, we got two goat cheeses, a cow cheese, and a Roaring Bleu that came with grapes and bread (I was looking forward to fig to go with the cheese but, alas! :() We found that we were both partial to the milder cheeses, these had a sweet aftertaste that were not overpowering in their stench. The blue still had that characteristic taste that feels like petrol to me.

Scallops:

scallopsfinal.jpg

Beef:

beeffinal.jpg

Dessert! Oooh, dessert, crowning glory, how mighty art thou. The chocolate souffle with two sauces was OUT OF THIS WORLD, the thick anglaise and dark chocolate sauces were poured into a little hole on the top of the airy souffle at our table, and even as the waitress was performing her art I was secretly chanting “more, more, more” over and over again in my weak heart that is unable to take excitement very well. The sauces were piping hot and worked like a charm with the soft souffle with its tender under belly that crumbled instantly under the attack of the potent liquids. The creme brulee was good, but toward the end me and ZY were simply dying from an overload of food (never thought the day would come). When the mignardises came I could feel him ready to start groaning but I was still very delighted, particularly because this little plate of darlings had a single candle and “Happy Birthday” written on it :) I was a happy camper.

Souffle:

soufflefinal.jpg

Service was excellent, attentive without being intrusive. We each had the four-course dinner, which totaled up to 162 dollars before tax. It was an amazing experience, and of course what that made it most special was the efforts ZY had taken to plan the dinner. At the end of the day, food is still that poignant representation of love, at once sweet and spicy, tender and tangy, transforming the cold night into a scene by the fireplace on the eve of Christmas. Bells toll and the heart bursts with care and hospitality, isn’t that what everything is about?

Thanks for the company.

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Gary Danko (link)
800 North Point at Hyde Street

Yay! Half year mark! :)

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Wish upon a candle – Lalimes

Coming up: review of Lalimes

Sorry we’ve not been updating, school’s been CRAZY to say the least. We’ll get down to it soon I promise.

Taking note of La Note

Heard plenty of good things about La Note, so after a night of horrible, fitful sleep as a result of jetlagging we went in search of some comfort for the tummy.

decor

This charming French bistro that has gained the recognition of Zagat and other big names in the Bay Area food review scene features a rustic decor with Californian accents. I got the famous La Note Pain Perdu that consists of three generous slices of semolina french bread soaked in orange water batter and sprinkled with lavender honey. This came with a jug of maple syrup (the real deal, not some synthetic thing they’re so fond of serving these days) and a dish of butter. The bread was extremely soft and yielding, soaking up the honey and organe water batter easily but holding enough of its own to not be converted into a sloppy soggy mess. The maple syrup was as good as any other and would have been excellent with your normal pancakes next door, but here I thought it gilded the lily with its overpowering sweetness and dampened the intriguing tickle the subtle orange flavors were working on my palate.

pain perdu

ZY got the Omelette Fromage et Jambon, which was enmental cheese and ham omelette served with home fries and toast. He had the server bring a bottle of ketchup but this was rendered completely useless (in my opinion) after the first taste. The eggs, soft and yet not overly moist, the smoked ham and the chewy cheese made for a tasty bite, and the roasted potatoes (which substituted the fries) were decently flavored. Toast came with a dish of butter but this was nothing special.

omelette

The mocha made with espresso and dark French chocolate was great (it helped immensely that it came in a big fat and happy bowl) but I found zy’s house coffee a tad too drippy. Service was fast and efficient and the waitress had luscious dark hair and a sexy French accent. Don’t ask me why I noticed that last part but I found it a bonus. We forgot to take note of the prices, but the meal set us back by about 30 USD in total, tip included.

mocha

Yummy first experience, come early if you want instant gratification because this place fills up pretty quickly and lines usually form on weekends by 8-ish. Come for brunch (available 8am to 3pm, Saturday and Sunday) if you can, they have more choices and the sandwiches are supposed to be good. I’m definitely coming back for that, I heard they serve a mean ratatouille and I’m dying to try it.

La Note Restaurant Provencal (web)

2377 Shattuck Ave

Berkeley, CA 94704

Canele Pleasures!!

CaneleExcellent. A must-visit

Okay.

Breathe in breathe out.

I’ve fulfilled an ancient, glorious dream.

We conquered Canelé. That’s right folks, Canelé Pâtisserie Chocolaterie on Robertson Quay, the one and only, August 05 2007. THE DAY. Okay I actually tried it before I left for America last year, but maybe my memory’s failing me but the previous time was in no way comparable to the gastronomic experience today. Or maybe it was the company ;)

Anyway, for the uninitiated, Canelé is part of the renowned Les Amis group, helmed by executive pastry chef Pang Kok Keong (who was inspired by Pierre Hermé, my second biggest idol after Thomas Keller). After reading SO MUCH about the man from Chubby Hubby and reading rave reviews about his fantabulous desserts and of course the newly-opened Macaron, Canelé was definitely destination eating. Okay let me just skip the boring parts and head straight for the treasure. We ordered Le Royale (SGD 6.50) and Tiramisu (SGD 6.00).

THE ROYALE

Le Royale was a multi-layered cake made of chocolate mousse 66%, hazelnut feuilletine, almond success and chocolate genoise with rum. The fresh ingredients combined together to form an immensely light dessert that was a darling on the taste buds; the multitude of flavors was incredulously harmonious and hit me one after the other in perfect succession – first to register was the slightly moist mousse before the crumbly feuilletine added its crunch, and just before the bite dissolves completely on the tongue the full flavor from the airy genoise kicks in, punctuating the experience in a burst that had just the right degree of richness to meld the different components and yet not steal the show. The description may make it sound very chocolately, but turned out to be easy to stomach. We didn’t order it, but a cup of tea would have been the perfect companion to this dessert.

 

THE TIRAMISU

I was so preoccupied with my precious royal crown that I didn’t take much note of the exact taste of the tiramisu. All I can say is I liked it immensely, the hint of rum was substantial but not overpowering, and this too was light on the palate and went perfectly with the slice of dark chocolate that adorned the little beauty. I would order this again if there weren’t so many other cakes I am simply dying to try. A return is definitely warranted.

Ah... Perks of the job =)

I love this place. There’s a glass behind which you can see the many pastry chefs buzzing away (and this being a Sunday!). We amusingly noted a female chef working on a wedding cake and nonchalently stealing bites of chocolate. Ah, the benefits that come with being a pastry chef. The atmosphere was chic but not stifling, and the various pink boxes bearing their name and logo that were on display around the cafe made it look like a Prints shop. They also had a little bakery that had interesting things like chocolate brioche, almond pistachio cookies and the like. I got a Chocolate Au Pain for breakfast tomorrow. A slice of Canelé home with me, what more can a girl ask for?

What can I say? Best day of my life. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating. REALLY.

yysj rating:     cookie!cookie!cookie!
 

Canelé (map)
11 Unity Street, #01-09
Robertson Walk
Singapore 237995

Beijing Quacks

Entering the restaurant 

Some high cholesterol, finger-licking chow was the order of the day as we marched down to the famous Da Dong Peking Duck Restaurant (大董烤鸭店), well-known for its relatively healthier Peking duck and its unique condiment offerings.

chef prepares peking duck

The Peking duck (RMB158), prepared tableside, was presented in front of us in neat, thinly-sliced layers lying underneath a succulent blanket of crisp duck skin. Eight condiments were paired in four different plates; the mandatory sweet sauce came with the strips of scallion, the radish with the cucumber stalks, the pickles with the salted potherb mustard, and lastly, Da Dong’s unique concept of garlic and sugar.

4 types of condiments!

The duck meat was a tad dry and was lacking in the oil-dripping finger-licking quality that I had experienced and was craving for, but I guess that’s part of the “healthier” package Da Dong was renowned for. Didn’t work for me though, as I could have been munching on chicken and there wouldn’t have been much of a difference. The crispy skin that we were advised to dip in sugar, however, was a clear winner and I was an instant convert as the tender, oily skin melted easily in my mouth, the sweet kiss of sugar offering a delightful contrast to the rich creaminess that might have otherwise proved to be too heavy on the palate.

The restaurant provided an option between the traditional pancakes and hollow sesame flour pockets for some carb-accompaniment to the duck; I went with the pancakes as the flour-to-meat ratio was too high for the pockets to be my cup of tea. I wrapped scallion sticks, pieces of duck meat, topped with a generous douse of the thick, sweet sauce in the thinly rolled pancake; each bite was satisfying with the spicy kick of the scallion packing in a fiery punch that perfectly punctuated the succulent, cloying juice that oozed out. Yum, I like. 

deep fried oysters

goose liver

We ordered some other dishes, deep fried oysters (RMB48) that did not appeal to me – their breaded exterior was soft and had long since lost its crunch definitely looked like it had seen better days, the oysters were retained in whole within the crust and these were smooth and flavorful, but slightly fishy for my taste. The sauteed goose liver in black paper with fresh mushrooms (RMB68) were good, but I am not in a position to comment on the superiority of the materials used as this was my first attempt at goose liver – these little chopped bits of cholesterol bombs mixed well with the mushrooms and I could have gladly used a bowl of rice to soak up the sauce, but it was more of a mushroom herb taste with lots of dark sauce than anything else. My favorite was the braised cabbage with chestnut(RMB40) – the delightful soup was thick and the sweet taste of the chestnut complimented the subtle tones of the cabbage, I don’t usually like sweet soups but this worked for me.

cabbage soup

glutinous rice roll

Dessert, glutinous rice roll with red bean baste (RMB12), was one of Beijing’s famous delicacies, but was nothing to write home about. It was sweet and satisfying, but nothing special. I was in love with the frozen persimmons though, compliments of the chef which were round scoops of sorbet-like goodness bursting with ripe swirls of persimmon meat; served in a cocktail glass, this was refreshing and left a pleasant, clean aftertaste that reduced the uncomfortable effects of the heavy and rich meal.

Verdict? I liked it, but nothing was special enough for me to be back in a hurry.

Address: 东城区东四十条甲22号南新仓国际大厦1-2楼(东四十条桥西南)
Tel:          010-51690329

yy’s rating:       cookie!