$20-$40

CLOSED: Mod Sin Cuisine Part I: Our Korner, Scarlet Hotel, Maxwell/ Chinatown/ Tanjong Pagar

Mod Sin” or “modern Singaporean cuisine” should be more aptly named a fusion of Western food and Singaporean food. It is an up-and-coming cuisine that many, including Our Korner, have adopted and come up with their own recipes.

There are several directions you can take to Our Korner: You can enter at (1) Ann Siang Road. You see a bar first. (2) If you choose to enter from Erskine Road (beside Maxwell Market) through the opulent Scarlet Hotel, first luxury boutique hotel in Singapore and take the lift to 1A, you will come to the dining area.

The decor is a little gothic and a little like a Turkish palace with the bold use of rich colors, gold, shades of purple, and Egyptian blue. Eclectic mix of textures: bare wooden tables with plush velvety chairs, illuminated by smooth modern cylinder lamps of dark red shades. Altogether, the decor gives off a fun, almost eccentric vibe. It also makes a very good romantic date location.

Appetizers

The PR said almost every table orders Chili Crab Sliders ($22), a mini burger of crab meat with diced water chestnuts and a dollop of mayo, accompanied by Singapore chili crab sauce by the side. The best way to eat this is to remove the top bun, add lots of chili crab sauce on top, put back the top bun, and bite.

The flavors just burst in the mouth! So, so good! The crab meat is lightly breaded and fried so it gives a thin crispy layer but isn’t oily, providing that crunchy, tempura-like texture. The water chestnuts are so finely diced that they are imperceptible but it adds a fruity sweetness to the seafood-sweetness of the crab. The bun could be softer and less dry but what the heck, the mayo, the chili crab sauce and the crab meat are such a spectacular combination. This is a must order.

Marinated in 14 spices for 72 hours, the oriental wings ($16) are sensational! My friends and I always claim that Ikea chicken wings are #1 in Singapore. Sorry, Ikea, I love you but you’re now #2. Oriental wings are power-upped Ikea wings. Fried in such a way that the skin is crispy–not oily–and the meat is tender and juicy, the chicken wings taste almost Thai-ish, especially when dipped in the homemade special spicy sauce. The aroma of the wings is like–oh my god, I need to eat this now, I don’t want to take photographs anymore. This is definitely a must-order too.

Soups

When the laska clam chowder ($14) arrived at the table, the wonderful aroma of truffle oil was assaulting my senses out of my mind. How is fair when the wings and soup were served together? Two amazing aromas VS one pair of hands to take photographs. I had to chop chop curry pok finish the photo shoot of food!

The laska clam chowder is served in a focaccia bread bowl, and the lid is spread with garlic. Seriously, why am I still describing the food and blogging this entry when I should be flying to Scarlet Hotel now? The taste is out of the world. You can taste both the laska and the clam chowder; they complement and compliment each other so spectacularly. Amazing balance and mix of flavors. This dish must be one of the most successful  Mod Sin food.

Also: the soup alone can be a light meal by its own. Super value for money.

This is a must-order.

Mains

Steamed cod fillet ($32) is wrapped in turmeric leaf and served with olive oil mashed potato and beurre monte sauce (melted butter sauce). After three unforgettable appetizers–and perhaps my expectations were raised because of their excellence–the fish is quite forgettable. Although it is expertly executed, the flavor is too light. Salt seemed missing in our sampling. The olive oil mashed potato is healthier than the butter one, but it is lumpy. As a consumer, I don’t think if I will spend $32 on a small piece of fish.

Braised beef short ribs ($38) is served with barossa shiraz red wine sauce, with mashed potato and sauteed vegetables. The beef is extraordinary. It slides off the bone at the merest touch. The sauce has permeated completely into the beef, giving it an exceptional sweetness and tenderizing the meat. And the thin layer of cartilage–if I choose to believe it’s cartilage, it’s cartilage and not fats–melts in the mouth. If you eat the cartilage and the meat together, the contrast in texture on the same piece of beef is striking and very, very awesome: one is gelatin-like and the other, shredded beef. The sides are good too but less admirable than the beef itself. While the beef came in a huge portion, about two times a grown man’s fist, and is very delicious, the dish can be cheaper by 10% or so.

#1 best-seller of Our Korner, the Nasi Goreng ($16) is super value-for-money. There are: garlic-and-sambal fried rice topped with a runny sunny side-up, a huge BBQ chicken, prawn crackers, achar, and three gigantic prawns topped with hae bee hiam (spicy dried shrimp sambal). While I can see the attraction of this dish–its huge portion as one major factor–I’d suggest some changes. The chicken is inconsistently grilled, dry on one side and succulent on the other. The chicken would be more savory if it is dipped entirely in the sauce, rather than glazing the sauce on chicken, but that would destroy the presentation. The huge prawns are tough although the wonderful not-very-spicy hae bee hiam goes very excellently on the prawns: shrimps on prawns, quite a humorous take. When the runny yolk broke and flowed slowly onto the rice like lava down a volcano, it was visually exciting. The achar is sourish, appetizing and refreshing. All in all, a decent dish that is value-for-money.

Desserts

A general comment of the dessert is that the presentations are similar: mango, raspberry and chocolate sauce on the plating; cakes topped with strawberries and crispy balls (what confectionaries in Singapore used in the 80s); and the same chocolate mousse is used. Granted the dark chocolate mousse is delicious and smooth,  using it across the cakes means that the customer can only 1 of the cakes.

A compliment is that – look at the generous sizes of the cakes. Can be shared between two people.

Chocolate Royaltine ($14) is Melicacy’s favorite. It is a simple chocolate sponge cake with thick layers of dark chocolate mousse on a hazelnut base. While I couldn’t taste the hazelnut base, it is, in all other areas, satisfactorily accomplished. This is the lightest of the three chocolate cakes.

Triple chocolate cheesecake ($14) is my favorite because it is 3-in-1: a top layer of chocolate mousse, followed by cheese cake and with brownie (with nuts) as the base. My favorite because the flavors mix well together and the textures are interestingly different. But Melicacy brought up a valid reason: this is the heaviest of the three cakes and for desserts, people usually like something light. If you don’t mind a heavy dessert, this one scores.

The nutella chocolate tart ($14) consists three layers: dark chocolate cream, nutella, and an almond pastry. The flavors are nothing surprisingly but they work well together. The textures are good too: soft cream; a heavy slab of nutella, more like a slab of chocolate bar texture; and the crumbly crust, a balance of in-between crispy and doughy. Although I couldn’t taste the nutella, the aftertaste of almonds came on pleasantly, lingering pleasantly in the breath.

Ice Creams

You can order scoops of ice creams ($5 single scoop; $8 double scoop) or order the creations. We sampled the Color Me Pretty ($12), three scoops of horlicks ice cream with frosted icing cookies (so nostalgic!), a huge serving of whipped cream and crispy balls. In general, the ice creams have shard-of-ice texture within, which we didn’t like. The excessive whipped cream dilutes the favor of horlicks but if you get to the end of the dessert, as Melicacy did, you’d find that there is horlicks powder underneath, which is a thoughtful touch.

Can you tell Melicacy and I love ice cream? We ordered sandcastles ($12), chocolate, bailey’s and horlicks ice creams topped with chocolate fudge and almonds. We substituted the chocolate with peanut butter ice cream. Melicacy said she was glad she didn’t substitute the bailey’s, which she normally doesn’t like. The peanut butter ice cream tasted like peanut bits in mochi. The presentation of frosting all the ice creams to give a uniform look is thoughtful. Not something mindblowing, but not bad either.

Service: Very attentive and excellent. Our glasses were always filled when they reached the mid-mark.

While the desserts need improvement, the food, especially the appetizers, are exceptional. As I am writing this entry, I want to fly to Scarlet Hotel to eat more of the food. I have been craving for the food. Besides the confirm-must-order chili crab sliders, oriental wings, and laska clam chowder, I want to try the sumac beef tart ($14), chili crab tart ($16) chili crab linguine ($25) with poached egg and tempura-styled soft shell crab, and curry chicken pizza ($12 – 7inch, $18 – 10 inch). Except for the Meat Mains, the other mains–Asian, pastas, pizzas, pies–are quite value-for-money. Next time, I’ll bring my date there, it’s a romantic place with outstanding service. This is one of the few places that I foresee I’ll return again and again. A new hangout place!

Our Korner is the first restaurant to impress me with mod sin cuisine and wins the Best Mod Sin Cuisine. For other mod sin cuisine, see PreparazziWild Rocket and Wok & Barrel.

Our Korner
The Scarlet
33 Erskine Road
Singapore 069333
t: 6511 3323
Hotel Website
Restaurant Website

Breakfast
M-F: 7-10.30am
Sat, Sun, PH: 7am-11am

Lunch & Dinner
All Day menu: 1130am-1030pm
Sun-Fri: 11.30am-1am (finger food is available after 1030pm)
Sat, eve of PH: 11.30am-2am

Bar
Sun-Th: 5pm-1am
F, Sat, PH: 5pm-2am

Rating: 3.500/5 stars

PS: We thank Velda, Cory and Our Korner for the invite.

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