We had quite a few new whiskies to try out, first being the rather famous Yamazakis. These beat Scottish whiskies in blind taste tests and we were curious to taste the difference. It helped that in my last pass through Heathrow airport, I had a little sip of the Yamazaki 12 and was very taken by it.
The Yamazaki 12 (43%) is the entry level single malt from Suntory. It’s very smooth and light, with slightly fruity pineapple overtones and a lovely smokey ending. Lightened with a few drops of water, it takes on an almost sweet character. Very easy for a first-time single malt drinker.
Now the Yamazaki 18 (43%) is three times the price. I’m not sure if it’s three times as good as the 12, but it is Very Good. At first there was nothing much on the palate, but suddenly it exploded in the mouth like fireworks (the fireworks bit is according to DC). It’s smooth and buttery, tasting like dark herbal honey, except without the sweetness. It’s firmly on the favourites list.
We also got the MacDuff 27 (45%). It was from a little shop at Ion Orchard called Vom Fass that dispensed various liquors, vinegars and oils into little bottles. We started with 100ml of it for starters. This whisky took us on a different plane altogether. It was smooth like no other whisky I’ve tried, with very little bite of alcohol. It had an almost hay-like nose and a complex blend of flavours that made me keep going at the little bottle. We’ll have to get a refill to taste again.
I met up with Tweych for dinner and drinks. It was a pity that our sushi dinner hardly stood out especially considering that the place claimed to fly in fish daily. I didn’t like how loosely the rice was packed and felt that the fish wasn’t particularly fresh. It wasn’t frozen but neither was it fresh. However, I enjoyed the standing sushi bar‘s Suntory Premium Malt’s (5%) which is supposedly hard to find in Singapore. It was a lovely pale yellow, very malty as expected and also surprisingly sweet. It went down fairly well with the sushi although I think Asahi Super Dry would probably do better at cutting through the seafood.
Not being particularly satisfied, we headed to Moomba for wine. Our resident wine expert Tweych picked out a New Zealand pinot noir, the 2007 Wairau River Home Block Pinot Noir (13%). Like most pinot noirs, it was light red and of course still very young. There was plenty of heady cherry, strawberry and red currant in the nose and it went down very smoothly. The only problem was that I felt like I was drinking alcoholic Ribena. The feeling only damped slightly after about a glass or so when the mild tannins started showing through. It was not bad, but I’m still not quite convinced when it comes to pinot noirs.
Standing Sushi Bar
1 Raffles Place
#B1-02B OUB Centre
Tel: 6533 7078
The Moomba Wine Shop
52A Circular Road
Tel: 6438 2438
Any branch of Sun Restaurant used to be my favourite place for a casual Japanese lunch. Little by little, they did small things that irked me. First, they removed from the menu my favourite lunch set of chopped medium-fatty tuna over rice (all branches), meaning a side order of maguro sushi if I had to have my tuna fix. Next, their sashimi quality went down (Central branch). It was stale like the stuff you get at the lesser kaiten chains. Last and probably least since it’s just a matter of indifferent service, I went to the Central branch for lunch on my birthday and produced a birthday discount voucher. They asked for my identity card as proof but did not breathe a word of happy birthday or even give a smile when they presented me with the bill.
Even though Sun Restaurant isn’t a favourite anymore, I thought I’d return to use up a $10 voucher. Good timing because they were having a wagyu beef promotion. My mum chose the Wagyu Sukiyaki & Tomato Salad and I went for the Wagyu Amiyaki Don & Age Tofu. There was also Hamburger Steak & Green Salad, boasting a Wagyu Score of 9+. Avoided that because I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just drop the expensive wagyu and add a bit more beef fat into the mincer to make the hamburger.
My Wagyu Amiyaki Don & Age Tofu was good. It consisted of grilled wagyu pieces and a “soft-boiled” egg on rice, with a side of deep-fried tofu. The wagyu was excellent: it tasted of charred teriyaki-esque marinade on the outside and oozed decadent wagyu goodness on first bite. It went well with the preserved ginger and seaweed topping. The perfectly-done poached egg was a soft, comforting counterpoint to the well-seasoned beef, a successful pairing. I liked the deep-fried tofu side even though the tofu tasted more like local tau kwa to me. The deeply savoury dashi sauce further balanced the sweet barbecue marinade of the beef and the boiled vegetable topping was crisp and refreshing.
The sukiyaki looked pretty appetising. Only a dollar more than the regular beef sukiyaki set in the menu, it had the same generous amount of beef slices. The wagyu worked well with the dish because one of the main problems I have with regular sukiyaki is that the beef gets too done. With wagyu you want it to be well-cooked so the fat melts unctuously in your mouth. It sure did with this dish. The only problem was that the sukiyaki sauce was a lot sweeter than normal. It was so sweet that it changed the taste of the salad and pickles, marring the meal. We had to down copious cups of tea to cleanse our palates in between.
When I brought this up with the server, she obligingly checked with the chef. The message was that the sauce was normal and at the correct sweetness. The server was apologetic about it and suggested that we order it less sweet for our next visit. She also sent us a free scoop of macha ice cream with azuki sauce. That was lovely of her, an unexpected and extra-nice finish to our meal. That makes the Chijmes branch my almost-favourite place for Japanese lunch.
After a $10 discount from a Citibank voucher, we paid $36.60 for two set lunches that came with fruit and coffee/tea.