Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rocking Good!

Wild Rocket @ Mount Emily
Hangout Hotel, 10a Upper Wilkie Road.
Singapore 228119.
Tel : 63399448
With the bulk of the festive cooking workshops finally over, N and I finally have sometime to catch a breather. We have missed one of our favourite weekend activities since last Oct due to the each other’s hectic schedule around this time of the year. We have read so many reviews of new restaurants launches in the past couple of months, some applauded, some trashed.
A firm believer to comment only on established restaurants, I seldom will want to write on a brand new establishment that is less than six months or a year old in order for them to sort out operation issues and fine tuning of menus. Hence when we could finally squeeze a Saturday evening out together, we chose to go to Chef Willin Low’s Wild Rocket @ Mount Emily which has been around for more than a year. It was our first experience but we have heard nothing but good raves about this place since its opening, both from media and friends. Stepping in after a nightmarish forty five minute jam, we still got our reserved table despite having an almost packed restaurant. A positive sign for the standard of food served is how I would perceive it as, considering the fickle minded of local customers here who seldom have loyalty to restaurants and are often spoilt for choices on where to go.
N started with a Seared Tuna on Rocket Leaves which came with soy and ginger flavoured dressing. Keeping things simple, the flavours were clean and the fish was fresh enough to stand on its own though it wasn’t the kind of sashimi yellow fin tuna. The rocket leave provided a nice cushion for the tuna and its peppery nutty taste encored the taste of the whole dish with great harmony.
I opted for something more comforting in the form of a Duck Consomme with Salted Vegetables and Duck Confit Ravioli. Basically this dish is also known locally as Kiam Chye Duck Soup in the heartlands. Chef Willin probably got the inspiration from there. The soup arrived with a meaty aroma that gave me a sensation of slow simmering for maximum flavour extraction. This was concurred by the taste profile which had rich meaty notes on the palate further enhanced by the innovative wonton skin raviolis filled with tender duck confit. The whole experience leads me to crave for a light red wine to go with the bowl of soup.
Before the main courses, we opted to share one of the Chef’s signatures which is a Laksa Pesto Linguine with Fresh Prawns. Initially visualizing it to be closer to our local hawkers’ version, it came with a direction closer to an Italian Pesto than a local one. Hence the sauce did not contain any notes of dried shrimp or coconut. The generous use of laksa leaves kept the associated colour of pesto and gave the sauce its signature aromatic fragrance. More importantly the chef got the texture of the pasta right at its al dente doneness. However the prawns could have fare slightly better for its freshness.
Being winter now in Europe, I urge N to go for the Boned Stuffed Quail with Prunes which turn out to be a great option. The bacon wrapped bird was roasted to the right doneness and went very well with the dried prune compote and gelatinous rich demi glace. Against the sweet prunes, each morsel of salty wrapped bacon quail tasted simply divine!
Hungry for carbohydrates, I opted for a Miso Braised Pork Soft Bone Risotto which was a deceivingly flat looking dish ready to explode with great flavours on the palate. The soft bones tasted more like tendons to me and their gelatinous nature enriched the dimension of complexity in this dish while complimenting the creaminess of the cooked rice grains. The miso pungency was well balanced into the overall taste of the dish and flakes of dried chilies gave it a spicy kick with the background of soft tender braised rib meat. I could relate this dish to a spicy version of Nonya Babi Pongteh and found its overall taste very comforting and homely with a subtle hint of sophistication.
Desserts found us having a Black Sesame Paste with Vanilla Ice Cream and a Kuay Bulu Tiramisu. The black sesame paste was not as smooth if its was to be compared to Cantonese Chee Ma Wu but the slight grittiness from caramel bits was a good contrast to the smooth velvety ice cream. What captivated me was the bulu tiramisu. In place of sponge fingers, were balls of coffee soaked kuay bulu interspersed with a marscapone cheese mousse flavoured with marsala wine. Yes! That's the important part of a good tiramisu in terms of authenticity. The other winning factor was the chef certainly does know the right way to serve a to have the sponge and mousse naturally portioned in a bowl and a generous dust of cocoa powder. It’s that simple but many chefs get it wrong by trying too hard with other liqueurs like Kahlua, Tia Maria or making it into a sponge cake, and worse still getting the mousse set with gelatin.
Overall the meal was enjoyable and the service was attentive but not intrusive and dose of occasional humour. We like this place and it has gone on my list of restaurants worth a return visit in the near future.

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