Zhiweiguan, Hangzhou

Zhiweiguan

Following a gentle stroll along the banks of the West Lake, Hangzhou's serenely peaceful UNESCO World Heritage site, we adjourned to Zhiweiguan for our first taste of the local cuisine. Set on rather large grounds, which included a beautiful garden and pond, we were led, through and past various "levels" of dining areas of increasing refinement, and no doubt expense, until we finally arrived at the private room we had booked - to say I was a little concerned at how much the minimum spend on our private room would be, was an understatement. As it turned out RMB1700 was the figure, which between seven, wasn't too bad - already the disparity in prices between Hangzhou and the big city, Shanghai, was clear for all to see. We still had to have quite a few dishes to get to the minimum, mind, as the prices on individual dishes here also exhibited a similar level of discount compared to their Shanghai counterparts.

Gold-medal braised sliced pork

And with that in mind, I'm not going to go through each individual dish as I ordinarily would; instead I will just pick out the high, and low, lights, and I can't help but start with the Dongpo pork - a speciality of the region, and easily the most memorable dish of a meal that boasted a few. The pork was nice and fatty, meltingly tender, full of flavour, and just absolutely delicious. It's not something one could eat on a daily basis, most certainly not, but as a one off treat - it's up there with the best. A second pork dish, Gold-medal braised sliced pork, was also very good, and stunningly presented as a layered pagoda. The paper thin sliced pork was again tender as can be, with a lovely, more subtle but no less appealing, flavour. Both were excellent pork dishes, no two ways about it.

Dongpo porkLotus root stuffed with glutinous rice

Backtracking a little bit, a cold dish of Lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice was very pleasant, and easily one of the better examples we sampled on this trip. Sea cucumber with three kinds of peppers, meanwhile, was a colourful, and tasty dish.

Sea cucumber with three kinds of peppers

Not everything hit the spot, however. Beggar's chicken, another speciality of the region, was too dry; Quick-fried eel slices with shelled shrimps was just deep fried eel in a slightly too heavy batter and a none-too-memorable, overly thick sauce; Crab meat braised with beancurd tasted of nothing; while the tea could not be detected in the Fried shelled shrimps with dragon well tea, again a well known dish of the area.

Quick-fried eel slices with shelled shrimpsFried shelled shrimps with dragon well tea

Things picked up again with the desserts. West Lake pastry made of glutinous rice and fresh fruit with butter had a super thin, gooey, doughy exterior very similar in texture to the "Ping Pei" used for mooncakes, and had a lovely light, creamy mango filling. But as good as it was, the second dessert, Gold-medal longjing tea crispy cake, was even better. A wonderful, flaky pastry gave way to a delightful dragon well green tea paste surrounding a piece of kiwi fruit, with a base lined with sesame seeds. Both were exquisite, refined desserts the equal of any Chinese dessert, a noted weak point of this genre of cuisine, I have encountered to date.

Gold-medal longjing tea crispy cake

In a nutshell...
There were actually at least as many mediocre dishes as there were good ones, but the good dishes were very good, bordering on outstanding; enough to elevate Zhiweiguan in my estimation, and for it to rank amongst the best meals we had on this trip.

8/10

Zhiweiguan (Yanggongdi)
10-12 Yanggong Di, Hangzhou, China
+86 (0)57187970568/(0)57187987657
Average Price: RMB250

Rasa Sayang Express, London

Rasa Sayang Express

Rasa Sayang in Chinatown is a generally well-regarded Malaysian restaurant, with many even proclaiming its food the very best example of this genre of cuisine in the capital. I've only been to Rasa Sayang once, shortly after it opened a couple of years ago, and wasn't all that impressed. Rasa Sayang Express opened earlier this year at the top end of Oxford Street, near the intersection with Tottenham Court Road, and as I happened to be in the area, I thought I would give it a try/second chance.

The menu at Rasa Sayang Express is simple - 16 "meal-in-a-plate" options each priced at £5.99 with the usual suspects - Nasi Goreng Istimewa, Nasi Lemak, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Mee Goreng, Beef Rendang all represented. I went for the Nasi Lemak, as well as Chicken Satay, which, with just 5 skewers (along with the traditional accompaniments of cucumber, onions and pressed rice), pushed the "meal-in-a-plate" concept just a little bit.

The food was served in an instant - everything here is clearly pre-prepared, then just warmed up. That's not necessarily a problem, especially if you order the right dish - nasi lemak, for example, is often cooked in a batch and then sold throughout the day in Malaysia anyway - with its composition of steamed coconut rice, and a mix of sambals and curries, it really doesn't matter all that much. Other items might have suffered a bit more, I dare say, items such as Pan-Fried Carrot Cake, which I did not sample, or the chicken satay...

Chicken Satay

Now satay isn't always cooked to order in Malaysian stalls, and Malaysia Airlines actually serves a very decent satay tens of thousands of miles in the air, so pre-preparing a satay dish beforehand can still produce serviceable results. What was not acceptable here was that the satay had clearly been reheated multiple times, giving the meat a dry, insipid feel. The flavour of the chicken actually wasn't too bad, and the pieces were at least reasonably generous, unlike the awful version at Jom Makan, but the multiple re-heats ruined it.

The Nasi Lemak, meanwhile, was alright. The rice was a bit too mushy, and didn't have any great coconut taste to it, but was at least fluffier than the rendition at Jom Makan; though not even remotely a match for Bonda Café’s. The chicken curry was okay, as was the sambal, which displayed a satisfactory level of heat.

Nasi Lemak

So from a food perspective, not the best, but not downright terrible either, even accounting for the multiple-reheated satay. It's the setting here that I have the biggest issue with. Rasa Sayang Express makes no bones about what it is. It is a canteen. A splash-and-dash eatery. That's absolutely fine. But that does not mean the décor has to be this tacky - not only has every expense clearly been saved in kitting out the place, but everything is so distasteful you almost wonder if the owner was offered some better looking furniture and fittings for the same price and turned it down anyway because it wasn't vulgar enough for the restaurant. It's that bad. Don't get me wrong - there is absolutely nothing wrong with cheap and cheerful, but whilst most certainly cheap, this is really not cheerful in the slightest. City Càphê, a quaint little Vietnamese restaurant in the Square Mile with the same quick-eat ambitions as Rasa Sayang Express, and prices to match, is an excellent example of a budget restaurant done right. Even Japanese Canteen is a hundred times better. For that matter, amongst Malaysian restaurants, Bonda Café has a very basic décor, but one that doesn’t make you want to hurl (not to mention infinitely superior food, by the way).

If this restaurant served any other cuisine, I probably wouldn’t have batted an eyelid – shoddy and shabby restaurants are a dime a dozen; but as a Malaysian, Rasa Sayang Express infuriates me. This is Oxford Street, one of the most famous shopping avenues in the world. And this is how Malaysia is portrayed to the world?! Yes it is true that the owner has no obligation to promote Malaysia, just to fill his pockets; but as a Malaysian, I have an obligation to be disgusted.

In a nutshell...
Rasa Sayang Express has a good location, a sensible price point, decent-sized portions, and not horrible food. The "ambience" and décor, however, is just wrong in every imaginable way, even allowing for its modest ambitions and budget prices. This is a watered-down, tackier version of a Chinatown establishment - enough said. Ordinarily, ratings are based on food, value, service and décor & ambience, in that order, and if I was to stick to that, Rasa Sayang Express probably deserves a better score that the one below. But on this occasion, the heart overrules the head. I was presented with a loyalty card, which entitles one to a free meal after seven stamps. Hah!

0/10

Rasa Sayang Express
50 Oxford Street, London, W1D 1BG
+44 (0)2074369889
Average Price: £6

Rasa Sayang Express on Urbanspoon

Jardin de Jade, Shanghai

Jardin de Jade

Following a hairy crab-centric meal at Ling Long Ge on our first night, followed by a xiao long bao-heavy lunch at Nanxiang Steamed Bun, this was our first opportunity for a regular sit down meal with just a few traditional Shanghainese dishes and rice. Grandly decorated Jardin de Jade, in a building just off Shanghai's famous shopping street, Nanjing Road, albeit at the end away from the shops, is considered to be one of the best restaurants in town serving the local cuisine, and thus, a fitting introduction to the delights we would be sampling in the days to come.

Braised Goose Liver in SakeVegetarian Abalone

Amongst the cold dishes, Vegetarian Abalone was very nice - close my eyes and I might not even have known it wasn't real abalone; Braised Goose Liver in Sake was decent, but as a regular consumer of foie gras, nothing I haven't tasted a million times before; Sweet and Sour Ribs was tender and appetising.

Sliced Ham with Honey Sauce

Sliced Ham with Honey Sauce was absolutely divine - the ham meltingly tender yet firm, with just the right amount of fat, topped with a lovely, well-balanced, and of course, beautifully sweet honey sauce. The mun tou, or bun, that accompanied it was really soft and bouncy too. A great dish all around.

"Jardin de Jade" Jasmin Tea Smoked Duck

"Jardin de Jade" Jasmin Tea Smoked Duck was very good too, the smokiness coming through very strongly. Black Pepper Beef was more ordinary, but did at least succeed in a.) being peppery, and b.) not being too tough or chewy. Sauteed River Shrimp was thoroughly unexciting - we were to have better versions later in the trip. House Special Steamed Reeves Shad, while not exactly a blow you away dish, was pleasant enough, and left me with no complaints whatsoever.

House Special Steamed Reeves Shad

Finally, we had a basket of House Speciality Juicy Steamed Pork and Crab Meat Dumplings, known to you and me as xiao long bao (or siew long bao if you are of a Cantonese persuasion), to try - the dumpling wrapper was thinner here than at Nanxiang Steamed Bun at lunchtime, but the flavour of the filling, whilst still good, couldn't quite match up to the legendary XLB specialist.

For dessert, Mango Juice with Pomelo & Fresh Mango was light and refreshing, as it almost always is.

In a nutshell...
All things told, this was a quality, if fairly pricey, and not quite exceptional, meal, and served as a great curtain raiser for the kind of food we would be eating a lot more of in the following days. Straight after early dinner, we went to ERA, an absolutely brilliant acrobatics show that I cannot recommend highly enough. A very pleasant evening all round.

7/10

Jardin de Jade
3/F Block C, 300 Fang Dian Road, Shanghai, China
+86 21 68540707
Average Price: RMB400-RMB500

Nanxiang Steamed Bun, Shanghai

Steamed Bun with Pork and Crab Albino Stuffing

Xiao long bao is, without question, the most famous export from Shanghainese cuisine, and is now commonplace on dim sum menus the world over. So often, however, and especially in London, the offerings are of a substandard persuasion, suffering from some combination of skin that is too thick, soup that is insufficient, or in some cases just absent, and meat that lacks flavour.

Nanxiang Steamed Bun is regarded by many as the granddaddy of XLB - one of the oldest and most famous XLB institutions in Shanghai, it has now expanded internationally to Japan, South Korea and Singapore. If the queues at its chief location near the Yuyuan Garden and City of God Temple in Shanghai were anything to go by, we were in for a real treat. We skipped the long (and continuously growing) takeaway line on the ground floor, as well as the casual dining area on the second, and headed straight for the third floor, where the scene was rather more peaceful.

Ordering here, unlike at nigh on every other restaurant on this trip where the menus were practically the size of a volume of the encyclopaedia, was very straightforward - baskets and baskets of xiao long bao please!

But first, a couple of the supplementary items arrived: Spring roll with crab roe stuffing was more samosa than spring roll; but call it what you want, they were gorgeous. A thin, crispy exterior gave way to a warm, lush, tasty filling of beautiful crab roe and diced tofu. Oh yeah!

Spring roll with crab roe stuffing

Shrimp ball with crab roe soup was rather less interesting, especially as the crab roe was undetectable. It was a typical deep fried, breaded shrimp ball. Not bad, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Shrimp ball with crab roe soup

Now, onto the main event...the xiao long bao. We opted for three kinds; the first one I tried was a Steamed Bun with Pork and Crab Albino Stuffing. The wrapper was less thick than at Ling Long Ge the night before, but by no means paper thin - here was the Shanghainese preference for thicker-skinned XLB raring its ugly head again. Never mind - when in Rome, do as the Romans. The meat and soup was lovely - eggy and full of flavour. This wasn't the most refined XLB I've had, but it was plenty good. Next the Steamed Bun with Pork and Crab Roe Stuffing. Hello, this one had an even more intense eggy flavour. Very good. As for the regular Steamed Bun with Pork and Crab Meat Stuffing, well I made the mistake of leaving that till last, and after the two crab varieties packed with roe, the plain pork one barely registered.

We also had Steamed Hairy Crab here, purely out of necessity - no amount of XLBs were ever going to get us to the minimum order required for the private room we were given. It was alright, comparable to the somewhat disappointing Ling Long Ge version the night before; but I'm not going to dwell on that as, if given the choice, we wouldn't have ordered it - you don't come to Nanxiang Steamed Bun for hairy crab, so I'm not going to judge them on it.

Nanxiang Steamed BunNanxiang Steamed Bun

In a nutshell...
Was this the best xiao long bao I've ever had? No. The thickness of the dumpling skin, coupled with my non-Shanghainese preference for thin wrappers, put paid to any chance of that. But the eggy soup and filling full of depth and flavour was delicious, as was the "spring roll" starter, and that made for a thoroughly enjoyable meal.

7/10

Nanxiang Steamed Bun
85 Yuyuan Road, 2nd Floor, Huangpu, Shanghai
+86 2163554206
Average Price: RMB150-RMB250

Ling Long Ge, Shanghai

Chinese mitten-handed crab

The Chinese Mitten Crab, popularly known as the Hairy Crab, is a seasonal delicacy available only from September till the end of the year. It is most abundant in the south east of China, and particularly in Shanghai, as the Yangcheng Lake, the only recognised source of genuine hairy crabs is located just outside nearby Suzhou, in the Jiangsu Province. Our visit to Shanghai in mid-November seemed to be the perfect storm, then, to sample this highly sought after treat, at its very best.

I should note, at this point, that the immense popularity, and cost of hairy crabs, has paved the way for many a counterfeit version - the Yangcheng Lake Hairy Crab Association estimating the market in fake crabs to be ten times the size of the real one, despite some less than stringent rules used in determining what constitutes a genuine hairy crab - a crab only has had to live for 6 months in the lake to qualify. The best way to ensure you get the real thing is to eat at a reputable establishment, and highly regarded Ling Long Ge, which is never far from the top of any list of the top hairy crab restaurants in Shanghai, fit the bill to a tee. We visited for dinner on our very first night in town.

Cold appelieers combo: Bear Curd Roll in Chicken Consomme; Ham & Crab Meat in Aspic; Crab Claw in Aspic

Rather than combing through the extensive menu trying to pick out all the specialities and signature dishes, we opted for one of the higher end sets that seemed to hit most of right notes. It started with (and I apologise for the clear spelling and grammatical errors in the names of some of these dishes, but as always, I quote from the menu verbatim) a Cold appelieers combo, featuring Bear Curd Roll in Chicken Consomme; Ham & Crab Meat in Aspic and Crab Claw in Aspic which looked presentable enough but turned out to be exceedingly unmemorable - a "meh" dish, as I often say.

Stuffed Crab Claw with shrimp

Stuffed Crab Claw with shrimp was your typical deep fried prawn and crab ball available at any and every Chinese restaurant in Asia - at least the version here boasted a light batter, and some beautiful crab roe oozing out of the middle.
Giant prawns Sauteed in Crab oil had an almost Italian-like tomato-y sauce, but was too oily for my liking.

Giant prawns Sauteed in Crab oil

So far, so-so, but at least the main purpose of our eating here was up next. Steamed Chinese mitten-handed crab (substituted with a Steamed Shanghai crab when the hairy crab is not in season) was briefly shown to us whole, at the table, then taken to the back and efficiently dismantled, to be returned beautifully laid out in ready to eat parts. The roe, always the star of any hairy crab dish, was wonderfully creamy, and the meat was nice and sweet too. What was a minor disappointment, however, was the size of the crustaceans - they were rather smaller than I expected.

Chinese mitten-handed crab

Asparagus Tips with Crab Meat was reasonable, but not nearly as good as a very similar dish we had at Xin Ji Shi just a few days later.

Asparagus Tips with Crab Meat

Szechuan Tan-tan Noodle, on the other hand, was splendid, and easily the star turn of the night - good fresh noodles, a lovely sesame-flavoured soup, topped with beautiful crab meat.

Szechuan Tan-tan Noodle

To finish (we did have dessert, but it didn't warrant a mention), Steamed soup Dumpling was our maiden taste of xiao long bao on this trip, and a first introduction to the thicker dumpling wrappers preferred by the locals, but not by yours truly. The soup inside the dumplings also lacked flavour on this occasion, but given that Ling Long Ge is not a XLB specialist, I was willing to give it a very generous pass on this count.

Steamed soup Dumpling

In a nutshell...
There was nothing particularly bad about this meal; in fact it was, for the most part, reasonably enjoyable, but the rather high count of dishes that failed to excite or make any lasting impression was a disappointment, and I include in that the famed hairy crab which, while good, was not nearly as great as I had expected, or have had in the past. And for a hairy crab specialist restaurant of the reputation, not to mention expense, of Ling Long Ge, that counts as a failure. The dan dan mien was absolutely delicious, but one swallow does not, a summer make.

6/10

Ling Long Ge
2/F, 951 Hongxu Road, Shanghai, China
+86532070077
Average Price: RMB500-RMB600

Dean Street Townhouse, London

Hereford beef with roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, autumn greens, honey-roasted root vegetables

Highly-rated, hugely popular, all-day British dining venue Dean Street Townhouse in Soho was the scene of Sunday lunch recently. Sunday Roast here is £24 for two, and £28 for three courses - definitely on the high side - but many a review suggested that the quality of food here was worth it.

I, in fact we all, had exactly the same menu, starting with a first course of Cured salmon, pickled cucumber and dill dressing, which was fairly standard issue.

Cured salmon, pickled cucumber and dill dressing

The mains then arrived, complete with all the trimmings - Hereford beef with roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, autumn greens, honey-roasted root vegetables. It was most enjoyable; the meat moist and tender and perfectly pink, the potatoes crisp on the outside and beautifully fluffy and creamy on the inside, the Yorkshire pudding just a tad heavier than the best versions but still an acceptable rendition.

Bramley apple crumble

For dessert, Bramley apple crumble was lovely, with a reassuring warmth that sat very well on a cold winter’s day.

Service was polite and adequate, but not the most effusive or endearing.

In a nutshell...
By all accounts a very successful Sunday roast lunch. Dean Street Townhouse did not disappoint.

7/10

Dean Street Townhouse
69-71 Dean Steet, London W1D 3SE
+44 (0)2074341775
Average Price: £25-£35

Dean Street Townhouse on Urbanspoon

Crème de la Crêpe, London

South Kensington is the Kensington Crêperie's turf. Has been since 2001. Everyone knows that. So Johnny-come-lately Crème de la Crêpe opening up just around the corner is either an incredibly ballsy, or an incredibly stupid move. Ordinarily, I would have dismissed it as the latter, and not even bothered giving it the time of day. But Crème de la Crêpe actually has a solid reputation, having started out as a stall at Borough Market, before moving onto the Covent Garden Night Market, then rapidly into a proper shop in Covent Garden.

I had a Crêpe Monsieur: free range smoked ham, mature cheddar cheese, English mustard mayonnaise and rocket, which was actually very nice; the crêpe thin and crisp, the filling good, and not excessive, ensuring the crust did not turn soggy at any point. For dessert, a Cheeky Monkey: nutella, banana was enjoyable too - the crêpe displaying the same crisp qualities as its savoury cousin; the familiar, if mass-market filling, taking care of itself.

In a nutshell...
I must confess, I was surprised to find a second, very viable, crepe outlet in South Kensington. It doesn't have quite the variety, or quality of ingredients, as Kensington Crêperie but had its more established counterpart not existed, I would (happily) be eating here all the time. As it is, Crème de la Crêpe stands just a notch below the old-timer.

6.5/10

Crème de la Crêpe
23 Cromwell Place, South Kensington, London, SW7 2JB
+44 (0)2075842976
Average Price: £5

Franco Manca, London

Franco Manca

Franco Manca, originally of Brixton, now also of Chiswick and Westfield Stratford, has long been considered by many as one of the best pizzeria in London. The Brixton location was always a bit of a challenge to get to, with its restrictive opening hours from just 12-5pm Monday-Saturday, but when the Chiswick branch opened its doors in late 2009, I really didn't have any more excuses. Still, I managed to put it off for almost another two years before finally making it down to W4 to sample Franco Manca's Neapolitan-style pizza.

Baked Aubergines with our Single Estate Organic Tomato & Mozzarella from Alham Wood Organics (Somerset)

I started with a Baked Aubergines with our Single Estate Organic Tomato & Mozzarella from Alham Wood Organics (Somerset) which came out almost instantly, and was alright - fresh, tomato-y, cheesy, there was nothing really to complain about it, if nothing to really like either. For the main event, I opted for No. 4: Gloucester Old Spot Ham (Home cured), Mozzarella, Buffalo Ricotta & Wild Mushrooms. The sourdough base was really nice – soft, gooey and chewy in the middle, thicker and fluffier on the sides, it wasn’t so much a pizza crust as a pizza bread. It was slightly burnt in parts, which has attracted criticism from others – I thought it was fine, and welcomed the slightly smoky flavour it imparted, in fact. The toppings, on the other hand, were just okay – I didn’t find them particularly tasty, and that includes the tomato sauce so crucial to a good pizza.

No. 4: Gloucester Old Spot Ham (Home cured), Mozzarella, Buffalo Ricotta & Wild Mushrooms

In a nutshell...
Good but some-way-short-of-great pizza, done in a Napoli-style that still remains rare in London, and for that reason alone, Franco Manca is worthy of a visit. Prices were downright bargainous.

7/10

Franco Manca (Chiswick)
144 Chiswick High Road, London, W4 1PU
+44 (0)2087474822
Average Price: £10

Franco Manca on Urbanspoon

My Humble House, Singapore

My Humble House

Fusion cuisine has been saddled with a bit of bad name, especially in the west where most of the attempts at this genre of cooking were half-baked, half-hearted, and frankly, rather poor; hence the oft heard term "more confusion than fusion". It is, however, viewed in a much different light in Asia, aided no doubt by the comparative quality and success of the offerings there. Whilst I rarely ever eat at fusion restaurants in London (there are hardly any places anyway), I frequently seek it out when in Asia - fusion done well can be a quite spectacular thing.
My Humble House, at the Esplanade in Singapore, is a TungLok Group operation that opened in 2002 with the stated aim of promoting the "Art of Dining", and has since spawned offshoots in Beijing, Tokyo and New Delhi. My friends had earmarked this as a place for me to try months in advance of my visit to the island nation, and sent photo teasers in the meantime, so I was rather excited when it was finally time for lunch here on the second (and final) morning of my whistle-stop trip.


The restaurant, a deep room with a bar out front, followed by a dark main dining room, and then opening up to a slightly elevated space overlooking the Esplanade, was practically empty when we arrived, and didn't get much fuller during the service, which was understandable - this was very much a dinner destination. The decor was, to put it mildly, a tad odd. The main dining room, with wavy, pointy high chairs and hues of purple looked like something out of Alice and Wonderland, whereas the elevated area was more conventionally appointed - it was a mishmash that simply didn't work, exacerbated further by the fact that the elevated section was bathed in sunlight, and the main room remained largely in darkness - this was definitely a venue that played better in the dark of night. The furniture and fittings too, had seen better days, with chips and scratches on the bare wooden tables especially noticeable in the light of day. Simply put, the place exuded nothing but confusion - here's hoping the food didn't adhere to the same theme.

My Humble House

The oddities in the decor carried through to the menu, where each dish and category was given an "artistic" name. For example, appetisers were called "The Arousal", from which I choose "A Duet, For Love, For Life" which was Crisp-seared Foie Gras marinated with Seven Spices on Caramelised Watermelon. I'll leave you to make your judgment on the naming convention...

A Duet, For Love, For Life: Crisp-seared Foie Gras marinated with Seven Spices on Caramelised Watermelon

The foie gras was well-seared, but I didn't get any of the purported seven spices. The pairing with grape was fine, if hardly ground breaking; the caramelised watermelon, not. It was a combination that was as unsuccessful in reality as it was counterintuitive on paper.

Awakening from the Deep: Crispy Tiger Prawn glazed with Citrus Cream on Grape Salsa

The concept here is one of small-plate, tasting-size dishes, so I ended up ordering five, following up the foie gras with Awakening from the Deep: Crispy Tiger Prawn glazed with Citrus Cream on Grape Salsa. This, unlike the first, was a lovely, well-balanced dish.

Dance of the Wind: Double-boiled Seafood Consommé in Young Coconut

Next, Dance of the Wind: Double-boiled Seafood Consommé in Young Coconut was thoroughly enjoyable - the sweetness of the coconut cutting through the richness of the soup to provide a good contrast of flavours.

From the Earth, Sea and Heart: Marble - Goby Fillet simmered in Winter Black Truffle Jus

The fish dish, From the Earth, Sea and Heart: Marble Goby Fillet simmered in Winter Black Truffle Jus, was my favourite of the meal, highlighted by a wonderfully eggy sauce imbued with the unmistakable, if somewhat faint, taste of black truffle.

As Dreams Fly: By Roast Boneless Chicken marinated in Smoky Sauce

As Dreams Fly By: Roast Boneless Chicken marinated in Smoky Sauce was rather less inspired, but still an acceptable plate that ticked the requisite boxes for a roast chicken dish - crisp skin, moist meat, tasty sauce.

Two other meat courses that I had a taste of: Sauntering Among the Golden Leaves: Crispy Spiced Kurobuta Pork Rib in Sun-dried Tomato Reduction and Solitude in the Summer: Roast Marinated Rack of Lamb with Herbs in Port Wine Sauce were both alright (the pork a bit fatty) but suffered from the fact that all the sauces (including that on my chicken) tasted, despite the different ingredients, rather similar.

The Home Beckons: Wok-fried Fish Noodles with Seafood in X.O. Sauce

To finish, two different noodle dishes, of which The Home Beckons: Wok-fried Fish Noodles with Seafood in X.O. Sauce, really a fish rather than noodle dish, was easily the better if for no other reason than the unusual preparation; but both were far too bland.

In a nutshell...
So, despite a rather dubious start, My Humble House turned out to be pretty good. I don't think the quirkiness it tries to instil works, at all, because of the apparent lack of willingness to follow it all the way through, and the absence of a consistent theme. Having said that, the food stands up on its own, minus the need for any gimmickry, and would probably be better served without it, truth be told. Was this an amazing, flawless, take-your-breath-away meal? No. But it did have enough high points to justify, to some extent, the high prices, and to reaffirm one’s belief that good fusion food does indeed exist…in Asia.

7/10

My Humble House
#02-27/29 Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039802
+6564231881
Average Price: SGD 80-SGD 100

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