October 13th, 2012

Paella Craving: Esmirada@Orchard

First, BIG THANKS to YY and Val for accompanying me and satisfying my fortnight cravings - Paella!

It's been a while since my last seafood risotto (Ristorante da Valentino@Turf Club Road tops the chart for me) and paella (Don Quijote@Dempsey was good). Serenity Spanish Bar & Restaurant popped up a lot but finally we decided on:


Esmirada@Orchard 

For starters we had... 

Famous Garlic Bread "Tower" - A must-try and easily one of the best garlic bread I've had in a long time. Val actually tasted a hint of white wine sauce. Not sure about that. One serving is good for 3-4 pax. 

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Sizziling Garlic Chilli Shrimp on Hot Plate (w/toasted bread) - Garlic-Chill-Olive Oil (think I saw Basil leaves inside as well) hardly goes wrong and we were all over it. Tastes very similar to the commonly used sauce in French escargots out there. Good size shrimps were cooked just nice. 

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Burgundy Escargots (again, w/toasted bread) - Garlic Herb Butter snails with a hint of curry spices (I have no idea why). No shells but each came with half a mushroom at the bottom. Loved it!

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Moving on to Specialties...

Steamed Mussels (500g) with Special Garlic Herb Butter - Heavenly good and probably one of the best I've had in Singapore. Reminds me of the institutional Belgium mussels (still No. 1 for me) in Brussels thanks to Noel's research. Comparable in quality but fewer in quantity per pot. 

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Paella Valenciana - Fairly small pan among the paella pans I've seen before, but still enough for 2-3 pax. The rice was al dente and good flavours from the seafood, chicken wings and lap cheong. Prefer Don Quijote's paellas and pure seafood paellas though. I can do without the chicken wings and lap cheong.

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Famous Charcoal Grilled Skewers - All 3 of us did not really like it. Chicken pieces were dry and not much flavours. Veggies were a bit too burnt on the outside for our liking. Val, YY and I instinctively dipped the chicken into the mussel sauce.

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We also ordered a jug of homemade sangria accompanied by a few thin slices of orange instead of the full-of-fruits-sangria that I know - no big deal. Service was so-so and it was difficult to get the attention of the waiters/waitresses. Overall, it was a good meal with some hits and misses. Total bill came up to about S$60-70 per person. The ambience was really nice and suitable for couples or group gatherings. Do call for reservations and request for a window side table to have a good view.

Esmirada@Orchard

442 Orchard Road

#01-29 Orchard Hotel

Singapore 238879

Tel: 6735 3476

orchard@esmirada.com

Website: http://esmirada.com/esmirada-orchard/esmirada-orchard-about/


Random Walk Down...Bras Basah Complex

Went back to Bras Basah Complex yesterday to look for some material on Chinese Jade collection. Sadly, the reliable books and catalogues were nowhere to be seen. Seemed like a wasted trip until I noticed several "new" antique shops that were not open previously.

There's a "lady-loves-her-laptop-more-than-antiques" antique shop and she was funny. Uninterested in the questionable pieces on display, I decided to ask if she had "better" antique jade pieces somewhere. She pointed to the wall and I saw a framed Taotie mask jade plaque with the words 金玉满堂 above it. Seriously? Framing a jade piece? All of a sudden she rushed behind a curtain and emerged with a Chinese Bi 璧 disc in a plastic wash bowl.

white wash bowl

The Chinese Bi  disc was heavy 0.75-1.00kg and approximately 20-25cm in diameter. The disc had "Taotie mask" relief carvings on the surface which looked like cartoon Diablo. I asked how much and she flustered. The only reply I got was "价值不菲" (worth a fortune) even after asking 3 times. I left with a smile.

Next, handwritten posters of "高价收购中国邮票和古董" (willing to buy Chinese stamps and antiques at high price) outside another antique shop caught my attention. The owner has a huge collection of Chinese stamps but I do not know much in this area unfortunately. Again, several not-so-correct jade pieces were on the shelves and I asked if he had bigger ticket items.

Shop Owner: Yes of course, Hongshan 红山玉 you interested?

Me: Sure. 

Shop Owner: 红山玉 you sure?

Me: Errrrr. Yes, jade pieces from 红山文化.

Shop Owner: It is so valuable nowadays, I kept it in the bank. 

Immediately, he went back to the other customer in the shop holding a huge teapot swearing and whining about how he is unsure of authenticating the teapot. For an antique aficionado, he is one worked up dealer/collector.