Dinner place: Aria restaurant

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Date night! It's definitely getting warmer these days but the evenings are still chilly. Arm in arms, we head into town, to Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Crowne Plaza is celebrating a Culinary Journey this October until mid November, where set menus from three renowned chefs are unveiled. Our dinner coincided the last weekend of Singaporean Sam Leong's creative dishes. A and I hesitated over dates, between Singaporean and Italian, but finally decided to try Singaporean. We were excited to be invited to try out the menu, and just wanted to have a nice dinner date earlier than later. Boy, were we glad we did!

As the Aria restaurant staff kindly informed us, Sam Leong is a popular chef in Singapore, with royal families, presidents and prime ministers as his clients. A celebrity chef, he owns a restaurant that he named after his wife - how cute is that?!

We were here to stay a while, next to the warm gas heater - though it did smell a bit gas-y at times. 
To start things off, a cocktail. I chose Pearhattan. A twist on the classic with a strong pear taste but a lovely berry colour, a very sweet drink with a tinge of bitterness to it. A dreams of owning his own cocktail corner, soon. I am definitely going to give this a go once we get our own small home bar. 
The theme of Sam Leong's menu was, for me, mango. The real Sam's menu kicked off with wasabi prawns with mango salsa on the side. The warm soft prawns with the cooler mango bites was delicious. A sauvignon blanc to swish the taste smoothly around the buds helped, too. A doesn't eat any seafood, so this was a treat just pour moi :).
A loved the main lamb dish. It's not a very Singaporean dish, so the chef must have put some good deal of thoughts into what would be appealing to his Kiwi clients. A hearty meat feed is always appreciated, especially when it is tender and easy to cut. I thought it unusual that they hadn't asked us how well we wanted it cooked, but was glad when it came out not too well done. A ate his plate clean then helped himself to some of the meat on mine, too. I thought the marinated sauce was a bit too salty, but A said it was just right for him. I got to eat all of the asparagus and garlic on the side, though. A and I both love asparagus - we actually wanted to plant some in our gardens this week, until we found out how little we would get from it.
I want to know the recipe to this mango pudding. The first bite was a mini eye widening surprise. It was sweet, it was cool, it was refreshing. Again, as with the appetizer, the white wine went very well after each mouthful. The portion was generous, though we wouldn't have minded if the bowl came in a main dish size, haha. 

Thank you, Aria restaurant, for a lovely dinner and service!

Sam Leong's Singaporean Journey was set at $49 for two courses, which came with two complimentary glasses of wine. Theo Randall's nostalgic Italian cuisine is currently featuring at Aria restaurant until mid November. 

Aria Restaurant & Bar
Crowne Plaza, 
128 Albert Street, 
Auckland CBD
Aria Restaurant & Bar - Crowne Plaza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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