Beauty In The Pot @ VivoCity

Another hotpot alternative close to the ‘hood.

To celebrate her name day, my hitting-a-milestone pal opted for a hotpot dinner. As Beauty in the Pot has a new outlet at VivoCity, we decided to give that a try, having enjoyed their first outlet at Centrepoint. Knowing how popular hotpot is in Singapore, I made the table reservation two weeks ahead via phone and was relatively amused when asked what occasion were we celebrating. “Birthday,” I replied without hesitation and didn’t give it much thought thereafter (more on that below).

As the table will only be held for 10 minutes, we arrived rather early for our weekend booking only to be told that we still have to wait till our reserved time. Which was fine as there were seats and free water available. (If you have kids, there’s a playpen for them.) Not to mention that the overly-pink restaurant is also located directly opposite the largest public library in a mall, library@harbourfront.

Beauty in the Pot’s key attractions are of course its signature Beauty Collagen Broth, and that you can have up to four (out of six) soup bases at one go. We decided two soup bases will do and went for the rich, flavorful collagen broth ($15/twin pot) and the Herbal Drunken Chicken Broth ($12/twin pot).

Then it was off to prepare our sauces whilst waiting for our food items to arrive. For my usual red chilli, garlic and spring onion combo, I added a creamy peanut sauce plus a dash of soy sauce which was a really good mix. Another nut-based combo with Thai red chilli and chilli oil wasn’t half bad but didn’t have much kick.

The menu has an extensive meat selection comprising chicken, pork, beef, lamb, and seafood (fish, crab, octopus, etc). On this occasion, we decided to stick to just Sliced U.S. Beef ($19.80/full portion) and Live Drunken Tiger Prawns ($13/half). And have to say, the premium quality of Beauty in the Pot’s food items are still as good as before.

Veggie wise we went with the usual suspects except with a different variety. Instead of plain lettuce, we had Baby Romaine Lettuce ($3.70/half); instead of “big” spinach, we had Baby Chinese Spinach ($3.70/half). Sliced Lotus Shoot ($3.40/half) was as it is…

We also had White and Hon Shimeji ($4.50/half), which on hindsight was unnecessary as there was actually a good helping of these mushrooms, and tofu slices too, in the collagen broth. The crispy and tasty Fried Fish Skin ($5.90/half) though is always good as a snack or appetizer.

A good choice was the Teochew Style Fish Balls ($4.90/half), which were really yummy. The Prawn Dumpling ($7.50/half) though wasn’t as great; the wrapping was very sticky and the taste not as scrumptious as we hoped it would be. No faulting the Silken Tofu ($2/half) though but as mentioned, the collagen broth also contained tofu slices.

Oh, one item that is a must-have is the Fried Beancurd Skin ($5/half), which tastes especially good when dipped into the collagen broth. It can be very filling though, so best to eat it early in the meal rather at the tail end.

We were getting really stuffed when a staff asked if we would like more dishes. It was then we realised we’d forgotten about our drunken prawns which were hidden away in the side trolley. Fret not, said the nice chap, who simply proceeded to peel for us the prawns which was fresh and sweet.

It was when we were having fruits for dessert, that the fun bit came. Just like at Hard Rock Cafe, Beauty in the Pot diners celebrating birthdays get cool perks. Not only you get a cake and balloon, the staff—like these two sweet suds here— would sing “Happy Birthday” to you three times – in English, Mandarin and Cantonese!!

That my very shy friend—seen here heavily filtered with her complimentary cake and balloon—was utterly surprised was an understatement. That it was one of the most funniest moments I’ve ever observed is of no doubt, hahaha!

Lastly, the complimentary Yuzu drink was served at the end and that went really well with our cake [as they have already stopped re-filling our Luo Han Guo / Sour Plum Juice ($3.80/glass) once they cleared the table].

Well, our Beauty in the Pot experience at VivoCity was certainly better than our first one at Centrepoint. Service was certainly better – we were led to our table at the appointed time, items came fast, refilling of the soups and drinks was done without our asking, and every staff member was courteous and attentive. Only one or two still bow at almost 90 degrees but though admirable, it is seriously not required.

I didn’t even have to prompt about the birthday bit – it was noted via the phone reservation and they delivered without the need to double check. Kudos indeed. Also, though it is stated in the reservation that small groups have a 90-minute time limit, at no time were we asked to finish up though we stayed about two hours. (Guess it also depend on how busy the place is.)

The bill was about $140, i.e $70 per person, which was decent considering what we ordered and the quality of the ingredients. Except for the far walk to the restrooms (down the escalator and to the right, due to the structure of the mall – it’s the same for the rooftop Haidilao), it’s definitely good to know there’s another reputable hotpot restaurant near our ‘hood to consider whenever we have steamboat cravings. In fact, Beauty in the Pot has just opened another outlet at The Star Vista, even closer still. Have to check that one out soon!

Beauty in the Pot is at 1 Harbourfront Walk, VivoCity #03-08A, Singapore 098585. Tel: +65 6255 0758. Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am to 3.00am (Last order at 2.15am).

Dancing Crab @VivoCity

2016-06-01 19.22.42 (640x574)DANCING CRAB @ VIVOCITY
My seafood pal and I enjoyed the Dancing Crab @ The Grandstand at the former Turf Club but we have never gone back there again as it’s not a  convenient place for us to get to or get back home from without a car. So we were mighty glad when we heard that they have set up shop at VivoCity as well, which is much better for us “Westerners”…

Even on a weeknight, the VivoCity outlet was just as packed as the weekend night when we were at The Grandstand. Tables seemingly have more elbow space here though and we managed to get a table by the wall close to the entrance but far from the big dining groups.

Menu is more or less the same. And of course we were there for their signature Louisiana-styled seafood combos. When we opted for Seafood Combo #1 with Sri Lankan crab plus prawns,  clams, potatoes, corn and sausages ($88), we were bemused when the waiter told us that the crab may not be enough for the both of us as “it’s only this size” using his fingers to signify the size of probably a fiddler crab. “Er, if your Sri Lankan crabs are that small, they are not Sri Lankan crabs…”, I declared. Unperturbed, the young chap recommended that we go for the Combo Bag #1 with Dungeness Crab instead. And how much would the “Seasonal Price” come up to, we asked. “It will be about 1.5kg, so probably about $156…” Riiiiight…. It’s ok, we will stick to the Sri Lankan crab and it better not be a baby crab, we chorused…
2016-06-01 19.19.40 (611x640)Combo #1 comes with potatoes and corn but my dear friend wanted to order some sides. Sure. We ordered the beer battered mushrooms ($8) which we thought would be cute button bits that can be easily popped into the mouth… but nooo, they are these huge crispy yet succulent nuggets that were actually quite filling!
2016-06-01 19.17.56 (635x640)Luckily, the creamy crunchy coleslaw ($2.50) was a decent size but we forgot that utensils are not readily available at Dancing Crab. (They kinda expect diners to eat everything with our bare hands…) But if you are persistent about it, like my dear friend,  you can get a plastic spoon and even a fork or two! *grin*

Drinks-wise, I usually have beer with seafood but decided to have their “freshly squeezed daily” lemonades ($4) instead. The lavender lemonade was quite refreshing though my friend found the fizzy lemonade too sourish. That was however quickly solved by requesting for water to be added.
2016-06-01 19.23.32 (593x640)Then came the moment we were waiting for. Oh, the Sri Lankan crab is just fine, just nice for two although we wouldn’t mind a few more pieces. But then there were also the big and juicy prawns, savoury clams and sweet corn which offered much variety in taste. Oh, as we opted for the combo to be cooked in Zesty Garlic Butter, the plastic bag of cooked items was not tossed onto the table – as is the Louisiana style – but left in the metal bowl as “it would be too oily” said the waitress. Well, good on her ‘cos it made our table slightly more tidier. It still need some getting used to to eat off the table. Fun but funny if you get my drift.

The combo portion is actually way too much for the both of us and we left most of the potatoes and all the sausages  swimming in the tasty broth of garlic in butter (which I swear tasted like cai po on chwee kueh!)

Damage came up to $125++ for two which is decent. All in all, another enjoyable time at Dancing Crab and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Will definitely want to try their sea prawns lunch set one day…

 

 

Nicely Knuckled!

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It’s Oktoberfest! What’s better to chow down a night with friends than good old German dark lager by Paulaner or a good red wine…

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… with a huge scumptious dish of pork knuckles and other German culinary delights? Not forgetting a bunch of crazy people singing and dancing to silly German folk songs…

Good fun at Brotzeit at ViVoCity. Wunderbar!

Jamie’s Italian. Thought he’s English?…

20131003_201548When someone as famous as Jamie Oliver opens a restaurant in Singapore, every foodie there is – and there are gazillions of us here in the city state – is sure to make a beeline for it. Funny that Jamie would open an Italian restaurant chain – didn’t the bona fide Italians on his TV series said his cooking of their authentic dishes was so-so only? :p

Well, since Jamie’s Italian opened in July, phone reservations have been hard to come by. I wanted to dine there for my birthday in September and my best mate was told that they are booked for the next few weeks. Next few weeks came and gone – and I had even gone to Spain and back – and still reservations can’t be made by phone. So last Thursday, we simply pop on down to VivoCity  as the restaurant did say they like to hold seats for walk-ins. We got there just before 7pm and told we have to wait for 45 minutes…

Having been used to 8pm dinners during my Camino trek in the north of Spain, I was fine with waiting when in time past I would have just gone to another eatery. Interesting thing was: Jamie’s Italian actually has a full bar right at the front of the restaurant and we found it weird that the servers would ask us – and other diners waiting their turn as well – to “come back later” when we could have spent time ordering drinks or checking out all the culinary things that Jamie Oliver recommends one can buy for one’s kitchen in the bar area. Oh well, their loss is the Starbucks next door’s gain cos that’s where most of us trotted to and ordered pre-dinner coffees while waiting for our tables.

20131003_201939Their timing was quite “jun” (Hokkien for “accurate”) have to say cos when we went back after 45 minutes, we had to wait but 5 more minutes for them to get the table ready for us. The restaurant ambience was nice and cosy and though the place was packed, at least we are not rubbing elbows with diners near by. For starters, we ordered some healthy (Apple Slaw, $8) and something not Posh Chips ($7.50). As always, the non-healthy item won out – the chips were delicious with a generous serving of parmesan and truffle oil over them and they went well with my pre-dinner drink, Jamie’s Italian Mojito ($15.50) which was refreshing although I have tasted better mojitos elsewhere. The Apple Slaw ( above left) though was a letdown – it was very pretty to look at with an assortment of colours provided by radishes, candied beets, and other “grasses” that we can’t identify. The beef was that there was hardly any apple in it and the whole dish, despite having mint and lemon favouring, was dry and unappealing to taste. Seeing the untouched dish, the waitress serving us did ask us for our reasons and asserted that she will convey our opinions to the chef. Let’s hope there will more apple slices for future diners then …

20131003_203548For mains, I opted for the cutesy named Lamb Chops Lollipops ($29.90, above) while HY went for the Beef & Veal Meatball ($28.50). I liked the grilled lamb chops which came in a set of four (rather than the usual three) and served with a creamy minty mash comprising artichoke,  roasted nuts and chilli. Only thing is, I wished the waitress had asked me how I would like to have it done cos it was cooked well done whereas if served medium or medium rare, it would have been just perfect.

20131003_203609HY’s beef and veal meatball was huge, and came with servings of polenta and black cabbage. I’m a carnivore but oddly I found the meaty taste a tad strong while HY enjoyed it and she’s usually not an overly meat person. We were happy with our mains so that’s the main thing.

20131003_211144After all that, we seriously had no room for dessert but being in an Italian restaurant, we simply couldn’t leave without trying the Tiramisu ($11.50). It came (above), it was alright, maybe I was too full to enjoy it thoroughly. The Cappuccino was good though, so it provided a nice end to the meal.

Jamie’s Italian will continue to be popular for a good long while I’m sure. Would definitely visit again to try other dishes and the special beer that was exclusively crafted for Jamie’s Italian by the local Archipelago Brewery. But not sure if I would want to wait 45 minutes again for a meal. One couple next to us only had coffee and dessert and we wondered why on earth did they waited so long for a table just to order that! But to each his own, and I will definitely make a return trip here maybe a couple more weeks down the road….