January 26, 2011

Dim Sum @ 帝影樓

Back to the Altira for another meal, this time for dim sum at 帝影樓. We exited the elevator to find a rather majestic apple made out of coins.


The grandeur of the room is quite breathtaking.
Complimentary snacks to tease our appetites. We asked for refills =D
First up, Shanghainese pork dumplings with hairy crab roe (蟹粉小籠包). Taste-wise, it wasn't memorable, but the creative presentation made up for it! It's often hazardous to grab the dumpling with chopsticks because the skin breaks easily. Serving them in these cute baskets made it a lot more convenient!
Steamed shrimp dumplings (帝影鮮蝦餃)
To the left, we have crispy taro pastry with roasted goose in satay sauce (蜂巢鵝肝芋角), followed by deep-fried scallops with chive dumplings (韭菜帶子盒) to the right. I enjoyed the satay sauce in the taro pastry very much, but I can't remember too much about the scallops with chive dumplings.
Stir-fried turnip pudding with XO sauce (XO醬炒蘿蔔糕). I thought this was the best item of the entire meal. The turnip patties had a good, soft but not too mushy texture. The flavour combination worked very well with the bits of eggs, beansprouts, chives, chili and XO sauce (which I adore). It was very delicious.
Steamed custard buns with carrot ( 甘筍黄包) was well-executed. I love the creamy richness of the custard filling. I usually prefer the molten version of this bun, but this was very tasty regardless.
Steamed rice rolls filled with minced fish and vegetables (翡翠龍躉腸粉). I decided that I don't really like rice noodle rolls with fish, because altogether the texture is overly mushy. However, the rice noodle roll itself were smooth and well-made.
Steamed pork dumplings with Porcini mushroom (牛肝菌燒賣) were rather ordinary and unmemorable.
Crispy puff filled with seafood salad (酥皮海鮮沙律). This was a creative dim sum, but I didn't like the combination of the cold salad and the puff pastry. The two elements were not in balance and didn't go well together.
All in all, it was an enjoyable meal, but I wouldn't come back just for the decor. The food is too expensive and there are better (and cheaper) options available.
帝影樓

January 20, 2011

Christmas Eve Lunch @ Aurora

For Christmas, I really wanted to go somewhere special. Most people opt for big, fabulous buffets for the occasion. Unfortunately, I really hate buffets (generally because I think the quality of the food suffers from being offered at such quantity), so I decided to go to a nice hotel (The Altira) for a prix fixe lunch instead. The above picture is the festively decorated elevator room that brings you to the hotel restaurants.
The decor really is quite impeccable.
Inside the restaurant, the space is bright and elegant with large windows that allow plenty of sunlight to soak the room. In fact, my mom complained that it was a little too bright.
I guess lunch on Christmas Eve doesn't feel as festive as dinner, but lunch is much cheaper than dinner!
I was immediately very impressed by the beautiful bread basket! I am a huge fan of bread, so I was extremely excited to sample so many different types. I tried to limit myself to eating only a quarter of each variation to save room for the rest of the meal. Truthfully, most of them were pretty bland and not warm enough, but they were very nicely presented..
Ever since our trip to Europe, we've fallen in love with squid ink pasta. So it was an easy choice for us when we saw squid ink spaghettini with lobster broth and ocean prawn on the menu. The pasta was quite good, particularly after our server dressed it up with some freshly grounded pepper to mask any unpleasant seafood flavour. However, I found the sauce to be a touch too salty.
 The other first course we chose was the carnaroli risotto with baby spinach, crustaceans and zucchini. Again, this was overly salty, but I did appreciate the rich seafood flavour in the sauce. The risotto was also quite nicely cooked.
This is the Wagyu Beef Cheek; celeriac and parsnip puree, broccoli and shiraz red wine sauce. Although in appearance, it resembles a cut of steak. In reality, the beef was braised and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The sauce was delectable and complemented the meat well.
We also enjoyed the pistachio crusted Japanese cod fillet, with vegetable casserole and pumpkin puree. I don't really like cod unless it's cooked really well, and luckily it was in this dish. I also particularly liked the pistachio crusting that added texture to the fish.
Vanilla panna cotta, strawberry marinated in lavender syrup and caramel ice cream. I didn't really care for the panna cotta, but what stood out was the caramel ice cream. It was creamy, rich and delicious. My mom, who is a big caramel fan, really loved the ice cream.
Meanwhile, I had the hot chocolate fondant with caramelized banana and Italian pistachio for dessert. It was a pretty good, but not outstanding dessert, and the cake's center was runny enough to satisfy me. The accompanying vanilla ice cream really paled in comparison to the caramel ice cream from my mom's dessert, however. All in all, it was a nice, rich dessert to end a delicious meal.
Pizza was one of the options on the menu, and you would see the chefs prepare it fresh right in front of the open kitchen.
We had quite a wonderful time here, and for fine dining, this place is quite reasonably priced.
奧羅拉 Aurora

January 19, 2011

Dim Sum @ 金悅軒 (Part I)

I really enjoyed the dim sum at this restaurant. The food is priced slightly higher, but I think it was worth it! I liked it so much I came back for a second time at the end of my trip. We start with Stuffed sausage with specialty vegetables and barbecued pork (梅菜皇叉燒腸). The combination turned out to be very tasty, and the rice noodle roll was velvety smooth. Even the two pieces of veggie tasted really fresh.
Chaozhou style glutinous rice (潮州糯米卷). The glutinous rice was on the sweeter side, but overall still an enjoyable dish.
Superior shrimp dumplings (金悅蝦餃皇). What differentiates the har gow here is that they have soup inside. I wouldn't say the dumpling necessarily tasted better with soup, but it was an interesting twist to an old classic.
Steamed olive sponge cakes (欖仁馬拉糕). Brown sugar was used to make this extra-soft sponge cake, and as a result, it tasted super mega delicious! It brought out a great nutty flavour and the bits of olives added an interesting textural component to the cake.
Pork dumplings (蟲草花燒賣皇) were generic but delicious nevertheless. The meat was really juicy.
Pan-fried vegetable and meat bun (生煎菜肉包) can't really go wrong in my books. However, the bun wasn't as fluffy as I'd hoped it to be.
Diced chicken crispy taro pie (雞粒蜂巢芋角) was another well-executed dish. The taro was crispy and the whole thing wasn't overly greasy.
The last to arrive was boiled vermicelli in fish soup (魚湯三鮮米線). The fish broth was really rich and delicious. Since I wasn't very fond of vermicelli, I drank a lot of the soup instead! It was the perfect ending to the meal.

法蘭度餐廳 Restaurante Fernando

I've eaten at Restaurante Fernando quite a couple of times in the past and I had no idea it was so popular. My dad usually likes to come here because he can find parking spots here (parking is a big deal). I find the rusticity of this restaurant very charming, even if that means minimal air conditioning in the summer.
Since the restaurant didn't take reservations, we had to wait a short while before we can enjoy our dinner.
Fernando has the best bread that I had on this trip, and that's saying a lot since practically every restaurant I went to in Macau served this kind of bread (I hear that the bread is made in-house). The exterior was perfectly crispy while the inside is hot and soft. The combination is delicious, and I ate a lot of bread in accompaniment with the soup and sauce..
Simple vegetable salad dressed with vinegar and olive oil. The salad was very refreshing.
Caldo Verde is the standard soup we get at most Portuguese restaurants. Again, it tasted very good with the bread.
Charcoal-grilled garlic short ribs (蒜蓉燒排骨) has always been my mom's favourite. I am quite in love with this dish myself. The charcoal grill method adds an irresistible smokey aroma to the beef, and the combination is just delectable! A squeeze of lemon juice completes the dish in the most perfect way. I also couldn't get enough of those thick, oily potato fries...yum...
But Fernando is perhaps best known for their Portuguese-style roasted suckling pig (燒乳豬). It's absolutely scrumptious! The roasted crispy skin contrasts perfectly with the melt-in-your-melt melange of fat and meat. Add some delicious greens and more of those oily fries? What can I say? It's a (very  unhealthy) match made in heaven.
I still can't stop thinking about the Shrimp in Clam Sauce (蜆汁蝦). The garlicky sauce was rich with that wonderful seafood flavour from the clams. Never mind that the shrimps were very fresh and juicy, that killer sauce could elevate any dish to a new level!
After the shrimp were all gone, I mopped up a lot of the sauce with the aforementioned delicious bread. It was an extremely heavy but equally satisfying meal. I can't wait to go back to Fernando the next time I go to Macau!
Restaurante Fernando

January 18, 2011

The Kitchen @ Grand Lisboa

I'm a fan of prix fixe menus, so I decided to go to The Kitchen with my parents to try out their prix fixe lunch, since my mom is a big fan of steak. Overall, it was a pleasant experience with a couple of misses, particularly in terms of the service.
The bread to start were excellent, served with regular and honey butter. As always, I over-indulged on them, because I can't resist fresh bread with butter. I think I should stop going to restaurants that serve bread, because it usually ends up ruining the rest of my meal.
One of the appetizer option was making your own salad from their salad bar. My dad took this option but I had the honour of helping him pile up the plate! They had a glorious selection of food, with many different types of vegetables, meat, nuts, salad dressings, etc. Because you can only fill your plate once, I went a little nuts here and tried to put a little bit of everything on the plate.
Highlights included the crab roe salad dressing (near the front right of the plate), lots of smoked salmon, and salami (they're hiding under the lettuce). The various grilled vegetables were also quite delicious and I really enjoyed sampling a little of everything. I'm still quite astounded that my dad managed to finish the whole plate!
My mom opted for the Cappuccino of Wild Mushroom, which is a fancy name for cream of mushroom soup. I guess the "cappuccino" part of the name refers to the foam on top of the soup. The presentation was nice, and the soup was pretty good, but nothing outstanding.
For my appetizer, I chose the French Onion Soup with emphasis that it was made the "traditional way". Now, I'm not too familiar with the history of French onion soups, but perhaps the traditional way is to make it with lots of cheese? I swear, the soup was layered with 2 cm thick of cheese! I love cheese, so it was all good for me. However, I felt extremely stuffed after finishing off the soup.
For the mains, my dad attempted to eat healthy by selecting the Norwegian Salmon Fillet. For all the mains, you get to choose the sauce and sides. The sauce here is Champagne Sauce, which is extremely creamy and pretty much detracts any "healthiness" in the dish. The salmon fillet, however, was cooked to perfection. The fish was tender, juicy, and flavourful, although I didn't quite enjoy the Champagne component in the sauce. The side here is grilled assorted vegetables.
My mother is determined to get Wagyu beef, so she selected the Australian M7 Wagyu with forest mushroom ragout sauce, sautéed green asparagus and baked Idaho potato. The mushroom sauce was a nice complement to the steak, although I'm still convinced that high quality steak does not need any sauce. We're disappointed that the stuffing in her potato was not baked with it. Basically, they bake the potato first, and then come out with a tray of stuffing that they spoon on top. It was pretty funny because my mom likes her potato REALLY loaded, so we had to keep telling the waitress to spoon more and more chives, bacon bits and sour cream into the potato. In the end, I think my mom just wanted to grab the tray and do it herself.
For me, I also prefer the steak, but mine is the USDA Prime Sirloin with French mustard and terragon sauce, mashed potato and gratinated broccoli. The sauce was too salty, and my cut of meat was not as good as my mother's Wagyu beef. However, I really liked my sides. The mashed potato is possibly the creamiest I've ever tasted, and it made me wonder how much butter they must have poured into making it. The gratinated broccoli meant more cheese, but it was nevertheless very tasty. I was completely overdosed with cheese by the end of the meal.
The meal included dessert and coffee to finish. The coffee was super strong and I had to add so much cream to it. I got the Almond Cake, which was pretty good but I was already stuffed at this point and had to pack most of it home after taking one bite.
My mother opted for the Fruit Salad, topped with some sort of sorbet. I didn't even try this at all, but it looked pretty good as well. In the end, much of our mains had to be packed because we were so stuffed by the appetizers and bread. Service was really off for a fine-dining restaurant, however. At one point, they brought me someone else's meal. As well, they didn't pack my leftover gratinated broccoli and mashed potato, which were the favourite parts of my meal. I was really disappointed about that. Would I come here again? probably not, even though certain parts of the meal were highly enjoyable. But there are just so many other options to explore.
The Kitchen

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