Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gut Instincts

Mag's Wine Kitchen
86 Circular Road
Singapore 049086
Tel: 6438-3836
Two weeks ago, N and I resume our weekend resolution to eat in one nice place for each week. After an earlier disappointing round at Wood in Vivo City, it only reaffirmed my vibe to blog on restaurants which are reputed to be good by word of mouth and are at least six months old or more than that. Most of Singapore’s food media and blogs tend to chase after new openings to create stories while I prefer to be the one to keep those well hyped places in check for consistency and the badly thrashed ones a second chance after more than six months of operations. I have had both positive and negative experiences, some just went downhill after getting all slammed with a positive review while some badly thrashed ones actually did a reverse damage control by a major overhaul and enjoyed new successes with word of mouth publicity.
This time round our place in check was Mag's Wine Kitchen. A small cozy outfit that can fill not more than 30pax, daily menus reflect what are the best things Chef Magdelene can get from her purveyors or the markets for each day and are crafted from there. Chef Magdelene Tang, is a self taught chef whose previous experience used to be playing with numbers in the banking industry. Now she toys with fresh produce everyday in here little open concept kitchen at the rear corner of the restaurant. If u have a “textbook” mentality towards food, best not to try here. You NEED to be adventurous and trust your dinner menu completely to Mag if u want to be able to fully appreciate her culinary talents.
I started with Tian of Crabmeat which was a ring formatted tile of fresh crabmeat dressed with wasabi, mayonnaise and tobiko. The creamy mixed crabmeat contrasted well against the little bubbles of tobiko which when burst on palette, released subtle streaks of briny flavours. The micro greens of purple sisho leaves did more than just as a pretty garnish. When chewed on, they release a mint herbal fragrance that refreshed the palate very well against the seafood notes of the crabmeat and tobiko.
N chose to have the Seared Scallops as starters. The Hokkaido scallops are widely known to be one of the most flavourful varieties and are distinguished by their slightly yellowish brown colour in comparison to their creamy white cousins from US or Canada. Despite their smaller size, they have more concentrated flavours than the bigger white scallops and when seared nicely, they are absolutely wonderful to have just with a simple touched of salt and freshly grounded pepper. A small bouquet of fresh greens laced with a drizzle of balsamic dressing complimented the duo of scallops
Main courses were instant winners with us both the beef and pork. N’s Angus fillet was done right at medium rare and the home made wine laden demi glace was a not only a compliment to the lovely beef, it also synergized very well with the truffle oil flavoured mash potato. The rich demi glace was so good that I volunteered to mop the remaining sauce up with bread when N was done with her piece of meat.
My thick slab of kurobuta pork loin was equally fantastic with the meat perfectly just cooked although I know some people might still find it squeamish to have little pinkish streaks in the centre of the pork. It was so juicy on its own that I felt the sauce was kind of redundant but the petite pineapple salsa held up well against the lightly seasoned pork. Its acidity cut away some of the richness and some how I have always liked the flavour of pineapples against seafood and meats like poultry and pork. Needless to say, both main courses scored well in terms of expectations.
We made the right decision to order two portions of desserts through gut feel. Normally we would share one or have two different choices but the calling of that moment was to have two of the Chocolate Fondant with Home Made Vanilla Ice cream. While the name of the dessert may sound so familiar already, the way it tasted was still something to shout about. Yes, we waited twenty minutes for it as preempted and it was every bit worth it. The piping hot fondant came with oozing chocolate lava in the center and the little specks on the ice cream stamped on the confirmation that real natural vanilla pods were used to make the heavenly tasting dessert.
Value perception lies in the eye of the beholder but given the prices and portions we paid, I would love to come back here again soon despites the cramp but cosy ambience. Some may not like it but as a chef myself, I do appreciate the smells of cooking almost immediately when we walk in as that is the best prelude to a delicious dinner soon to come.

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