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Featuring the Best

Invited Session: Private Affairs

22 February 2010

If you think about Joo Chiat Road and then mention "Private Affairs", what comes to your mind? If you have not heard of this brand new fine dining restaurant, I'm quite sure food wouldn't have been the first thing that you thought of. It does seem like an unlikely place for an exclusive fine dining restaurant, but with the Singapore Tourism Board keen on improving the appeal of Joo Chiat, such a bold marketing tactic might actually prove wonders in the end. Fantastic for word of mouth opportunities too surely.

The kitchen of Private Affairs is helmed by Chef de Cuisine Paul Ng, who aims to showcase his skills and passion for delivering contemporary European cuisine with that special touch of Asian flavours. Other than whipping up the tastes in the kitchen, he has certainly impressed with his meticulous and unique food styling, though it does make the dishes almost too pretty to eat! Of course, such artistry has not made it easy for food photographers and I too may not have been able to capture the full and intended beauty of the dishes. Still, kudos to Chef Paul Ng for the splendid effort.

Dinner at Private Affairs was a "by invitation only" session courtesy of Ms Veronica, and here in the picture above you can see my merry band of food bloggers who were there with me as well. We also had the company of veteran F&B personality Ross Velantine Errol and owner Sharon, who were there to make sure we were comfortable and had a good dining experience.

If you couldn't tell from the title of this post and if you haven't guessed by now, this is indeed an invited review and dinner was on the house. While the dishes we had were all part of the Chef's Signatures menu ($138++ for six courses), I do hope readers will be aware that the food were all prepared with us and our blogs in mind and it is indeed a showcase of what Private Affairs has to offer. Taste is always subjective and you may not necessarily agree with what I write, but I've done my best to be honest, sincere and accurate just so I don't mislead anyone and just so you don't think I'm raving about things just because it was a free meal. I'll let my own tastebuds do the talking, and if you have had an entirely different gastronomic experience from me, feel free to comment and I'll be glad to know more! In the end, this blog is all about our love for food and I'm not conceited enough to think it revolves all around me, me, me and would think it rude of you to object. With that all said and done, let's head on to the food! :)

Focaccia and Hazelnut Bread
freshly baked and served hot from the oven

Normally I'd be happy with freshly (re)-toasted breads, but to know the breads are freshly baked for each diner is something not many restaurants do, and it's something I particularly like. While the focaccia was soft and fluffy with a hint of baked cheese, the hazelnut roll on the other hand was slightly crisp on the outside and very light on the inside, almost like a fried mantou bun. I was very fond of the latter and had extra helpings of this little brown delight.

Vine Ripened Tomatoes
with horseradish meringue, green pumpkin seed oil and ginger flower

Try as I might to appreciate this, the carnivore in me flatly rejected this after two bites. The horseradish meringue may be interesting and unique to some (the other bloggers actually wiped their plates clean), but somehow it had this hint of wasabi which I do not like. Since my system threatened a revolt, I pushed the plate away. Sorry, next please.

Duck Carpaccio
with Granny Smith apples, scallion gel duck consomme jelly

This second appetiser features thinly sliced French duck breast meat that has been "marinated with spices and sugar and cured in brine for three days before being air-dried". The equally thin slices of green apple and scallion gel livened up this dish with a hint of sweetness and reminded me of the Peking duck pancake and cucumber rolls served in Chinese restaurants. As it is, the duck carpaccio is best eaten rolled up with the apple slices and gel within it.

Beetroot Jelly
with cucumber and green chilli sorbet

Kaelyn, who doesn't eat duck, had this interesting appetiser that was especially pretty to look at. She adored the cucumber and green chilli sorbet that was a good blend of coolness and spiciness. Very unique indeed.

White Lobster Bisque
with salmon and lobster cannelloni, capsicum and lemongrass crumbs

Our third course of the night has to be appreciated more in the fine details than just as a bisque as a whole. The white, black and green cannelloni, a combination of egg, spinach and squid ink pasta, was handmade and merged together seamlessly as a single roll. Encased inside is salmon and lobster meat flavoured with basil. The creamy and rich bisque meanwhile was made more flavourful by the lemongrass crumbs that gave it an Asian touch, taste and aroma. A personal favourite, this and my main course.

Hokkaido Scallops
with corn gnocchi, bed of corn, smoked miso powder and bonito flakes

Another pretty dish that my picture may not have done much justice to. I didn't fancy this very much because it had too many flavours trying to jostle for my (tastebuds') attention. We found the scallops a tad over-seared (not necessarily just because of the minutes spent on photo-taking), and a couple of the people at the table also found this dish a bit too salty for their liking. I do know the miso powder is scattered around the hot plate so that diners can mix it in according to their preference, but I would prefer a type of sauce instead to make this dish smoother and less dry.

Main Courses
choice of beef or fish, with a third experimental lobster dish

On to the main courses (course number five out of seven), and what yours truly, the meat lover, has been waiting all night for.

Wagyu Beef Cheek
with duo of potato, Chinese kale royale, curry lead couscous, tomato chutney and port wine grapes reduction

I'm naturally biased when it comes to beef, and I love it done any way so as long as it's done well. I enjoyed this tender cut of beef cheek that has been braised in aged port wine sauce and which gave it both texture and flavour. Interestingly though, and perhaps for the first time ever, something actually eclipsed the beef: the "kailan royale", a lovely blend of baby kailan, cream, butter and egg, with spinach for a bright green colour. It tasted immensely delightful even to the through and through carnivore in me (compare this to the vine-ripened tomatoes at the start!) and I dare say I would eat my greens everyday if it tastes as delicious as this mashed potato-inspired side.

Monkfish Cheek
in fermented garlic and with oyster glazed purple carrot and white asparagus.

The two ladies at the table who don't eat beef had the monkfish cheek done specially for them, and I hear this is somewhat of a fish that needs some getting used to because its flesh is tougher than the usual barramundi or miso cod fishes that we are normally accustomed to. Somehow, the ladies still prefer their cod.

Glazed Lobster
in Espelette jam with sauteed blue foot mushroom, lardoon and purple carrot paint, Alaskan crab and Cauliflower foam.

This was an experimental dish by Chef Paul Ng and was only served to Ms Veronica, and I could tell she loved it a lot. Not on the menu yet but perhaps in the next month or two.

Mangosteen Lime Granita
a prelude to dessert

We were told that 10kg of mangosteens were used to produce just 400g of mangosteen puree espuma, and almost immediately my mind was screaming about how wasteful that sounds. Still, it's all part of the deal and the extract was indeed quite refreshing. The lime granita, a semi-frozen dessert of sugar and water, did seem to overpower the mangosteen flavour though, and so I'm still wondering if that 10kg of mangosteens was worth it.

Pistachio Tuile, Cheese Sandwich
with passion fruit coulis, strawberry and basil gel

Does this remind you of the ice-cream biscuit sandwiches from the ice-cream carts along Orchard Road or in your neighbourhood? It sure does to me. I really liked the way the soft and smooth cheesecake was made from fresh yoghurt, fine cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar and lemon juice (add in the embedded passion fruit coulis), a great blend of tastes surely. Full credits must go to the pastry chef for such a recipe.

Sweet Wrap-Up
chocolate lip-sticks!

If seven courses aren't already enough, here comes the surprise eighth! Specially imported from Europe, these lipstick containers sure got our attention. Eating the chocolate off them was also like eating those kiddy "push-pop" lollies, though chocolate is definitely more satisfying, at least to a chocolate lover like me. 55% dark Valrhona chocolate, yums.

We took a short tour of the private lounge on the second level where diners can have their pre- and post-meal drinks, and which is also the site for Private Affairs' awesomely decadent Sunday brunch. Pair your meal with your own bottles of wines at no corkage charge for the first two bottles, and just a nominal $25++ fee for subsequent bottles. If you're in the mood to pamper yourself and to indulge in a good brunch, this may just be for you :)

I would like to especially thank Ms Veronica once again for her special invite to Private Affairs, and thank you also to Ms Sharon and Mr Ross for their company that night. Last but definitely not least, thank you Chef Paul Ng for being so hard at work in the kitchen and I must say that I'm really impressed by all that thought and meticulousness that goes into your food styling.

$138++ for six courses off the Chef's Signatures menu
For menus, please click here.

45 Joo Chiat Place.

Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.

6 Foodie Comments:

HungryEpicurean said...

Nice :)

I'll do mine tonight hopefully! BTW check your e-mail.

February 22, 2010 at 3:24 PM
Angeline said...

I totally missed out this one. I see many many beautiful dishes! I want the chocolate lipstick!

February 22, 2010 at 3:39 PM
ice said...

I like the idea of the chocolate lipstick!

February 22, 2010 at 3:53 PM
*Harris said...

all the ladies want the lipstick. veronica suggested we put on our lips and be goth haha

February 22, 2010 at 3:56 PM
Sparklette said...

Excellent review and pictures. The plating is surely one of the best and most daring I've seen in Singapore restaurants!

February 23, 2010 at 12:28 AM
*Harris said...

That's a big compliment coming from a blogger whose blog I read even before I started on mine. Thanks, much flattered :)

February 23, 2010 at 12:58 AM

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