May 17, 2015

Annual Singapore trip day 2: celebrity restaurant 1

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I'm having dinner with L again just a week after seeing her in Hong Kong.  We had discussed going to a local crab restaurant we both used to like, but that would require a few more mouths and we would need to bring the rest of her family out.  When I told her that I was staying at Marina Bay Sands - and that I had never been to any of the "celebrity chef" restaurants in the complex, she was very accommodative and agreed to accompany me while I checked out one of them.

I was most curious about Osteria Mozza, so that was where we ended up.  Well, I was more curious about Waku Ghin, but I wasn't really ready to gamble with the price of SGD 400-500 a head... at least not tonight.  So Batali it is.  I hoped that this place would fare better than his restaurants in Hong Kong, because those are (were) not all that impressive.  Then again, maybe that's because of Dining Concepts...

This didn't feel like the type of place where I would want to go with a "tasting menu", so we decided to order à la carte.

First came an amuse bouche, which was homemade ricotta with tapenade, basil, and olive on top.  Interestingly with a hint of lemon flavor.

Steamed mussels with tomato, chilies and herbs - normally it's not my thing, but I was sharing this with L.  Pretty good, actually... and only 1 or two of them had a tiny grain of sand.  Nice kick from the chili, and plenty of herbs.

I took 2 half portions of pasta.  I actually wanted to order a small portion of quail, too, but our waiter advised against it.  It would be too much food, he said...

Agnolotti with butter and sage - what a simple but beautiful dish!  The little agnolotti were served with sage butter, and I just looooved the fragrance and flavor of the sage as it touched my tastebuds.  Heavy?  Yes, a little.  But so enjoyable!  And the texture was just right.

L was not such a happy camper, though... The staff had decided to bring us only forks, so while the two of us "have fork use (有叉用)" - and I was perfectly fine with just a fork - L was deprived the use of a spoon while having her tagliatelle.  She didn't say anything at first, because she wanted to see how long it would take the staff to realize that she's missing a spoon.  But as I discussed with her, I don't think the Filipino staff (I am told that MBS stands for "Manila Bay Sands"...) know that people eat pasta with a fork and spoon... because they were never taught to eat it that way.  Well, the spoon never came.  (N.B.  This idiot has since been informed that Italians consider it impolite to eat pasta with a spoon...  See this old New York Times article)

Maltagliati with duck ragù - these rhombus-shaped flat pasta came with a hearty, delicious duck ragù... which is something that always tickles my fancy.  Very satisfying.

L actually ordered the small portion of quail that I originally wanted to add.  When it arrived, we almost sent it back because we had assumed that a small portion would mean half a quail or something.  Nope.  It was a whole quail.  No wonder the waiter told me not to order it when I've already got two pasta dishes.  I shudder to think what the size of the "full" portion would be...

Sautéed cavalo nero with crisp garlic - I love cavalo nero but it's not something I see often, so I ordered this on the side.  Surprised at the acidity here, but those crispy garlic flakes?  Yum.

Bombolini with huckleberry marmellata and vanilla gelato - although I was full, I was still curious about desserts here... so I ordered these.  No, I definitely didn't need to have these fried doughnuts sit in my stomach.  The huckleberry marmalade and lemon cream provided the acidity to balance out the vanilla gelato.

Well... this was a pretty enjoyable dinner, at least for me.  At most Italian places I tend to stick with pasta, and in my experience that has generally been the safe option.  The carni offerings often look similar to what one can get from other types of cuisine, which means they are less interesting to me.  Anyway, L wasn't very happy with the quail tonight, so once again I'm glad I didn't order it.

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