The Moomba Restaurant 52 Circular Road, Singapore 049407
Operating HoursLunch 11am – 2.30pm, Monday to FridayDinner 6.30pm – 10pm,
Monday to Saturday Closed on Sunday & Public Holidays
Seating capacity70 pax
I had been under a lot of work stress during the week of my wife, N’s birthday. She wasn’t too happy when I preempted her a month ago that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy dinner with her on the actual day due to work. Besides having to baby sit two visiting chef colleagues from Italy, I was juggling with a busy week of workshops and inventory check. I was keen to take N to Sage Restaurant @ Robertson Quay but they were closed and I couldn’t make it on Tuesday either. I was also informed that they are going to be shut for another two weeks for renovations so I might as well wait. N wasn’t keen for Restaurant Ember @ Keong Saik Street either, not because it wasn’t good, but she didn’t like the location for that day so I was indeed getting anxious on Monday. Her feel was Modern Australian/European food for the evening so all the nice ching chong places like Cherry Garden and Royal China are out. I was tempted to call either Robin (Pierside Kitchen and Bar) or Leonard (Moomba) for help. In the end I ask N if she was keen to have her Kurobuta Pork Chop for that evening and luckily she said yes. I call Leonard to see if the item was available on his menu. This chef friend of mine is one of the most charismatic and affable chefs I have known in Singapore. Humble yet full of passion for the craft, Leonard has been with Moomba since day one and I personally have known Leonard since SHATEC days as schoolmates. Enjoying a little celebrity status of his own in the Boat Quay/Circular Road area, Leonard has been feeding thousands of finance related executives over the years with his creative inspirations that have seen maturity and refinement in taste. One call to Leonard and my worries were settled. He happily took us in and will fix up the birthday surprise for N as well.
We arrived to an unexpected busy Monday evening crowd but Leonard had already allocated our seats near to where he can see us from the expedition area. N was caught in between the Breaded Squid Cakes and Pan Seared Foie Gras for starters so Leonard kindly said he would fix up the Squid Cakes as amuse bouche followed on by the Foie Gras while I opted the Seared Hokkaido Scallops with Leek Mash, Crispy Bacon and Tomato Relish as my starter. As expected, N took on the Kurobuta Pork Chop as a main while Leonard recommended me some fresh air flown Red Emperor Fillets that has just came in earlier in the day. One thing for sure, its best to leave things to the creative hands of a good chef if you want to enjoy your evening with lovely surprises.
The Squid Cakes came nicely presented on two handcrafted glass pieces, sitting in top of a Spicy Sweet Mango Peanut Salsa. The squid cakes were nicely spiced with cumin and fresh herbs and you could taste chunks of squid meat inside. The nutty salsa with fresh mango dices was a nice compliment to the spicy squid cakes. Overall, the marriage of hot cold sensations, combination of sweet sour flavours and spices in this dish made it an impressive starter to more great food coming next. Oh yes! Halfway through our squid cakes, the Chef sent the manager coming by with two elegant glasses of Champagne. What a treat!
The Foie Gras came nicely sitting on a bed of baby spinach leaves with a sweet onion relish. Needless to say, it’s a simple dish that needs to be skillfully executed due to the delicateness of the goose liver. Beautifully seared and caramelized on the outside, the lovely rich foie gras was nicely cut by the acidity from the onion relish giving it a well balanced taste and melt in the mouth sensation. Its pure indulgence indeed!
My scallops were excellent too. Coming in on a rectangular platter, they were nicely seared sitting on a leek mash surrounded with tomato relish and crispy wafers of streaky bacon in between. Hokkaido scallops have always been my favourite. Despite being smaller than its American and Canadian cousins, these ivory coloured scallops were far by sweeter and flavourful. You do not need heavy sauces to go with them and the basil infused tomato relish was a great companion to the perfectly done scallops. I like the juxtaposition of flavours in this special dish.
Main courses are the best of value here in terms of portion size. U can walk, order one and have it, walk out again without feeling in something was still missing from the meal. In fact, Leonard tells us that there are customers that do just that especially for lunch. Much about the huge portion sizes of meat, the asceticism part of it is still not lost as the Chef cleverly balances out with appropriate garnishes. The Kurobuta Pork Chops was sitting on top of well roasted potatoes and pumpkin, enhanced by a sauté of onions and mushroom, a bunch of French beans and an accompanying apple sauce on the side which, I personally feel is not necessary as the meat is already so good. Kurobuta in Japanese language means the black pig, which produces one of the finest cuts of pork in the world. This black pig is also known as the Iberian Pig that gives the renowned Serrano Ham from Iberia region of Spain. N absolutely adores this dish since she tasted it the last time we ate at Moomba with friends. Contradictory to the myth of western style bred pigs carrying a certain “porkiness” in their meat, the pork chop was beautifully done, cooked yet still very juicy.
My red Emperor Fillets came with sauteed potatoes, vine roasted cherry tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms with a citrus beurre blanc. While the accompanying garnishes are de rigueur, it was the sweet moist flesh of the fish contrasting against the crispy skin that made it standout on its own without any sauces. In fact I would be happy with just a squeeze of lemon. I must say Leonard has trained his Sous Chef and line cooks so well in order to keep producing such excellent consistency in their food.
Leonard presented the grand finale with a miniature cake made with Bitter Chocolate Ganache on Chocolate Macaroon filled with Vanilla Ice Cream, Assorted Berries and Vanilla Sauce. After the song and wishes, we deconstructed the entire pastry piece in a small fraction of the time it took to put it together. My wife has a stronger weakness for chocolate than me which explains why I asked if Leonard could put something with chocolate together earlier by phone.