Tuesday, May 14, 2013

U-Village, St Kilda by Private Invitation, by Snooze and Bureaucrat

Recently, Snooze and I took up the invitation from U-Village in St Kilda to have lunch on them.  

I didn't know much about U-V, except they did pan-Asian cuisine.  Having experienced the food, it's definitely pan-Asian with a well executed fusion element.

There's seating outside on the pavement, which is surrounded with some nice pot plants.  Inside, it's spacious and has a slight industrial vibe that's tempered with statement lights and a seriously cute pot plant motif.

Bureaucrat: To get things started, I opted for a pot of silver needle tea w jasmine blossom, which was presented in this smart looking teapot. 

Entree: 5 spiced prawns w caramel sugar, lime and sambal, served on perilla leaves

Bureaucrat: A succulent prawn that was perfectly pan fried, that seemed me to be Thai inspired with its sweet/bitter/salty/sour flavours.  The prawn had a delicious crust of the five spice seasoning (which didn't over-power the delicate flavour of the prawn) and a very moreish caramel sugar.  The sambal was mildly spicy and added a nice contrast to the mellowy-sweet sugar.  While the fresh lime added the tartness.  I was a newbie to the perilla leaf. It was a thin wrapper for the prawns and had a very mild grassy flavour. Although a Google search revealed that perilla leaves have a minty/anise flavour.  The yumminess of the prawns proved to be tasty beginning to a very delicious meal.  This is one of the signature dishes, and I would agree!

Snooze: There's not much to add (because Bureaucrat really like this entree) but I'll try: the prawn was really plump and juicy, with picking it up with your fingers was a really nice way to eat them.  

Main: Thick red rendang curry w soft shell crab, kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil

Bureaucrat: The soft shell crab was my favourite dish.  I haven't had much soft shell crab in the past - mainly because it's never been great (it seems like it's always more shell than crab).  However, this dish was a revelation.  Generous amounts of tender crab, which had a reasonable amount of white meat.  The batter was thin and crispy, and not at all greasy.  The texture and flavour of the fried crab reminded me of the pan fried king prawns w salted egg yolk batter that's served at Quanjude Peking Duck.  The curry was thick and unctuous and the Thai eggplant, zuchinni batons and beans were nicely tender and help soak up all the lovely sauce.  For me, this dish was as spicy as I could comfortably handle (thankfully!).  This was also a signature dish, and it gets two thumbs up from me.

Snooze: Rendang and crab; neither are favourites. But this was good. The crab was bursting with freshness, and it was so well balanced: between the crab the vegetables and the fresh herbs (always a winner with me). A really generous serve.

Main: 24hr sweet vinegar braised pork w cinnamon and black peppercorn and mango salad

Bureaucrat: This was a reasonable braised pork.  There was a nice meat-to-fat ratio.  It was quite tender, but I would have preferred it to be cooked a bit more so that the fat would be more melt-in-your-mouth.  I liked the generous mound of green mango salad, which help balance out the richness of the pork.  I also liked the presentation of the dish, with its gleaming black of the vinegared pork and the  rich brown sauce.

Snooze: By the time we got to the braised pork I was sorry Big Fil wasn't there; it's one of his favourites and he neatly snaffled the leftovers I was planning to take home for later! What did I like: that I didn't feel heavy and sick from its richness after eating it, and I think the reasonable meat to fat ratio and the salad cutting through any fat helped to ensure this.

Main: Vermicelli net w beef, prawn, beansprouts w picked veg

Bureaucrat: As I was getting quite full, I only tried a little bit of this dish.  This dish seemed to be more Malaysian in style... kinda like a stir fried beef hor fun, but without the hor fun.  The beef was tender and I think there was egg in this dish  - but I could be wrong.  The beef was topped with crushed peanuts, which gave it texture.

Snooze: This was my favourite dish for the day. The beef was moist and lightly cooked, I loved the texture from the crushed peanuts and the vermicelli net, and I absolutely can't go past pickled vegetables.

The main dishes were served with rice.

Dessert: Lychee lime granita

Bureaucrat: Wow, I had a tough time with the desserts, as I was trying to decide which one I liked the best.  In the end, I decided I liked them both!  Although the granita had its typical icy texture, I was surprised at the very creamy texture.  We were told that the creaminess came from the fact that they blended lychees into the granita.  The dish had a very strong lychee flavour, and it wasn't overly sweet.  The fresh lime added a zingyness to the dish and gave it a tropical feel.  Given that there's no cream in this dessert, you can almost feel virtuous in eating it!

Snooze: It was fortunate we were warned dessert was coming and held back on the mains because the desserts were fabulous. Granita isn't a favourite of mine but this one got the thumbs up: the cloying sweetness of the lychee was cut through by the lime, with the blended lychee offering wonderful texture.

Dessert: Pandan creme brulee w salted honeycomb

Bureaucrat: The surprises continued with the pandan creme brulee.  I'll admit that I don't really "get" pandan.  My experience to date with pandan was limited to them pandan chiffon cakes.  But the pandan creme brulee was smooth, velvety and fragrant.  The pandan worked well with the creamy custard and the thin, crisp caramel crust and the salted honeycomb added depth to the gentle flavour of the pandan.

Snooze: This was an amazing blend of east and west, salt and sweet (and another dish I won't mention to Big Fil; he loves pandan!). The pandan flavour worked really with for creme brulee, and it was so smooth. It was also really hard getting through the homemade salted honeycomb, although it was really moreish. This dish is definitely worth trying.

The following scores with an asterisk are notional, as we were guests of U-Village:

Food - 8.5
Ambience - 7.5
Service - 7.5*
Price - 7*

Bureaucrat: I really liked the food.  The menu is interesting and offers quite a few dishes that are original/fusion-y and a bit different from the your run-of-the-mill Thai/Malay restaurant.  There are a few dishes I would want to go back and try.  Admittedly, we were here as guests, so the service and the quality of the food has to be taken with a grain of salt.  That said, I was impressed with the quality of the produce (which is reflected in the price). It's a nice space, chic but without trying too hard.

Snooze: Asian fusion is a particular favourite of mine and U Village does it well. I liked the food, its quality, originality and execution, and the restaurant itself was clean and fresh. Not to mention the several dishes on the menu I'd like to go back and try for myself as well as another serving of the pandan creme brulee.

1/29 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda 3182
Telephone: 03 9537 1129

U-Village Restaurant on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...