Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Botanico, Birds of a Feather, Minjiang at Goodwood Park Hotel
Where we dined this week...
Birds of a Feather
Stepping into the next chapter of his culinary career is chef Eugene See from Birds of a Feather — who has just debuted his tasting menu titled Reimagine Sichuan. Unlike the fusion a la carte dishes of which the famed restaurant is known for, this 7-set course is dedicated to be a reinterpretation of the deeply complex Sichuan palate, showcasing nuanced flavor profiles that the province holds — and we must say he thoroughly succeeds on that front, in every way possible. The set course kicks off with a pickled vegetable focaccia served with a mean Sichuan compound herb butter, and a ravioli packed with the all-too-familiar burnt chilli of Sichuan cuisine. Whilst both boast Western-centric styles of preparation, the nuanced flavour play is very much one that appeals to our Asian palette — with the combination of rich greens and numbing spice. Amidst the seafood mains, the 'Yu Xiang' Carabinero Prawn takes center stage, with its delectable mesh of sweet, sour and spice all packed into the fermented chili bean paste and vinegar blend. Take it from us when we tell you to suck on the succulent prawn head that's served along with, before heading in for its tender flesh counterpart. For the brave at heart (or lovers of wasabi), the Sichuan mustard-glazed Octopus Carpaccio could be one that's right up your alley, but the wasabi kick might prove a little too strong for some. The Sichuan fish stew is a definite warm welcome: when it comes to Asian comfort meals, nothing does it quite like a flavourful bowl of soup. Well stocked with the classic ingredients of dried chiles and pickled mustard greens, yet topped with minimal amounts of cream, chive oil, butter — the broth is accompanied by smooth-textured barramundi, strips of sea cucumber and pearl couscous that adds just that little right bit of sweetness. The seafood grub is rightfully followed by a glazed Wagyu striploin, tenderly cooked and served with a butternut squash puree blended with umami bean paste and topped with chili oil. Prepare to finish the night's offerings on a high, with their singular choice of dessert — titled Mandarin. A citrus-flavored French baba cake that's infused with Grand Marnier, is topped with a generous serving of Mandarin ice, freeze dried Mandarin orange pieces, Chantilly cream and a soft tuile made from orange peel and juice. Truly an ode to the Chinese fruit, this last pick is a refreshing cleanse to its multi-sensory precursors. —AT
115 Amoy St, #01-01, Tel: 6221 7449
Opening hours: (Mon-Thurs) 10.45am-3pm, 5-11pm, (Fri-Sat) 10.30am-12am, (Sun) 10.30am-10pm
Botanico at The Garage
Situated within the gorgeous Singapore Botanic Gardens, sits Botanico — a bistro-bar whose food is heavily steeped in the botanicals of its very own surroundings — humbly housed on the second level of The Garage. Chef Sue, who has claimed the title of Rising Chef of the Year (Female) in the 2019 World Gourmet Summit, holds the reins behind it all and as she explores new dishes in her kitchen. Get ready to fall in love with your veggies again with Botanico's varying glow-ups on the things we'd often pass over as mere appetizers. The wing bean salad for instance, sat in a perfect balance; mystifyingly eventful, yet completely cohesive. The slices of raw wing beans, housemade chickpea tofu, boiled egg, and bird's eye chilli are a perfect match for its drizzled tossing of a smooth lime aioli and tangy lime juice, lemongrass, fish sauce, belachan, Thai palm sugar and ikan bilis toppings — all coming together to tantalise and complete each other. Yet another enjoyable plate on the debut menu is the Corn Panipuri, a glorious flavour burst reminiscent of our classic curry dish, a buttered corn cob and the age old keropok. One of the show stealers might perhaps be the herbal chicken — a gentler twist to the familiar grub. Chef Sue's own prior love-hate relationship with the dish has clearly infected the dish as she reduces the sheer intensity of the herbal sauce with her own concoction of dang gui (angelica), huai shan (Chinese yam), yu zhu (Solomon's Seal) and red dates. Whilst still rich and potent, the sauce sits in a well-balanced arrangement alongside its main serving of a surprisingly tender chicken breast. The final dessert was one that's hard to come by: a gula melaka dessert dish that wasn't too sweet and every bit necessary in producing a specific texture or flavor. Titled the Ondeh Ondeh, the dessert offering returns to its heritage for inspiration, weaving the combined textures of coconut foam, kaya ice cream, and pandan glutinous rice cakes to blend in perfect harmony. —AT
50 Cluny Park Road, Level 2 Singapore Botanic Gardens, Tel: 9831 1106
Opening hours: Closed on Mondays, (Tues-Thurs) 6-10pm, (Fri-Sun) 11am-3pm, 6-10pm
Minjiang Goodwood Park Hotel
Before the (sort-of) gentrified Minjiang at Dempsey was forged, there was Minjiang at Goodwood Park Hotel. A stalwart in Chinese cuisine, especially having considering the history of Goodwood Park itself. We're talking decades ahead, hence a refurbishment was well in order. While still retaining some iconic fixtures of the space, like its towering light lanterns and colour palette, the new Minjiang radiated with a sleek modern facade, complemented with sharp marble tables and a good mix of wood elements weaved throughout the restaurant. With that, most of the menu items are newly curated. Where dimsum platters (that are still served upon push-cart tradition) are creatively interpreted in the form of Land and Sea — featuring a rabbit shaped steamed prawn dumpling and one that resembles a sea cucumber. A mighty bowl of springy wanton noodles brought on Argentinean red prawns — first fried, then baked in the oven — poising the dish to be an elevated yet true-to-its-name. All of which, might have something to do with head chef Chan Hwan Kee, adept in both Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines as well as his decade-long stint at Minjiang. We found ourselves quite addicted to the one of the key snacks — deep-fried pumpkin then plied with a salted egg yolk sauce made from butter, curry leaves, chili padi, and more salted egg yolk. This one would be a hot favourite at any Chinese New Year gathering. But if we had to call upon a winner from the Lazy Susan? Had to be the spicy sliced red garoupa soup. A spicy concoction, which spotlights one of the best flavours of the Asian palate — heat and more heat. Chef Chan first cooks up a fish stock deep-frying red garoupa fish head and bones, before melding in chili padi, ginger, and preserved cabbage. More ingredients like semi-dried tomatoes, soft tofu, and dried Sichuan peppers fall into the mix. And it's a tummy-warming spoonful after spoonful, one that could leave you in tears but in a good way. To end things on a sweet note: the deep-fried sweet potato balls concealing a milk filling will never, never fail you. But if you're one with the durian, make sure you capitalise on dining in a place where seasons don't matter when it comes to the best Mao Shan Wang puffs one could have. We sure did. —JS
22 Scotts Rd, Goodwood Park Hotel, Tel: 6730 1704
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm (Sun) 11am-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm
Where we're looking to dine...
Baileys Treat Bar
A first-of-its-kind experiential pop-up is happening at Apiary — just in time for the festive month. Expect the full suite of offerings including Baileys beverages and not forgetting the ice cream. From Red Velvet Cupcake to Strawberries and Cream, we're also gunning for the finisher of Baileys drizzle — made in-house.
84 Neil Road (Apiary Ice Creamery)
A new omakase concept restaurant opens up at the heart of South Beach Avenue, helmed by chef-owner, Masaaki Sakashita, he starts his first fine-dining Japanese restaurant after his tenure as head chef at Ishi and Hashida Sushi. Moving away from the traditionally styled establishments, the walls at Masaaki are plastered with soft pink Gucci wallpapers showcasing dancing cranes and exuding oriental elegance. Promising a new omakase dining experience, Chef Masaaki infuses traditional cooking methods with his creative and intuitive cooking style — from a simple bowl of Hamaguchi soup to exceptional slabs of sushi.
26 Beach Road B1-17, Tel: 6388 1555