Before we embark on this colourful and flavourful journey – like almost all Punjabi / Indian cuisines are – you first ought to know that (a) the photographed dishes are in tasting portions and therefore do not reflect the true portion, and that (b) I have a relatively limited knowledge of Punjabi / North Indian cuisine, so do pardon my ignorance to something that might otherwise be alarmingly obvious.
The seasons occupy a special place in the hearts of the Indians; from the familiar sensory experience one receives when the rain falls on to the dry hot Earth, to the sighs of relief when the cool breeze blows in the middle of a hot scorching day. Punjab Grill recognises that and in paying tribute to the seasons, they have specially crafted a Monsoon Menu, available from now until the end of August 2016.
We were started off on a high with the presentable and photogenic Apple Wood Smoked Salmon & Tempered Quinoa Salad ($18++), presented to us enclosed in a cover of white smoke, which, when lifted, immediately exudes the unmistakable smell of smokiness. The smoked salmon (not the kind of salty smoked salmon in cafes) was mildly salted so that it is light on the taste bud, complementing the equally light and delicate texture. It was like playing classical music in your mouth; absolutely soothing with the occasional crunch with the quinoa. This was in fact my favourite dish of the afternoon.
To jump the gun, I thought the entire meal was executed rather well and to my liking, with the exception of the Sweet & Sour Lamb Ribs ($45++) (and the desserts, below). It is a personal preference thing, but I cannot get past the fact that the lamb is covered from top to bottom with thick and gooey mango chutney spiked sweet and sour sauce, which lends too sharp a sweetness upon first bite. I also cannot get past not being able to savour a dominant taste of lamb. The Pan-Grilled Tiger Prawns ($46++) was a hit and miss by itself. Sprinkled with a handful of breadcrumbs and a dash of lemon juice, I thought the it served as an enhancement to the grilled and slightly charred-flavoured prawns; almost like the Cereal Prawns in the parallel world of Chinese cuisine. Unfortunately, the rather palate stimulating topping was let down by the less than springy and bouncy prawns; rather, it was likely overcooked and was dense. This should, however, be easily tweaked.
The best of the lot was the Tandoori Chicken Wings ($40++), simply marinated with tamarind and passed through the tandoor.
Second to the Smoked Salmon (above) is the Smoked Tandoori Duck ($48++). Yes I do love smokey dishes, but it only so happened that they both make it as my favourites of the meal. The duck was first roasted, then simmered in kashmiri rogan jus, which, I guess from the first hardening the meat a little from the roasting, and then beating it down and softening it from the simmering process made the meat a little more chewy than normal, which I very much prefer. There is more bite to it; I also like that on first bite, you will first get the nude taste of duck before the sauce floods in.
Also go for the Tofu Lababdar ($34++). You might be more familiar with Paneer Lababdar, but instead of using milk curd cheese, tofu, as the name already suggests, is used. I think it is overall, not as heavy as the original Paneer version. The texture of the tofu is also interesting, as its fragility meets the thick and manly curry, the contrast is rather unprecedented. You could taste both airiness and heavy-bodied-ness in one mouth.
What I thought was lacklustre was the dessert platter, comprising mango cheesecake, chocolate coated mango ice cream and lychee. The chocolate coat bore the taste of artificial and cheap chocolate, while the other two were forgettable and nothing to shout about really. I say skip the dessert platter and go for more savouries, if you would.
What’s worth ordering:
Apple Wood Smoked Salmon & Tempered Quinoa Salad
Smoked Tandoori Duck
Photos by Kathleen.
Address: The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, #B1-01A, 2 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018972
Contact: 6688 7395 / firstname.lastname@example.org (takes reservations)
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 6.30pm – 11pm (daily)
This was a media session.