Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: CNY popiah at Folklore, Ding Dong's pork fiesta and Singapore's newest celebrity restaurant
Where we dined this week...
PS.Cafe's Chopsuey's touted for the Westerner's intepretation of Chinese cuisine, which can mean very little to the majority of Asians in our city who grew up on our mothers' home cooking. But before you proceed to write off the charming restaurant in Dempsey, know this — they do a mean Chinese New Year feast. And apart from its colonial-meets-modern radiance, Chopsuey could very well be a Chinese establishment. A yusheng platter here isn't any different from what we have been accustomed to; just embellished with superfoods like kale, blueberries, wild rice and a refreshing calamansi dressing spiked with Japanese vinegar. Those who love their ribs, their white pepper espresso rendition will not disappoint. While it was slightly too deep-fried for our liking, the piquant rub on the meat made up for it. For real sustenance, order their claypot fried rice and you'll be happily sated. The real hero came in the form of a fresh atlantic halibut, adorned with chives while revealing a bed of greens glazed with the wok-hei effect. Hands down, the winning dish on the table. We're even sure this one would get Mum's stamp of approval. And if that doesn't do the trick, the heartening bowl of ginger root tea and black sesame rice balls will definitely do. — JS
Block 10, Dempsey Road, #01-23, Tel: 9224 6611
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 11.30am-11pm, (Sat-Sun) 10.30am-11pm
It's always feels like home at Folklore — and I'm not even Peranakan. With unfailing consistency of bringing the most piquant flavours together, chef Damian D'Silva celebrates Chinese New Year just like how he was trained to as a kid. Cue an amazing feast. This year, he ropes in an uncommon vegetable into a dish Sayur Beremi where the Indonesian-grown plant comes together with a cold savoury broth stemming from prawn stock, chillies, tamarind and local spices. For those who are familiar with the Drumstick (which unlike its moniker, isn't actually poultry but a gourd), Chef Damian cooks it to its best potential alongside pork ribs in a thickened coconut milk gravy. Sparking a poetic notion to foster togetherness, a build-your-own popiah set is available at your family's disposal. In this set, you'll find hand-shredded turnip (more plump than the usual), bamboo shoots, pork belly and other essential condiments. The skins are also handmade and to our delight, eggy in flavour. Of course, you can't leave without the Peranakan mee siam. In this bowl, the heady paste makes up most of the dish — credited to the wonders of onions, chillies, shallots and candlenuts; alongside vermicelli, that's first fried with the thick mixture then forming a tantalising broth. Sweet, spicy, tangy and so much more — definitely get tissues on standby. — JS
700 Beach Rd, Level 2 Destination Singapore
Opening hours: 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm
Here's a place your in-laws would be chuffed with. Yan Ting at St Regis Singapore presents a bountiful spread, obviously beginning from the yusheng platter. This plate is decked with Norwegian salmon, pomelo, winter melon, peach, dried mandarin orange, yam; and doused with a sweet, yet balanced dressing. A big fan of pen cai? The version at Yan Ting features a huge pot of exquisite delicacies — from fa cai (black moss) to sea cucumber. Definitely a good option for huge families. Everything is done in good traditional fashion here — with creations like fish maw soup serving up a good bowl of comfort. With that, include a generous pour of black vinegar and your stomach will thank you. Their ee-fu noodles get a luxe upgrade, from the usual suspects of bite-sized crabmeat and chicken strips to the surprise element of a huge lobster pincer. Hands down, our favourite dish from the menu. We also renewed our love vows with their pan-fried nian gao, accompanied with a bowl of almond tea and a supposed Asian secret to good luminous skin — peach gum. In that case, more servings please. — JS
29 Tanglin Road, The St. Regis Singapore, Level 1U
Opening hours: 12pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm
If there is one thing to look forward to in the Year of the Pig, it is every restaurant's obsession with the animal. Ding Dong is no exception with a Chinese New Year menu aptly called 'Piggin' Out' — featuring a full set of pork dishes with familiar Asian flavors that are particularly close to home. Head chef Miller Mai's well-loved Thai grilled pork collar from the main menu made an encore appearance on the CNY menu, and it was an instant show-stopper. We loved the tender pieces of meat with charred bits, while paired with a sweet-spicy dipping sauce that elevated the dish. Another menu to look out for is the 'Not So Lonely Planet' series where classic dishes of Southeast Asia (namely Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar) are reinvented under chef Mai's midas touch. Standouts include the Burmese tomato fish curry from Myanmar which unveiled a flaky cod fillet doused in deftly cooked gravy. The take on Malaysia's otah was also divine; a blend of seafood custard topped with crispy fish skin and kaffir lime. It brought back blurry flashbacks of a fan-holding uncle watching over the charcoal fire. Instead of the usual cocktail pairing, chef Miller introduces Asian mocktails such as the Chesube — a refreshing drink concocted with elderflower cordial, lemongrass and honey. If you love Thai milk tea, order the Siam Dreams — in our opinion, a close match to your favourite matcha latte but made lighter and more aromatic with the addition of earl grey and coconut juice. —CC
115 Amoy St, Tel: 6557 0189
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 12pm-3pm, 6pm-12am, Closed on Sundays
Filling the empty void of Jöel Robuchon's 3-Michelin restaurant, Richard van Oostenbrugge's table65 presents a far more casual mien — losing the hermetic opulent interior for a stainless steel open kitchen surrounded with front-facing high chairs. You won't find an impressive line-up of cutlery according to height here, they're all cleverly hidden in your own drawer. Plot twist: a homogenous set of fork, knives and spoons just so you wouldn't need to overthink which size to decide on for each altering course. The dining experience does get a touch of drama with visual light projections on selected courses. Let's just say illustrious content for your Instagram Stories. The amuse bouche, was underwhelming at best. That we'll skip, and proceed to the myriad of bluefin plates that followed after. Cold plates of tomato consommé jelly and marinated sardines, cured mackerel with a tart vinaigrette and lastly a smoked horsemackerel with passionfruit ceviche, coconut cream and calamansi emulsion. All three dishes had the salty sea brine coupled with sour bold flavours, and only the last one stood out with the piquant use of coconut. Winning dish? Well, Toh Thye San duck that saved the day; a charming cut of the juicy protein (with just enough fat-skin ratio) paired with a nutty sauce of mole madre and blueberry aigre-doux. — JS
8 Sentosa Gateway, Hotel Michael, Level 1 (Opposite Lake of Dreams), Tel: 6577 7939
Opening hours: 6.30pm-10.30pm, closed on Tues and Wed
What's new in Singapore...
You can get the authentic local Japanese Izakaya exeprience in Telok Ayer — all thanks to Chi Kinjo that serves up creative offerings exploring the boundaries between traditional and modern concepts. Have your sushi with a sip of cocktail or two — did we mention about the wall of extensive Japanese alcohol on display in their highball den?
29 Stanley St, Tel: 6221 3665
Opening hours: 5pm-12am, closed on Sundays
Pocket bar Junior has redecorated, yet again. This time, with a newly launched concept named Pacifica. Inspired by authentic Tiki traditions, the bar menu rolls out drinks like the Zombie, a potent mix of aged demerara, rich venezuela and overproof rums. Let's just say, we're eager to sit in one of the ten seats in this little bar.
43 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Tel: 8121 1462
Opening hours: 6pm-12am, closed on Sundays