For photos, please visit Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow.
On a weekday night, the quiet restaurant, overlooking the sea, is extremely romantic. There is an indoor and al fresco area, which is linked to the pool (you can swim after or before meals). Outside the restaurant, there is also an adjacent beach bar with a DJ console. The restaurant’s design with lots of wood blends the inside and the outside. You’d think that this is a beach restaurant, a rip-off, and the food would taste horrible – but it is one of my BEST eating experience since Nicholas Le Restaurant
is chao-tah, charred!!!!…. intentionally. I believe “charring,” a common theme going through the food in this restaurant, is the food philosophy of Chef Craig Schantz who worked at Momofuku (New York), the world-famous restaurant that has weeks of reservation. By charring, Chef Schantz is testing the limits of food, of what is edible and what is not. Very bold and experimental and fun. Whenever my mother cooks, she always almost burns down the kitchen and there is a charred stench in the apartment for days and so I can assure you that “char” is not a pleasant taste. But Chef Schantz manages to make charred food taste so delicious! complimenting, contrasting and infusing into the flavors of the food.
Take the amuse-bouche for example, brussel sprouts in a garlic, mayo dip
. If you haven’t tasted brussel sprouts before, usually eaten during Thanksgiving (quite surprise to find it as an amuse-bouche, not time for Thanksgiving yet), it tastes like a certain liquid men produce, sharp, pungent and slightly bitter. So by charring just the external few leaves, leaving the internal intact, it’s like using fire to fight fire, a charred bitterness to counteract the plant bitterness. Brilliant!!
, chilled gazpacho soup
($19) is a Spanish cold soup, eaten in summer, with roasted prawns, tricolor tomatos and extra virgin olive oil. It came as a shock and shook me out of my grumpy mood that I was in. It was so refreshing, and so cooling, I perked up immediately and was instantly happy. It isn’t as acidic as tomato soup (I don’t like tomato soup); it is milder and more subtle and more flavorful. Very appetizing. Definitely Mao Mao’s and my favorite starter. Big enough for two persons.Seared bay scallops
($21) is the favorite dish of our very amicable server, Abigael. (More about Abigael later.) The char on the cauliflower really gives it character, very delicious. The mashed potato, soooo silky and smooth I wanna lick it up from the plate, goes extremely, superlatively well with the carrot-cardamon sauce. (Cardamon is used in curry so the sauce tastes like non-spicy curry.) Unfortunately, the sides outshine the main: we didn’t quite like the scallops, tasted bland.
The salt-cured foie gras
($27) is the specialty of the restaurant. It comes in a paté, so you spread it on your toasted bread along with kaya or/and homemade jam (blackberry in this case), like Ya Kun. 6 slices of bread, so a party of 4-6 can share it. See the flakes of sea salt on it? Nice touch. But although it is pleasing, and although we could taste the iron taste of the foie gras, and although some parts of the pate were bland and some parts salty, giving it a surprise element, we thought it just wasn’t something as mindblowing as the soup.
We were really looking forward to the lobster hot pot
but they just had their one-year anniversary and many patrons ordered it, so they ran out of lobster. Sadness overcometh me and overflows the river. Only tears accompany me at night. So I ordered Spicy Crab Spaghetti
($32) and Mao Mao had New York Strip Steak
($58). The New York Strip Steak
, a very huge piece (sorry, the photo is distorted, but it’s big enough for two, at least 250g), is charred at the edges, very lovely, but I thought the texture was too chewy and not soft enough for a medium-rare steak. The quality seems lacking although there is a black sauce on the side that tastes very good. Hard to say what the black sauce is.. it’s something charred and with french mustard mixed in it. The mushrooms were huge and fungi-y. Delicious. The steak comes with a HUGE bowl of mashed potato with olive oil. Very smooth.
Such a generous serving of caviar on my Spicy Crab Spaghetti
! The fennel, tasting like licorice, causes a sharp but pleasant distinction with the spicy sweet pasta. The pasta is done al dente, so it’s springy – just the way I like it. Adroitly executed, nothing to complain about.
The desserts are ASTOUNDING, STUNNING, Simply out of the world. I’ve NEVER in my life eaten something as phenomenal as it. The Tea & Honey Parfait
($14) is a perfect and delicate balance. Each ingredient compliments AND contrasts with other ingredients even though there are so many ingredients, such as the charred
but clean chocolate crisp–charring in a dessert!!!!–honey ice cream and earl grey cream/mousse.
I had the Coconut Panna Cotta
($14). It is so complex and layered with pineapple chutney and honey ginger ice cream. The burnt caramelized layer provides a variance to the smooth ice cream. Such a great texture. I tasted something like lime sorbet and mango and there is even BLACK PEPPER
in the dessert!!! How awesome is that! It’s so complex you will NEVER get sick of it. I still dream of this.
We also had two cocktails: Peach Bellini
and Tanjong Sling
($16) which tasted like tom yam without the spice, with lychee.
Great food and great ambience aside, the service was also top-notched. I think a server is assigned to a few tables so you get the same server. Abigael, our waitress: I really appreciate her getting to know us better without being intrusive. She’s helpful, cheerful and great. Thumbs up to both the service and the management of the servers.
Overall, I think this restaurant is almost perfect. The food is smart and full of surprises, the service is friendly without being overbearing, and the ambience! So great for it to be out of town, so it’s tranquil and romantic. I’d come here over and over and over again. And then again.