Xiyan Singapore (A revisit)

collageXiyan has excellent service. However, like all the king’s men and horses in the Humpty Dumpty Incident, even the finest service staff in Singapore could not save the dismal cooking.

It all started out a month ago when an arrangement was made with Xi Yan to host the next Coterie dinner. This is because we had a pleasant experience the last time. Unfortunately, two days before the dinner, an urgent email was sent to everyone saying that Xi Yan now wanted to charge corkage unless we take their more expensive set dinner or the cheaper set dinner (with a reduced menu) and we buy a bottle from them.

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Posted on 23rd Oct 2006 in Asian, Cantonese, Coterie de Dionysus, Food and Drink, Fusion  |  10 comments

Tempranillo Challenge at the American Club

collageI am now dabbing my pants with a strong cleaner as I write this. Fortunately they were not ruined by the hot chocolate we had for dessert at the Tempranillo Challenge organized by the Coterie de Dionysus.

Tempranillo is the most important red Rebsorte in Spain. Rebsorte here means grape variety, usually cultivated for wine. The name is derived from the word “Temprano” which is Spanish for “Early” and Tempranillo is translated as “Small Early Ones” because Tempranillo tends to ripen early.

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Posted on 5th Oct 2006 in Coterie de Dionysus, Drink, Food and Drink, Spanish  |  4 comments

Left Bank vs Right Bank at Memoir

collageThe Coterie de Dionysus meets to analyze wines. This time it was Left Bank vs. Right Bank.

Which is all a waste of time, because one should choose and support a bank based on its interest rates, products and service. And there are plenty of banks in Singapore.

Ok. For those who are curious, here are my lecture notes.

The principal difference between the Left and Right banks, other than location, is the soil composition. The Left Bank has gravel-dominated soil while the Right Bank is clay-dominated.

The Left Bank vineyards lie west of the Garonne River and the Gironde Estuary. The more important districts on the left bank are Haut-Medoc and Graves/Pessac-Leognan. Haut-Medoc (south of Medoc) contains the four famous communes of St. Estphe (Hard, tannic, full-bodied, earthy, chunky – Chateau Montrose), Pauillac (Rich, poweful, firm, tannic, full-bodied, blackcurrant and cedar aromas very long lived – Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild and Latour), St-Julien (Rich, flavourful, medium-full bodied, elegant and full of finesse – Chateau Leoville-Poyferre) and Margaux (Perfumed, fragrant bouquet, medium bodied, supple, complex – Chateau Palmer).

The Left Bank has soils with higher gravel content that favor Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, hence the blackcurrant and cigar-box aromas. Wines from the Left Bank usually require more time to mature and will age for years.


And the Right Bank vineyards lie east and north of the Dordogne River and east of the Gironde Estuary. The two important wine districts for the left bank are St-Emilion and Pomerol. The wines are dominated by Merlot. Right Bank vineyards wines are typically better suited for beginning Bordeaux wine drinkers, as they have lower tannin content, more fruit-forward flavor and are more inviting initially.

I joined the Right Bank as most of my friends are in that group. Personally, I do not have a preference as both are pretty good. It’s all in good fun anyway.

This time the meet was at Memoir, a small restaurant on Tanjong Pagar Road, just next to the fabulous Oso Ristorante.

We’ve heard many good things about this small swanky restaurant, so the expectation was there. What surprised us was a seating arrangement planned by the restaurant.


It was a seating plan did more harm then good as it confused quite a number of people and it was made so that exchanging places was difficult. So it ended up being very chaotic.

Being born under a Bad Sign, I was naturally seated next to the kitchen and toilet. Which was fine because I got to say hi to almost everyone.

The dinner started strong with a Navarin of lamb infused in pinot noir served with portobello mushroom and garlic chips.

Navarin of lamb infused in pinot noir served with portobello mushroom and garlic chips Navarin of lamb infused in pinot noir served with portobello mushroom and garlic chips

While it had only 3 garlic chips, it was tender, meaty and a good match to the first flight of wines.

Then came the Vegetable Soup Surprise with Pesto. Warm, inviting and a great palate cleanser.

Vegetable Soup Vegetable Soup

What’s so surprising about Vegetable Soup you ask? Well, the second course was supposed to be something else, but was replaced by Vegetable Soup and the guests were not informed of the switch.

For the main, we had a choice of fish or lamb. I do believe some people actually asked for beef. I chose the lamb as I am not a fish person nor do I want to make it difficult by asking for what’s not on the menu that night.

Grilled rack of lamb served with seasonal vegetables and thyme jus Grilled rack of lamb served with seasonal vegetables and thyme jus

And it was the right choice. The lamb was nice, very nice; tender, flavourful and most lamentably, gone too soon.

Grilled rack of lamb served with seasonal vegetables and thyme jus RIMG0057

I must apologise for the over- and under-exposures of the pictures. Memoir was very dark and I did not have or want a tripod. Anyway, I use a small but trusty point-and-shoot.

It was a fun night that ended with the Left Bank winning due to the many corked bottles of Right Bank wine. Apparently the wineshop who supplied the wines did not store the wines properly. Alas.


Anyway, Memoir is a very small restaurant who, despite being understaffed and highly disorganized, put up a brave show of service. It is a place more suited for intimate dinners for two than large parties.

This time the food was so-so because, I am guessing here, of the large crowd. There were lots of leftover beef steaks, which is rare for a wine dinner.

Memoir Restaurant is at 21 Tg Pagar Rd #01-05, Tel: 6225-1148.

Posted on 17th Aug 2006 in Coterie de Dionysus, Food and Drink, Italian, Wine Tasting Notes  |  Comments off

Coterie Dinner at Xi Yan Singapore

collageXi Yan is a very famous "speakeasy" or private kitchen in Hong Kong. Was invited to a Coterie dinner at the Singapore "branch". The waiting list for Xi Yan in Singapore is 3 months.

It follows the same strict rules as the one in Hong Kong. Then again, it’s not your typical Chinese resturant. A la Carte does not happen here, alas.

One word to describe the dinner: Exquisite.

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Posted on 21st Oct 2005 in Chinese, Coterie de Dionysus, Food and Drink, Fusion, Japanese  |  1 comment


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