Tonny Restaurant

I love the makan outings organized by Makansutra. The restaurant picks are always spot-on and often corkage-waived – it is sheer bliss being in the company of so many fellow gluttons (“foodies” is a nicer term) and winos (“alco*****”). Not only do I get to sample the signature dishes at new restaurants, I am also blessed with generous friends who care and share good wines!

This August, we visited 利宝饭店 Tonny Restaurant, located along the Joo Chiat stretch. I had high expectations of Tonny, whom, as I read online, was a semi-superstar of ex-Shatin Restaurant fame. He probably sees himself as such too, seeing from the huge moustachioed signage outside the restaurant *grin*.

At $45 nett per pax, the food we had was a steal:

Trio of crispy yam with truffle oil, smoked duck and crispy fish skin

- Mini Buddha jumps over the wall

- Wasabi prawn balls

- Steamed pating fish with ginger and chilli

- Bailin mushrooms braised in abalone sauce

- Steamed boneless chicken in superior soup

- Special fried rice in lotus leaf

- Golden banana ball in milk cream

There were hits and misses. The signature crispy yam failed to impress (where was the truffle scent?) and the smoked duck was just so-so. I only liked the tasty broth they served to dip the crispy fish skin in. Other non-memorable dishes were the wasabi prawn balls, bailin mushrooms and chicken. The dessert was.. bleh.

The star for me was the Buddha jumps over the wall. That pot was full of chunky goodness – whole silvers of shark’s fin (oops, sorry), dried scallops, mushrooms, even some (baby) whole abalones. This single dish in itself, was worth my $45.

Strangely, the other dish which stood out for me that night was the fried rice. It must have been one of the nicest I’ve ever eaten. Good wok hei, every single grain was evenly coated with fragrant sauce and they were generous with the shreds of dried scallop – I cleaned the bowl clean! Yup, there’s a long run on the treadmill right there.

The steamed patang fish also deserves some mention. Personally I loved the seasoning but the fish was just too oily for me. My friends devoured the dish, picking and sucking the bones dry.

It was overall an enjoyable dinner, especially considering the wines I got to sample. There was some interesting winegeek talk about the Tyrus Evan 2003 Malbec (Argentinean grape with a green card, from Oregan) and the Irvine 2005 Zinfandel Reserve (American immigrant to Barossa Valley Australia).

Since Tonny’s right in my neighbourhood, I’ll probably be back to sample the other dishes. The Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon dish (Lobster, Egg White and Dried Scallop) and the Full Cream Crab Congee sound so good.