Indian at the Esplanade

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DC and I needed some dinner before seeing the opera (how chi-chi!) at the Esplanade. We didn’t have particularly high expectations of the selection at the Esplanade. The Kebab Factory seemed interesting, so it was a whole load of carbs and curry before sitting through La Boheme. Definitely not a very wise choice, but we’re led by the tummy not really the brain. It was surprisingly good!

We started off with an interesting drink of lime, mint and cumin seed called jaljeera. It was a refreshing aperitif to prepare us for a good meal ahead. Our first dish was a palak dish that tasted a whole load better than it looked! Pushing aside the thought that it looks like gloopy baby food, the pureed spinach was smooth, creamy and quite rich. For a vegetable dish, it sure wasn’t a healthy option but at least we were eating our greens!

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The tandoori salmon I felt was a bit of a weak link. It was competently executed and the spices were fine. Too bad it was overcooked as is quite typical for Indian cooking. It resulted in a rough and not particularly pleasant texture. I liked the side salad of shredded daikon and beetroot much better.

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My favourite dish of the evening was the one with chicken balls stuffed with lamb mince. It’s not often to have something that incorporates two different types of meat. The chicken breast on the outside, quite surprisingly, wasn’t overcooked. The lamb stuffing was flavoured with tomato and it was a bit like bolognaise sauce, a very nice twist – very Indian and very Italian at the same time.

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We tried one of the wholemeal breads but that didn’t turn out too good. It was too tough and didn’t taste that great. The plain naan, on the other hand, was flavourful and fragrant. We’ll go for just the naan next time.

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Mirchi’s Kebab Factory
#02-23 Esplanade Mall
Tel: 6334 5590

August in China: The Box Factory

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One of our relatives in the village has a share in a cardboard box factory. No surprise it’s in the area seeing as Dongguan is one of the largest industrial cities in China. I heard rumours that Dongguan is the world’s largest producer of shoes. So many shoes probably means a big demand for my relative’s boxes then.

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First we saw the bales of paper. There’s First Uncle going “it’s this high!”

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Then the requisite group photo.

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The bales are then unstacked and gotten ready for processing into cardboard.

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The sheets are glued together to formed the corrugated board and then cut by this lean mean machine.

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I realise that I never got to see any boxes at all. Perhaps it made just cardboard and didn’t assemble them into boxes. I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I quite like this gloomy shot of the factory interior.

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Dessert at the Former Factory

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I’m getting old. My aging brain keeps referring to Laurent’s Cafe & Chocolate Bar by its old name, The Chocolate Factory. It still has rather decent, though often patchy, offerings. Shinta and KK shared a molten chocolate cake that was accompanied by vanilla bean ice cream and chantilly cream. None of us were too impressed as the cake was a bit overdone. Only the very centre of the cake was molten, with only the tiniest ooze. The chantilly cream was fake. Sure, it was better quality fake stuff, probably not from a can, but it was definitely not real dairy cream. Eeyore and I, the cream experts, sniffed at it and then looked away. Oh, and by the way, what on earth is that raspberry sauce posing as? Whoever plated this dessert has a ridiculous sense of aesthetics.

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Shinta and KK’s chocolate souffle fared better. It was baked just right and was chocolatey and yummy. KK made the hole in the picture so she could pour in the chocolate sauce. The tart raspberry sorbet went winningly with the souffle. Two thumbs up.

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Onwards to the Grand Marnier souffle I shared with Eeyore. It’d risen quite impressively in the ramekin and went nicely with the vanilla custard sauce. Too bad the inside wasn’t cooked enough. It was as if the souffle was only cooked on the outside. On the inside, there was still plenty of raw whipped egg white that was just on the verge of weeping. I didn’t like the feeling of damp foam in my mouth. The orange liqueur flavour was very good though.

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I’m still not completely convinced by this place. This time, the service had improved from abysmal to decent with nothing to complain about. The food was pretty much hit and miss. I’d only come here if I was craving souffle very badly and wouldn’t mind an inferior version.

Laurent’s Cafe & Chocolate Bar
The Pier at Robertson Quay 80
Mohammad Sultan Road #01-11
Tel: 6235 9007