Ash & Elm @ InterContinental SG

Scrumptious European dining at Ash & Elm.

For our latest quarterly dinner date, my church mate who shares the name of an evergreen climbing woody plant and I decided to go for European flair this time. That’s how we ended with Ash & Elm at InterContinental Singapore, which now occupies the space where the former (and rather good) Olive Tree restaurant used to be.

Decor was chic and elegant, and though the tables for two were small, the space however was comfy. After the waitress presented us with the menus, a waiter popped over to run us through the very extensive wine list comprising reds, whites, sparkling, champagnes and ports. Ash & Elm boasts three culinary theatres including a charcuterie and cheese room, wood-fired oven and an open charcoal-grill kitchen. The dinner menu thus comprises sections for charcuterie and cheese ($24-$60), wood-fired flatbreads ($22-$28), charcoal grill items ($39-$188) and a host of other meat and seafood items “from the pan” ($22-$69), plus good selections of hors d’oeuvres, salads, soups, sides and desserts.

Thought the restaurant was trying to match the water with the nice cosy chairs!

The first thing we were attracted to was the “non mineral nor sparkling” water they served us – whether warm and cold, it was a lovely blue! When asked, our server told us that the color comes from the butterfly pea flower which is said to have loads of antioxidants and health benefits for the body. Apparently the hotel was taking part in Singapore International Water Week 2019 and offering a healthy alternative for serving water was one of their contributions. Well, that’s rather ingenious I must say!

Super cool bread basket.

We thought of trying one of their hand-crafted, sourdough-based flatbreads but was quickly told that for every table, a bread basket will be provided. And what a great basket it was, there were five different types of yummy bread—the chewy mini-baguette was my fave—with portions enough for two, served with salted and seaweed butter. (So good I actually contemplate coming on my own next time and maybe just have a small charcuterie and cheese platter along with this bread basket!)

A carnivore’s delight: the Ash & Elm Platter.

Except that even a regular charcuterie and cheese platter is way too much for one person (unless you really, really enjoy chewing lots and lots of meat!) We had a regular sized Ash & Elm Platter ($28/$48 for large) which comprises house-cured beef pastrami, house-smoked pork loin, air-dried pork belly, cold-roasted beef and pressé de foie gras with smoked duck. Every item was delicious in its own way but the platter was seriously big enough for a party of four. Went very well with the wonderful bread though and I kinda regretted not ordering a red wine to go with all these great red meat.

Love it when chefs put effort to make a dish look pretty.

Knowing the platter will have a lot of beef and pork—plus the fact that most of really nice sounding meat items (especially the steaks) were a tad expensive—we went for chicken for our second dish. The French free-range yellow chicken breast a la basquaise ($34) was alright — tasty but nothing out of the extraordinary. Top marks though go to its presentation and the delicious Basmati pilaf rice and sweet cherry tomatoes.

Seasonal Vegetables Persillade

For our “healthy” bit, we opted for a side of Seasonal Vegetables Persillade ($10) which is really “side dish” sized (read: not meant for a vegetarian meal). Still, it had a good mix of veggies including sweet corn, carrot, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, and long bean. Other choices for sides include homemade ratatouille ($10) and sauteed mushrooms ($10).

All in all, we really had an enjoyable time at Ash & Elm, definitely one of our most satisfying dinners. As we decided we needed a walk and will have coffee and dessert elsewhere, the total came up to about $85 which is decent for what we ordered. Will definitely come back again to try other items, especially the other charcuterie and cheese platters — and to enjoy that bread basket again!

Ash & Elm is at Level 1, InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road, S(188966). Breakfast: 6-10.30am daily; Lunch: 12pm-3pm (Mon to Sat); Sunday Champagne Brunch 12pm-3pm (Sundays); Dinner: 6-10.30pm daily.

East Meets West In Bonchon’s New Menu

20181017_185123 (640x408)Mention Bonchon and your K-food loving friends will sure to say, “Yummy fried chicken!” Well, the popular Korean restaurant, in Singapore since 2011, aims to be known for more than just that when they roll out a new menu by end October. This includes a selection of new “East-meets-West” fusion items, as well as a host of new novelty drinks, that will offer diners more variations of K-food delights at their outlets.

Musings on the M49 was hence delighted to be invited to the media tasting of their new menu items held earlier this week at Bonchon’s Boat Quay outlet.

When East Meets West

2018-10-17 20.28.39 (640x640)What happens when an Italian rice ball meets a Korean rice ball? You get Breaded Kimchi Rice Balls ($7.90), that’s what! This was a lovely mash-up. Crisp and crunchy on the outside, and the kimchi-flavored rice within was tasty and yummy.

Another newbie is the Bonchon Sliders. The Trio Sliders ($12.90) comprising mini deep-fried chili crab, beef and chicken mantou burgers, has a great story behind it. It’s meant to commemorate the presidential Trump-Kim summit held in Singapore on June 12, 2018 – chicken is North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, beef is Trump, while chili crab represents Singapore. Well, out of the three, Singapore wins hands down. The chili crab slider was the yummiest, crunchy and juicy with a lovely homemade chili crab sauce. Which is why it’s great that you can actually order the Chili Crab Sliders separately ($10.90/2 pcs). If you really prefer chicken, beef or mixed, then go for the Turf Duo Sliders ($9.90/2 pcs).

We also got to try out some of the new drinks on the menu which comprise flavored ice teas and sodas, as well as alcoholic fruit-mixed sujotos. To kick off, we had the Pear & Passionfruit Iced Tea ($5.50) which also includes doses of chamomile, a very refreshing and not-too-sweet drink to kick off one’s meal. Meanwhile, another bite-sized East-meets-West item is the Beef Meatballs ($8.90/6 pcs) which tasted like western beef meatballs except with a distinct dash of Korean bulgogi sauce.

2018-10-17 20.28.28 (640x629)One of the fascinating new items is the Truffle Cream Tteokbokki ($15.90), which is definitely inspired by European cuisine with the tteokbokki (Korean rice cake) being sauteed with shimeji and shiitake mushrooms, onion and truffle cream. I’s a very rich dish which is probably best shared unless you thoroughly enjoyed tteokbokki mixed with loads of mushrooms in a rich creamy sauce!

K-Stew (No, not Kristen Stewart) Delights
2018-10-17 19.15.37 (640x581)Next on the tasting menu were a trio of Korean stews. First up we had the Bonchon version of the very popular Andong Jjimdak Chicken ($15.90/$29.90), which comprises pieces of braised chicken stewed with vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, and marinated in a ganjang (Korean soy sauce) base broth. A tad spicy, the combination was delicious and would be even more satisfying if there was white rice to go with it!

2018-10-17 19.16.06 (640x555)If you prefer your chicken to be even spicier, then go for the, er, Spicy Chicken ($15.90/$29.90) which is chunky chicken with potatoes and carrots braised in a spicy reddish Korean sauce. It was a tasty dish although the Andong Jjimdak probably win out a tad bit in terms of unique taste.

2018-10-17 19.15.25 (620x640)Last but not least, there’s the not-exactly-new Budae Jjigae or Army Stew ($29.90) which has always been a popular item at Bonchon. A  post-war Korean novelty dish that uses leftover army rations such as sausage, luncheon meat, kimchi and tofu, the Bonchon version includes chicken, tteokbokki, egg noodles and string mushrooms. Needless to say, it’s a dish that needs to be shared with an “army” of friends or those with big appetites.

2018-10-17 19.14.52 (640x636)We ended our meal with the Summer Sojuto ($12), which is pineapple, peach, mint mixed with a shot of soju (Korean distilled spirit) which is available in bottle form ($18) as well. A refreshing soothing alcoholic drink that will probably hit you a bit after you finish a jarful, it was a good way to end a good meal.

Other dishes on Bonchon’s refreshing new menu include rice items such as Bibimbap and Bonchon Kimchi Fried Rice, noodles such as cheese or spicy ramyeon, and Bites such as luncheon meat fries, friend mandu (Korean dumplings), and seafood pancake. And not forgetting of course, their famous fried chicken and special sauces.

Bonchon’s new menu is currently available at its Compass One and Northpoint City outlets, while the Boat Quay and Bugis+ outlets will carry it from October 29, 2018.



The Green Oven @ Alley on 25, Andaz SG

2018-02-22-14-11-34-640x624.jpgHad a Chinese New Year lunch with the office people at The Green Oven @ Alley on 25 last week and it was a fun experience. Well, it didn’t begin that way. I didn’t read the address clearly and just following Google Maps, I assume the restaurant was somewhere on ground level in the U-shaped alley (Fraser Street) around Parkview Square (or Gotham City, as we Singaporeans affectionately called it). FYI, it’s not.

Part of a dining hub termed Alley on 25 which comprises five restaurants and two bars, The Green Oven is located on the 25th floor of the relatively new Andaz Singapore hotel. To get to it, you have to find an escalator in the huge shopping complex (Duo Galleria, if I’m not mistaken) located directly behind Parkview, which will bring you to the second floor where you will see the Duo Tower and Residences. Entrance to Andaz Hotel is on the far left and in there, hotel staff will show you where to take the lift to the 25th floor.
2018-02-22 12.53.41 (640x631)Serving classic international fare, The Green Oven is an all-day diner with a menu comprising breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert items, including a decent selection of non-alcoholic beverages, beer, wine and champagne. The place is cheery looking with good city views although the first thing that catches your eye is the huge green Beech oven (hence the name I guess) behind the kitchen counter where all the baked dishes are cooked in. The waitresses, majority of whom are Korean, are chirpy and orders were quickly and easily made. Quite a feat considering there was a dozen of us.

The plan at first was to order their set lunches (@$25++) but after a quick vote, everyone agreed it would be more fun (and economical) to share dishes. As it was Chinese New Year, the first dish we had was Abalone Yusheng. Quite cool for a “western” place to serve a CNY item, complete with giant chopsticks, and allowing us to shout blessings at the top of our voices. (Whether the other guests minded, we didn’t really check, heehee.)
2018-02-22 13.05.54 (640x640)We didn’t have to wait long for the main courses we ordered but we did have lovely Sourdough Bread by Tiong Bahru Bakery with Butter ($5) to pass the time. The first dish that I attacked was the Braised Lamb Shank ($35) which would have my set lunch choice. Served steaming hot with Jerusalem artichoke, fennel, semi dried tomato, rosemary, and tzatziki, the tender meat came smoothly off the bone and was absolutely succulent. A lovely dish indeed.
2018-02-22 13.09.58 (640x640)The Lobster Mac & Cheese ($35) was a fascinating item. It did have a very fragrant “marina” smell – as one of us described it – that you have to get used to. The lobster was meaty, macaroni yummy and I do love the burnt cheesy crust. But a normal Mac & Cheese without the half lobster could be better.
2018-02-22 13.09.02 (640x640)The Half Spring Chicken ($25), stewed with lardons, chat potatoes, pommery mustard, and thyme, was a popular item among the team. Meat was tender and the gravy was delicious, as was every piece of vegetable (especially the potatoes).
2018-02-22 13.18.43 (640x640)This fish main course was so good, I was only left with this small piece to take a picture of. It’s the Barramundi Fillet en Papillote ($28) cooked with Pernod anise, globe artichoke, capers, olives, and Tuscan olive oil. The meat was fresh and tasty, making every mouthful a delight. Just wished there were more mouthfuls to savor.
2018-02-22 13.10.07 (640x640)Oxtail soup yes, but I don’t think I ever had Oxtail Pie ($25) in my life, so I was eager to try it. Baked with red wine, the garlic mash was lovely but the flavor of the meat was a tad strong, even for a carnivore like me. I thought it was beefy but a few others felt it was more mutton. (It was probably a mix of meats). Pity as I was hoping to like it.
2018-02-22 13.08.33 (640x640)Finally, we had the token “vegetable” dish. The Violet Eggplant ($20) is baked with
plum tomato, Boursin cheese, and basil. It’s flavorful but one big piece was enough for me. A dish that definitely need to be shared unless you are totally into eggplants.
2018-02-22 13.52.36 (640x640)There are only two desserts on The Green Oven’s menu –  Tropical Fruit Trifle ($16) and
Brownie ($16) which must have been very good ‘cos both plates didn’t make it to my end of the table. Luckily, some kind soul bought these colorful mini sponge cakes with different sweet coverings from a bakery downstairs and they went very well with the nice Fair-Trade Java Mountain coffee  (various, $6) we had to end the meal.

All in all, food at The Green Oven is good, service is commendable, and ambience is pleasant. Prices may be a bit on the high side on the whole but not uncommon in other restaurants of the same vein. It’s definitely a nice place for meeting up with friends or acquaintances, or if you want to pamper yourself with a nice meal in a classy restaurant. Dinner have more appetizer choices and seafood main courses. Damage per person will probably be about $50-$80 per person. Worth checking out.

The Green Oven is @ Alley on 25, 5 Fraser Street, Andaz Singapore Hotel, Level 25.