Saturday, November 18, 2006

An introduction to Azhang, 6 Mohd Sultan Road

No I'm not introducing you to Azhang. Some of you probably have visited this place long before today. This refers to me being introduced to the oft mentioned restaurant. Azhang has it's roots from Joo Chiat before moving to the current location of Mohd Sultan. The owner is Patrick Zhang and his partner Ava. Having heard the name and food mentioned over numerous occasions my curiosity was piqued. During the call for reservations, I was informed (by Patrick) that we had to at least eat once from the regular menu before we could experience their customized ones. Which is essentially what dinner tonight was about. To taste the what Azhang had to offer for the first time and to qualify ourselves to their special menu items. I think the forumers at Makansutra probably have done Patrick a measure of disservice with all their talk which have set our expectations too high. I know for fact that I'm not the only person who felt that way.

Dinner was various items we picked off the limited menu of the restaurant. There were the pretty goods and there were the not so goods. When I left,  I found my self not so impressed. Sad to say it is.

Here's their famous freshly roasted corn salad which I've heard ravings about. I think it was roasted after an order is made so it's as freshly prepared as could get. Truly, it was tasty. I haven't actually had roasted corn salad before so this was an experience. The corn salad contains raw bits of garlic and onion, so it could get a little zesty. The only gripe I have with the salad is that it was mixed with coriander. Which is the bane of my eating experiences. I cannot express my dislike for that vile herb enough and I don't know what about them that enhances the the flavours of this salad. I certainly didn't like it. But that's really a personal thing. Apart from the coriander, I really enjoyed the roasted corn salad.

Initially, the ribeye here appeared rather impressive. It's a decently sized hunk of meat over pilaf, topped with onions sauteed in red wine. At least that's what it tasted like. And I thought those onions were appetising and well flavoured from wine. However, this was pretty much the highlight of the steak. The doneness of the meat wasn't consistent and for medium rare it wasn't exactly tender like we had expected. I think it's quite accurate to describe it as a tad too chewy. It was edible. Nothing more. Couldn't help thinking that this is really way below expectations and comparing the steak to the prime ribs at Hog's Breath. Yes, I am aware that they're of different cooking styles and it isn't a fair comparison.

The Azhang combo platter was visually very impressive. Visually. One can imagine the size of this platter in comparison with the rib eye off the top right corner. This was basically their surf and turf platter with lamb/beef kebab skewers and tandoori chicken. Of it, the squid scored some for having a fragrant char grill. The salmon belly is pretty tasty, oily and flavourful of the fish. The large and delicious looking prawns on sticks were unfortunately quite disappointing. It's actually a lot smaller when stripped of the shells which were stuck onto the flesh which was a tad too tough. I know I've had better. The tandoori chicken's dominant flavour was bitterness. It tasted burnt, and I couldn't really make out the spices involved. The lamb and beef skewers were drowned in the seasonings resulting in a whole lack of the natural meat flavour. For something that looked that good, I was honestly disappointed that it didn't quite go right.

What was commendable at Azhang was the very attentive service which we appreciated thoroughly. Something that was seen and felt, which was more than can be said of many other restaurants. Funny it seemed that most of the hospitality was extended through Ava and Patrick hardly said a word.

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