Two reviewers: ts and csc; [no review by js]
The table was really small/narrow. Why am I mentioning this? Perhaps it will become clear later.
The server made a point of explaining that they had a "tapas" concept (again, very overdone and inaccurate, this "tapas" label); that is, that we were supposed to share the dishes among ourselves. OK, that's good and fine.
We chose 3 "smaller" plates and 3 "larger" plates.
Oh, the menu is on their website.
Crispy chick pea-coated onion fritters, cumin & coriander, tamarind & mint yogurt
This came first. We were really happy with this. Normally, I don't like the "usual" batter that onion rings come in. But this (different/chickpea batter) was very nice. The dip was really good. The blend of flavors was just right. (Maybe a minor complaint, there was a touch to much salt in some parts of each ring.)
We were finished with this dish completely, but the second dish took a while to arrive.
Malaysian fry bread, Malaysian yellow curry
I don't actually know what the "bread" part of this is supposed to be like, so whatever came out was perfectly fine with me. The curry sauce to dip into was TOO sweet, though! Yeah, we ended up not really using that. I just dipped this bread in the chutney/yogurt dip from the onion rings.
Again, we finished this and had to wait a while before the next arrived.
Crispy Thai Squid
Crispy panko-crusted squid, fresh lime, sambal badjak, cilantro
The panko didn't work for me. Each squid piece seemed too bulky as a result. I guess the dip in this case was made w/ the sambal badjak? Or, they made this sambal badjak to act as a dip. In any case, it was TOO salty! It would've been nice, too, since I like the combo of lime-fish-sauce-chilis, etc. But yeah, this was "OK", I guess, but not as successful as the onion rings, or even the roti.
Once again, I used the chutney from the onion rings as my dip for this one. That was the only one that had a nice balance of flavors.
Vietnamese 'Nuoc Cham' Sablefish
Pan-seared smoked BC sablefish, green papaya salad, mushrooom & ginger-wontons
I'm not too fond of smoked sablefish. I'm not sure if the nuoc cham can compete with its inherent smoked flavor, in this case. (That is, I couldn't really taste the nuoc cham; I just tasted smoked sablefish.) CSC liked the mushroom-ginger wontons. They were fried. I actually didn't remember what the filling was. I liked the green papaya salad, but it was a tiny bit salty.
Again, we were COMPLETELY finished with this dish and had to wait a while before the next dish came.
Pulled Duck Confit Crepes
Duck confit, Philipine lime, charred scallion, jicama & cucumber salad, Vietnamese coriander, mint, basil, sesame oil pancakes
The "pancake" was basically similar to those wrappers for Peking duck. The duck confit did taste of Philippine lime (calamansi), but the whole mixture was SOOO sweet. Therefore, one couldn't put too much filling when assembling each bundle lest the sweetness of the filling overpower everything else.
I don't recall the jicama & cucumber salad being dressed any which way, they were just their cool, refreshing selves. The herbs were cilantro, mint, basil and 2 Vietnamese herbs, which I think were RAO RAM and RAO OM. (Basically the guy who brought it over mentioned 2 "rao" herbs, so I think those are it.)
(Oh, the rao ram and rao om: I don't know how to describe their flavor! Different. I can definitely say that I've NEVER tasted them before!)
For the amount of the duck confit filling (and how SWEET it was), there was TOO little of the jicama-cucumber salad, too little of the herbs and DEFINITELY too few "pancakes"! I think there were only 4, maybe 6. CSC was incredulous: "How is it even possible that you can use up that amount of filling using only those 4 (or 6) pancakes?!"
So we couldn't finish the duck confit filling and had it wrapped to go (thinking we can have it with rice or something). We just wanted the filling to-go, but the girl upsold us by repeating twice that we probably wanted an extra order of crepes to-go! (We mentioned "No" the first time, I believe.)
Again, we had this packed up and waited quite a while for the next dish to arrive! We even forgot that we had something else because it was taking a while.
Which brings me to the whole "tapas" thing: if it were tapas, shouldn't we have at least 2 dishes out at the same time so we can share them among ourselves? I don't get the dishes coming out one-by-one like that, and slowly too. One reason I thought of was it was perhaps because the table was SOOO small! I guess only 1 plate can fit in comfortably. But still! Weird.
Grilled Korean Kalbi Ribs
48-hour marinated beef short ribs, Korean gochujang chili, cucumber, and sui-choy kimchee
The cucumber kimchee and sui-choy kimchee were "OK"; not as good as "real" kimchee, I guess. (Or at least, kimchee I've eaten in Korean restaurants, or even Chinese restaurants, haha.) I guess they weren't as flavorful and were the tiniest bit bland.
The kalbi was quite disappointing. It was really, really tender (which was very good), but it was TOO salty! Yeah, that can't really be remedied.
So yeah, all in all, they seemed to have a hard time finding a balance of flavors in their dishes. It was too sweet or too salty. I don't know if it was because they had their "B Team" in the kitchen (seeing as it was a Sunday night, presumably not a busy night). I wonder if the food will be better on a Friday or Saturday night?
Overall, this restaurant to me was a disappointment, even with my already “lowered” expectations, (ie, ts said that their “Homba” may NOT be exactly like the ones that I’m used to from our house or other restaurants, etc).
I wanted to like this. I may even go back again to try the other dishes: the "Adobo" Chicken Wings -- just because adobo is such a staple dish that I'm interested to see what they're going to do with it -- or the "Humba" Braised Pork Belly, again to see how they take the familiar and make it their own.
Otherwise, I think I can get good Indian food or Chinese food or Thai food or Japanese food at their respective restaurants.
The only thing that I thought was good was the onion rings and the truth is, I really don’t go for onion rings, but the dip here was pretty tasty so that was good.
The rest was just one disappointment after another. Either too sweet or too salty or just not right. Usually, the first bite is ok, but then you get the saltiness or the too sweet flavors lingering… just didn’t like the dishes.
So I don’t think I’ll even go back to try the other ones.
(Of course again, I am pregnant, so this might be my “Aurora” this time round, but I think ts and js agree with me this time).
I wanted to like this, but there were too many inconsistencies in the food.
I guess a rating of 6-ish/10 in that I like these Asian flavors, but really, more like a 5/10 because of the seasoning mistakes.
(This and Marrakech are about the same.)