Read full review
2012-10-28 1925 views
ABC Kitchen first caught my eyes when it climbed up the Openrice top-10-chart back in almost 2 years ago (time flies..). I was surprised and sceptical how good the food really was in a "cooked food centre". After two repeatedly cancelled bookings due to uncontrollable crazy workload, I quietly filed it in my to-try list. A year on.. finally, we, a party of 3, made it on a quiet Monday night. =Well informed of its settings; we found the "cooked food centre" actually quite decent. Note: it is a "
A year on.. finally, we, a party of 3, made it on a quiet Monday night.
Well informed of its settings; we found the "cooked food centre" actually quite decent. Note: it is a "cooked food centre" and so it is quite different from a wet market and much more hygienic. No weird smells. No wet floors. Just a lot of hustle and bustle from customers of all of the restaurants all clustered in the middle area. Very easy to identify. The simple and eye-catching three words - A B C and the Italian flag beside it (I still do not understand why it has an Italian flag.. perhaps they meant to serve Italian dishes, but to be frank, it is more of a mix of western food rather than pure Italian... anyway...). ABC Kitchen was founded by chefs trained at the M at the Fringe; short-handed for "A Better Cooking Kitchen", sought to serve good food at a rather non-traditional setting. The restaurant occupied around 10 tables which were all distinctively decorated with the red checkered table cloths.
A simple paper menu was presented to us; but the range on offer was truly mouth-watering!
Warm white buns were then brought to us with two neatly sliced butter. Nothing much to say about that. Rather tasteless buns and mellow boring butter.
We ordered 2 starters to share for the 3 of us. Rich Porcini Mushroom Risotto.
Rightly named - RICH Porcini Mushroom Risotto - it ticked and satisfied every element of a good risotto. Al dente pieces of rice, each chewy in the middle and swirled fully in creamy truffle paste, joined with generous pieces of porcini mushrooms. It was a nice balance of the luscious creaminess and the sharp mushroomy taste. The thinly shaved parmesan rested elegantly on top of the creamy risotto but added further body and power to the risotto, making each spoonful a scrumptious delight. Pan-seared foie gras with vanilla rhubarb chutney.
It is generally easy to please the crowd with foie gras, but it is not that easy to make good memorable foie gras. A toss of salad, well seasoned with a simple dressing. Two very lightly toasted pieces of bread, very mediocre. Foie gras, slightly to the thin side, looked just dark brown (as per the photo), but unfortunately it was slightly burnt (thus a bit of bitterness...) and no where crispy enough (you need the crisp to maximise the sensation poured out from its fatty core). Vanilla rhubarb chutney not flavourful enough; I could taste neither vanilla nor rhubarb. Rooms for improvement easily identified.
Then 3 main courses to share around. Roasted Suckling Pig.
Let's start with the star. Now there is a reason that this is the ABC Kitchen's signature dish. Very nicely roasted, the smoky skin was very crispy. As I heard the crackling sound, just the right amount of oil seeped out, and my mouth was filled with the strong and fresh aroma of pork. The meat of the suckling pig was very succulent and soft; and indeed, that's the whole point of using a suckling pig - which literally meant "a piglet fed on its mother's milk". Served on sauteed potatoes, and most importantly - fruity peaches (lovely) which added much dimension to the flavour. Recommended! Barbarie (I believe, it should be spelt Barbary..) Duck Breast.
Barbary ducks are in general leaner than normal farm ducks. It is a more tricky type of poultry meat to master and to ensure moisture and tenderness. This dish looked very promising, elegantly presented and the duck was served in a pretty pink. Nevertheless, while the duck breast was pleasantly gamy, it is slightly too tough and dry to my liking. And worse, the blueberry sauce was not strong enough to bring out the flavour of the duck. Nice touch with the mashed sweet potato which livened up the dish. If only, the sauce is more complementing and equally delectable. Short Ribs.
Nice, delightful and very tender having been slowly braised. Hearty and thick sauce (according to the menu, Shiraz was added); but nothing complex and unique. My friend H said that it reminded him of good old Marks and Spencer ready-made sauce. I would call it the "grand-ma recipe". All in all, reasonable dish, but no element of surprise.
Finally - dessert time! and this was the best part of our meal! Pistachio Souffle.
You can call us greedy; I call this fabulous forwarding planning - we ordered two portions of the pistachio souffle. Fluffy and puffy, carrying a soothing green; the souffle was very inviting and stirred immediate joy to our table. And it certainly did not disappoint. Smooth, soft and airy, lovely level of the pistachio fragrant (you see, if it is too overpowering, sometimes it tastes like cough syrup......); each spoonful was like a spoonful of the cloud in the sky, a spoonful of dream... Pure bliss!! Pavlova.
Pavlova, a meringue dessert which is usually with a crisp crust but soft inside. This was an example of a beautiful execution. Topped with lots of fresh fruits (berries, kiwi, mango..) and whipped cream. The magic was the addition of passion fruit sauce and seeds, which brought a refreshing zesty dimension to the sweet delight. Loved working my way through this dessert, an interesting mix of different "mouthfeel" - crispiness, crunchiness, chewiness, stickiness... I enjoyed this Pavlova a lot.
I must admit that I am having a slight struggle what to rate ABC Kitchen. It certainly exceeded my expectation given its non-traditional location/setting. Yes, I also really enjoyed the desserts. However - it was not a memorable meal for me and I would not be actively recommending this place. So - it is just an "okay" for me.
I guess this highlights a general rule of life for us: it is not enough to excel merely in relation to your setting, be outstanding in all ways, even when stand-alone .