Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Kotuwa, Regent's Chinese New Year specials, Chopsuey, and more
Where we dined this week...
There never really is a defining one dish in Sri Lankan cuisine, which honestly is music to our ears. More options, more unbridled joy. A statement that we found ourselves leaning to during a meal at Kotuwa, chef Rishi Naleendra's third endeavour on our shores. Similar to Indian cuisine, the grub in Sri Lanka typically packs on a lot of heat, spices, and never leaving you left with one single choice. If you did, chances are you're getting it all wrong. But Naleendra edifies us on the subject of Sri Lanka's food, that while it's often loaded with robust flavours, the dishes are never too heavy or brashly constructed. Something as simple as hoppers, a bowl-shaped pancake made from fermented rice flour and milk, is formed delicately. A pillowy core ideal to trap any sort of curries, dhal, and sambal — all of which you must make haste to call for at Kotuwa. And of course, make haste to devour. Because everything here is best savoured a la minute. The flavours are overwhelmingly good and before you get lost in all of that, other standouts like the crab cutlets in the form of what we know as croquettes, are stuffed with spiced crab meat brandade. A fiery bite met with our delight and soon we were asking for more. Seafood remains to be the unstoppable force here, and while we wouldn't turn down any item under the menu's sub section, the yellow curry sea bass and Dallo Buma (crispy fried calamari in chili butter) set the tone of astounding layers unfurled in the form of thick and hearty marinades. But no meal is complete at Kotuwa without the restaurant's crab curry — concocted with cumin, coriander, fenugreek, cinnamon and other spices as inducted in a recipe from chef Rishi's mother. Not forgetting, a whole mud crab to break into, with incessant dipping, cracking, and suckling along the way. It's a messy affair, don't get us wrong, but easily one of the best experiences to have on our shores. —JS
2 Dickson Rd, Wanderlust Hotel, Tel: 6970 7838 Opening hours: (Wed-Fri) 6 to 10pm (Sat-Sun) 11am to 4pm, 6 to 10pm (Mon-Tues) Closed
The race towards Chinese New Year is running along full speed ahead and that too means, we're posed with a common issue of snagging a seat across the 15 days of festivities. Regent Singapore knows it all too well, and with its renowned Cantonese restaurant Summer Palace constantly in full demand during the auspicious season, the hotel's Italian gem, Basilico is stepping things up this year with its own Chinese New Year menu. Sure it is pretty unconventional for an occasion steeped in tradition, but rest assured, you'll find traces of familiarity in this 5-course special. It's a chance to switch things up, especially when you're only on day 4, and craving something else besides the typical stews and roast meats. The yusheng looks every bit like the customary platter we're accustomed to tossing, but it comprises of angel hair pasta, poached baby scallops, apple wood smoked salmon, Norcia black truffles, and last but not least, Avruga caviar. It's finished with a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, which cleverly balances the entire dish. Within the menu, the 32-Yolk Ravioli is individually stuffed with a marinated pork and crab ball, and steeped in a hen broth. All in all, a hearty spoonful; albeit the ravioli felt a tad too thick on the bite. The dessert crafted ticked all the right boxes: a panna cotta plated with chrysanthemum tea gel and lavender pearls to finish. It was piquant and floral while restraining on the excessive sugar. Back at Summer Palace, expect quite a few yusheng choices — from traditional smoked slamon to an indulgent one involving lobster, the family will certainly find no trouble find The One for their annual feast. In line with the ox theme, the highlight falls on the tradiitonal stewed beef in casserole, as part of the a la carte menu. It's a heartwarming pot of beef chunks, tendon, omasum, and tripe, cradled with white turnip for that hint of sweetness. Pair this with a full bowl of white rice and you'll be all set. —JS
1 Cuscaden Rd, Regent SingaporeTel: 67338888 Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 12 to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm; (Sat-Sun) 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm
It's the season to be feasting all day long again, and if you're opting to do something out of the comforts of your home, here's yet another spot that's serving up a mean CNY menu — Chopsuey Cafe in the heart of Dempsey Hill. Their Lunar New Year menu includes the furnishings of all that you need: the familiar taste of home, the traditional yet classic flavour of spice and of course, the must-have offering of yusheng. Auspicious sayings aside, Chopsuey's healthy variation to the lucky dish includes a delightful concoction of kale, trout, celeriac, sprouts, red radish, blueberries and wild rice. But the sweet, tangy sauce is one we're finding tough to beat: once mixed in, the yusheng experience serves as how any appetizer should be — refreshing and keeps you wanting more. Depending on the size of the company you keep, you'll be able to pick either 1 or 2 starters, and a varying selection of your mains. Their salt and vinegar beancurd crisps sure do make for a wonderful snack, in a crispy, numbing sort of way, but should you have to choose a sole starter? We say go for the steamed prawn and lobster dumplings that's delightfully packed to the brim. As you head into your mains, the first impression would be one of abundance: from seafood options to duck and beef, you'll be spoilt for choice. The Steamed Shaoxing Paper Chicken was a definite surprise: juicy, flavorful and delicate on the tummy, don't let appearances fool you here. The Sticky 5 Spice Smoked Duck Breast was also a pleasant delight to savour, one might say this dish was the epitome of how spice worked in perfect balance with the intensity of a succulent meat cut. Others were a tad predictable, and dishes like the pineapple sea prawns came out slightly overcooked, but whatever you pick as your lucky 5 mains, the one to not pass on is the Lobster Fried Rice: the unassuming star of the show. It's the sort that warms the soul and doesn't hold back on giving unexpected bursts of flavour through it all. Wash it all down with dessert's offering of a hot ginger dumpling tea aka tangyuan; the ginger taste hits strong but at least you know digestion's assured post-hearty meal. — AT
10 Dempsey Rd, Dempsey Hill, Tel: 6708 9288
Opening hours: (Sun-Thurs) 11.30am to 10pm, (Fri-Sat) 11.30am to 10.30pm Where we're looking to dine...
MOONBOW at Dempsey Hill
Newly nestled in the Dempsey food enclave is MOONBOW: where modern European cuisine is influenced by the Asian palate. Every moment here is set to be a picture-perfect one; from its pastel-champagne interior to the delectable dining offerings served on exquisitely designed ceramic tableware. Expect contemporary interpretations of food from home such as the Black berry 4-Grain Healthy Rice with roasted pork jowl "Ton Toro" and a Fermented Red Yeast Wine that is served with a Filet de Barramundi. Look out for their signature dish: the Tomahawk de Swine, featuring a BBQ-glazed, untrimmed 4-day aged young pork tomahawk chop.
Block 10 Dempsey Road, Tel: 9010 2717 Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 11.30am to 3pm, 6pm to 10.30pm (Sat - Sun) 10am to 3pm, 6pm to 1030pm
CNY Pop-Up at Junior The Pocket Bar with Rémy Martin
Celebrating the Year of the Ox, Junior The Pocket Bar will be running a Chinese New Year pop-up from 27 Jan to 27 Feb where the focus will be a series of cocktails dedicated to the festivities such as the likes of Rolling For Prosperity, a spiced brown butter rum lemon with a flaky pineapple tart, and Blooming Gratitude, a concoction of The Botanist gin, jasmine, pear, Pol Roger champagne and cointreau.
6 Ann Siang Hill Rd, Tel: 8121 1462
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 5.30pm to 10.30pm