[XMAS BUFFET] Feast in Merriment @ Element, Amara Singapore

Hello everyone!

Let’s begin this post with a Christmas song sing-along! I know, why don’t we sing Deck The Halls, a crowd favourite at any Christmas party for sure?

♪ Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la 
♪ Tis the season to be jolly FATTY
Fa la la la la, la la la la ♪

Throw away your skinny jeans and belts because with all the Christmas-themed buffets in town, stretch pants are back in fashion once again! With so many festive buffets to choose from but a limited calorie budget to work with, hopefully this write-up on the Yuletide dinner and lunch buffet that’s set to launch on the eve of Christmas at Element (courtesy of Amara Singapore) would help you decide if it’s worthwhile to expand your waistline for. That is, unless you belong to the ‘I-can-eat-as-much-as-I-want-and-I-will-still-be-skinny’ group.

In which case, I hate you.

—🎄 Appetisers 🎄—

Cognac Lobster Bisque

Cognac Lobster Bisque

In the pot, this may look like an ordinary lobster bisque to you but it actually includes an ingredient which gives it an extra zing of flavour – Cognac. Added last to the bisque for a stronger kick, the smoothness and silky richness of the Cognac marries well with the sweetness and creaminess of the soup. Perhaps to cater to children and non-drinkers at the buffet, only a soupçon of Cognac was added so the slight bitter and tangy aftertaste that I got from the lobster bisque didn’t occur to me that it was Cognac. In fact, I had thought it was the spiciness from pepper because the distinctive bold flavour of Cognac just wasn’t picked up by my taste bud! Ironically, Fiona, who isn’t a fan of alcohol, could tell in one sip that there was liquor in the bisque 🤷 But it wasn’t too overpowering so she cleaned the bowl in no time!

Personally, I did not really like the texture of the lobster bisque as it was a little too watered-down for my liking and I prefer it to be creamier and heartier. Still, this is a rare find at any buffet and a must-try if you are a crustacean lover like me!

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa (reviewed here)

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa (reviewed here)

One of my favourite dishes at Element makes an appearance again this Christmas! If you’ve not read my verdict on the tuna tataki on my previous post, I urge you to do so now for a more detailed review! But in summary, the cool, softly chewy texture of the Tataki was what does it for me and this was also probably why it was snapped up so quickly at the media tasting event 😍

Editor’s note: Most of them was taken away by you, my dear.

Smoked Duck, Salami and Prosciutto

Smoked Duck, Salami and Prosciutto

Honey Baked Butter Squash with Honey Mustard and Pumpkin Seed

Honey Baked Butter Squash with Honey Mustard and Pumpkin Seed

Diced to bite-sized pieces, the butternut squash felt squishy in the mouth, almost like the texture of potato but softer, and has a lightly sweet and nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin (although many would argue that they’re basically the same considering that they are used interchangeably in certain countries) on its own. The pumpkin seeds give it an added crunch while the honey mustard lends a slightly zestier and more savoury edge. This is definitely the dish to go for if you intend to start the buffet on a healthier note. But being someone who is huge on more piquant flavours, this was rather bland on my palate.

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

A fine example of a simple yet elegant pairing that cannot go wrong, this dish features shredded crab meat mixed with a mayonnaise base and topped with a mountain of prawns. The prawns, which are deshelled for fuss-free eating, have such irresistibly crunchy and firm texture that I could not help but gobble up at least 15 pieces of them in one sitting. No doubt this is going to be a favourite among children and adults alike at the buffet table!

Marinated Duck Rilette with Red Wine, Dried Fruits and Gherkin Salsa

Marinated Duck Rilette with Red Wine, Dried Fruits and Gherkin Salsa

Believe it or not, the duck rillette took me some courage to overcome my apprehension of trying it. Apart from the fact that I had never eaten meat prepared Rillette-style (a cooking method originated from France 🇫🇷) before, it honestly wasn’t the most appealing dish on the buffet table. But I recalled tasting the tuna tataki for the first time and instantly falling head over heels for it. Thinking that this would turn out the same way, I took the plunge and scooped some of the duck rillette along with the sauce onto my plate.

Voilà! Fortune favours the brave, perhaps. The duck rillette (or rillettes de canard, as the French calls it) came across as a breath of fresh air. Soft and smooth in texture, it was akin to the texture of a pastry or pâté. By itself, the meat was rather salty (and in Fiona’s words, tasted like “mushy canned food”) so pairing it with the red wine sauce – which resembled and tasted delightful like cranberry jam – would be highly recommended as the sweetness of the sauce evens it out. This would also go perfectly with bread!

—🎄 Main Course🎄—

Turkey Buah Keluak

Turkey Buah Keluak

What’s Christmas in Singapore without roast turkey smeared with the familiar buah keluak (yes, it isn’t charred although it looks like it)? From cempadak creme brûlée to pandan pudding, it seems like we can always count on Element to come up with the most innovative fusion food ideas regardless of the occasion. And in case you didn’t know, buah keluak (or pangium edule, Malay for “the fruit which nauseates” 🤨) is dubbed the black truffle of the East as it is considered an acquired taste. Used mainly in Malay, Indonesian and Peranakan cooking, these seeds are obtained from their poisonous fruit and are then made safe for consumption by fermentation.

The presence of the buah keluak lends a bitter and earthy taste to the turkey, which would otherwise be terribly bland and dry like chicken breast meat (but twice as bad). According to the chef, this took three days to prepare which, unless the turkey is served to a large group of people who love jaw-tiringly chewy meat, isn’t worth the effort (and slaughter). That said, I truly appreciate the creativity and ingenuity presented in this dish and would recommend this to homesick non-Asians who don’t mind a little South East-Asian twist.

Stir-fried Moreton Bay Bug with Salted Egg

Stir-fried Moreton Bay Bug with Salted Egg

Who would have thought a foreign-sounding crustacean could be localised into a dish that would fit my palate to an absolute T? The creaminess of the salted egg sauce coupled with the firmness and lightly crispiness of the meat was a dream-come-true.  Unlike typical salted egg dishes that would bring you to a state of surfeit (i.e. “gelat“) after a few mouthfuls, this just kept me asking for more. I figured it was probably due to it being infused with some spice during preparation.

Steamed Garoupa with Lime Beurre Blanc topped with Tomato Vierge

Steamed Garoupa with Lime Beurre Blanc topped with Tomato Vierge

Roasted Chicken with Meat Floss

Roasted Chicken with Meat Floss

Tajima Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Truffle Mashed Potato and Port Jus

Tajima Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Truffle Mashed Potato and Port Jus

The addition of the foie gras (those whitish slabs but in very limited quantity) was a splendid touch as it helped to bring out the flavour of the wagyu beef even more. However, probably to cater to the masses at the buffet, the meat was generally cooked to medium which made it somewhat tough and chewy and thereby cheapen the quality of the meat. I feel that this would be better suited at the live station so patrons can request for their steak to be cooked to their preferred doneness (which in my case, would be rare). Furthermore, as an avid lover of wagyu beef, it also kinda annoyed me that the beautiful marbling of the wagyu beef was wholly concealed by the charring and port jus sauce 😫 Where’s the justice for the poor wagyu cattle that died for this?

— 🎄 Desserts🎄—

Cempedak Creme Brûlée

Cempedak Creme Brûlée

The Cempedak Creme Brûlée is like the pinnacle of the Christmas tree as it is, without a doubt, the ⭐ of the dessert section (and as a result of that, effectively stealing the thunder from the log cakes at a Christmas-theme buffet 🤣). Find out why this is the best dessert in my tummy’s opinion on my previous review here.

Macarons (Gingerbread Spices / Coconut / Blueberry + Salted Caramel) - 6 pcs/pack at S$16+ or 10 pcs/pack at S$25+

Macarons (Gingerbread Spices [pink] / Coconut [white – highly recommended] / Blueberry + Salted Caramel [blue – highly recommended]) – 6 pcs/pack at S$16+ or 10 pcs/pack at S$25+

Ho, ho, ho! Spot me on the Christmas log cakes!

Ho, ho, ho! Spot me on the Christmas log cakes!

Fancy gifting your loved ones a log cake to commemorate the season of giving? Element also offers traditional log cakes in three tantalising flavours to suit different tastes. They are available for order at the restaurant.

Amara's Signature Cempadak Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$65+)

Amara’s Signature Cempedak Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$65+)

Out of all the log cakes that were brought out, the Cempedak Yule Log Cake was the first to be reduced to nothing which pretty much attests to the popularity of the cempedak in Element’s dessert line-up. The log cake had a fluffy texture with a very robust cempedak flavour that was fragrant and yet not too overpowering at the same time. Each bite of the cake melted in my mouth before I realised what was happening.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+)

Dark Chocolate Cherry Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+)

 

Pink Champagne Lychee Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+) - this is alcoholic

Pink Champagne Lychee Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+) – this is alcoholic

Christmas is the time to spend with your family and loved ones, and what better way to do so than to indulge in some cempedak goodness (and many other crowd favourites) at Element? If you’re interested to dine at Element, do make your reservations in advance to avoid being a sad 🐼!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Element at Amara Singapore · 165 Tanjong Pagar Road Singapore 088539 · Tel: 6879 2607 · Nearest MRT station: Tanjong Pagar (EW15) · Click here for more information
Prices and time for Christmas Eve/Christmas Buffet Lunch and Dinner as above

Prices and time for Christmas Eve/Christmas Buffet Lunch and Dinner as above 

The writer is a glutton who occasionally allows his appetite free rein and steals food from Fiona’s plate. Among some of his favourite food are a good steak and meaty crabs doused in chili sauce. Read more posts by Alphonsus here.

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District 10 Bar & Grill @ Suntec City

MEDIA INVITE

Hello everyone!

Since the reopening of Suntec City after a year-long (felt like forever, though) refurbishment in 2013, the crowds seem to have diverted from rat-plagued Marina Square to the newly renovated mall (have you been there yet? It’s massive). While a small part of Suntec City is still preparing to open to shoppers, most of the shops have already started operating. with some located at the inner part of the mall opening as late as this month.

And one of them is District 10, a rather cozy-chic restaurant serving modern European cuisine in a casual yet sophisticated al fresco and indoor setting. Formed in 2009 and headed by Chef Luca Pezzera, District 10 has 3 other outlets in Singapore and one in Medan, each bearing a different theme.  While these outlets offer the usual pub fare like burgers and fish and chips, the latest addition at Suntec City – which had only started on the second week of September – specialises in dry aged meat and provides a more upmarket choice of food and wine.

Just to sidetrack a little, the name District 10 brings me back to those days when I worked as an assistant to an estate agent who dealt primarily in private properties in prime areas like this district (or D10, one of the 28 districts in this city-state), which encompasses affluent neighbourhoods such as Bukit Timah, Holland Road, Orchard Road and Tanglin Road. Although I have no idea how the name of this restaurant came about, I think it’s highly possible that it was inspired by the real district 10 in Singapore, thus explaining the overall classy look and tone of the branding direction.

District 10 Bar & Grill at Suntec City

District 10 Bar & Grill at Suntec City

District 10 Bar & Grill at Suntec City

District 10 Bar & Grill at Suntec City

A considerable area of the 1,800 square-foot restaurant is devoted to the outdoor dining area as seen above. Designed and built by A D Lab’s leading architect, Warren Liu, the al fresco bar is the one and only with synchronised tole featuring logs in Suntec City and a series of movable and scalable cabana-like broad-seat open houses – a first in the mall.

Wines for tasting that evening

Wines for tasting that evening

Getting to District 10 was a bit of a hassle for me because it’s quite a distance from the MRT exit and since it was tucked right behind a long stretch of unopened shops, I nearly missed it. I wanted to take a shortcut but it was during the week of the F1 Singapore Grand Prix so almost every corner of Temasek Boulevard was sealed off – gah! I’m sure getting there would be a lot easier now, though.

Welcome drink: Zonin - Prosecco

Welcome drink: Zonin – Prosecco (11% alcohol level)

Upon arrival, I was served the Zonin Prosecco, a sparkling wine which takes its name from a little hill-side town near Trieste, in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy). The must is obtained from gently pressed grapes and it has a pale, straw yellow colour with subtle green hues with a persistent perlage (the chains of bubbles that ascend towards the surface of the wine) and rich mousse. It was pleasantly tannic with a fruity fragrant, all while revealing an abundance of almonds and fresh citrus notes. One of the milder wines I had that evening, it was surprisingly gentle on the palate and easy to drink for wine beginners.

This wine is best paired with caprese salad, crab cakes, pan-seared salmon with lemon and basil, chicken pesto with angel hair pasta or all your fine desserts.. or this near-impeccable canapé right here:

Crostini With Duck Rillettes And Fig Jam (S$16++)

Bar bites: Crostini with Duck Rillettes and Fig Jam (S$16++)

This fancy-looking  tartlet is a French specialty. Tender and well-salted, the shredded duck meat had a great consistency of fat and meat. Without a robust flavour on its own, it allowed the sweetness of the fig jam to stand out more. Further, the crostini added some crunch to the soft and moist texture of the duck confit and also gave it a bit more depth. However, I’d prefer the crostini to be slightly smaller so that the entire thing could sit comfortably in my mouth (since canapes are supposed to be eaten in one mouthful).

Chef Luca Pezzera

Chef Luca Pezzera

Sun-dried Tomato bread

Sun-dried Tomato bread

Following that, the guests were ushered to the indoor dining area. Gracing our table top was a bread basket featuring a few slices of crumbly sun-dried tomato bread. They were more dense and chewier in texture as compared to most sourdough bread I had, and hence were relatively easy to pry apart. Tomato puree was also pulped into the corners of every slice, giving it a deliciously tart finish which sort of opened up my appetite.

To further enhance the flavours of each course, savoury wines were served alongside the food.  The finest selection from the Zonin family, these wines were the highlights of that evening and were carefully paired with a customised menu from the restaurant. Each dish came with 2 wine accompaniments.

Tenuta Ca'Bolani Aquilis Sauvignon

Tenuta Ca’Bolani – Aquilis Sauvignon (13.5% alcohol level)

Like Prosecco, Aquilis was named after the village it originated and is made only once every 2-3 years. It has a golden straw-yellow colour with green hues and its smell renders a wonderful balance of citrus fruit and minerals with subtle savoury notes and white rose. On the palate, the wine was dry, medium-bodied and discernibly piquant. Having said that, it kinda grew on me and I later found myself sipping quite a bit of it.

Feudo Principi di Butera - Insolia Sicilia

Feudo Principi di Butera – Insolia Sicilia (13% alcohol level)

The Sicilian name of the commonly known as “ansonica” in Italy, Insolia has straw-yellow shade with verdant hues. The wine is described to have a tropical aroma of minerals, apples, tangerine, creamsicle and flowers but somehow what I got was a rather sharp and pungent smell, almost likened to ammonia. It is dry with a syrupy texture and had refreshing citrus flavour reminiscent of tangerine combined with almond and stone minerals, leading to a long and crisp finish.

Proscuitto de Parma served with San Marzano Tomatoes

Prosciutto de Parma served with San Marzano Tomatoes (price not available)

The prosciutto was quite a rousing start and it actually went well with the sun-dried bread. In paper-thin slices, the dry-cured ham was soft with an incredible melt-in-your-mouth texture. It was salted but not too overwhelmingly because the tomatoes had helped to offset a bit of it.

Not being familiar with San Marzino tomatoes, I had initially mistaken it for apricot jam because of its sweet and hint of tart flavours. These tomatoes are, in fact, naturally sweet with low acidity because they are grown in the rich volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius. But despite how differently they taste from normal tomatoes, they, too, share similar cancer-fighting properties! Wow, pretty sure fussy eaters wouldn’t mind having them on their plates!

Castello d'Albola - Chianti Classico

Castello d’Albola – Chianti Classico (13% alcohol level)

Elegant and refined, the Chianti Classico is a feminine style of red wine. It has a brilliant ruby red colour that tends towards garnet. Delivering a rich aroma of berries with underlying notes of sage, spice cake and earth on the nose, the palate is enlivened with cherry and exotic spices by this vibrant and medium-bodied wine that offers a delicate and polished tannins finish. It is a lot sweeter than Riserva below.

Castello d'Albola - Chianti Classico Riserva

Castello d’Albola – Chianti Classico Riserva (13% alcohol level)

Presenting a lovely ruby-red colour with orange hues, the nose is pronounced with subtle red fruits and clear notes of violet, wood, spice and earth. It is rich and medium to full-bodied (definitely more velvety than Classico above), complete with hints of berries, herbs, spice and minerals on the palate that finishes with robust tannins.

Pappardelle served with Duck Ragout

Pappardelle served with Duck Ragout (price not available)

Topped with deliciously chalky Parmesan cheese flakes and tender shredded duck meat tossed in tangy tomato gravy, the Pappardelle was like an elevated version of the Fettuccine served in entrée portion size. The flat pasta noodles were cooked perfectly as they were dense and firm to the bite. However, we felt that there wasn’t much flair to the plating because the abundant of oil at the side wasn’t very aesthetically pleasing.

Chef Luca at work

Restaurant with an open-kitchen concept. Was able to see Chef Luca at work!

Black Angus Ribs on the grill

Black Angus Ribs on the grill

Feudo Principi di Butera - Symposio

Feudo Principi di Butera – Symposio (14% alcohol level)

This wine offers a dark ruby and purple colour and delivers rich leather notes, spice, dark chocolates and spicy tobacco on the palate. Medium bodied with a long and velvety soft finish, the nose displays black cherry and rich ruby red plum notes with strong zesty orange.

Tenuta Ca'Bolani - Alturio Refosco

Tenuta Ca’Bolani – Alturio Refosco (13.5% alcohol level)

A top-grade wine that was last made in 2011, I was lucky enough to try Alturio Refosco as it is relatively uncommon with limited quantity available in the world today. Assuming a dark ruby-purple and nearly opaque appearance, a delightful combination of plum and dark cherries with hints of rich milk chocolate, jasmine and spiced herbs greet the nose while the juicy cranberry, roasted coffee and big chewy tannins tickle the palate. Very flavourful, indeed! It was undoubtedly the best wine of the evening. You could tell the quality of the wine just by the taste of it. It is divine, smooth and supple with medium-bodied weight that leads to a long and mineral-driven finish.

Of course, with great wine comes great food, so we were not a bit surprised by the choice of food pairing for Alturio Refosco.

Grilled Black Angus OP Ribs with Rosemary Sea Salt & Rosemary Glaze

Grilled Black Angus OP Ribs with Rosemary Sea Salt & Rosemary Glaze (S$20++ per 100g, min. order of 500g)

Grilled Black Angus OP Ribs with Rosemary Sea Salt & Rosemary Glaze

Grilled Black Angus OP Ribs with Rosemary Sea Salt & Rosemary Glaze

Visually appealing with taste to boot, the grilled black angus OP ribs was the star of the menu and the best protein dish I had in years.  Neatly sliced to reveal the glistening rare-done rosy-red center, it had the optimal balance of the fat and meat to give a buttery, sashimi-like texture. The steak was seasoned perfectly and crispy on the edge, displaying great finesse. It was so succulent and on its own, you could eat it without the Rosemary glaze! Seriously, one of, if not the best, I’ve tasted in my life. This dish took me to the heaven and back, I kid you not.

Enjoying my wine!

Enjoying my wine!

Crispy beef skin

Crispy beef skin (price not available)

As a prelude to our desserts (well, not really), we nibbled on some crispy beef skin which tasted really salty. This was probably some impromptu snack whipped up by the chef to tease our taste buds because it wasn’t on the menu.

Zonin - Moscato Puglia

Zonin – Moscato Puglia (7% alcohol level)

And finally, a dessert wine to match with the final course. Light straw-yellow with golden reflections and a delicate mousse, the Moscato has a typical fresh and intense scents of peaches and exotic fruit. It is luscious and light-bodied with a lingering fresh, fruity and aromatic flavours that reveal its varietal characteristic.

Wild Berries Tart with Creme Fraiche and Vanilla Sauce

Wild Berries Tart with Creme Fraiche and Vanilla Sauce (S$12++)

Wild Berries Tart with Creme Fraiche and Vanilla Sauce

Wild Berries Tart with Creme Fraiche and Vanilla Sauce

The dessert wine was a fantastic accompaniment to the tart which was unbearably sour on its own. But the wine managed to tone its acidity down a lot when consumed consecutively, and instantly transform this acetic dessert into an even more indulgent dish. Sprinkled with gold leaf, it was served in a generous portion with its cross-section of savoury berries visible on both sides. The vanilla ice cream added a satisfying flavour dimension to counteract the tartness. But of course, it wouldn’t be enough to mask substantially, thus I’d suggest you get a bottle of Moscato to go with it.

Earl Grey Tea

Ended my night with a pot of Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey Tea

Apart from alcoholic beverages (all sorts! Beer, vodka, champagne… you name it, they have it), I believe they do serve tea as well but you may have to enquire about it since only alcoholic drinks are listed on the beverage menu.

On the overall, the food was top-notch, albeit pricey. But if you’re looking to unwind after a hectic week, District 10 serves as a magnificent getaway place for an intimate date with your beau, or a gathering spot for you and your pals!

Have you been to any of the District 10 outlets in Singapore? Let me know your thoughts! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

 

District 10 @ Suntec City
3 Temasek Boulevard, North Wing
#01-514/515 (near Fountain of Wealth, outside Tower 2 office lobby)
Singapore 038983
Operating hours:
Monday to Sunday: 11.30am – 11.00pm
Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm (last order at 2.30pm)
Dinner: 6.00pm – 10.30pm (last order at 10pm)
Tel: 6822 2886
Click here to view other outlets
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