When you enter Crowne Plaza hotel, you’ll notice how dim, soothing and quiet the environment is. Straight smooth lines of dominantly gray color for its decor. The contemporary chic extends all the way to Azur, its buffet restaurant.
Azur offers an array of delectable seafood (pictured right), roast beef (below), sashimi, chili crab, etc. But Azur is now offering its customers to vote for what you want in the buffet line from 15-28 Oct. Sous-Chef Alvin Leong has selected eight dishes, which are divided into two teams. The winning team, with the most number of “likes” on Facebook, will be included in the buffet line from 2-11 Nov. Let the showdown begin!
Team A – Sinfully Rich
The first dish of Team A is sea-salt roasted pork belly with Peri Peri sauce. This dish demonstrates the adventurous nature of Chef Leong, not afraid to pair a Cantonese classic with an African dip. Although the dish has personality, the pork was tough for me. Chef Leong uses sea salt because it can give a consistency but, to some of us, it wasn’t salty enough.
Featured in 黄金年华 (Living the Golden Age), the summer berries sea prawn with minty plum sauce is first fried in batter and then coated with sweet and sour minty plum sauce. Chew Chor Meng and Xiang Yun, hosts of the programme, praised the dish for the creative and unusual use of mixed berries. The sauce uses Planta butter, giving it an extremely rich and creamy flavor. The mint tingled and surprised the tongue although the prawn could be crispier. I expected the dip to be tangy with a bit of berry-taste–so that the prawns and berries could blend, instead of remaining separate entities–but the dip is entirely of butter, mint, and plum sauce, sweet and buttery, rather than tart.
Chef Leung’s interpretation of the Sri-Lanka Chilli Crab was done in a proportion of spice with a tinge of sweetness.
For the dessert, Team A offers a durian mousse cake (in the foreground with Team B’s mango passion cake in the background): durian mousse between layers of sponge cake, covered in cream and dusted with chopped peanuts by the side. This dessert section really boils down to personal taste. If you like your durian cake to be light and fluffy, then this cake definitely is a winner. But if you like your durian cake to be dense and thick, then this may not be for you. Personally, I think that durian is a filling fruit and to be able to transform it into something light takes some skills and thoughts, so this cake worked for me.
Team B – Absolutely Scrumptious
The char-smoked duck supreme with chocolate balsamic is truly ambitious, exciting, and fun. But I wondered if there were too many things going on at once–the saltiness from the smoked duck, the sweetness of chocolate, and the tartness of balsamic–all of which made the dish confusing.
Created for Chinese New Year, the pickled chilli steamed seabass is steamed with soya sauce, sourish pickles and crackling lard, and then topped with red chilli. This was my favorite dish of the night. It reminded of the famous fish dish at Joo Hing although Chef Leung has never been there. Compared to the fish at Joo Hing, Azur’s fish was superior: it was spicy, salty, and sour, which blended well together with fish. The essence of the fish was mixed with the premium soya sauce, making the “broth” sweet. My only gripe was it was overcooked but that can be easily fixed.
Usually, I prefer chilli crab to black pepper crab. And usually, I hate black pepper. But woah, this black pepper Sri-Lanka crab had got a kick without being choking. And the sauce had the sweetness of the crab, while the crab had the heat of the pepper.
For the dessert, Team B offers mango passionfruit cake (pictured above with the durian cake), which was face-scrunching tartness. Compared to the sweet durian cake, this tart mango passionfruit cake, which I preferred, offers a more refreshing end to a meal, although objectively, both the cakes were excellent in their own right.
This tasting was an exciting journey that showcased Chef Leung’s creativity and hard-work. He kept asking us how he could improve his dishes. Chefs are usually very proud of their creations and don’t like people to critique on their food but Chef Leung is humble and takes feedback seriously. With his positive attitude, I can’t wait to see what he can offer the next round.
Price of Azur Buffet
$65+ (Adult); $32 (child)
Rating: 3.137/5 stars
ps: Thanks to Carrie and Chef Leung for their kindness and hospitality, and OT-ing till 10.30pm that night to host us.