Friday, July 25, 2008

Smaller Bites at One Ninety

C says:

Well, our visit to One Ninety to try the Smaller Bites a la carte buffet happened a lot sooner than we expected. We planned to come back sometime in August, but when I called to ask them how long the promotion was for, they said it was officially only till 31 July. After that, management is still considering whether to keep it, but even if they do, it will probably be at a different price. That left us with no choice but to come here for dinner on Friday night.

The concept of the Smaller Bites menu is tasting (read: one bite) portions of about 40 dishes, ranging from soups, appetisers, main courses and desserts. The current promotion is very good value - $52 per person for unlimited portions of everything on the menu. We decided that even if they were only tasting portions, if each of us were to order one of everything each, we’d explode. So instead, we got one of everything to share. Here are my quick thoughts on each one:


Green Pea Foam with Black Truffles: Not for me. Way too thick, almost like a puree.
Chicken Consomme with Shrimp Dumplings: The dumpling was good – the shrimp was very fresh and springy, but the soup itself was a bit too cold for my liking.
Tomato Soup with Seafood Skewer and Basil: It’s worth ordering this for the grilled seafood skewer alone. Soup’s quite an intense tomato.
Mushroom Cappuccino with Roasted Porcini: A bit undersalted. The crostini with mushrooms was good.


Baby Spinach with Arugula and Wild Mushroom Salad: Ok, but nothing extraordinary.
Grilled Tofu Pocket with Aromatic Vegetables and Sesame Glaze: This was essentially mini tau pok baos. Awesome! The tau pok had incredibly smoky charred flavour and went very well with the sesame glaze.
Calamari with Vegas Dip: The calamari was a bit too hard and chewy.
Coriander Tuna with Sesame and Citrus Pea Salad: Better than expected. The tuna was just barely seared and still nice and rare.
Roasted Pork Char Siew with Cucumber and Coriander Salad: This was so-so, definitely not the best char siew I’ve had but the chilli oil helped.
Portobello Tempura Fries with Horseradish Dip: Mushrooms were nice and meaty but a tad oily.
Bocconcini Mozzarella with Cherry Tomato Bruschetta: This was fabulous. Great tomatoes and good cheese. I wish the bread was a little less toasted and crispy though.
Balsamic-brushed Baby Octopus with Rocket Salad and Pine Nuts: Not bad but I don’t think I’ll order this again.
Crispy Crab Cakes with Black Pepper Sauce and Asian Greens: These were very good, very generous with the crab meat.
Thinly-sliced Turkey Breast with Blueberry Vinaigrette: The turkey was just deli-style cold cuts. A bit too salty and nothing spectacular.
Risotto Balls with Kikorangi Cheese Dressing: I found these really addictive. Probably the best risotto balls I’ve ever had, they’re good alone cos they’re stuffed with cheese, but also good with the blue cheese sauce.
White Fish Ceviche: Ceviche refers to the technique of partially cooking food in an acid, like lime or lemon juice. This led to a rather spongy texture. Not for me.


Seared Scallops with Avocado and Pimento Coulis: I think they do their seafood here really well. The scallop was tender and not overdone.
Green Lip Mussels Casino: The mussels were baked with cheese and bread crumbs. A tad chewy but not bad.
Poached Seabass with Fennel and Mushroom Essence: This was a very delicate preparation, fitting for the delicate nature of the seabass. Light and refreshing.
Crispy Codfish with Oriental Mango Slaw and Wasabi Aioli: I’m partial to cod, and this was crispy outside but still tender inside.
Roasted Togarishi Salmon with Miso Vinaigrette: Again, very good fish. It was still a bit pink and rare in the centre, just the way I like it.
Peanut Butter Chicken: This was more A’s choice. I’m not a fan of peanut in my food, and this tasted a bit like satay sauce.
Black Soy Prawns with Pumpkin Confit: The prawns were excellent – very fresh and perfectly cooked and springy. Soy glaze wasn’t overpowering, and the pumpkin was a good accompaniment.
Lobster Thermidor: We each got a mini tail, and it was very good.
Honey Glazed Duck Breast with Perigord Truffle Sauce: The duck was too cooked for my liking.
Organic Pork Belly on Tropical Asian Salad: This was fabulous. The pork belly was delightfully tender yet the skin was really crispy.
Seared Foie Gras Celeriac Puree Truffle and Truffle Foam: Predictably the foie gras portions were quite small but they went quite well with the celeriac puree.
Lamb Medallion with Herb Crust: Another winner. The lamb was tender and flavourful.
Angus Beef Cheek with Beetroot Mash and Shiraz Reduction: The meat was meltingly tender and the beetroot mash was pretty interesting.
Grilled Grain-fed Sirloin with Creamy Fondue and Guinness Sauce: I found the beef a bit overdone, it was cooked medium, probably to cater to a wide range of preferences.


Hazelnut Royaltine Cake: This was a bit like Canele’s Le Royale, with the crispy biscuit layer. Pretty good.
Bitter Chocolate Mousse with Lemon Curd: This was surprisingly served in cake form, not bad but the lemon was a bit overpowering.
Strawberry and Tomato Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream: The tomato really threw me off. Tasted a bit like sweet and sour sauce.
Soy Bean Panna Cotta with Sesame Tuile: The most local of the desserts, this was a good interpretation of tau huey, topped with red bean and a caramel peanut cookie.
Walnut Napoleon with Espresso Ice Cream: A light coffee cake; pretty good.

Phew. That was it. We inadvertently had a few repeats when they brought us double servings of a few dishes, but otherwise with both of us sharing just one order of each item, we were already stuffed. Overall, I was quite impressed and if they keep this concept then depending on the revised price, I’ll definitely come back again.

A says:

While the normal meals are too expensive for me, $52 for this is actually quite worth it when you consider what you’re getting. If it’s your first time, go with a friend and just ask for one serving of everything to share.

After trying everything, here’s a rundown of what I’d order for myself (not to share – it’s all for me).

The bread they give you is as good, if not better than most of the stuff on the menu. We got three regular and three sweet ones. I like the sweet one. C claims it’s stuffed with sweet potato, but while it does look like sweet potato, I think it’s some form of custard.

The soups are okay but I think I’ll skip them in favour of other courses. Maybe I’d have the Tomato if I wanted to start it off with a soup.

For starters, I recommend the Grilled Tofu Pocket, Mozzarella and Tomato Bruschetta, Crispy Crab Cakes and Portobello Tempura Fries.

I’m not a big fan of most seafood so I’ll stick with the Scallops and Salmon.

The main meat course is where I’d go overboard. At least two helpings of Lamb and at least one order of Beef.

The desserts were just too “creative” for my tastes. I would have liked a simple gooey chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream. I guess the safest option for me is actually the Soy Bean Panna Cotta.

I would have liked to finish the meal with a coffee but I still can’t bring myself to pay $!! for a coffee.

One Ninety
190 Orchard Boulevard
Ground floor Four Seasons Hotel
Tel: 6734 1110 / 6831 7250

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