Friday, April 10, 2009

Shahi Maharani- So disappointing!

I am not a big fan of Indian food -it makes my burp stink and makes me feel fat. However , once in a blue moon, I do get some semblence of a craving for Indian food.

There are 2 main types of Indian food in Singapore- North and South Indian. South Indian cuisine obtains its distinct flavours by the use of tamarind, coconuts, lentils, rice and a variety of vegetables whereas North Indian cuisine is distinguished by the proportionally high use of dairy products (eg butter, milk or yoghurt). Naturally my inclination is towards North Indian food.

Of the many Indian restaurants in Singapore, there are several which feature prominently on my hitlist- Banana Leaf Restaurant, Muthu's Curry, Saffron Bistro and Shahi Maharani. I've heard that Rang Mahal serves the best (albeit priciest) Indian chow in town. They do feature an affordable weekend lunch buffet on weekends but I've never gotten round to trying it since my makan escapades are typically restricted to weekday lunches.

Since it has been awhile since I've eaten Indian food, it came as a pleasant surprise when an ex-colleague turned friend suggested lunching at Shahi Maharani for her birthday. I promptly made a reservation for 2 but it turned out that there was actually no need to make any reservation because (horror of horrors!) the restaurant was empty when we stepped in. Dang. We should have gone next door to Sichuan Court for my favorite cereal crusted egg tofu instead!

The restaurant is running a perpetual 1-for-1 lunch buffet promotion. It has been ongoing for at least 2 years. Perhaps its a ploy to attract the bargain hungry Singaporean? If so, I am guilty as charged- because I would not have spent SGD36 a head for a buffet here.

The ambience is slightly oppulent, with plush maroon carpets, wooden interiors and padded chairs. Service is thoughtful but non obtrusive.

Naans- We had garlic, cheese and butter naans. These are best eaten piping hot dipped with generous dollops of curry. Unfortunately presentation was lacking. They were not nicely cut into halves but came in jagged torn pieces.

Meats- There was the usual tandoori chicken, a yellow chicken curry and a red lamb curry. All these dishes lacked a certain zing to their taste. It felt as if the chef wasn't putting much love into his cooking and just wanted to serve something which was edible but not mindblowing. Sigh.

Vegetables- Items featured include samosas, mixed vegetabels (curried baby corns, long beans and carrots) and some dhal curry. The samosas were passable but I did not like the mixed vegetables at all. These tasted like miscellanous vegetables which had been thoughtlessly thrown together to form one dish. Yet another disappointment.

Desserts- By the time we were ready for desserts, I was starting to feel quite disillusioned with the whole place. Plus I was not in the mood to indulge in cloyingly sweet stuff (like that cute little dough ball immersed in syrup). I instead helped myself to some cut fruit and tried to channel my mind to think happier thoughts.

Overall, it was not a pleasant experience. I will definitely not be going back to this place in a looong loooooong time.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

New Kid on the Block (Jing @ One Fullerton)

Singaporeans love their food. Its a national fixation. We queue up for donuts, bubble tea, coffee buns and nasi lemak. And we are always looking out for the best deals.

Over time, I've come to realise that the best deals usually come with strings attached. You either have to pay for "hidden costs" like towels and peanuts or worse still, settle for substandard food.

It is with mindset that I approached the SGD36+++ weekend lunch buffet at Jing with trepidation. I absolutely adore the food (sharksfin soup, peking duck and wasabi prawns) at its sister restaurant at The Majestic Hotel so I was really hoping this place would not disappoint.

Not only did it not disappoint but it exceeded my expectations. =) =)

The restaurant was fully booked on Sunday afternoon but service remained professional and brisk. And given that it is an ala carte buffet (inclusive of free flow jasmine tea), you can be assured of piping hot food prepared with care. My husband and I loved everything we ordered.

Here's the rundown.

Crispy duck- Yum! The skin is melt in the mouth delicious. Even a non duck eater like me was converted! I must have taken 4 helpings.

Seared beef strips in sesame sauce- This was def a winner. The beef was tender, well marinated and tasted almost like bak kwa!

Chilli crab with mantou (1 serving only)- In comparison to the other dishes, this was lack lustre. I've tasted better chill crab at other established seafood joints but what impressed me most was
the freshness of the crab, which yielded sweet firm meat.

Fried soon hock with soya sauce (1 serving only)- The superior soya sauce complemented the fish perfectly. The batter added a lovely crunch and left us smacking our lips with delight.

Deep fried scallops wrapped in filose- This was the only item in the dim sum range we tried. The scallops were huge and juicy but nothing to shout about.

Wasabi Prawns- Battered big prawns coated in a lovely jade green hue dotted with little cubes of mango. Lovely.

Button Mushroom with wasabi mayo accompanied by pomelo- Had initial reservations ordering this dish cos it sounded so weird! But was won over by the burst of flavours and texture. Sweet, savoury and spicy all rolled in one. A definite must-try.

Braised tofu with whole garlic- The home made tofu boasts a certain silky egg like quality which slithers down the throat. A light but satisfying dish.

Sweet and Sour pork- Hubby enjoyed this dish. Said it boasted the right amt of batter and meat.

Fish Maw with crabmeat soup (1 serving only)- Almost mistook this for pumpkin soup cos the color was mustard yellow. It was hearty and flavourful but a little too heavy for my liking.

Winter melon with fungus soup- This is a very light soup for those with decliate palates. It was tasty but forgettable.

Dessert- Missed out on the much blogged about egg tarts! They ran out quite quickly! We had to settle for a scoop of vanilla ice cream and milo ice cream, served in small paper cups and plastic spoons. We felt like little kids for a moment =)

Mango sago with pomelo- They served this to us in a white porcelain cup. We slurped it down in seconds. Not bad at all.

If you are interested in viewing other dishes in the buffet, you can click on the below link:

I can't wait to go back again!

Ps: Was informed by a friendly waitress that the weekend brunch will be extended in the month of April too. The restaurant is also in the process of coming up with a weekend dinner buffet (50+++, to be confirmed) which will feature the same items served during the weekend brunch.

Best Seat of the House: The corner table facing the promenade. Seats 2.


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