May 12, 2018

Singapore hop 2018: ¿Cómo estás?

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One place I must hit each time I'm in Singapore is Candlenut.  I have been a big fan of Malcolm Lee's ever since my first taste of his modern Peranakan cuisine back in 2013, and I've been known to gobble up 3 of his desserts on my own in a single sitting.  Even though my last dinner 2 years ago wasn't as good as my previous visits - thanks to their move to a newer, more expensive location resulting in smaller portions - I still wanted to go back.  After all, I needed my dessert fix...

I'm not a believer in tasting menus when it comes to certain Asian cuisines, so I definitely wasn't going for the Ah-mah-kase.  The three of us picked a few options à la carte.

First, a basket of crackers while we waited for our dishes to arrive.

And the dishes arrived in quick succession... very Asian-style service, and something that annoys me to no end.

Wing bean salad, baby red radish, lemongrass, cashew nuts, prawns, calamansi lime dressing - this is always a good choice, and the rest of the dishes here can be pretty heavy and rich.  Love the ikan bilis, and the calamansi dressing delivered a good amount of refreshing acidity.

Candlenut buah keluak fried rice, sunny side up - when fliedlice is the second dish to arrive at the table, you know the restaurant doesn't really care about the diner's experience.  If we were having this meal at a hawker or a casual eatery, I might not complain too much.  But these guys have moved to plush digs and gotten themselves a macaron, and this level of service isn't acceptable.

In spite of this, the dish was certainly delicious.  Naturally the buah keluak delivered its intense flavors, and the dish was well-executed.  I ended up eating a big chunk of it as the ladies found it too rich.

Wild caught baby squid, squid ink, tamarind, fried shallots, chillis - these had very nice, marinated flavors... almost meaty like little sausage links.  Good acidity from the tamarind.

Westholme wagyu beef rib rendang, serunding, turmeric leaf - Malcolm's rendang is always my favorite dish here, and even though it's shrunk a lot in size, the flavors were still there.  And I'm always thankful that the meat is never overcooked and tough.  Love the kaffir lime leaf chiffonade.

Chap chye, braised cabbage, black mushroom, pork belly, lily buds, black fungus, vermicelli - pretty heavy for a veg dish, and there seemed to be plenty of flavors from dried shrimp.

Neither of the ladies are dessert lovers, so I decided to be very restrained and only had two desserts for myself.  And I made sure to tell the service staff that I wasn't sharing...

Candlenut's classic chendol cream, pandan jelly, gula melaka - I could stare at a picture of this all day and drool.  One of my absolute favorite desserts in the world, and certainly my favorite rendition of the classic chendol.  The coconut custard was as fluffy as ever, and I can never get enough gula melaka.  The pandan jelly today, though, was a little too soft and powdery for me... 

Mao Shan Wang ice cream, durian puree, kueh rose - I love, love, love the durian ice cream here, and it was always made better with some purée as well as small bits of feuilletine.  But today I had an issue with the new "kueh rose", as the flavors were somewhat off to me.  Maybe it was done with palm oil or something... but I thought it was a little pungent and unpleasant.

After stuffing myself with Peranakan food, I went next door to the Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar and plopped myself down at the table outside.  I was meeting a Facebook friend for the first time, and we enjoyed a few drinks on this hot and sunny afternoon.  Not a bad way to relax...

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