Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Cheesecake Factory's foray into Southeast Asian cuisine.

From the menu:

"Where the distinct flavors, dishes
and aromas of Southeast Asia
bring an exciting new experience
to the American palate.

Pass through our doors and 
you travel halfway around the world to 
Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia,
Singapore, Indonesia and India"

BAKET WALANG PILIPINS!!!! (How come no Philippines?!?!?!)  

5  When they say "pass through our doors", they weren't kidding! 
It's tall, it's ornate - and you're gunna LOVE IT!  

The entrance is a long and narrow passageway akin to entering a different world far far away from the mall you thought you were in.  Sounds exotic and romantic? Knowing how long the lines get at Cheesecake Factory restaurants, this may just be an exercise in creative crowd control.

5  Don't forget to look up!  Every inch of space is filled with stunning details.

5  And then you arrive at the hostess station - finally!

The name is a bit odd and I'm not really sure about the nomenclature.  The first restaurant of it's kind from Cheesecake Factory (and I'm sure there will be more!),  RockSugar debuted in June 2008.  The chef is Mohan Ismail.

5  Oriental Exoticism runs rampant at the bar.

5  The Main Dining Hall

For all the drama involved in the entrance, the restaurant has a relatively small dining area. The passageway is almost the same square footage as the dining room.  We arrived 30 minutes late from our appointed time and we ended up sitting in the indoor/outdoor patio area, which wasn't bad at all.

5  Survey the tablescape.

The tablescape consists of:  napkin, fork, spoon and chopsticks.  They sure covered all the bases (I used them all!).  The hot towel before the meal is a nice touch that is common in restaurants in Asia but a rare surprise in these here United States.  Does moist towelettes count?

5  Flatbread and sauce.

They start you off with some crispy crackers (very similar to kropek but without the shrimp-y flavor).  It's embedded with black sesame seeds and comes with a sweet savory sauce.

5  Sambal Eggplant

First up is Sambal Eggplant.  The eggplant is cut like fries (crisp outside, tender and moist inside) and arrives atop a sweet soy based sauce (a little too sweet really - I guess that explains the name RockSugar) and topped with spicy Sambal sauce (not enough).

5  Short Ribs

Next up is the short ribs served on top of Udon noodles and broth.  The broth still has a hint of sweetness and the shortribs were bland.  Maybe it needs to be seared more but the flavors did not carry through the meat leaving it bland with a sweet aftertaste.  The Udon in broth may not have been the best pairing .

5  Mens toilette

This may be the coolest men's toilet I've seen yet.  The tiles on the wall is actually clear glass tiles placed over a colored wall.  This creates a really nice effect.

And now, the verdict.  Overall, I found the sugary sweet flavors pervasive in all the dishes I ordered. But, the menu is full of very interesting and inventive dishes that is worth a trip back.  The service was attentive and efficient.  

I would love to work my way through the menu in the next few months.  They also have an onsite bakery and the waiter boasted they had fabuloous desserts as well. To find out more about RockSugar, click here.

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