A couple of days ago, Espresso and Matcha celebrated its four month of establishment. Needless to say, there was much fanfare. Having been such a newly created blog, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invite to the launch party for Nest, in Hotel Jen, situated at the Roma Street Transit Centre. It was rather last minute, but I managed to find my plus one, and off we went.
As we arrived, my friend already drew my attention to the tree outside Hotel Jen, which was decorated with Chinese Lanterns, a good hint of what the evening had in store for us.
The hotel itself was bright and vibrant, in line with the new redevelopment plan that the government apparently has for the area near the transit centre.
From the outside, you can see the setting is rather stylish, with windows that look a bit like a birds nest, in the theme of the restaurant.
This theme extended to the interior, which was also decorated with nest like lampshades and ceiling decorations.
The DJ booth was also Nest themed, it was pumping out music all throughout the evening.
The two of us were warmly greeted at the door, and offered glasses of Perrier Jouet champagne.
We got a seat at the lounge and were offered a fortune cookie each, which contained a chance to win prizes at the end.
This was the drink menu for the opening night.
After the champagne, my friend and I got a lemon and lime bitters each. It was mixed really well, not being too sweet or too bitter. I found the portion size to be significantly more generous than others I've had.
After the drinks, canapes were served throughout the evening by the super friendly waiters. We were also encouraged to hang around near the kitchen if we wanted to get specific types of food.
The first item that we got to try was the Fried Spiced Calamari with Aioli. The Calamari had a light batter, which accentuated the calamari, rather than overpowering it. The calamari itself was a bit chewy, but not too chewy, but I think that the aioli didnt have enough garlic though.
After the food started coming out, we took a peek into the open kitchen to admire the food they were preparing.
The next thing we tried was the Turkish Bread with the homegrown herb butter. Personally, I have a preference for my toast to be served hot, but I do understand that in a catering environment, this is definitely hard to achieve. By the time we got the toast, it was still warm though, which is not a bad effort. In terms of the herb butter, I do appreciate the super fresh herbs, which made quite a difference from the usual store bought herbs.
Next up was the Crispy Fried Vegetable Dumpling. In my opinion, this was the most confusing thing I tried in the evening, as I am used to dumplings in the sense that you would get at Harajuku Gyoza, or New Shanghai. In this instance, the dumpling did not have a distinctive 'skin' and 'filling'. It tasted more like a scone with veges mixed in. Whilst I found it very good for a scone, I'm not entirely sure it should have been called a dumpling. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience.
Next came the Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls. It contained all the usual elements, pork, vermicelli, and rice paper as well as asparagus, being their interesting little twist. Personally, I found the rice paper roll to be rather bland, and I think it could have been a bit better with more filling in each roll. Other than that, it was pretty authentic, and I could taste that the ingredients were very fresh.
Next were the Honey Soy Chicken Wings! They were all grilled to a nice golden brown, and tastes just like my mother makes. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Other than that, I also developed a strong appreciation of how difficult it is for people to manage holding a drink, a bag, and a camera whilst eating food! Indeed, its not easy.
The highlight of my evening was definitely their Satay Chicken. The chicken was tender and not overdone, whilst the sauce was peanutty and mildly spicy. I really liked it.
After the Satay Chicken, we tried the mini bowl of Laksa. As Laksa is one of my mother's favourite dishes, I am quite familiar with the elements and execution of a good laksa (because she critiques every laksa she has to me). As with the rice paper roll, the laksa at Nest definitely contained all the essential elements, a curry based coconut milk soup, hokkien noodles (notably there were no rice noodles), bay leaves, prawns, fish cake and sprouts. Interestingly, they had a poached egg also, which is something I've never encountered in laksa. In terms of execution though, whilst I found it to be rather spicy, the spice overpowered any other flavour of the dish. My companion and I both agreed that the soup could have a bit more coconut flavour.
The duck salad was also rather interesting, although it was roast duck, it was served cold. The veges were definitely fresh, but were more hard than they were crisp.
Next up was the Peking Duck Roll, which was something I wanted to try for quite a while. Like the rice paper roll, I found the filling to be a bit lacking. However the pastry was nicely done and very authentic, whilst the duck and hoisin sauce were quite tasty. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if there was more duck though.
What I found rather impressive at Nest was the Pad Thai. The noodles were quite springy, and the sauce had a nice sweet flavour which complimented the meat and prawns.
At this stage, I was already rather full, but I was not willing to leave until I had tried the Wagyu Sliders. It had some bacon (which you can't see in the photo), lettuce and tomato. Surprisingly I found it a bit lacking without cheese. I also found the patty a bit small for the size of the bun.
Throughout the evening, the chefs were wandering around chatting to guests, most of them herald from Hong Kong and China. We were lucky to chat with the head chef and get a better understanding of his restaurant.
Overall, we really enjoyed our time at Nest. The food has a bit of room for improvement, but its definitely got the basis and potential to be something great! The service and ambiance for the night was wonderful. I will definitely return.
Price Range: $25 - $35 per person
Service: 9.5/10 Staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful
*Espresso&Matcha was a guest of Nest Lounge and Bar, however all opinions expressed are provided with independence and integrity*