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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bites: Nine Fine Food @ Highgate

It’s that time of the year again! Little darling now turns 20 and I was going to bring her to a different place to celebrate.  Scouting around, I found Nine Fine Food which is a combination of Japanese and European cuisine.  Looking at various food blogs, I must admit that personally, my taste buds were dying from its curiosity.  Nevertheless, my choice of venue was not just for me as the intimate lighting at the venue made this place perfect for dates and despite having a crowd, it was not unacceptably noisy.
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Nine Fine Food.

Looking around the menu, Nine Fine Food has some good offerings which seems really tempting.  Spoiled for choices, we decided to go for the ‘OSOSUME’ which translates into a 4 course meal.  While it might seems rather posh, the 4 course meal is actually a lot of value for your money! For starters, we ordered:
the Goose Mousse is a  foie gras mousse topped with soy infused Tobico caviar, broccolini with Chocochujan spiced miso.  While I have never been keen on fancy food such as caviar or foie gras, this one was definitely a “WOW” to me.  While I was skeptical about the taste after having smelt it at first, my first taste of it had me wanting more.  The whole thing was actually superb.  Crispy lotus roots topped with the miso and foie gras – caviar was absolutely yummy!  Even darling, who would never EVER touch such ‘exotic’ food said it was really good.

Foie Gras take 2!!

While I was happily eating my starter, the little darling herself was busy enjoying her sashimi platter
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The Sashimi 9 would normally consist of 9 types of sashimi but the little darling decided to omit the prawn and squid sashimi as she is allergic to those type of seafoods.  Nevertheless, she had extra serves of salmon, kingfish, snapper and tuna.  Funnily enough though, would half cooked tuna be considered as sashimi?  Not that is matters considering darling says this dish ticks all the boxes as a good sashimi appetizer!

After finishing our first appetizer, the waiters gladly cleared our table for the second course of appetizer.  This time we had:

Beef Tataki was my choice for the next appetizer which had lightly grilled tenderloin beef fillets top with a truffle mixed Yakumi condiments, and finished with a chilli lemon soy dressing!  Yummy! This was good, meat well cooked but somewhat a little too thick for my liking.  I would rather thinly sliced beef.  Also, Yakumi or healthy condiments were getting a little bland at this stage because I had the same ‘cucumber’ condiments for the Goose Mousse.  Instead, I would have liked to have finely shaved onions in addition to the cucumbers for that extra flavour which goes so very well with beef tataki! Nonetheless, it was still good but just not THAT GOOD.
This next appetizer that the little darling ordered was an absolute winner.  Called the lamb and scallops, this appetizer as its name and looks suggests has lamb and scallops.  To be exact, marinated grilled sliced lamb round steak, blended spiced miso braised lamb shoulder, seared scallop with balsamic, soy & truffle oil dressing.  Outcome? Mind blowing.  This was so good I woke up the next day wanting to have it for breakfast.  Despite its very small size, I would be far too keen to trade this dish for my Beef Tataki.  Lamb meat was very, very tender.  It literally crumbled under the weight of the fork without effort.  For awhile, I though that the meat was actually pulled before being shaped but could not really tell.  Putting that aside, the meat was superbly marinated and extremely tasty.  Add that sweetness of the scallops and õmg!  This dish to me was very well constructed in terms of texture and flavour.  Not like I can tell superb textures from good ones like pros can but this was simply just fantabulous.

After finishing two courses, it was time for our mains.  With the appetizers setting such standards, it was only normal that the little darling and I have high hopes for the next course.  And here we go starting with my very lousy photo, the Oceans East:
The Oceans East was a representation of the seafood in the East.  Did it represent it well enough? Well, with scallops, eel (unagi), fish and soft shell crabs, I’d have to say that Nine Fine Food was close.. pretty close.  Also, by having fruits as part of the main dish, it had a sense of freshness that lifted the heaviness of the fried soft-shelled crabs.  The fish which was part of the dish was super yummy!  Scallops were ok but again, cucumber was all over it, so errr not really that good?  The unagi, presumably cooked with teriyaki sauce was scary as it always is for me who never liked eel.  After just one piece, I decided to abort mission and left 3 other pieces for the bin! Oops!  Things were all quite decent for Oceans East.  Other than the eel, I reckon that the only thing that did not really appeal to me were the wasabi mayo and that other red chilli sauce.  I guess the sauces just did not quite appealed to me as something felt lacking!!

For the darling, she had the tenderloin steak.
Along with the well marinated steak was some sautéed mixed Asian mushrooms, dukkah spiced mash, fresh greens, garlic & olive oil infused creamy sake rice wine reduction.  As a steak should be well marinated and tasty on its own, this was just spot on.  Even without the mushroom sauce, the steak was a pleaser.  Mash was decent but sauce was really salty.  In essence, the sauce would go well with the mash.  But problem as it lies was that the sauce was just too much for the mash.  Even the sautéed mushrooms were  a little saltier than the little darling’s tolerance.  For me, I thought it was salty but I liked it anyway because I come from a family that prefers salt over sugar any day!  Over all, this would have easily been called delicious considering the number of places that cannot really cook a good steak.  Perhaps a little control of salt would have make this a superb dish?

Having finished our three course, it was time for our desserts.  With the clock ticking minutes away from 9 and a stomach that is filled to the brim, it was time to sit back.  While waiting for the dessert to be served, the little darling and I had time to share an intimate talk as there was just one other couple besides us.  This means a really private space which of course, is a privilege in any popular restaurant!!

After a while, the desserts were served. We both ordered the same thing:
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The Mattcha Brulee! The light torched green tea custard brulee was smooth with a hint of refreshing green tea taste.  I also liked the way the green tea controls the sweetness in way that is delightful.  Also, unlike some places which tend to have a bitter layer of green tea syrup, this was one just fine.  Not too concentrated.  As a whole, this was perfection.  In fact, I reckon green tea suits Crème Brulee a lot better than berries do although I believe that the little darling will  have a lot to say on that statement of mine!

At the end of the night, we were really satisfied with the restaurant.  The food was in my opinion, a different experience as it was in fact quite special.  It was like going in and coming out a different person.  Probably just an illusion to the mind although I’m pretty sure I came out fatter hehe!  Every thing went well that night, food was good and the waiter/-tress were keen to serve.  Just last night the little darling and I were talking about our meal here and she told me that she really liked it.  Therefore, in my honest opinion, Nine Fine Food is a good restaurant.  So good that I would not mind coming here over and over again!

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