My Friend’s Wedding @ Newport Mirage, Northern Beaches, Sydney

Date of Wedding:  September 16 2015

A good friend of mine got married today.  The lucky couple chose Newport Mirage to hold their wedding ceremony and lunch.  It was a glorious spring day with the sun shining brightly. The ceremony itself was moving and romantic.  The couple met 2 years ago; yet with age differences and many, many kms apart, they managed to continue developing their relationship to literally ‘sealing the deal’ today! 💞💞

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Views from the terrace where the ceremony will be held towards the marina

We had a 3-course set menu with 2 options – straight-forward and fed us well. Here they are!

ENTREE

My choice was the Smoked Salmon Roulade with very briny capers.

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Smoked Salmon Roulade: Tomato, Baby caper and Herb Salad, Horseradish sauce

Or

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Confit Port Belly: Caramelised orange and Cardamon Reduction Fennel Salad

MAIN

I had the Herb crusted Beef Sirloin with a hard-as-cardboard polenta, otherwise the beef was good.

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Herb crusted Beef Sirloin: Crispy Polenta, Wilted Spinach, Roasted Tomato, Shiraz Jus

Or

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Oven Roasted Chicken Breast:  Colcannon, Asparagus, Mushroom Sauce

Vegetarian Option

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Grilled Capsicums, Eggplants, Zucchinis, Asparagus

DESSERT

I shared both desserts with another friend of mine.  I preferred the Cherry Clafoutis because it is lighter and had a crispy shell.😋

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Cherry Clafoutis Tart: Grand Marnier Reduction, Mascarpone Cream

And

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Sticky Date Pudding:  Butterscotch Sauce, Date Compote, Vanilla Bean Ice-cream

After some congratulatory speeches and dance, we were served the wedding cake as our final dessert.

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The cut-up 2-tier Weddding Cake: Orange poppy seed, chocolate fudge, lots of cream and thick fondant

As part of custom, all the single ladies were invited to catch the wedding bouquet.  I caught it together with another girl, but decided to let her have it instead. 😇  (I figured, she has better luck!😜)

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Wedding Bouquet

Surprise, surprise..The surprising ‘hero’ of the day was the humble piping hot bread roll! 😅

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Humble roll…

Hanaya Japanese Restaurant @ Grand Millennium Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit:  August 31, 2015

Getting good sushi outside of Japan is hard.  So I was very happy to find out that Hanaya at the Grand Millennium in KL serves an excellent Sushi Set Lunch.

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Hanaya

Thoughts have been put into the privacy concerns of the clients, that the tables are set further apart, and with privacy screens.  The one major drawback was the irritating background music.😞

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Glass privacy screens

Assorted Sushi , TAKE (RM60): Types of sushi as listed on the menu are – Tuna, Salmon, Trevaly, Boiled Prawns (I think I had a Alfonsino as substitute), Boiled Octopus, Scallop, Mackerel, Salmon roe, Squid, Kappa Roll: Cucumber Small Roll, Tekka Roll: Tuna Small Roll

Pictures of my Sushi Platter!  Fishes flown in from Japan and prepared by Japanese chef!  Absolutely delectable sushi!

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Beautifully crafted

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Kappa Roll: Cucumber Small Roll, Tekka Roll: Tuna Small Roll

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The other set worth mentioning is the Special Kaisen Don (RM88): Assorted sashimi served on a bed of sushi rice.

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Kaiseki Don

Same side dishes for all the Set Meals:  Comprising miso soup, salad and grilled vegetables

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Miso Soup

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Grilled Vegs

Complimentary dessert for the ladies: Black sesame gelato with chopped mixed fruits

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And Coffee or Tea to finish up!  Fab food, service and great value!  I shall be back! 😍

Aziamendi 88 @Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit:  August 24 2015

When I discovered that a 3 Michelin Star chef is opening a pop-up in Kuala Lumpur, I was very excited!  Perfect timing for a birthday celebration!  The pop-up is only in operation for 88 days. thus it’s called Aziamendi88👍.  It occupies the Mandarin Grill at the Mandarin Oriental, KL (my review of a prior visit here).

Eneko Atxa is Spain’s youngest ever 3 Michelin Star Chef and has recently been voted 19th Top Chef in the World by San Pellegrino.  Mind you, he designed the menu at the pop-up, but not the actual cook!

Well-advertised: Basque chef Eneko Atxa

Unfortunately, dinner slots on the day we wanted were booked solid, so we had lunch instead – after a lot of annoying phone calls from the restaurant to confirm our reservation, we rocked up promptly to secure our lunch at noon, to find the restaurant was not yet opened!  😁  It was also the first time I have been asked by a restaurant if I am sure about my 8-course lunch menu! Pfftt…

Whatever…Naturally, I had a high expectation of the the chef’s creativity and the MO’s service!

When we finally accessed the restaurant, we were led to a mock garden where we were served some amuse bouches before entering the main dining room.  (The jungle feel of the waiting area brought memories of  the now defunct ‘Rainforest Cafe’ in Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong where we used to go very often when I was little😄).

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Mock-garden:  Loved the sensory experience as well…smell of fresh of hay..😃

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Mock garden

Once seated on the park bench, we were handed a 8-course Dinner Menu 😳.  Caught by surprise with the mistake, I queried the waitress, apparently the 8-course dinner menu is same as 8-course lunch – so hence recycling of the dinner menu for lunch! Join the green crusades, dudes! 🌳🌳 👏

Pre-Lunch: Picnic

Amuse Bouches, aptly called ‘Picnic‘ on the Menu was served in the Picnic Basket while we waited.  There were 3 types of amuse bouches:  Anchovy Mille Feuille, Corn Toast & Caviar and Mojito Bon Bon.  

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Picnic basket

We were advised to start with the Anchovy Mille Feuille: Crisp crackers sandwiched with the briny tang of anchovy paste decorated with red local pine leaves, looking cute like little butterflies.  Then moving onto Corn Toast:  Black corn toast with caviar, fish roe and mayonnaise whipped with sea urchin.

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Anchovy Mille Feuille, Corn Toast and Caviar

For the finale, the fragile Mojito Bon Bon literally pops in the mouth giving an alcoholic rush of minty-tangy enjoyment.

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Mojito Bon Bon: Can’t remember the dusting on top 😟

1:  Bonsai Tree

A huge Bonsai Tree was waiting at our table, hmm… the presentation looks familiar, our minds race to Aronia Takazawa where we had the pleasure of dining in Toyko a couple of years ago. (review here)

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Bonsai Tree

Hanging on the tree were 3 cherry tomatoes, one for each of us.  The firm tomatoes flooded our mouths with juicy sweet liquid flood.  It was clever to take out the inside of the cherry tomato to replace it with a mixture of tomato and fruit juices.  It was absolutely delightful!  By far, the best cherry tomato I had ever tasted! 🙌

We finished off the 1st course with brown crackers with a sweet-earthy-savoury chew akin to beef jerky – ‘wood bark chip‘.

Cherry Tomato

2:  Truffled Egg

First the egg yolk was removed.  The yolk then infused with hot truffle jus then re-injected into the original membrane, hence cooking the egg inside out.  We swooped it in one mouthful, expecting a warm burst of truffled yolky flavour, but it was cold and gamey…no hint of truffles…hmmm…

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Truffled Egg

More to our expectation was the steamed milk bun served from a dimsum bamboo basket.  it was hot, fluffy and very delicious  especially with the dense and aromatic spanish olive oil.

Steamed Milk Bun

There’s wine pairing available, but we opted to choose a bottle of red instead. We were happy with our choice of  an easy to drink Tempranillo from Rueda within a reasonable price-point (RM268)

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2009 Tempranillo

3:  The Garden

Edible soil has been around for a while now, so nothing new for me.  There are 2 parts to this creation: ‘Soil’ was made from dehydrated beetroots and later adorned with miniature carrot, sweet peas, tomato, cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini.  ‘Earth’ was the sweet jelly tomato-orange emulsion.  Very pretty presentation, which I ate gleefully with my spoon.

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The Garden

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Earth: Tomato Jelly

Paired with the soft sweet corn bread.

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Corn Bread

4:  Foie Gras Ashes from the Grill

A bit of ceremony here, first I was given a wet towel, then my place was set with a black napkin.  I really loved the presentation of this course, although eating it was very messy.  The frozen foie gras paste sits on top of a toasted brioche and covered with foie gras shavings possibly mixed with ashes or squid ink (my guess 😜)  It was hard to eat because the brioche we hard and tough to chew.  In the end I had to use the towel to wipe my face and fingers – I was really messy. 😝

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Foie Gras Ashes from the Grill

Pretty… the local pine flowers made the grey lump looks like a dressed-up porcupine resting on a branch!
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Accompanied with Spelt Bread.

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Spelt Bread

5:  Squid Noodles with its own Crunchy Juice

First came the dish with squid topped with 3 slices of pickled onions.
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Then local fish roe and a croquette of squid ink and juice.

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Squid ink and juice Croquettes and a teaspoonful of Local fish roe.

Then the unctuously thick broth was poured over the squid noodles.

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We start with the fish roe, then move onto to squid noodles and then the croquettes.  Nice dish, but the broth was too salty for me… plus it was cold.

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6:  Grilled Tuna, Fried Eggs, Marmitako and Flowers

I had no idea what ‘marmitako‘ was, so I googled – it’s basically a tuna pot or fish stew eaten by the fishermen in the Basque country.  What we had was the modified version of a thick, salty soup.

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Modified Marmitako with Tuna Sashimi and Crisp

The soup was followed by the cold grilled tuna, it was tough, salty and fishy … good thing is that it sits atop the sweet pureed cauliflower… I could use that to tone down the fishy saltiness!  😜.  Although the 2 fried balls were fried egg yolks, i thought the runny centre was cauliflower pureé!   Whatever… I liked the pretty pickled flower petals!

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Grilled Tuna, Fried Eggs, Marmitako and Flowers

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7:  Lamb Shoulder, Pesto, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

The last savoury course was the very disappointing lamb shoulder sandwiched between 2 thin sheets of pastry with a micro salad garden on top.  The lamb shoulder was tough, raising suspicions that it was reheated from last night’s dinner.  In any regards, the liquid parmesan balls were delightful!

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Lamb Shoulder, Pesto, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

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8:  Dulcey Chocolate and Peanut, Salted Caramel Ice-Cream

Beautifully presented – like a Japanese art!  Basically a quenelle of salted caramel ice-cream that melts a bit too quickly and a peanut butter log coated in chocolate ganache dusted with some gold dust.   Added to the plate, some cookie crumbs for textures and chocolate and caramel sauces for decoration.

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Dulcey Chocolate and Peanut, Salted Caramel Ice-Cream

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Petit Fours

The petit fours came in a perspex box with 4 compartments filled with:  marshmallow sitting on a bed of sugar ( incidentally, this was my mom’s favorite), White chocolate on white cookie crumbs, Chocolate macaron on chocolate biscuit crumbs and Dark Chocolate on coco crumbs.  My favourite was the Dark chocolate praline with a sour-sweet fruity filling.  😛

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Petit Fours: Marshmallow, White Chocolate, Macaron, Dark Chocolate (L to R)

The rather underwhelming 8-course food only degustation lunch was priced at RM438 (inclusive of all surcharges).  There’s also food and wine pairing at MYR698.

The Royal Touch Bakery Café by Carolyn Robb @ Ocean Terminal, Hong Kong

Date of Visit:  July 19 2015

I had a good Sunday lunch today – which was a surprise – considering, it’s a small unassuming ‘restaurant’ (if you can call it that) in a mall, with a prominent display case of cakes and pastries!  It’s tiny with only 30 seats!  (Psst… here’s its digits for reservations: +852 3188 8086 ☺️)

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The Royal Touch is a brand created by Carolyn Robb, former executive chef to Prince Charles and Lady Diana, so without doubt, this cafe features some royal dishes! Those following the Royal Family will know that Ms Robb is also famous for being  the creator of Prince William’s Chocolate Biscuit Groom’s Cake!

Without further ado…

We had the Set Lunch Menu – simple British fare but really special!

APPETISER

Seasonal Fresh Fruit Salad with Raspberry & Passion Fruit Dressing

or 

Avocado & Papaya Salad with Papaya Dressing

I had the Avocado Papaya Salad which was very different to the salads I have had.  The combination is unusual – papaya and avocado (?), but very flavourful – slightly tart and not overly sweet.

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Avocado & Papaya Salad with Papaya Dressing

SOUP

Asparagus and New Potato Soup

or

Soup of the Day

I opted for Carrot Cream Soup was the Soup of The Day.  Normally, soups featuring carrots in Hong Kong is sweet, Ms Robb’s carrot soup is creamy and savoury.

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Carrot Cream Soup

MAINS

We decided on different items for our Mains.  The price of the Set Lunch is dependent on the Main course one chooses:

My bro got Corned Beef Potato Cake with Black Truffle Scrambled Eggs (HK$218).  The creamy eggs with truffles were highly recommended.

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Corned Beef Potato Cake with Black Truffle Scrambled Eggs

I had the Slow Cooked UK Dingley Dell Pork Collar with Wild Berry Jam (HK$288).  I ordered it medium, but parts of it was a little bit undercooked, but nevertheless not bloody and tasted good. What I especially liked was the cute Romanesco Brocoli or Buzzy Broc, the potato mash with truffles was divine!

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Slow Cooked UK Dingley Dell Pork Collar with Wild Berry Jam

My mom had the Royal Classic Cod Fish Pie (HK$228).  it arrived piping hot, but not enough fish she said…😏

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Royal Classic Cod Fish Pie

The mains are heavy in potatoes and all used campari tomatoes as garnish.

DESSERT

Dessert was chocolate cupcake with different butter cream frosting – I had the Earl Grey frosting, the others were Blueberry and Pistachio…

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Chocolate Cupcake

COFFEE OR TEA

I also have to mention that the coffee (included in the Set Lunch) is very good – strong, not bitter – definitly better than those from the speciality coffee bars around… seriously!

A look at their menu says that we shall be back for their afternoon tea set!  The waiters are very polite and attentive, and the price very reasonable, so pinkies up, everybody! ☕️👌🏻 Next time, Royal Afternoon Tea!
Where is The Royal Touch Bakery Café by Carolyn Robb?

Shop G02, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Steik World Meats @K11 Mall, TST

(A scheduled post from the Chica currently on a month-long luncheon in Japan)

Date of Visit: February 21 2013

Apparently Steik World Meats at K11 Mall, TST was recommended in the Michelin Guide 2011 and 2012. It had the American steak-house look – dark timber and dark carpeting. It also has an open kitchen. The ceiling is interesting resembling the spots on the cows – howdy do Cowboys!

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Interior of Restaurant

I enjoyed the warm and soft breads fresh from the oven.

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Bread Basket with free refills

It is common in Hong Kong to have Set Lunch menu, so we all ordered the 2-course Set Lunch which included tea or coffee. The price of the Set Lunch varies depending on the main course. Dessert will cost an extra HK$30 (but since the serving size were rather big, and we are watching our weight, we skipped dessert)

ENTREE: This was the most popular with us all ordering the same entree. There’s chicken liver and foie gras parfait, parma ham, pork terrine, duck rillettes, pickles and toasted baguette. The cold-cuts were excellent – I like them all especially the chicken liver foie gras which is very creamy and rich.

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Charcuterie Plate

MAIN COURSE: What I noticed is that there is no standard in the cuts and presentation.

My pork loin was cooked perfectly with a pinkish center and it was tender. However, the buttered spatzie was rather burnt – it’s kind of doughy like gnochi, but in noodle-form and pan fried like chow-mein.

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Canadian Pork Loin with Buttered Spatzie, Sauce Charcuterie $198

The steak looked good. But cooked in Chinese cafe-style, what is missing is the hot sizzling plates!

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Chef’s Choice Cut of the Day 7oz Dry Aged Steak with Sauteed Potato, Lyonnaise Glazed French Beans, Shallot Jus $228

The fish came dry and burnt. Both my aunts ordered fish – one had the tail and the other the belly. Shouldn’t the cuts be the same in fine dining restaurants? I guess not…

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Fresh Fish Fillet with Sauteed Vegetables and Lemon Butter $176

Personally, I think Steik World of Meats is a high-end Chinese cafe, service is very fast and super-efficient, not exactly silver-service though. So in my humble opinion not worthy of Michelin recommendation…just my two-cents. There is a clubby bar area with a well stocked liquor and spirits collection and with the Happy Hour promos would be a decent place to chill out after work or a long hard day of shopping!

Mandarin Grill @ Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Date of Visit: February 6 2013

Mandarin Oriental Hotel is a 5-star hotel right next to Petronas Twin Towers. It achieves a high occupancy rate due to the patronage from the oil &gas companies and also government bodies. The in-house restaurants are very dependable and rates high in the finer dining establishments in KL. There’s a Chinese restaurant (famous for quality moon cakes during the Chinese mid-autumn festival), a casual Cafe for all-day dining and buffet meals, a Lounge overlooking the KLCC park for high tea and drinks and a fine dining restaurant – the Mandarin Grill.

Today’s lunch is at Mandarin Grill. It has been recently renovated and I am loving the decor – with the wire and paper stag heads?

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Kitschy to say the least, but if you can’t find the real deal; interpretive replicas works fine too.

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What the interior decor looks like… The lights are made from silvery paper and glass beads.

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Booth seatings

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Table-setting
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The open kitchen concept is very popular, but I don’t like it particularly if the ventilation is not done well. Who wants to smell of food the whole day long? Here, I think the design solution is perfect, red feature wall with windows for a glimpse of what’s going on the kitchen – and also a fake fireplace to jazz the ambience (the warm glows would work well the evening)

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Glass-enclosed wine cellar. Bar in on the other side

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Decided in the business set lunch

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Bread arrives for our table

Straight out of the oven, warm and baked in-house. Yums!

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What’s fantastic about dining out with companions is that I can take snapshots of the samples of food ordered for my blog!

APPETISER

Beef Carpaccio
Looks good and the comments were ‘very good…excellent!’
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Leek Velouté (my order)
This is basically a leek soup with smoked salmon and a generous dash of manchego cheese. The black pepper was my doings as I like black pepper (lots) with my soups. I ordered the soup because of my fond memories of the cheese from my month-long hike on the Camino de Santiago last year. Manchego cheese is basically an aged whole sheep’s milk cheese. I enjoyed my smooth creamy soup very much.

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MAIN COURSE

Duck Leg Confit
The small duck confit looks dry and a bit overcooked, but my source said that it was good.

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Atlantic Cod Brandade (my order)
Much like eating baby food. I dunk my roll in it since I like to chew. I only realised now while writing up this post that the ‘mash’ were ‘sweet corn purée’. Well, broccoli is not a real winter veg, or is it?

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DESSERT

Bourbon Vanilla Fruit Salad (my order)
Not sure whether any alcohol in it, but it looks more an amuse bouche than a proper dessert course. Not sure about the old-fashioned ‘shrimp cocktail’ glass either. Check out the shovel-spoon!
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Earl Grey Milk Dome
As usual, my dessert screams POSH! My chocolate dome cake came dusted with gold flecks and gold leaves!

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The 3-layer chocolate cake. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Petit Fours
Lastly, the petit fours arrived signalling the end of lunch…
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Mandarin Grill also cooks some mean steaks, thus the namesake ‘Mandarin Grill’. I had tried it and it was very nicely cooked except the cut was not as thick as steaks in Sydney.

Sample of steak section of the menu
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PS: The photos in this post were taken by my new Samsung Galaxy Note. I’m still learning how to operate this new device – the photo editing functions running in the ads were awesome, but I can’t do them just yet. It’s also annoying that I kept getting missed calls because I am not familiar with my ring tone just yet!