Mao Mao told me about her plans to go and eat a rice dumpling made with foie gras filling. It got me interested so I shamelessly tagged along when Mao Mao and her husband went for dinner at Chef Daniel’s Kitchen. The restaurant was located on the 7th floor and the elevator seemed to be the only way to reach it. The restaurant was rather empty and there were only three occupied tables when we arrived.
Taking a look at the well-dressed customers in the restaurant, Mao Mao said, “I feel really under dressed.” All of us were dressed casually. Mao Mao was in a t-shirt and skirt while her husband was in polo tee and jeans. I was dressed the most casually in t-shirt, berms and sandals. But the captain welcomed us happily. Maybe because business was slow that night.
We were seated and a waitress asked Mao Mao, “What is your name?”
“What? Er, Mao Mao,” Mao Mao replied, looking rather puzzled. It seemed rather strange as her husband and I were not asked for our names. Neither did the serving staff addressed Mao Mao by her name throughout dinner so we wondered what was it about.
“Don’t tell me… She’s interested in you!” Mao Mao’s husband declared dramatically which caused Mao Mao to glare at him. I chuckled.
We spent some time looking at the menu. Finally we decided to all share the rice dumpling so that we could order other dishes. The rice dumpling came in a set ($30) with a cup of flower tea and a dessert. It was only available for a limited period and the last day was on 23 Jun 2012. The captain told us that some people ordered this set as their meal. Mao Mao’s husband had the honors of dividing up everything on the plate into three portions.
The rice dumpling had some long-grained purple rice mixed in with the glutinous rice. The purple rice was slightly harder which made an interesting contrast with the soft sticky glutinous rice. The rice dumpling was filled with little chopped bits of smoked duck. When I took my first bite of it, I was amazed at how fragrant it was. I’m glad I came. Mao Mao and her husband felt the same way too. Mao Mao even whipped out her handphone and sent messages to her friends, telling them that this is “die, die, must try”.
On the same plate as the rice dumpling, were a slice of foie gras, a slice of smoked duck, a slice of fruit and a chestnut. The smoked duck was nice but the foie gras stole the show. There was a crusty char on the outside but it remained very soft and creamy. Mao Mao and I loved it and we saved it for the last so we could eat our share in one mouthful. Feels so decadent.
The tiny slice of fruit was stewed so it was sweet. Mao Mao thought that it tasted like apple but her husband and I thought it tasted more like a pear. So Mao Mao thought she was wrong because it was two against one. Then I picked up the menu to read the description for the rice dumpling set, and Mao Mao was right. It was an apple.
“Amateurs,” Mao Mao scoffed.
The rice dumpling set came with a flower tea. It was those kind that appeared as a tightly woven ball but after you poured hot water on it, it would slowly unraveled itself and blossomed into a flower. Mao Mao and her husband said that I could have the flower tea. Mao Mao order a cup of Pu-er for herself while her husband had a cup of osmanthus tea. I thought the crockery that the restaurant used to seep the tea was rather cute.
Dessert for the rice dumpling set was aloe vera jelly and lime sorbet. It was not very sweet but I felt a little disappointed that there was no limey flavor. Mao Mao’s husband said that if you mixed everything together before eating it, it tasted different.
Besides the dumpling set, we also ordered other dishes. For the house salad, the waitress actually came to our table to mix it in front of us. On her trolley, were little containers containing dried fruits or nuts. She would take up a spoonful and told us what it was before putting it into the mixing bowl. She added in the greens last of all. Then she drizzled the special DX dressing before mixing up everything and serving it to us on a plate.
It was a simple salad but I thought it tasted quite nice because of the dressing. It was sweet, tangy and a bit peppery.
We had a sausage platter with pork, chicken and veal sausages. Mao Mao liked the chicken sausage which was the most tender. I also thought it was the saltiest of all the sausages. I just want to clarify that the chicken sausage wasn’t overly salty, just that compared to the other two sausages, it was the saltiest. I liked the pork sausage which was quite peppery. The veal sausage was mild in taste.
The fettuccine alfredo was creamy and tasty. It came with lots of yummy mushrooms. I’m glad we shared this dish because while it was tasty, it was too rich for me to eat it all by myself. Mao Mao’s husband liked this so he ate most of it while Mao Mao and I distracted ourselves with the lamb.
The lamb t-bone came in three slices. The captain recommended cooking the lamb to a medium well so we followed his advice. I thought the lamb turned out quite nice. Mao Mao thought it was a little dry but she agreed that it was tasty enough that there was no need for the sauce.
The sauce that came with the lamb was a red wine reduction, not the usual mint sauce. I thought the sauce was quite nice and I wouldn’t mind having it with a juicy piece of steak either. There was a bowl of mash potato which was very good. It was so fine that it was like a puree but that were also little bits of potatoes in it to give it some contrast. There was also a bowl of courgettes and carrots.
The lamb came with a dessert of the day which was strawberry shortcake. I thought the cake was quite okay but it paled in comparison to the yummy main courses.
We had such a good time eating the food that we decided to go for round two. I was rather full by now but the food was good and I’m greedy.
We ordered the rice dumpling set again. So we had one more flower tea and dessert.
We also ordered a pork belly with chickpea fritters. The pork belly had a crispy exterior and the layer of fat was meltingly soft. The meat could be a bit dry but the dish came with a lovely savory dripping sauce so it was alright. The batter for the chickpea fritters was crispy and light but I thought the chickpeas tasted a bit bland. Mao Mao’s husband quietly ate them all up so I guess he must have liked them.
By now, we were so full that we could not eat another bite.
Here comes the bill
In total, we spent $188 for this meal.
We also found out the reason for the lack of customers. Parts of Iluma were under renovation so many people thought that the restaurant was closed. It didn’t help that the restaurant was only accessible by elevator and was not visible to the people in the shopping mall. So there was no way someone could have stumbled across it accidentally.
Mao Mao thought it was quite sad and said, “The food is good, the service is good, must support!”
Chef Daniel’s Kitchen
201 Victoria Street, #07-02/03 Iluma @ Bugis, Singapore 188067