Modern Singaporean Cuisine

Modern Singaporean Cuisine

Featuring The Marmalade Pantry (ION Orchard), The Naked Finn, Labyrinth, Meta Restaurant, Wild Rocket, Botanico at The Garage, Restaurant Ibid, Morsels, IZY FOOK, Mustard Seed
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

We had our socks well and truly knocked off by Chef Marcus’ new main which stars a whole Amadai wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over bincho-tan. Not only is it stuffed with vegetables mixed in an X.O. Sauce concocted from the fish trimmings but also topped with the fried scales of the Amadai itself and kailan leaves. Honestly, this is one of the most delicious examples of minimal waste I can recall. We had the idea to spread that crispiness all over so there was some crunch in every smoky bite of the tender, flavourful fish. Yums!

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It boasted a large piece of fried firm-fleshed fish blanketed in a thick, sour-spicy rempah gravy that I found extremely appetising. Served with plain white rice, the set also included a chunky deepfried yam and chicken patty, fried long beans and another stir-fry of tempeh with hardboiled egg in sweetish sambal. On the side was a bowl of tasty “hae bee”-heavy, not-overly-lemak Sayur Lodeh.

Conclusion: I enjoyed this and the “Premium Nasi Lemak” equally, so it will come down to what I‘m in the mood for on my future visits.

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Popped into the newly-open @lemakboys the other night and ordered their “Premium Nasi Lemak” ($18.50) for dinner. I know most people say the Basic version of the former is good enough but I’m not “most people” because clearly, I’m greedier 😂. Anyway, and I shared everything.
The essential components were done really well. While the rice was very fragrant and flavourful without being heavy or oily, the sweetish sambal proved a shiok match. Scoring 10 out of 10 for freshness and crunch were the other essentials of the peanuts and ikan bilis. The fancier items of fried chicken (it was well-marinated and crispy), omelette and otah (both had an appealing thickness), and the prawns with savoury chilli sambal, met our expectations too.

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“Babi Pongteh” done in the traditional style - a first for me at @fat_fuku private dining, if I am not mistaken. So shiok it was with the “tau cheo” and garlic-heavy sauce, succulent pieces of bamboo shoot and chunks of pork that fell apart at the sight of a fork. By the way, those sliced green chillies weren’t there to simply beautify but to help counter the richness with a subtle fruity-fresh heat.
Judging from the sounds emitted by the others around the table, everyone else obviously shared my enthusiastic approval of Annette’s take on the classic Peranakan dish.

And to answer the question most likely on everyone’s mind, yes - the Russian Hybrid Caviar from @caviarcolony worked beautifully with the elements in the dish.
Annette of @fat_fuku Private Dining had prepared this as the first course of our special menu last week. Knowing Ben (@the_caviar_king) was bringing a tin of his caviar to the dinner organised by @uncle_lim_chiak, she tweaked her signature Crispy Mee Siam into small “pancakes”, topped them with sambal prawns, an onsen egg and chopped chives - all the more befitting of those glistening pearls. The Russian Hybrid caviar‘s unique sweetness and nutty flavour, and its creamy finish, intermingled surprisingly well with the spicy fried noodles and luscious egg.
I also tried it with a splash of the mee siam gravy and a dab of sambal too, and thought the flavours and textures became even more cohesive although admittedly, the caviar took a bit of a backseat once the punchy gravy entered the picture. So avoid that if you prefer a more pronounced taste of caviar on your palate.

Verdict: This just goes to show there should be no rules on how to enjoy caviar 😄

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If it’s been a while since you’ve ventured into the CBD for a meal, I reckon now’s the perfect time as it’s actually very pleasant in the evenings without the office crowds (most are still WFH). That’s why I’d suggested Roketto Izakaya by Willin Low to Annette for our overdue catch-up.
I desperately wanted everything on his Modern Singaporean (Mod Sin) menu. All of the food looked so good! But since there was just the two of us, it wasn’t humanly possible. Tried our best though, kicking off with the insanely crunchy Har Jeong Pork Keropok dipped in aromatic mayo ($8.90). It must be some kind of an unwritten rule that anyone who walks in has to order this because as the evening progressed, I noticed it kept appearing on every table.
We each had a serving of the Scallop “Her Kiao” Glass Noodles to ourselves - honestly, it’s too delicious to share. Initially, when I read that it contains peanut butter, my eyebrows rose in skepticism. They fell immediately after my first bite - wow... it works beautifully with the spicy marmite sauce. And the scallops in the springy fish paste skin were excellent ($9.80). A must-order.
Trust Willin a.k.a. the “Godfather of Mod Sin” to come up with a Prata Pizza topped with Miso Spring Onions and Three Cheeses ($13.80). I was rolling my eyes in pleasure while inhaling the fragrant, flaky-crispy thing.
His “atas” take on Chinese-style Satay was also a delight. It featured grilled Iberico Secreto pork topped with a Javanese satay sauce and finished with pineapple shallot salsa ($10.80 for 2 heftier-than-average sticks).
There’s a very good reason why Roketto’s “Orh Luak” Oyster Omelette Spaghettini ($20) kept popping up on so many people’s IG Stories throughout the Circuit Breaker - IT’S DAMN TASTY LAH! I implore you to do yourself a favour and try this ASAP. But take note, the “hae bee hiam” sambal pulls no punches.
I wolfed down the Asian Tofu and Mesclun Salad with sesame dressing. Yes, it ain’t roketto science (haha, see what I did there? 😆) but I liked the simple yet flavourful mix.

If you are into all things Mod Sin, here’s an exciting piece of news. @nutmegandclove is doing a Cocktail Pop-Up at Roketto Izakaya from 1st to 31st July (it started yesterday). So don’t procrastinate if you love the sound of Singapore-inspired cocktails to pair. Swiftly secure a booking for maximum Mod Sin mayhem by calling:

6904 5458

OR WhatsApp-ing:

8189 6417.

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Forget tequila. These days, it’s this kind of shots that get me more hyped up. I must be getting old 😂😂

Served warm, Roketto Izakaya’s savoury collagen-rich fish broth goes down smoother than any liquid measurable in ABV (“alcohol by volume). And it’s no less intoxicating.

Instead of the usual sidekicks of a lemon slice and salt, this shot has a puffy homemade omu fish cake on a skewer as an accompaniment. Sure, you can straight up munch it, but I prefer the golden pouf dunked in the broth for the same reason I consider “tau pok” the real star in any bowl of Laksa and Curry Mee - to exist at its peak potential as the most flavourful piece of sponginess ever.

At only $4.50 per glass, having a couple of rounds is too easy. Which is why I decided to bookend my meal with this lusciously tasty soup.

To make a reservation, please call 6904 5458.

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G I F T
For those who aren’t ready to dine out yet in Phase 2 of Singapore’s post-Circuit Breaker, you’ll be pleased to know @restaurantibid is continuing with their takeaway/delivery menu until Sunday, 28th June. On offer is an eclectic spread that’s full of delicious surprises, so I suggest ordering an assortment of items that catch your eye and graze across them. Here’s what Chef-owner @woowaileong selected for my dinner last Thursday:

1. Shao Bing - This has been on the menu since Ibid opened for business but has been tweaked and refined over time. It’s currently available with two kinds of fillings: sweetish shredded Wagyu Beef and Cheese with scallions. I preferred the latter because of the savoury taste and I thought the oozy creaminess was marvelous with the chewy dough.

2. Ibid-Style 8 Treasure Duck - Deboned, the #duck is stuffed with fluffy sticky rice mixed with a generous amount of chopped up “lap cheong”, mushrooms, chestnuts and more, which pretty much qualifies it as a one-dish meal too. I enjoyed it most with the bright chilli sauce served alongside. By the way, the caramelised skin is not meant to be crispy.

3. Five-Spice Roast Spring Chicken - A classic done with a Chinese twist. If you aren’t fond of the coriander powder-heavy seasoning, you might want to skip this as it’s liberally rubbed all over.

4. The 50/50 Potato Purée - Super smooth, buttery and creamy, it was beloved by everyone.
5. Shaoxing Creamed Spinach - The Chinese spin put on this popular steakhouse side got it more appetisingly nuanced.

6. Lao Gan Ma Slaw - Did the chilled crunchy cabbage improve from a spike of savoury Oriental-style heat? You bet it did.

7. Mapo Tofu - Like I suspected, this turned out to be one of my favourites. Supremely fragrant and controlled in spiciness, Ibid’s had more structure than most renditions that tend to veer into mushiness.

8. Pork Fat Rice - Dressed in pork oil, crispy lard and scallions, it’s a most apt and delicious carb for the Mapo Tofu.

9. Lion Head’s Meatball - Formed from seasoned minced pork, the huge thing contained a mild Hongkong-style curry at its core which flowed out once a cut was made.

10. Scallion La Mian - The strands of al dente noodles tossed in scallion oil were a good match for the XXL meatball.

11. Black Glutinous Rice Mochi Cake with Taiwanese Milk Oolong Ice-cream - So utterly perfect in its uniqueness and taste, I was inspired to do a stand-alone post about this dessert (please go have a read). The cake is incredible bare but when served a la mode, it took things up a few notches.

12. Chocolate Chip & Walnut Cookie - The other (and rather unexpected) favourite of mine from this meal, I would go so far as to call it THE BEST chewy cookie I’ve had in the past few months.

Don’t hesitate to hit up Restaurant Ibid to get your order in.

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It’s no secret I adore what @mustardseed_sg has been and is doing. Regardless of the form they have taken - be it private dining in their home, an intimate counter-seating-only restaurant or the current delivery / takeaway mode, the food that Chef @mkthehansum conceptualises and creates, with his fiancée Chef @xshinyinx, always manages to surprise, charm and immensely satiate.
Their most recent takeaway set menu ($138, feeds 2) was based on the theme of “Exploring Rempah” and it’s the strongest to date (in my opinion anyway). Most likely because there’s been enough time for the team to find their groove as they adjusted to the government’s guidelines for this Circuit Breaker.
As expected, I had my favourites from this menu. The first of these would be the “Penang Hae Mee Tng with Sea Prawns” which I’d kill to have again. The fresh crustaceans were indecently sweet but I was more enamoured with the stock-rich broth and its slow-rising heat from the dissolved sambal. I hope Chef Ming Kiat will deign to repeat it because it’s much too cruel to serve this once.
Also maddeningly delicious to me were the “Meatball Masak Merah” (which I felt, bore a close similarity to the “Masak Merah Duckballs” Chef Ming Kiat had served at one of his earlier private dining sessions), and the knock-your-socks-off-fragrant “Potato and White Curry Gratin” which tasted more complex than its appearance suggested.
The “Sambal Timun with Jambu Air” knew how to ensnare my heart as well. Unlike my maternal grandma’s heavier, drier version, Chef Ming Kiat prepared his with a lightness, reframing the traditional for me, in an appealing new way.
Fragrant, tangy and medium in spiciness, the “Grouper Perut Ikan” fish dish was flooded with small pieces of vegetables and pineapple. I found plain white rice to cushion the piquancy of this dish best.
The “Ayam Panggang”, marinated in turmeric rempah, toasted “soto” spices and shio koji, was smoky and tender.
Dessert was a mini but decadent “Kueh Jongkong”. I cleaned my cup completely of the pandan-flavoured custard with gula melaka and fresh coconut milk. I was happy that it was not too sweet either.

Shortly before the Circuit Breaker was implemented, I had a most wonderful brunch at @allium.sg. So when Chef-owner Dillon and his wife Chef Lulu launched their Takeaway Menu, I was eager to try it. The reason I was particularly drawn to the dishes in this menu (sorry, today’s the last day for it and they’ve already sold out), was the abundance of aromatics featured in them. And I do love my aromatics.

Here’s what I ordered and thoroughly enjoyed:

1. Empress Chicken "Ayam Ungkep" - Extremely fragrant roasted boneless chicken rubbed with turmeric & fennel, and topped with bunga kantan and shallot sambal, it is a feast for the eyes and a thrill on the palate.

2. Kurobuta Pork Cheek Curry - The meat was braised till melt-in-the-mouth in a mild curry redolent in an unusual but appealing blend of peppercorn, cardamon, clove & shaoxing wine curry. So glad it came with Homemade Fried Buns to mop up every bit of that tasty gravy.

3. Kale Ulam Salad - If everyone can make kale taste this delicious, I would eat it much more often. Dressed with herbs and spices from a traditional nasi ulam recipe, as well as mushroom garum and calamansi juice, the locally-grown kale from @susteniragriculture was a revelation.

4. Signature Nasi Liwet - Made from stewing Koshihikari rice with bits of fried salted threadfin, petai (my fave!) and alliums, the result was a fragrant, fluffy, flavourful, multi-textural carb dish that’s wonderful enough to be enjoyed on its own.

Chef Dillon was also kind enough to include these two dishes appearing in next week’s menu:

1. Squid and Quail’s Egg in Sambal - The perfectly cooked squid (even grandparents would have no problem enjoying it), and the sambal in which it was gently braised, along with the mini eggs, was a lip-smacking roasted chilli and tumeric leaf blend that’s not too spicy at all. Shiokness.

2. Tuscan Kale Gulai - Featuring another produce from @susteniragriculture, the dark leaves were stewed in Gulai - a fragrant, more-liquid-than-paste style of curry found at Nasi Padang stalls. This was concocted from salted fish, galangal and juices from ayam ungkep. And it was DA BOMB!!

I suggest you keep your eyes peeled for news on the next Takeaway Menu by following @allium.sg on Instagram because from what I can see, they sell out fast.

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Be prepared to be stunned into silence by the gigantic Kaya Cream Choux Buns by Pastry Chef @lusianadarusman at @allium.sg.
It tasted so spectacular I gave myself up to the singular pursuit of luxuriating in the pleasure of every bite. How the thin wall of airy-light choux pastry could contain that volume of insanely fragrant kaya and cream filling remains a mystery. But wow, wow, wow.... this is a dessert you should not miss.
To best enjoy the Choux Buns (they are sold as a pair for $18), keep them chilled in the fridge until you are ready to eat. It helps to cut them carefully in half, then swiftly tilt the pieces up onto their sides so the voluptuous kaya cream can be contained. Then close your eyes and take your own sweet time to lose yourself in the moment.

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T R E A T
For yesterday’s Staff Takeover at One MICHELIN Starred @metasingapore, Chefs @andrewoou and @jielong_jared stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the ballpark with their limited edition, one-day-only Oriental Hainanese Chicken Rice ($38).

Presented in Melaka-style rice balls, the compressed grains were fragrant and pleasantly chewy. They were the suave Fred Astaire to the elegant Ginger Rogers of tender, juicy chicken.

The well-chosen supporting cast comprised of a Japanese Ajitsuke Tamago (the same kind of runny-yolked egg you find in a good bowl of ramen), crunchy achar, beansprouts tossed in oyster dressing and topped with century egg, as well as a bowl of Grouper fish and seaweed soup.

The closing act was a rotund donut oozing with an insanely fragrant coconut pandan kaya.

You bet we enjoyed every bite of this set meal.

Thank you again @kieranngsweepoh for the treat and @caaveeell for the link-up.

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