Saturday, April 6, 2013

Singapore Food Blog - Bosses (黑社会)

Location: Harborfront, Singapore

The year 2012 ended with much relief as the world we know still exist and the sun continued to rise and shine on December 22, 2012. With all those doomsday fear being dispelled, the year 2013 deserves to be treated with celebration, and where else to do so than to immerse oneself in some affordable luxury, such as dining in Bosses at Vivocity?

The English name of 'Bosses' is quite different from its Chinese name of 黑社会, the latter being "triad". But then again, the former is not that far away from its mark as well, for how else would you greet the leader of a triad gang than to call him "boss"?

The stark black decor and a dark entrance reminds me of nightclubs, and while it stood in stark contrast against the rest of the restaurant, it may serve as a deterrent to the less daring.

I remembered vividly that my first impression of the restaurant upon passing by was that of a nightclub. The stark black entrance stood in contrast with its surrounding, a huge stylized word 黑 (Chinese for "black") framed in golden light bade the brave and the bold to enter into the underground establishment. Those who chose to enter will be surprised by the comparably brighter interior, with crystal lights casting their brilliance over the whole dining area at night while transparent glass walls allowed sunlight to filter through during the day.

By choosing Bosses as our venue, we decided to just enter and spend lavishly on our lunch in order to celebrate another doom averted by mankind. And while the menu proffered to us listed items which cost more than our usual lunch, neither did it bleed our wallets dry. With such a myriad of choices and prices confusing us, we just picked the set menu on the table and picked one to try.

The entrance may look like a gateway to an underground nightclub, but upon entering, diners will realize how brilliantly lit the interior is.

The pot of 香片 tea was served to us in a transparent glass pot, with a hint of certain English luxury and charm coupled with Chinese beverage.

The appetizer proffered to us was Fried Fish Skin. It was a dish of salty and crunchy crackers, but a note of caution: this is not free. Decline the dish if you are not interested in paying more, but do try it out. You won't regret it.

All the dishes were served on white china, another subtle touch of Bosses' style in utilizing stark contrasts. Each meal was laid down just nicely on different dishes or bowls used for the particular meal, which none of them were exactly the same with each other, apart from the two bowls used for the soup and the dessert. And this detail deserved an applause.

Even the table itself was an item of marvel, with a nicely hidden drawer on each side of the table. If it wasn't for the waitress, we would not have known that there was a drawer there, its seams folding into the dark wood of the furniture. And pulling it out revealed its useful purpose for placing menus and teapots on it, taking up minimum space while blending nicely with the surrounding, a study of harmony unto itself.

Before cigarette companies were banned from advertising on TV, I remembered that Perilly's sponsored action movies would advertise something with themes and motifs focused on black and gold, and say 'Black is Perilly's". Well, somehow it made me think: Black is Bosses. Pardon the confusing grammar there.

All talk of its furniture and utensils but none on its food is no fun, so let's check out what we had.

We were greeted with a dish of Fried Fish Skin, an appetizer which immediately cemented our approval. It was only upon paying the bill when we found out that the appetizer was not free, but we had no regrets in paying for it. It would have been much better if we were told that it was not free, but then again, such was the practice of most restaurants.

Done with the appetizers, we were promptly served with the rest of the meals, the next following the previous one, the timing neither early nor too late. This was another point which raised my opinion of dining in Bosses, for I really felt that I was served like a boss.

All of the dishes which were served were quite impressive, each one earning an accolade from us. We had sampled the sweet, the tangy and the salty, most of them in mixtures of more than one taste, each leaving a lingering taste and a longing heart. From the tender scallop to the crunchy bean curd, from the exotic shark cartilage soup to the ordinary fried rice, from the sweet dessert to the slightly tangy mango sauce, it was truly a sensuous experience for a diner, challenging my taste buds and endurance from asking for more.

The Japanese Style Fried Scallop (香煎日式带子) and Duck Breast with Fried Tofu (拼鸭胸豆根) were both quite tasty. The thick gravy coating the generous piece of scallop was saliva-inducing, a mixture of sweet and salty in my mouth, and the scallop was soft and tender yet easily part with a chew. Toppings of Katsuobushi on the scallop still curled and danced when it was served.

And it mattered not if I sampled the soft scallop or the piece of duck breast on top of a crunchily fried beancurd first. The dark gravy worked its charm through its slight sweetness and subtle tangy when chewed with the thick flesh, the latter a little on the tough side but nonetheless chewy. With such tasty appetizers, it made me think what could come next to top this, an anticipation which I looked forward with much delight.

The next to be served, Shell Abalone in Shark Cartilage Soup (白玉鲍鲨鱼骨汤) was quite an exotic meal. The milky white soup was quite nice in its sweetness, the soup itself neither thick nor liquid, the kind which left a lingering taste in my mouth. Dotting the scene with reds, the wolfberries added nutritious value to the meal. The abalone pieces were chewy, accentuating the contrast of the shark cartilage's subtle crunch.

Prawn in Mango Sauce (芒芥珍珠虾) was quite a delicacy. Coated in sweet and tangy mango sauce, the prawn was quite juicy and tender. To end it with the unnamed crunchy popcorn snack below was really a god sent.

While those which came before were delicious, they hardly could fill the stomach of one who just got to have rice in his stomach, namely me. Enter Superior Fried Rice with Seafood (海鲜皇炒饭) and Deep Fried Codfish with Shredded Ginger (龙须炸鳕鱼). The small amount of fried rice was quite ordinary despite its superior name, but the shrimp Bosses gave was quite juicy, so I am still content with it. 

The codfish was nicely done, a fried crunchiness to it with the ginger adding a slight spiciness to it, not enough to make you cry but enough to spice up your dish. As nice as it was, frying a codfish seemed a waste, since the fresh fish's meat should have been tasty enough by itself. It they were to steam it instead and take away all those dipped gravy, it would have received our thumbs up.

To end the meal with a dessert of Pomelo Sago in Mango Cream (扬枝甘露) was quite a relief, seeing that all of us had our stomach full and could not take anything else except liquid. For a sweet tooth like me, this was a delightful dessert with its sweetness, but it could be a little on the cloy side for those preferring a bland taste. The sweet mango cream coating the balls of sago was quite delicious and enticing, and I should be forgiven for asking for more.

Would I have returned to Bosses? I definitely would to try out its other available choices on the menu, but it won't be too soon with the not-so-cheap price. For a celebratory moment with your love ones though, the restaurant exudes with bygone Shanghainese charm not unlike those in the movies. A rare night out with your family for a luxurious dinner is also recommended, as well as a celebration with friends, like what we did to celebrate humanity's triumph against "the end of the world".

Suitable for:            for a usual lunch/dinner, or a hangout with friends, family or even with your significant others
Cost:                             Costly; the price here is not for the faint-hearted, but it is worthy of the price for the sensation offered by the dishes as well as the ambiance.

Contact:                     +65 - 6376 9740
Address:                     #02-156/157, Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, Singapore 098585

Operating hours:   Sun - Thu (10 a.m. - 10 p.m.)
                                       Fri - Sat (10 a.m. - 10.30 p.m.)
Parking:                   Exit at Harborfront MRT, and look for the shop on level 2.

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