Cilantro: Foie Gras hits the Heartlands!

This stall is closed

Escargot $8

When I first started the blog, I wrote about Astons and eBlackboard and how these eateries are bringing affordable western cuisines to the heartlands. I hinted then, that we will see more and more Restaurant Style Western Food stalls in our heartlands. And it came to pass that Singaporeans are now enjoying the likes of Botak Jones, Crazy Ang Moh and Astons in a coffeeshop environment.

Now we move on to the next level. Foie Gras and Escargot in our heartland coffeeshops.

Actually the development is inevitable. With the increase in rental and food prices, Singaporeans are finding it increasingly expensive to dine at restaurants and restaurants are finding the high rental prohibitive to their businesses. That was the case with Cilantro, who used to be a fine dining restaurant at Purvis Street which earned rave reviews from the media. When their landlords increased their rentals, they decided that instead of continuing to work hard to feed the landlords, they would bring fine dining cuisine to our heartlanders instead.

Notice I never said "fine dining" but rather "fine dining cuisine". This is because it is still to be seen if Singaporeans will pay higher prices to eat at coffeeshops even though the food is fine dining standards. Or put another way, is fine dining just about the food or is it also about the service and the ambiance? If we can judge from the experience of Botak Jones and Astons, I would say confidently that a large segment of Singaporeans will take to this type of cuisine at coffeeshops IF the price is right. We Singaporeans are practical and more importantly we are know a good bargain when we see one.

So what is a good bargain? How about Escargot for $8 and Foie Gras (Goose, not duck liver) at $15 without GST and service charge? I think I got your attention.

This is the 2nd time I am trying Cilantro. During my first visit 1 month ago at the Old Airport Road Food Centre, they were still undecided as to whether the heartlanders will be willing to pay a little more for fine dining. So I ended up eating their "not so fine dining" standard fare. It was good but I felt that it wasn't exciting enough to be blogged, so I encouraged them to really give Singaporeans the good stuff they used to serve at their restaurant. I really believe that Foie Gras in a coffeeshop would cause some excitement, especially with the ieatishootipost makan kakis.

Foie Gras (Goose Liver) $15 (Special promo for ieatishootipost readers $12)

So here it is! $15 Foie Gras! And they are not cutting corners. They use Goose liver which have been marinated in Szechuan peppercorn and other spices, panfried till it is crisp outside and served with an excellent brown sauce reduction flavoured with truffle oil and topped with raisins which have been soaked in Black Vinegar and sweetened with rock suger.

I am not kidding. This is the one of the best Foie Gras I have eaten and certainly the cheapest. The Foie Gras is super creamy and oh so umami. And the sweetened black raisins were an excellent complement for the savoury Foie Gras. For those of you who have not tried Foie Gras, this would be a great opportunity to be introduced to the dish. If you think that you would never like liver, just remember that Foie Gras does not taste anything like the liver you know. Trust me, it's the only liver I eat. 4.75/5

The escargot was surprisingly good. Everytime I had escargots before, I thought they tasted like a cross between a rubber band and salted fish. But this one was surprisingly tender and flavoured with a mild curried butter. Ok, I still don't really appreciate the taste of the escargots itself but I think as a whole they make for a tasty appetizer. 4/5

Lamb Rack $20

The other dish that tingled my tastebuds was the lamb rack. Lamb has a very strong flavour, so I usually like it with a sauce that is fruity and sweet. They use an excellent chilled NZ lamb rack here which has been marinated with lemon grass and other spices before grilling and served with a piquant brown sauce. Rather than causing fusion confusion, I thought the combination of Asian spices to the lamb rack was excellent. The lamb was really tender with that melt in your mouth quality about it. So good that I am still thinking about it. 4.5/5

Smoked Duck Breast Pizza $6

One thing that was really good that I remember from my first visit was the Smoked Duck Breast. They actually marinate and smoke their own Duck and it is very good. The pizzas here will be great for the kids. I like the the chewy quality of the Mozarella they use here but I think the pre-baked crust needed a bit more tweaking. With the smoked duck pizza, I reckon a BBQ sauce like those served with Peking Duck would have made a better combination. 3.5/5

King Prawn Mee Sua

The Mee Sua was a little hard to figure out at first. I had really no reference point for this dish. It didn't come across as a Western dish with an Eastern influence or vice versa. To me it tasted a little like chicken broth with noodles.

However, the one thing that I did appreciate was the Mee Sua. It wasn't powdery like the Mee Sua that I was accustomed to. Instead it had a very unique bite to it that I really grew to appreciate. It was then that I found out that they were using Japanese Mee Sua! That was a first for me and I really give it to the Japanese for being able to make Mee Sua that tasted better than all the Mee Sua that I have eaten before! If you are the sort that likes noodle soups and ramen, I think you will like this one. 4/5


Be a part of Singapore Culinary history and be one of the first to eat Foie Gras in a coffee shop! Whether or not Singaporeans will be willing to pay for fine dining in a coffeeshop remains to be seen. But I think that we will be seeing more fine dining in our coffeeshops in the near future.

Special Promo for ieatishootipost readers:

Go to the stall and mention the blog and pay $12 for the Foie Gras. This is the normal portion not a mini portion. But you guys Zi Dong a bit and buy some of their other stuff okay? There are limited portions of foie gras so it may be a good idea to call up first to reserve yours.

Update: 4 Sep 2008

Due to lack of supply, the Foie Gras promotion will cease on 15 Sep 2008

Update: 9 Oct 2008

They have revamped their menu, so these items are no longer available.

Cilantro Modern Asia
Blk 28, Jln Bukit Merah,
10am to 10pm
Open daily
Disclaimer: This was an invited review.


ice said...

Were you referring to somen when you said "japanese mee sua"? :)

ieat said...

Not familiar to somen. First time I am eating this. But I was told by the chef that it was Japanese Mee Sua

jems said...

from the picture it does looked like japanese somen to me. Isetan's supermarket at Shaw centre sells good somen when they have certain japanese fairs. You even get to sample.

Glad to hear that Cilantro has an outlet at Bukit Merah! Definitely MUCH nearer to me than Old Airport Road. I LOVE Foie Gras and Escargots! and the foie gras really looked so pefectly pan fried on the outside~ Too bad I will have to stay off liver for the next few weeks..... :(
But will definitely head down to try their stuffs few weeks later.

adriane said...

Daiso has Somen for sale. 2 dollars a pack. Good for those who want to try what it is first but not want to pay too much. It's about 4 to 6 dollars for a packet at Japanese Supermarkets.

cherns said...

Wow... so near my place! BTW, the correct website address is :)

Damien said...

Agree with Jems it looks like thin Somen rather than mee sua...

For those buying Somen, there are two types - thin and thick. The thin ones are usually eaten with a broth while the thick ones are usually serve cold with a dip and eaten like soba.

Cactus said...

I think it take a lot of guts to sink in investment and bring an entirely new concept to the heartlands. I hope they succeed. Well, Jackie from Cilantro happens to also be my neighbour so there's extra incentive to try out their food. I've eaten at the Old Airport branch. I enjoyed the food. Will head to the Bukit Merah branch soon.

adriane said...

Damien, I think the thicker type is called Riemen. Size wise abit like our Mee Kia.

Damien said...

I bought some thick somen recently from Takashimaya leh... Similar to these:

ieat said...

I heard that some of our readers have already gone down to try the $12 foie gras. Do let us know your feedback!

This is important. If it is postitive, more people will go and then the foie gras will be a permanent item on the menu. At $12 they cannot afford wastage and foie gras cannot keep. So the demand needs to be good in order for them to keep it going.

So do write in and tell us!

ladyironchef said...

ah i did heard about cilantro opening in the heartlands, was a bit shocked at first. haha!

the one u went to is at bukit merah? but i though they open at old changi airport food centre also?

ieat said...

They have different range of food for the different outlets. Foie gras only available in Bukit Merah

Amagada said...

Managed to go to the Bukit Merah branch to taste the Foie Gras today.

It was beautiful! I liked the caramelized mango on the side and the sweet raisin on the top. The foie gras itself was heavenly but overall the dish was very very rich. Thankfully I only needed to feel half guilty because I shared the portion with my sister... :)

I am not a duck meat eater as I still remember how nauseous I felt when I was pregnant and my husband brought me to eat pressed duck at some French restaurant in Bangkok! So I was pleasantly surprised with the duck breast pasta. The duck meat slices had a nice smokey flavour and were both succulent and tender.

Only thing is that I had to have Kopi-C with my cheesecake instead of a Latte.

Will definitely be back.

Anonymous said...

Alternative View:

I had a meal at the B. Merah branch last night.

Rack Lamb $22: It was a disappointment. The 2 pieces of lamb chops were small. Slightly pink which was ok and not overly dry, but not very juicy. The sauce and acompliments were nice though. It is hardly worth the $22

Smoked duck pizza: acceptable as pizzas go. Crust was not fresh kneaded, but commercially pre-prepared. Light and unusual crust. Topping of cheese and duck was flavorful although it could have stayed in the oven for a longer period. The cheese was hardly melted and did not have the full slightly burnt flavour.

Nigel said...

Made my way down to the Bt Merah branch today.. Tried the foie gras, together with the sussages n also the aloe vera (I muz admit priority is foie gras.. the rest is to b zi dong as ieat said) To my surprise, the foie gras was wonderfully done with the crisp outside n the slight taste of pepper really enhanced it..

As for the sausages, quite worthwhile imagine $7 for 2 huge suasages, salads n fries.. But the taste is slightly heavy for me..

Everything was great except for a communication breakdown with the Chinese helper (我听不懂。。 我只会讲华语。。) in english, it mean i don't understand.. i speak only chinese..

P.S the chef is kind enough to ask if i know of this from the net even b4 i mention it.. So guys as ieat says, zi dong abit ah.. i hope for this stall to stay for long..

Joyce said...

Unfortunately, I have a rather disappointing experience to write about.

We made our way down to the Bukit Merah branch for dinner today.

After waiting 20 minutes after placing our orders, I had noticed that patrons who came after us were being served. When I went to check on our order, there seemed to be some mix-up. Ming (who took our order) then tried to move our order to the front, but one of the chefs seemed upset at Ming about that. I had to be somewhere in 40 minutes, so Ming said he would try to help.

10 more minutes passed before Ming came to our table, and said that he could not take our order - i.e. no food was coming! Apparently, they had dropped our order slip, realised the mistake, but the chefs insisted on putting us at the back of the queue as a fresh order. We could not wait so long. Ming apologised politely and offered to pay for our next meal.

I would think that the norm for any establishment, when they miss out an order, would be to move that order to the front of the queue to make it up to the customer. Whatever was the problem between the kitchen and the service staff should not have been taken out on the customers. That's just bad service.

We had come with high hopes for the food, but ended up leaving with an empty stomach and a sour taste in our mouths.

ieat said...

Jackie would be furious to learn about this when she gets back from the Hillsongs conference in Sydney next week!

This is good feedback and I hope they will take it very seriously. This sort of things should not happen.

U-smiling said...

I am looking to go down this afternoon but they're not picking up the calls for my reservation of he foie gras servings. so hopefully when i get down later it's not a wasted trip.

khim said...

dun e chef have any common sense? can't he put himself in customers' shoes?

how come he treat e order as a fresh order when it was obviously Cilantro at fault?

hopefully e boss will have things sorted out!

Cactus said...

I'll sound Jackie off on this. Chef shouldn't be making these decisions.

ieat said...

I have already sounded the problem with the service to the partner. Their staff are still new and trying to get the hang of things, but that is really no excuse. I have also told them about the problem with the portions. Hopefully they will sort things out.

JLer said...

I went down yesterday (saturday) to try out and the foie gras was really tender and melts in your mouth. We had the smoke duck pizza but do feel that if they can make the dough from scratch, it would have tasted more authentic. My bf had the snapperfish which was a special for that day, recommended by them but the sauce was far too salty. And the wait was really long...we waited for about 40 mins before our dishes came! Will go back to try their other dishes but do hope they cut the waiting time, otherwise could be quite a turn off.

ieat said...

Yes, they have only been opened so lots of teething problems to be sorted out. For one thing the kitchen is much smaller than what they are used to. 40min is not acceptable. The starter should take at most 10mins to be out.

Maybe I should suggest to Cilantro that in the interim period when the wait is too long that they can give a complimentary soup first until they optimise their workflow.

Joyce said...

Yes, you're right. The kitchen and service staff did seem a little overwhelmed yesterday by the number of orders.

We'll probably attempt a second trip to Cilantro after a while. Hopefully the teething problems would be ironed out by then.

frustratedworker said...

when we left, we were overall satisfied with the food and the value for money. for the things that we got to eat, we just spend 12dollars each person which is a very good deal considering the type and quality food that we ate.

if not for the good taste of food, we would have left very sore. we waited at least 40 minutes for the food -- which is a rather long wait -- an unconsiderable time actually. they can improve on that.

but definitely, i'll be going back. but when i do so.. i'll make sure my stomach is not rumbling just yet. :)

Cactus said...

I just spoke to Jackie's mom on Joyce's experience. Her mom will be at the Marine Terrace branch when it opens.

cherns said...

I had lunch at the B.Merah branch with my wife on Sunday. There wasn't much of a crowd, so our order was done in about 15+ min or so.

My wife ordered the smoked duck steak. I was thinking of trying the Focaccia burger and Yam cake, but both weren't available at that time, so I ended up ordering the foie gras and rack of lamb.

The foie gras was a little small for a non-appetizer item. It had a delightful crispy outside, but it was a tad cooked on the inside... possibly because it was a pretty thin slice. But for $12, who am I to complain?

I got 3 pieces for the rack of lamb. 2 were nice, 1 was overcooked... Texture-wise, the good ones were great, but flavour wise, I still prefer a slight hint of lamb rather than having it completely absent.

For the smoked duck steak, the portion was great, and the texture of the duck was fantastic. But the way they smoked it resulted in the duck tasting like ham, and nothing like duck. Joseph happened to be around then, and he mentioned that that was because of the Japanese style of smoking the duck.

In summary, the food's quite good for the price... and especially so if you're a sauce person who really likes heavily embellished dishes. I'm more of a simple salt&pepper+fresh ingredients sort of guy, so their style or preparation doesn't quite appeal to me.

Holy Drummer said...

Did Cactus just say Marine Terrace Branch?! said...

Yes. Its at the coffeshop near Bangawan Solo, behind Marine Parade NPC. Opening soon. They very busy preparing.

ieat said...

But bear in mind that what Cilantro wants to do with its three stalls is to have each one specialized in a certain type of cuisine. So the Foie Gras is only found in the Bukit Merah one. The one at Marine Terrace will specialize in something else.

kp&jean said...

went to try out a few days back during dinner..

hubby and i ordered:

foie gras: excellent!

escargot: the texture was gd..not too chewy and we loved the tasted abit like curry..but its not spicy at all..

smoked duck pasta: he said its gd..i'm not a smoked duck person so cant comment..

grilled dory with rice: the dory was fresh and i like the mushroom sauce..but i tink the chef might b a little heavy handed when it comes to the salt sprinkled on the dory b4 he pan fried it..cos it was really salty..the rice was cooked wif asian spice and quite spicy..goes well wif the fish!

ieat said...

The asian spice you are referring to is XO sauce, ie dried scallop with chilli.

Joyce said...

We ventured down again to try our luck with the food... and it was excellent! No service boo-boos this time, and the food arrived in a decent 20 minutes.

We had the foie gras, escargots, salmon skin salad and lamb chop - all very yummy! Their vegetarian pizza was not as good as the rest of the food we tried, but we're not complaining.

Heading down again tonight with a whole gang of friends.

Katong Gal said...

went to the Old Airport Rd Branch and they didn't hv the foie gras on the menu, so was a little disappointed. Anyway, I had the lemongrass lamb chop which was pretty good - lamb was tender and juicy and there wasn't too much fat. My favourite is still their smoked duck pasta though.

kp&jean said...

my hubby went down again wif a colleague and they had beef bologniese..

same thing again...the taste was great except for the fact tat it was too salty..

maybe next time i shall tell them to go easy on the salt...

cactuskit said...

Jackie is back from Australia. Sounded her about the early post regarding bad experience. She promised to look into it.

She's busy this week with the Marine Terrace branch. Will be selling primarily Japanese food. She got a good chef to cook there.

Holy Drummer said...

When are we heading down kakis?

JENCOOKS said...

e-blackboard has moved out of Block 18 Bedok South to a coffee shop further down (forgot the blk) but behind Island Clinic. Less conspicuous but look at Aston moving to a coffee shopping in Bedok which is quite unkempt ---> good food enough?

Steven Cheong said...

read about it in the blog and tried it out yesterday with my gf(21st july)

the main courses not really that fantestic.. dun really feel like finishing it.. But the good things was the fishes was very delicious..melts in the mouth..

Escargot for $8 and Foie Gras (Goose, not duck liver) at $15 >>> these 2 is a must try if go over there...

the rest of the food still alright only...

the service not very good.. i asked the lady to clear my finished plates as we ordered quite alot.. she actually told me to wait and said later pple will come clear it.. and pizza i asked for cheese and chilli powder.. they also do not have it.. in the end gave me chilli sauce

smart said...

Just fresh from our dinner at Cilantro Bt. Merah. Our experience for the place is 4.25 to 4.5.
Forie Gras, Smart 4.25, smarter 4.25 smartest 4. Smartest suggest to pay a little bit more say $20 n have a bigger piece.
Escargot: 2 gave a 4 but smartest say 3.8
Lamb Rack: 2 gave 4.24 but smartest gave 4.8. She said very well executed to have the lamb so tender and not dry.
Smoked Duck: Both gave 4.5 but smartest gave 4.
Flouress cocolate cake:All gave 4/5 Could have been better if the crust is more done so that the outside is crust n inside the soft cocolate. We believe the PRC waitress missed the order for another table n gave ours to him. So they did another in a hurry.
Definitely will go again.
For your information their Marine Terrace stall is opened today selling Japanese food.It is at Block 59, #01-71

taukwa said...

I also had dinner at cilantro last monday. Had the foie gras and Balinese baked salmon.

The foie gras served to me was really very value for money. It was big. I was surprised. However, it was not the best that I had tried (though seriously, I haven't had a lot of them), but the sauce was nice.

The salmon is good. Not fishy at all (I had expected some fishiness).

I saw someone next table with the Smoked Duck Steak and it looked good. Good enough for me to want to go back to try.

cactuskit said...

Until now, I've only been to the Old Airport branch. Will have to find time to visit the Bt Merah branch. Uncle smart usually don't take western food and also dinner out. He must have been really impressed to give these ratings.

Anyone know where in Singapore I can get beef liver and onions. Its a US dish. Used to order this dish a lot in Hawaii.

The Dictator said...

the foie gras is nice though not the best. i wish that the serving can be bigger ha.. the smoked duck pizza is good too!

JENCOOKS said...

Have been thiking Twe Kee, Cilantro's Foie Gras and Nanyang Coffee & scones since Friday and managed only Twe Kee this weekend being the closest; Next in line is obvious....

lil said...

can someone update on their opening hours? i went old airport this afternoon (12p-1.30p), it was closed. there was a monday evening, i went to bt merah, also closed, the sign says opens daily 10a-10p? thanks

cactuskit said...

Yeah, I was there today and found it close too. I'll check with Jackie and get back to you. Do you have an account in the forum? If not, create one. Send me a personal message, I'll reply.

cactuskit said...

Just informed by Jackie that they are folding the business at Old Airport to focus on the Bt Merah (western) and Marine Terrace (Japanese) outlets.

smart said...

Jackie n your partner Joseph, Cilantro B. Merah served very good food n my family intend to go again so 'ja you".

just a girl said...

Hi, I have never tried the original restaurant and was really curious about the food quality at the new stall at Marine Terrace. Though the price is alright, I'm afraid that I'm rather disappointed overall. Perhaps its because I read so much good things so I had higher expectations... We had the chawamushi which is nice and smooth but pretty standard. Shabu Shabu which came with lots of veggies and a plate of about 4 slices of beef. Soup was tasty though and the dips interesting. Chicken Teriyaki was tender but bland. Salmon Don came at an ok size for the price of $5.50 but on the dry side. The pepper sauce was boring and just poured over the fish. I've had better quality japanese food at food courts :( In fact everything was boring... :( I know this stall is new and will still try other dishes as I stay at Marine Terrace but if the food is going to remain the same then the many confused but curious aunties that gather around the stall will start disappearing in double-quick time.

just a girl said...

I just saw your review on the Marine Terrace branch and its just so different :( There was definitely no charred taste to the teriyaki chicken we ordered but we did have the ponsu and goma sauce with our "normal" shabu shabu yesterday. I'm going to order the same either later tonight or tomorrow. Hope it does not disappoint this time around.

cactuskit said...

just a girl,

Do share with us how your meal went. : )

just a cactuskit...

just a girl said...

Heh heh, I will, provided I can get out of the office on time, just a catuskit :D

jems said...

though I should seriously start my diet but think I really wanna head to this place soon. Can someone confirm if they are open on Mondays? I read some comment somewhere that says they are closed on Mondays. Thanks!!! :)

just a girl said...

Could not make it down on Fri, was stuck at work, the hubby said that he and his friends tried Wagyu beef don and it was much better than the Chicken Teriyaki Don he had the previous night. We went to the coffeeshop on Sat morning and found that the lights were on and wanted to try the charsu ramen but they were not open yet (they open at 1130am) They were selling nuo mee fun or "dumpling rice" as the auntie called it :) This time the glutinious rice and mee siam were excellent :) Not sure if its permanent, the auntie said they testing market to see what the morning crowd likes so maybe ieat can announce if they do decide on a morning menu. Back to the food, the dumpling rice may be a tad salty for some but very fragrant and lots of mushrooms and meat. We finished it in mins. The meesiam soup base reminded us of the perankan dish called nana prawns and came with small dried japanese prawns which made the soup base even richer. I asked for extra chilli as the guys love spicy stuff. Everyone gave a thumbs up. Though it wasn't japanese food that we tried, at least this leaves a much better impression about the possible quality to come.

jems said...

we need an update of their opening days and hours at Bukit Merah. Went down this evening but it was closed... ...

jems said...

Finally tried their foie gras and smoked duck spaghetti last night~!~

Value wise without a doubt it's very value for money even though promo price of $12 for foie gras is over.

My views on the food is similar to cherns. The sauces used are a lil on the too heavy side for me as it tends to almost quite masked the taste of the food.

Foie gras was nicely panfried and love the greens and such but I'll do without the raisins for sure when I do visit again.

Smoke duck excellent texture and taste but didn't like the spaghetti that has a herby tomato based sauce that came with it. Would have been happy with a simple stir fry alio olio with perhaps a lil chilli heh.

cactuskit said...

I enjoyed the foie gras too. :)

Wife gave thumbs up as well. Very creamily sinful. Ordered 2 portions for my parents from the Marine Terrace branch for their NDP dinner before I left for dinner with wife and makan kakis. They enjoyed the smoked duck too.

khim said...

i like e foie gras as well.. like e charred & crisp on e outside & e creamy taste on e inside.. tot it was very nicely done.. =)

e smoked duck was very good too, no ducky taste at all.. i usually avoid eating duck as i can't stand ducky smell/taste!!

don liked e smoked duck so much tat now 1 of his nickname is smokeduck!! =p

cactuskit said...

So we look forward to seeing smokeduck in the forum! ;)

khim said...

haha.. hope so! =) he's seldom in e office, always running around.. i'll get him to settle down tat nickname!! wahahahah

khim said...

hi all,

pls note tat foie gras will stop on the 15th due to supplier no stock..

jackie will be changing menu to items like char grill wagyu beef and/or korubuta pork..

if u haven't try e fantastic foie gras yet, it's ur last chance!!

Anonymous said...

Tried the foie gras, salmon skin, pacific dory and lamb chops. Except for the lamb chops which I thought was ordinary and too EX for just 3 pieces, the rest of the food was quite nice. Definitely worth considering going back again to try other dishes.

Anonymous said...

Went there last Friday after work and pretty disappointed b'cos lots of foods on their menu not available, including the pizza, more of Japanese food instead. Don't hope for more for western food or you will disappointed like me.

Anonymous said...

Went there 2 weeks ago and like someone mentioned earlier, more than 1/2 of the 'western/french' menu is gone and are being replaced by jap dishes like wagyu beef yakiniku don. Not too bad but really missed the lamb racks and foie gras. Please bring them back!!


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