The Best Hotels 2012

1 02 2012

APART FROM the unapologetic propensity towards gluttony, my ultimate weakness among the deadly sins, it is my shamelessness at writing notes that this blog has really put to fore.

Of course you already may well know that I leave notes for chefs.  But what I may have not mentioned here yet is that after almost every stay at hotels, I would leave notes – for the chambermaid, for the guy who would bring me ALL the local papers every day, for whoever would attend to ALL my requests at the breakfast buffet (I would be very exacting about my omelet and my bowl of noodles that I wouldn’t consider myself simply as “culinarily” high-maintenance but actually bordering on difficult sometimes.)

There was this one time in 2011 that I felt so overwhelmed about how well I was treated at this particular hotel that I ended up not only leaving notes to the staff, but writing a review about them on TripAdvisor.com.

Last week, I received in my Gmail inbox an alert from TripAdvisor saying that this hotel has made it to the 2012 edition of their “Travelers’ Choice, The Best Hotels.”  I haven’t really gone through the exhaustive list but I think it is a top 25 roll.  And in Singapore where there are a lot of boutique hotels, and not just the big international chains, that’s saying a lot.

I think congratulations are in order for the Royal Plaza on Scotts.  And I think, my hankering to go back and brewing intention to do the high tea buffet (at least) is most warranted after all.

TripAdvisor lists the Travelers' Choice for The Best Hotels, 2012.

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Like a circle in a Spiral

1 05 2011

My first seafood plate, Spiral at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel

I’M NOT about to burst into song.  But that line played on and on in my head while I negotiated the dizzying array of cuisines spread out at Spiral, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s international buffet.  Never ending or beginningOn an ever-spinning wheel.

And I said I wasn’t to burst into song.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel

 

I love how this part of the hotel is covered in greenery.

 

This way to Spiral!

I’ve long been meaning to pay this much-talked-about buffet – which I used to almost always call Spirals – a visit.  But everything had been nothing but a series of close calls.  I’d see the restaurant signage, acknowledge the use of a simple font in a calming shade of green, stark against the backdrop of a metallic tablet finished in matte gray.  Then my party-organizing or emceeing duties would call me to the nearby ballroom.

But last Tuesday night – coming all the way from way south of the city – all roads led to Sofitel.  And all excited, hurried steps from the parking were radar-locked to Spiral.

Finally... Spiral!

It was a special gathering as we were there to properly send a couple of my colleagues off to their new and exciting careers in Singapore.  One of them has been one of the most dependable and trustworthy engineers I have ever had in my team, not to mention a great friend of long-standing, enough to earn the monicker “The Tycoon.”  Yes, he is my MSNBC/Wall Street Journal business analyst and panel resource person incarnate.  But he is as “real” as it gets – suffering through my subtle snoring in the moviehouse, right smack at the middle of the action scenes in Transformers, and at one point, tolerating to a fault when he agreed to see that “Yaya and Angelina” movie (not my choice though!).

For someone as unique and special as he is, only the best options for dinner would do.  As a group, we’ve done the rounds, running a gamut of price points and dress codes – but never a buffet.  So for this send-off dinner, we realized only Spiral would do.

Ready for the buffet!

 

Attacking the (iced) seafood spread.

 

The cutlery were quite heavy, substantial stainless steel with silhouettes that allude to the restaurant's name.

 

Gotta love the stylish place setting.

 

"A spiral runs through it." My drinking glass.

When it comes to buffets – a couple of memorable ones being Paseo Uno at the Mandarin Oriental in Makati, and recently Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts in Singapore – I’ve imposed a personal injuction:  “eNTeNG, don’t stuff yourself like crazy.”  And that was exactly what I did.

So I limited myself to just five – may I say, “moderate” – rounds.  The first three were seafood, then followed by a couple of soups – tom yum goong (Thai hot and sour soup with shrimps) and Hong Kong noodle soup.  I totally snubbed the dessert spread, save for what I highly suspected as homemade coffee ice cream.  Not that they weren’t any good because they sure looked so tempestuously tempting.  I just didn’t espy any French macarons.  Those sure could make me lose whatever remaining sense of propriety I had.

The tom yum goong was a bit of a disappointment.  It tasted really authentic, actually bringing me back to meals I had at the Bangkok International Airport and at this huge seafood restaurant at Batu Ferringhi in Malaysia, but the shrimps were just so overcooked.  They must’ve been literally boiling to death in the claypot for hours.  But the broth was true to the classic tom yum, laced with roasted chilis in oil for that Southern Thailand kick.

I caution to call my first three rounds as “sashimi plates”.  I think that only the three thick slices of Norwegian pink salmon had relation to that reality.  All the others were some kind of steamed or poached – curacha (spanner crab), local lobster (called in the vernacular as “banagan”), shrimps, crabstick, and mussels on the half shell.

“These mussels don’t look local, most likely Australian,”  I thought to myself just when a wait staff passed by, stopping to replenish the curacha.  “Are the seafood from Capiz?”  I blurted out.  He gave me that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.  I smiled and turned away.

On my plate: three thick slices of salmon sashimi, three shrimps, half a lobster ("banagan"), seven crabsticks, half a curacha (spanner crab), two mussels on the half shell, and three wedges of lemon.

 

The hollow that remained. This local lobster was so sweet!

 

I call this my sashimi plate. Eight slices of crabstick, three thick slices of salmon, three slices of tamago, five shrimps, and what was left of a pile of lapu-lapu (grouper) sashimi I had started to devour before realizing I forgot to take a photo.

 

Tom Yum Goong

 

My Hong Kong noodle soup only had noodles, Taiwan pechay, and onion leeks in the clear broth.

Buffet dinner at Spiral at Sofitel doesn’t come cheap.  We went on a Tuesday night which goes for the “Sun – Thur Dinner” rate of Php 1888.00 per head.  Good thing we came armed with the Accor Advantage card that slashed 25% off the buffet dinner rate and another 15% off the drinks, which, at Php 260.00 for my Drink of the Month – a heavenly blend of fresh bananas, ripe mangoes, and lychees – wasn’t exactly cheap as well.  If that long-running joke were true, then we probably paid for the ambiance.  We were, after all, seated at a recessed area of the restaurant, almost like our own dining room.  We had a long oblong-ish table framed on one side by a floor-to-ceiling china cabinet and on the other by the glass windows of the Thai exhibition kitchen.  Above the head of the table hung an expensive-looking artwork.  So the cost of the dinner probably accounted for the ambiance.

Dinner didn't come cheap... but so worth every peso!

But as it has always been my belief, we should never put a price tag on certain things – family, friendships and food, foremost of all – so when I looked down on the right pocket of my worn-out years-old gray jeans, I didn’t mind that it was threatening to burst at the seams from the cash I had to withdraw for my share of the bill.  The Tycoon, Dennis, Iron Man, and myself took care of this evening out.

And all the servers who stopped by and bussed our dinner table likewise took really good care of us.  The last one actually was hovering in the corner, waiting for that perfect timing to offer coffee or tea.  I asked for coffee to cap off another wonderful night out with the boss, colleagues and friends.

I wish I could go on and on with the buffet.  But I was no wheel within a wheel.  I guess I will just have to return to Spiral soon enough.

Coffee Ice Cream

 

Drinl of the Month, a smoothie of fresh bananas, ripe mangoes, and lychees. This made me a smoothie convert!

 

One of my few talents... Tying a cherry stem in my mouth, in less than 10 seconds! You know what they say about people who can do that. Hahaha!

 

Having my coffee ice cream in front of the restaurant's simulated waterfall.

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Good eats

26 04 2011

“ONE IS enough.  Two is too much.  Three is a poison that can kill a person.”  That’s one of the rhymes that my mother would tell us whenever we would try to push our luck in getting our ways.

I got reminded of it once more as I recollect my gastronomic adventure in Singapore.  For specific dishes and places, I think I could o.d. before I get satiation.  I could get to “three is a poison…” easy.

Here they are, in no particular order.  (I forgot the details of the hawker center that Partner brought me to, where I had this amazing Fish Head Curry dish!)

CareShop de Café

70 Bendemeer Road, #01-05 Luzerne

Singapore 339940

Tel: +65 6293 9298

www.careshopdecafe.com

Will go back forMushroom Soba with lots of steamed Japanese Rice

Mushroom Soba, CareShop de Café

 

 

Culina Bistro

Blk 8 Dempsey Hill,Dempsey Road#01-13

Singapore 249679

Will go back forDe Cecco Penne Crab Meat (with the penne replaced by angel hair) , and all the complimentary bread rolls I could handle!

De Cecco Capellini Crab Meat, Culina Bistro @ Dempsey Hill

 

Complimentary Bread, Culina Bistro @ Dempsey Hill

 

 

TWG Tea Salon & Boutique on the Bridge

The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands

B2-89/89A, 2 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018972

Tel:  +65 6535 1837

Fax: +65 6221 1837

Will go back for1837 Black Tea (tea number T6033), French Onion Soup, and all the complimentary bread rolls I could handle!

1837 Black Tea (tea number T6033), TWG Tea Salon & Boutique on the Bridge

 

French Onion Soup, TWG Tea Salon & Boutique on the Bridge

 

Complimentary Bread, TWG Tea Salon & Boutique on the Bridge

 

Fou de FaFa

168 Robinson Road

#01-05 Capital Tower

Singapore 068912

Tel: +65 6327 9418

www.foudefafa.com

Will go back forPizza Fou’d Flewed, and that bluish green drink that’s a concoction of pineapple, grapes, and mint

Pizza Fou'd Flewed, Fou de FaFa

 

My fave drink, a concoction of pineapple, grapes, and mint, Fou de FaFa

 

Jumbo Seafood Gallery

20 Upper Circular Road

#B1-44 to 48 The Riverwalk

Tel:  +65 6534 3435

Fax: +65 6536 3836

Will go back forChilli Crab with lots of Deep-Mini Bun, Cold Fresh Barley Juice

Just the apron!, Jumbo Seafood Gallery

 

Wee Nam Kee

275 Thomson Road #01-05

Will go back forHainanese Chicken Rice, Cold Fresh Barley Juice (which they always run out of!)

Hainanese Chicken Roasted and Steamed, Wee Nam Kee

 

Hainanese Chicken Rice, Wee Nam Kee

 

Cold Fresh Barley Juice, Wee Nam Kee

 

Tung Lok Seafood OC

#11-05 Orchard Central

181 Orchard Road

Singapore 238896

Will go back forBraised Shark’s Fin with Fish Maw Soup, Poached Baby Kai Lan served with Chinchalok

Braised Shark’s Fin with Fish Maw Soup, Tung Lok Seafood

 

Poached Baby Kai Lan served with Chinchalok, Tung Lok Seafood

 

Marché at 313@somerset

313@somerset, 313 Orchard Road

Provisional Unit No. #B1-39-45

Singapore 238895

www.marche-restaurants.com

Will go back forMushroom Soup, Calamari, Calamansi Juice with Sour Plum

Mushroom Soup, Marché at 313@somerset

 

Calamari, Marché at 313@somerset

 

Calamansi Sour Plum, Marché at 313@somerset

 

Food Opera at ION Food Hall

Basement 4, ION Orchard

2 Orchard Turn

Singapore 238801

Tel:  +65 6509 9198

Will go back forOyster Omelet (FattyWeng Fried Oysters, #B4-04M), Fishball Mee Kia Noodle Soup (Li Xin Fishball Noodle Soup, #B4-04B)

“FattyWeng Fried Oysters” Oyster Omelet, Food Opera at ION Food Hall

 

"Li Xin" Fishball Mee Kia Noodle Soup, Food Opera at ION Food Hall

 

4 FINGeRS Crispy Chicken at ION Food Hall

Basement 4, ION Orchard

2 Orchard Turn, #B4-06A

Singapore 238801

Tel:  +65 4274779

Will go back forChicken Wings

Crispy Chicken Wings, 4 FINGeRS Crispy Chicken at ION Food Hall

 

Nando’s @ Tanglin Mall

163 Tanglin Road

#01-14/15 Tanglin Mall

Singapore 247933

Tel:  +65 6235 3555

Fax: +65 6235 5581

Will go back forPeri-Peri Chicken, Portugese Rice, Grilled Vegetables

Peri-Peri Chicken, Portugese Rice, and Grilled Vegetables, Nando's @ Tanglin Mall

 

White Dog Café

No.1 HarbourFront Walk

#02-131/132 Vivo City

Singapore 098585

Tel:  +65 6235 3555

Will go back forLobster Pasta

Lobster Pasta, White Dog Café

 

Shimbashi Soba

290 Orchard Road

#B1-41 The Paragon

Singapore 238859

Tel: +65 6735 9882

Will go back forGoma Tare Seiro Sesame Soba

Goma Tare Seiro Sesame Soba, Shimbashi Soba

 

Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts

25 Scotts Road

Singapore 228220

Tel:  +65 6589 7788 / +65 6589 7819

www.royalplaza.com.sg

gourmet@royalplaza.com.sg

Will go back forEVERYTHING in their international buffet

Soon Kueh, Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts

 

Roasted Tomato, Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts

 

Bowl of Noodles, Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts

 

Macarons, Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Through pastel-colored macarons

24 04 2011

Five pretty little macarons all in a row – hazelnut cream, green tea, coffee, pistachio, and caramel.

ONE OF the songs I vividly remember being sung to me as a kid was “La Vie En Rose.”  My now 89-year-old grandmother would sing the first few lines, or hum the melody, then would tell me, “It’s seeing the world through rose-colored glass.”  I don’t remember if it was glass or windows.

When I grew up and became the foodie wannabe that I am, I would get reminded of this song every time I would see macarons.  But it’s beyond seeing the world through rose-colored glass.  It’s seeing the world through pastel-colored windows.

Macarons are the love.  They’re those precious little biscuits made from ground almonds, baked to a crisp outside, with the center kept rather soft and pleasantly chewy.  Two pieces are put together to make a sandwich with a creamy filling put between them.  Macarons take up the color of the flavor they are infused with.  So you can say that a spread of these confections make for a rainbow of yummy colors.

Carousel, Royal Plaza on Scotts’s international buffet restaurant, always has a wide selection of freshly made macarons on display at their pastry section, situated right at their entrance.  So imagine the kind of good mood seeing these macarons would put me in, every single day – for fourteen days.

On one morning after breakfast, I thought about getting a box of five – one each of hazelnut cream, green tea, coffee, pistachio, and caramel.  I brought it to work as a present for Green Lantern.  He’s a photography enthusiast so it’s like saying I’d want him to see the world through pastel-colored lens.

Gotta snap this shot of the macaron box and Carousel's elegant paper bag before I hit the door to go to work!

 

A closer shot of the box. It does say "five macarons." I'm lovin' the color!

 

Five happens to be my favorite number!

 

Once more with feelings – hazelnut cream, green tea, coffee, pistachio, and caramel.

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





For love of free gift with purchase

24 04 2011

After four hours of shopping, this plate was my reward.

I DIDN’T realize just how much of a sucker for free gift with purchase I am than when I was standing in front of the cashier supervisor at Takashimaya on Orchard Road, and was flatly told, “No, we’re already closed.  You’re past store hours.  He (the sales associate assisting me) should’ve called in your purchases before 9:30 PM.  We could’ve left one register open for you.”

Takashimaya on Orchard Road

So with the lone sad face I had to make in Singapore in about a couple of weeks, I stared at large bottles of Ralph Lauren Big Pony Scent #4 – declared by leading fashion magazines as the best-selling male fragrance in the country – and Ralph Lauren Limited Edition Polo Blue.  Worse, I had to bid the “gifts” adieu – a weekender duffel bag embroidered with a multi-colored polo player and big pony and a toiletry bag in navy blue.  My love for these freebies is warranted.  I have an all-black Kenneth Cole weekender that has been with me to three countries and served me well for over eight years now.

And my love for these freebies made me spend almost half an hour deciding which between the two scents to get, only to end up settling for both.

The doorman cordially bid me good night and the sales associate told me to come back the following day.  I just managed to crack into a shy smile.  Because the very moment I turned around on my way out of their humongous doors, I knew it would be close to impossible to keep any promises.  The following day was already full of plans, it was practically bursting at the seams.

I found my way back on Orchard Road and with one quick glance on a couple of pages of my kikki.K Daily Notes, I told myself that I wasn’t doing well on my pasalubong (homecoming presents) list.  I knew that shops close at 10:00 PM, so to make the most of the last half hour, I crossed Orchard Road, went into Paragon Mall, and ran like crazy to Longchamp.  I could at least get Mama’s present finally.

When I went into Paragon Mall that night, they were setting up what appeared to me as a stage. A couple of days back, Friendship took my photo beside that "public art" and the floor was so clear.

Something about beating a deadline – in this case, the last 30 minutes of mall hours – could make the the last nudge to move me from indecisiveness to unusual resoluteness.  “I’ve got to get that last piece of the Longchamp LM Metallic in gold, small tote.”  I navigated the escalators only to find out that Longchamp closes an hour ahead of the mall.  Bummer!

My shopping night started at Ion Orchard, then Takashimaya, then Paragon. This shot is up the escalator ride. I just find the view, in person, to be breathtaking. I love malls, I can't help it!

 

Armani Exchange. Went here for a leather bag.

 

G-Star Raw is my nephews' favorite T-shirt brand.

 

I was so surprised to find Alessi, a personal favorite, at the top level of Ion Orchard. Of course I went straight to the wristwatches.

By that time, the grumbling of my tummy could no longer be drowned by the excitement over a still tick-free shopping list.  So, with the last 15 or so minutes, I ran from Paragon to Ion Orchard, praying frantically that there would still be someone open among the 22 stalls at Ion Food Hall, home of my newfound favorite, Food Opera.

I hit the escalators and was instantly hit by the sad metaphor of my life – everybody was on their way up, I was on my way down.  Hoping against hope that there was still something to grab and bite.  I made about at least a couple of rounds of the place trying to convince myself there would still be one noodle place open.  By the second time, I couldn’t ignore anymore the polite offer of the elderly man at the Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice stall.  All the others had closed.  So many of the chairs and tables had been folded up.

I ordered a plate of three of their “specials”.  I asked for fried rice, braised beef with shiitake mushrooms, and chili tofu (which to me could have very well been “mapo tofu”).  I was really famished so an extra helping of plain steamed white rice was a must, along with curry chicken.  I asked that my rice be topped with curry sauce, the one the chicken was in.  Instead of ladling it onto the rice, the man took a small bowl and with one swift motion of his wrist, made a fresh concoction from six wide-mouthed stainless steel bowls that contained different sauces that ranged from some form of oil, to some form of concentrated curry.  The resulting sauce?  Awesome.

A plate of three specials – fried rice, braised beef with shiitake mushrooms, and chili tofu topped with sautéed Vidalia onions.

 

Curry chicken. Do you see the flecks of crushed fresh red chili?!

I asked if they had drinks and was told, “No.”  Fortunately for me, one of the “Aunties” overheard me, and gestured for me to follow her.  Once at her stall, she removed the covers from the cash register and from some of the fruits and asked what I fancied.  I asked for fresh lime juice.  She made me a tall glass.  She was so kind I wanted to hug her.

Finally, a drink!

In the middle of all the cash registers ringing (everybody was tallying up the day’s sales), all the mopping, and all the wiping, I had my meal.  They would steal glances at my way.  But they let me be.  I found it funny that four hours onOrchard Roadyielded nothing.  Because of too much comparison shopping.  Because of my indecisiveness.

So in between bites of the curry chicken, the crunch of the Vidalia onions that topped the tofu, and chews of the shiitake mushrooms, I resolved to take a vengeace on shopping.

After a dismal night of shopping, I came home to this sight at the lobby of my hotel, Royal Plaza on Scotts. This arrangement of votives and pillars never failed to soothe me.

 

I loved these light installations made from paper. I think it was paper.

 

This grand staircase, left of the lobby, leads to the business center and the hotel's lounge/bar named Heat.

 

What I wore to shopping. The T-shirt is at least ten years old! Got it from Bossinni. The navy blue golf shorts is eight years old. Got it at a Ross outlet in the States.

 

In my multi-colored "not shoes" Sanük, I stopped at this huge mirror in front of Havaianas, and snapped a shot. I wouldn't say I... struck a pose. Hahaha!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Next espresso shot please

22 04 2011

They come in threes. Nespresso coffee capsules in Ristretto, Vivalto Lungo, and Decaffeinato.

 

I LOVE coffee so much that there are days I wish I could have it on an IV.

So whenever I check in a hotel, the first thing I raid is the free coffee in the mini bar.  Which, for the life of me, has always been a couple of sachets of granulated instant coffee.  If I’m lucky, it’s the 3-in-1 kind.  I’m lousy with electric contraptions so after I’ve taken the time to figure out how to plug in the pot for boiling water, I’d get started on my caffeine binge.

It’s the kind of binge that will last the whole duration I’m billeted.

At my recent stay at Royal Plaza on Scotts – it’s been weeks and I thought my love affair with the place has waned with time, but apprently, not so – I had my caffeine cravings satiated 24/7 with not only the requisite free instant coffee in the mini bar, but also with my very own in-room Nespresso coffee maker!  It was unassumingly placed on top of the credenza right below the flat screen TV that it took a real coffee enthusiast, Friendship, to sense its presence within our breathing space.

My very own in-room Nespresso machine!

The most amazing thing about this Nespresso coffee maker is that it is a single-serve machine that does exactly what it is intended to do, and amazingly so.  Of course, being the lousy person that I am when it comes to gadgets, I had to first quietly observe Friendship make one cup before I even had the courage to work the machine myself.

Nespresso is the most convenient coffee maker you’d ever find.  You don’t need to fuss anymore about putting coffee filters in place or scooping the right measure of ground coffee every single time.  All you have to do is lift the chrome top cover, place a capsule of ground coffee, replace the cover (you’d feel the action will plunge the capsule in place), select either an espresso shot or a full cup of drip coffee, and you’re seconds away to caffeine heaven.

An excellent brew starts with simply lifting the top cover, called the "lever", into an upright position.

 

All you have to do is insert a capsule of your choice into the machine. As you shall see, the capsules fit only one way.

 

After the coffee capsule is inserted, the lever is replaced, plunging it (the capsule) in place.

 

I hit the button with the image of a coffee cup (against the other's espresso shot cup) and wait for freshly brewed coffee to drip to the cup on the (drip) tray.

 

Wherever I am in my hotel room, the first whiffs of freshly brewed coffee is hard to miss!

 

Just seconds away from the perfect cup!

 

Done! I take mine with creamer and sugar. I think the hotel provided me with reduced non-fat milk creamer.

You don’t need a “for dummies” guide to operate Nespresso.  The coffee capsules – available in a range of blends so there’s always one to suit your of-the-moment liking – fit only one way, and the only other thing you actually have to worry about is if there’s enough water in the see-through carafe conveniently located at the back of the machine.

The Nespresso coffee capsules are contained in this box, which when opened doubles as a stylish display box that can also hold two coffee cups.

 

The hotel's complimentary selection has Ristretto (intensity 10), Vivalto Lungo (intensity 4), and Decaffeinato (intensity 2).

 

A closer look at Ristretto.

I couldn’t help waxing nostalgic about having a two-week affair with Nespresso.  It was there for me for the many personalities that make me up.  And believe me, it’s quite a wide spectrum.  When I had to pull all-nighters, I popped in Ristretto.  For when I was passing time, waiting for dinner plans or invitations to come to fuition, I would have a cup of Vivalto Lungo in hand.

And when it was time to call it a night, I’d just lounge around in bed, having only the hotel’s luxurious robe on, put the TV on TLC (where the cooking shows are), and sip through at least two cups of Decaffeinato.

One for each mood... Ristretto, Vivalto Lungo, Decaffeinato.

 

Ristretto turned out to be my favorite!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Hainanese chicken vice

22 04 2011

Royal Plaza on Scotts's Hainanese Chicken Rice

WHEN ALL dinner plans suddenly fall through, what does one do?  Order room service, that is.

I didn’t even bother checking out the in-room service dinner menu.  I just picked up the phone and ordered Hainanese Chicken Rice.  I was in the island of chicken rice so I sure expected it to be in the all-day dining menu.  So I ordered that, and oh, extra chicken rice!

I get weak in the knees at the sight of Hainanese chicken rice.  So to say that I love it is clearly an understatement.  It’s the one dish I’ve had all over, the most memorable ones being from the Penang Mutiara Beach Resort and Shangri-La Hotel in Malaysia, and Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Penang Hill, and Banana Leaf Curry House here at home.  And of course, Wee Nam Kee at Novena Ville in Singapore.

I’m adding Royal Plaza on Scotts to this short list.

The Hainanese chicken rice has arrived!

 

It was quite hard putting this tray on the table and enforcing my shoot-now-eat-later policy.

 

I couldn't wait to fill this out!

 

I loved the cutlery that came with the meal.

 

Finally, the cover is lifted and the Hainanese chicken rice is revealed!

 

I knew I wouldn't get enough of it so I made sure I asked for two cups of rice.

 

The set meal has half chicken breast portion. I found it generous enough, as the really tender meat was infused with so much flavor!

 

Slices of Hainanese chicken rice is usually served on top of slices of tomatoes and cucumbers. So I make sure I get those too. I actually dip them is the thick sweet soy before having them with the rice.

 

Hainanese chicken rice traditionally comes with three sauces, one of which is this sambal chili.

 

Grated ginger in oil

 

Thick sweet soy

 

The most flavorful broth on the planet! I can have this all day. Everyday.

 

Me and my Hainanese

 

Super loved my meal!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





A couple of weeks on a gastronomic merry-go-round

1 04 2011

Carousel on a full page of the I-S Magazine Restaurant Guide 2011. Behind it is my kikki.K Daily Notes, and the Korean red string bracelet from The Boy Wonder. Interestingly, the bracelet took the shape of a "C"... for Carousel!

I VIVIDLY remember being on a carousel ride only once in my life.  I never knew I’d make up for it big time as an adult.  For 13 days.

Carousel, the international buffet restaurant on the ground floor of Royal Plaza on Scotts, 25 Scotts Road Singapore, afforded me a couple of weeks to indulge in my unbridled, lustful passion for good food.  It was as if I was guaranteed a seat on an amusement ride that, much like the actual animal seat mounted on posts, moved me up and down, galloping towards all the edible art my heart, soul, and tummy could handle.

Royal Plaza on Scottts... where the magic carousel ride brought me to a memorable gastronomic adventure.

 

Fresh flowers floating in a bowl of water greet guests at the restaurant entrance.

 

One of many blown glass chandeliers that hang from Carousel's ceiling.

 

A view of the dining hall

An ad printed on the pages of I-S Restaurant Guide 2011, published by Asia City Publishing Pte Ltd., gives credence to Carousel’s rightful place in the food mecca that is Singapore:  Best Buffet Restaurant in Singapore by The Straits Times, Best Buffet Restaurant in Singapore by AsiaOne People’s Choice Awards, and 1 Gold, 6 Silver & 2 Bronze medals at Food & Hotel Asia.

Clearly, my sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t alone in appreciating this place and raving about it is warranted.  Actually, Friendship, upon learning that I would be billeted at Royal Plaza on Scotts, was quick to send me a text message saying something like, “that’s the one with the nice buffet!”

Halal-certified and catering to just about every imaginable kind of diet or picky eater, Carousel’s extensive breakfast spread gave me my much needed kick-start to my hectic days.  With my olfactory nerve stimulated by the smell of freshly baked bread and pastries (the mini-muffins were just so pretty!), my eyes allowed to view an otherwise overcast day through pastel-colored macarons, and my ears attuned to the rhythm of slotted turners making omelets to-order, it was easy to understand why, even if I would catch my zzz’s very late into the night, I didn’t ignore my wake-up call to make it to breakfast.

Muffin love! Cranberry, Apple Crumble, and Double Chocolate Chip muffins made fresh daily! Brother loves these!

 

Macarons!!! Simply the best. From the foreground – coffee, pistachio, hazelnut cream, green tea, and caramel.

 

My first mushroom and cheese omelet being made by the very accommodating, very pleasant chef. Forgot his name! I think it starts with an "S".

 

The chef allowed the button mushrooms to render their goodness in a little clarified butter.

 

The freshest eggs and grated mozzarella cheese were added and voila! My mushroom-and-cheese omelet was ready!

There was never enough time to cover as many of the stations as I wish I could, so I ended up gravitating towards my favorites – the noodle station, the dimsum spread, the wide array of bread, butter, jam and jelly, the egg station (for omelets and eggs over easy), and the fresh fruit juice bar.

I would come to Carousel for my first bites of the day but I would always remember it not only for the great food but also – if not more importantly – for the amazing chefs, staff and crew.

Carousel is open daily for beakfast (6:30 – 10AM), lunch (Mon – Fri, noon – 2PM / Sat – Sun, 11:30AM – 2PM), high tea (3:30 – 5:30PM), and dinner (6:30 – 10:30 PM).

My mushroom-and-cheese omelet shared space with a slice of roast beef cold cut, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, chicken cheese sausage, a slice of white bread, and a breakfast roll.

 

I ate the white bread with the roast beef and sausage. The roll, I tore piece by piece and stained with lots of unsalted butter. Yum!

 

Clockwise from bottom left: Mushroom Ragout, Char Kway Teow, Steamed Phoenix Roll in XO Sauce, Chives Swee Kao, Chicken Cheese Sausage, Julienne of Chicken with Tomato Salsa, and a Grilled Tomato with Oregano and Garlic.

 

What I would have given for a chance to be behind the counter and whip up a sumptuous pasta sauce out of lots of these grilled tomatoes! In my head, I imagine the resulting sauce to be chunky, robust, bursting with smoky goodness!

 

Nasi Lemak is THE love!!! Here, I paired it with Chives Swee Kao, Steamed Phoenix Rolls and Ho Fan dunmplings!

 

How could something so simple, like these rolled rice paper noodles, be so delicious?!

 

I fell in love with these Chives Swee Kao!

 

These dumplings called Soon Kueh were simply awesome! Dipped in a combination of sweet soy and chili sauce, they were simply divine. I would wait for these all the time.

 

Soon Kueh, here I am!

 

How could anyone not love a dumpling as pretty as this?

 

I'm ashamed to admit just how many of these I could gobble up in one go. I don't want to be banned from Royal Plaza's buffet!

 

Scallop Dumplings in Enoki Mushroom Sauce on top of steaming hot, fragrant, flavorful, nutty white rice!

 

Scallops, Enoki Mushrooms, White Rice... what's not to love?!

 

First of many bowls of noodles on day four. Mee Kia noodles, enoki mushrooms, brown mushrooms, beansprouts, and poached chicken.

 

Second bowl on the same day as the one above. This one had lots of Taiwan pechay.

 

First bowl on day five.

 

On day six, I started my noodle course with Mee Kia with Chee Siew (slightly sweet braised pork).

 

Second bowl on day six, my first time to incorporate Chee Siew in my noodles. By way of greens, I had lots of the bok choy.

 

On day seven, the extent of my noodle adventure meant having rice noodles in place of my favorite mee kia.

 

This bowl was specially made for me by Chef Balvinder. Thank you so much! I won't forget this bowl!

 

This was the only plate that really struck close to home. My Singaporean version of the Filipino "cornsilog." Corned Beef, Nasi Lemak, and Egg Over Easy.

 

I love my eggs over easy!

 

I would always have lots of the grapefruit juice and orange juice!

 

When I told Christian that the glass of my orange juice had a crack, apart from profusely apologizing, he made up for it by making me a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice! I find the action to be decisive, customer-oriented, and a good representation of the hotel.

 

A couple of peach halves for dessert!

 

Carousel's fine cutlery

 

I would write down all the stuff I ate!

 

How I'd look after stuffing myself crazy at the buffet!

 

I took all my sweet time at breakfast on my last day there!

 

A quiet homage to everything I liked about Carousel, components of my noodle soup arranged daintily on top of pristine white rice.

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Gratitude

31 03 2011

One of the many bowls of noodles that kick-started my mornings and filled my days at Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts.

 

This beautiful arrangment of pillars and scented candles stand front and center in the lobby, giving guests the fitting welcome to the world of Royal Plaza on Scotts.

GIVE ME pen and paper and I will just write away.  Writing longhand – mostly in cursive – is something that I would never give up even with the onslaught of modern technology.  I guess that’s the reason why, apart from wristwatches, I consider gifts of notebooks, stationery, and writing instruments to be the most thoughtful.  And lucky me, I have Friendship and Partner who help fuel that passion.

On my fourteenth day in Singapore – my last breakfast at Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts – I got so overwhelmed with all the amazing food I have been blessed to start my mornings with that I felt the need to express my gratitude.  I have been feasting on food so good “it consumes me,” to borrow Poh Ling Yeow’s words.

So I asked for pen and paper.

I channeled my gratitude through my right hand, onto a pen and on the surface of paper.  I just wrote away.  I’ve always believed that the one thing people will never forget is how we made them feel.  But I think sometimes, leaving something tangible – like something they can actually read – makes a little difference.

Letter, front page.

 

Letter, back page.

 

Feedback card for Hainanese Chicken Rice, ordered in-room service.

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.