Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spice Market

I first discovered Spice Market last year.  I enjoyed a magnificent birthday dinner with my favorites in a private alcove room.  We ate like royalty and I hoped that someday I would return.  Since then, I’ve been to Spice Market a couple of times, but have yet to try the tasting menu.

That opportunity finally presented itself tonight. *  A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Ms. F, Mr. J’s girlfriend inviting me to a surprise birthday dinner for Mr. J.  I’ve known Mr. J since the first year of law school and as he is now “on the precipice of 30” a dinner at Spice Market was perfect.

In the Singapore room, 12 of us squeezed in for an intimate dinner in a relaxing atmosphere.  The picture is actually of the Kuala Lumpur room, our room looked used by the time we left J

There are two tasting menu options.  The 10-flavor and the 12-flavor.  Being the food lover that I am, I pushed for the 12-flavor menu and luckily so did many others.  12-flavor it is!  Get ready this will be a long post.

We started with the Shaved tuna with chili tapioca pearls, Asian pear and lime.  Oh la la!  What an excellent start.  The tuna was fresh (as though I could expect anything less).  The chili tapioca pearls were amazing; you know how I love a little spice in my food.  The Asian pear is light and is a great contrast to the chili tapioca pearls.  Definitely a great way to start.

Next up, one piece of a Lobster Summer Roll filled with Citrus-Dill Gelee and Sriracha Emulsion.  I wasn’t crazy about the Lobster Roll.  I’m generally not a fan of summer rolls though so this is not a reflection of Spice Market, just my taste.  The roll was small and not very memorable.  When we tried to recall everything we ate, no one remembered the Lobster Roll.

Luckily, the Black Pepper Shrimp with Sun-Dried Pineapple came in and saved the day.  My goodness, this is the most fantastic shrimp dish ever.  I absolutely love it and this was the main reason I pushed for the 12-flavor.  The sauce is deliciously spicy and has little pieces of Asian pear.  The pineapple is amazing! Although it is coated in batter, the batter is very light and doesn’t get in the way of the freshness of the pineapple.   If I knew how to make this dish, I would cook it every day!

Next up skewers.  Mr. G and I don’t dig the swine so we went with the Chicken Skewers with a lime dipping sauce.   The skewers were unimpressive.  The chicken didn’t have enough flavor and I didn’t love the lime dipping sauce.  I did enjoy the presentation though.  Can you see the little coals down there? 

Our friends were all about the Pork Satay and the picked vegetables (cauliflower and pepper).  They had all sorts of great things to say, including Ms. F’s comment that “it smells so piggy.”

Probably the dish with the most controversy was the Avocado and Radish salad served with Chinese mustard and topped with Tempura Onions.  There was a lot of debate as to whether they were tempura onions or onion rings and some objection to being served onion rings.  In the end, the avocado & radish was great.  The tempura onion was extremely crispy and the batter was flavorful.  Not my favorite, but definitely good enough to eat!

The Chicken Samosas came next.  Our last appetizer, definitely the best.  They were accompanied with a cilantro yogurt.  Woweee, samosa never tasted so good! This little pastry was filled with potatoes, chickpeas and chicken.  Couldn't be happier!

6 dishes in, I was starting to slow down, but right then things got lively.  Our server announced that he hated Will Smith, which caused a collective roar.  Seconds later, one of the women in the room next-door came over ready to start something, but quickly decided against it.  We had a few laughs at her expense and that of the other people in her group.  If only I had a video of one of the women singing Happy Birthday to Mr. J.

Back to the food…our entrees and side dishes started showing up pretty quickly.  Cod with Malaysian Chili and Thai Basil.  It was perfectly timed.  After eating so much, we definitely needed something light.  The Cod itself wasn’t full of flavor but its accompaniments were fantastic when added to the Cod.

The Baby Corn and Broccoli with Lemongrass and Chili.  Yummers!  I love broccoli and corn off the kernel is fantastic.  

I took a quick detour into the Vegetarian tasting menu and had some of the Chili Egg-Garlic Noodles.  It was incredible!  Definitely reminded me of our last lunch in SF.

Our Ginger Fried Rice also arrived.  The rice comes with a sunny side up egg on top.  You’re supposed to mix it into the rice and the steam helps the yolk cook at the table.  Mr. R, who is a fellow blogger, was kind enough to mix the rice.  I must say he did a great job.  He also was helpful in assisting me by making sure no one touched the food before I snapped a picture.

Next up the Char Grilled Chicken with Kumquat Lemongrass Dressing.  The Chicken was a HIT! Sadly, it was already 12:45 when the chicken arrived.  I had lost my ability to pick up my chopsticks and enjoy my food, but I managed to get a few bites in.

Finally, our desserts arrived.  The Ovaltine® Kulfi topped with Caramelized Banana and Spiced Milk Chocolate Sauce.  Although there was some objection to the idea of Ovaltine, it was pretty good.  Very rich though so I only had a couple of bites.

We also had the Thai Jewels and Fruits with Crushed Coconut Ice.  The fruit included papaya, but I cannot remember what else was in there.  It was alright, but too rich for me. 

Just as I thought I was losing my sweet tooth, I had a taste of Mr. J’s birthday Kumquat Cheesecake with Mandarin Sorbet and Fennel Tuille.  YUM! This was the best dessert and I would have loved to take some of that home with me, but we helped Mr. J finish it up.

As expected, Spice Market was fantastic! The food was delicious and while I loved the tasting menu, there are sooo many great things that we didn’t even get to eat.  You really have to go to Spice Market several times to enjoy everything you need to enjoy there.  If you’re ever having a group dinner, Spice Market is the place to do it!

Hungry yet?

* Note while this post is dated Saturday, the meal started on Saturday around 10pm and ended around 1:30am on Sunday.

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