For those who don’t know yet, I’ve been a American Express Platinum Credit Card customer for some time now. Yet, I’ve never got the chance to fully appreciate the promotions available to me, especially the complimentary Classic Far Card Membership and the PALATE programme.
I finally found time to head down to BUYAN at Duxton Hill, this Russian restaurant I’ve been to many years ago for an event, after realising that this restaurant is one of the few Russian restaurants in Singapore, and I get a 50% discount with my Amex card if I dined with another!
One of the qualities of Russian cuisine is the rustic nature of the dishes, preferring the natural taste of fresh vegetables, breads, soups and stews over heavy spices and seasoning. For me, it was a good change over the typical Asian food. Of course, you can’t forget the vodka!
So I selected four dishes – “Italian Caviar” with Blinis for tasting, “Herring under Fur Coat” and “Solyanka” for appetisers, “Shashly” and “Meat Golubtsy” for the mains, and “Napoleon Cake” for dessert.
Starting with drinks, I had the “Szatlotka” vodka mix cocktail, which is a shot of Bison Grass Vodka and Fresh Green Apple Juice. The green apple juice is freshly squeezed you can still see the apple bits inside the drink. This is a must get cocktail. Do note that all cocktails are not included in the 50% discount.
Refreshing green apple juice you don’t even feel you’re drinking vodka at all.
Caviar is a must have delicacy if you’re at a Russian restaurant. This is a caviar bar anyway! Sadly, the caviar is so expensive here it’s not included in the Amex 50% discount offer. That didn’t stop me though. I ordered this Italian caviar that’s not on the menu – Malossol Caviar from Gourmet House – for $3/gram. Malossol means lightly salted, therefore the caviar retains that natural fish egg flavour, which I’m fond of.
All their caviars are served with sour cream, diced white onions, chopped eggs and chives together with a thin Russian pancake called Blinis. However, I do suggest you take a shot of water to cleanse your taste buds first. Take a small scoop of caviar, place it into your mouth, allow your tongue to explode those juicy spheres and savour the taste.
To eat it like the true Russian, you’ll need to spread sour cream, diced white onions, chopped eggs and some chives into a thin Russian pancake called Blinis. After which, you put a little caviar into the spread and roll up the Blinis. The caviar makes a huge difference to the overall taste, providing the blending of salty, sour, sweet tastes into the roll. Delectable and subtle. Not for the hardened tongues of most Singaporeans.
Savour the caviar, feel each pearl explode in your mouth, and let the flavour just linger on your tongue.
Next is the “Herring under Fur Coat”. This is by far my favourite dish, and most memorable. This is a layer of salted herring under various layers of cooked beetroot, potato, carrot, and home-made mayo, with a spoon of chopped eggs on top.
You have to eat everything together otherwise the salted herring will be too overpowering. The beetroot, carrot and potato provides that unsalted mash of vegetables melded with the sweet and creamy mayonnaise on top. When eaten together with the herring, it completed the entire ensemble, like a well harmonious quartet that can’t work without the other. Do not attempt to eat the herring alone by itself or you’ll need a glass of water (or vodka) to wash the saltiness down.
A harmonious quartet of flavours, sweet creamy savoury salty blending together in this must-have dish called “Herring under Fur Coat”.
Soups are an important dish of the Russian cuisine, and many different kinds of soups to choose from. I decided on the Solyanka, a thick slightly sour & spicy meat soup.
This is a very normal soup stew with vegetables and thinly shredded pork that your “Russian” mother makes when you’re feeling homesick. The sourness and spicyness of the soup is very subtle, so don’t worry for those who might be concerned. The pork and cabbage with a medley of other vegetables like mushrooms, black olives, etc. makes it a comfort food, a reminder of what simple pleasures can be felt with simple soup. Not stunning, but an easy dish to drink.
The Solyanka is like the soup your “Russian” mother makes for you when you’re feeling homesick. Brings back memories of home. (ahem, mother russia?)
Next up, another common dish you’ll see at any Russian cuisine is their grilled meats. The Shashly is a medley of chicken, lamb and salmon charcoal grill. I didn’t quite like lamb, so I had more chicken and salmon to replace the lamb.
Being a meat lover, this is exactly like a kebab with very well spiced meat that’s fragrant when you start chewing into the tender chicken. The salmon is a little over-done, slightly dry and flakey. It could use a little lesser time on the grill, but that doesn’t discount the fact that the salmon is fresh. Definitely better than IKEA’s salmon. Overall this is a tasty meat platter for sharing.
Over-done salmon, but fragrant and tender grilled chicken.
Cabbage rolls are another one of the more commonly seen Russian dishes, so I decided on getting the Meat Golubtsy – Cabbage rolls stuffed with mixed meat & rice.
The Meat Glubtsy has a very strong tomato soup like sauce as the base. Two cabbage rolls sliced in half, resulting in 4 pieces. One of the most traditional Russian dishes you can find anywhere, the soft stewed rice and meat wrapped in cabbage might not be everyone’s favorite. This is another comfort food where the rice is as soft as porridge, the minced meat is just as soft, and the cabbage has been stewed in the tomato sauce for a long time. The flavors are light and subtle, perfect for anyone that’s under the weather.
Perfect comfort food. Soft rice with minced meat wrapped with soft cabbage stewed in tomato sauce.
To end it all, the mille-feuille (thousand leaves cake) or better known as the Napoleon Cake is a layered puff pastry cake with vanilla custard served with fresh berries and vanilla sauce.
Not a particularly sweet, just right for those who wants a little change from the usual sweet desserts. The custard between the cake is just right, making the dessert not too heavy. As usual, another Russian favorite dessert that’s a light fluffy end to the meal.
The Napoleon Cake is one of the dishes I’ve been looking forward to. I love it. Enough said.
Overall I spent around SGD150 (with GST and tips, after 50% discount on the food) for everything, serving 2 pax. A little pricey due to the drinks and caviar which contributed half the amount. The serving staff were friendly and knowledgable about the dishes and which to recommend.
BUYAN Russian Restaurant and Caviar Bar
Reservations: +65 6223 7008
Address: 9 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089593
Opening Hours: Lunch: Tue – Fri: 12 pm – 3 pm
Dinner: Mon – Sat: 6 pm – 10:30 pm
Bar: Open till Late
Closed On Sunday
American Express Platinum Credit Card Benefits
- The American Express Platinum Credit Card offers free membership to two dining programmes, namely the Classic Far Card Membership and the PALATE programme. Under these two programmes, you have the opportunity to eat at over 80 fine dining restaurants, and enjoy drinks after, in Singapore at great discounts.
- You can also enjoy additional dining privileges under the Platinum Private Deals with the American Express Platinum Credit Card.
American Express Platinum Credit Card Lucky Draw Promo
- Lucky Draw Promotion (exclusively for Platinum Card Members): From now till 9 Nov 2014, you can also be one of the 5 lucky winners every day to win S$100 worth of dining vouchers (TungLok dining vouchers for Monday to Saturday draws and Fairmont dining vouchers for Sunday draws). Every receipt above S$50 earns you one chance to win. Enjoy double the chances when you spend S$50 or more in a single receipt at any The Far Card or Palate establishment.