Qi – House of Sichuan
The One Michelin Star-winning concept hails from Hong Kong, and has brought its fiery ma la dishes to Singapore’s Marina Bay Financial Centre. Expect heavy-hitting dishes such as the chilli fried Sri Lanka crab ($115) – an exercise in balance of the crustacean-y goodness of the crab and the stinging, savoury notes of Sichuan pepper, and the slow-cooked Black Angus beef short ribs with mala sauce ($75), which is marinated overnight in black pepper and sea salt, before being stewed and grilled to golden perfection and served with a heap of Sichuan chilli. The braised garoupa fish fillet in chili oil soup ($40 small, $50 large) features a surprisingly light and drinkable broth (you typically don’t drink ma la soups because they are just too oily and spicy) that is still heavy on the spice, garlic and basil.
Marina Boulevard #02-01, Marina Bay Link Mall, Singapore 018984. Tel: +65 6634 8277
Known for his “X-treme Chinese” style of cooking as well as being a fiery-tempered “Demon Chef”, Alvin Leung makes his first foray into Singapore with Forbidden Duck, a duck-centric restaurant that showcases Leung’s inventive take on Chinese dishes. The Signature Slow Roasted Duck ($88) – an alternative to the traditional Peking roast duck – lives up to its status of a signature dish, a platter of pink and tender duck meat slow-cooked for three hours before being roasted at a higher temperature to yield a crispy skin. To enliven the duck is garlic paste, sugar, smoked sea salt, and a bright calamansi-infused hoi sin sauce which brings a refreshing touch to the usually greasy duck. Paired with the calamansi-flavoured lotus leaf buns, it is easy to have one too many servings.
Leung has also created Singapore-exclusive dishes, such as the Laksa Style duck ($18), said to be inspired by Leung’s favourite Singaporean dish. The rempah is aromatic and spicy enough, and the crunchy fried tau pok is a lovely textural contrast to the soft turnips and duck. The Sri Lanka Crab in White Pepper Broth ($98), inspired by both bak kut teh and white pepper crab is well-balanced; the delicate broth is sweet, spicy and all at once delicious.
8A Marina Boulevard, #02-02 Marina Bay Link Mall, Singapore 018984. Tel: +65 6509 8767. Website here
Winner of the ingural Masterchef Asia, Woo Wai Leong, finally has his own restaurant after a slew of pop-up and collaboration dinners. With Restaurant Ibid, he’s going in search of his roots. It’s not mod-sin though, as the dishes lean toward more Chinese flavours, resulting in dishes that you never would have thought of, but work. Expect snacks like a delicious skewer of escargots, brushed with dou ban jian (fermented bean sauce) mayonnaise, rolled in crispy caramelised shallots, and wrapped with betel leaves before being grilled over charcoal. Other highlights include a spin on tea eggs with a jammy yolk, onion soubise, Chinese tea broth, and butter-fried ginko nuts; as well as Woo’s take on lotus leaf rice–with short grain and glutinous rice, mushroom jam, seared foie gras, and shaved liver sausage–that smacks of umami. Dinner is available in 4/6/8 courses at $78/88/118.
18 North Canal Rd, Singapore 048830. Tel: +65 9151 8698. Website here
Conceptualised by renowned Hong Kong restaurateur Alan Yau, Madame Fan pairs a sprinkle of theatrics and glamour with refined Chinese dining–calling to mind the glitzy Shanghai of the 1920’s. The restaurant anchors the three other concepts located within the newly-opened NCO Club, which features among others, a oyster-and-champagne bar. Highlights at Madame Fan include moreish Taiwan noodles braised with wind-dried pork and la la clams ($16), as well as an intensely aromatic drunken Sri Lankan mud crab, prepared with rice noodles, and 20 yr Gu Yue Long Shan rice wine ($22/100g). For something with a more contemporary touch, there’s a carbonara prepared with thin udon, uni, pancetta, and a slow-cooked egg ($45); and crispy/Peking duck (half, $38) that comes with the option of additional Chinese Kaluga caviar (50g, $170).
NCO Club, 32 Beach Rd, Singapore 189761. Tel: +65 6818 1921. Website here
JustIN Flavours of Asia
Singapore’s celebrity chef Justin Quek is launching two brand new restaurants at Marina Bay Sands by the end of this month. JustIN – Flavours of Asia, the more casual outlet that focuses on Singapore flavours, will open officially on 26 May, and Chinoiserie, the fine dining Chinese restaurant will be ready by end of May.
Overlooking the waterfront, JustIN rolls out breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Start your day with shao bing filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, Spanish ham and fresh lettuce ($12). Or go for the hearty Singapore Breakfast Set at $20, which includes a choice of soupy prawn noodles with braised pork belly or mee siam topped with egg and prawns. Down this with fresh fruit juice, Vittoria coffee or fine tea. At lunch, tuck into dim sum creations like the chef’s signature foie gras xiao long bao ($25), filled with a rich and robust stock, or the hearty nasi campur (available in the set lunch). If you have more time to spare in the evenings, enjoy zi char favourites like fish head curry ($38), chilli crab, market fresh kelong catch superior broth soy sauce (both at market price). The creative desserts are woven with local flavours – think: durian crème brulee ($12), house-made ondeh ondeh cake ($9) and goreng pisang split ($15) – crispy banana fritter with salted gula java ice cream, vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and caramelised crispy rice.
L1-83 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018972. Tel: +65 6688 7766. Website here.
The brand new Yellow Pot at Six Senses Duxton is a modern Chinese restaurant that focuses on wellness and sustainability. In line with the Eat With Six Senses philosophy, the wholesome dishes here are woven with organic and sustainably-sourced ingredients, sans MSG and other flavour enhancers.
Generally, you can expect flavours that are natural yet pronounced, thanks to Chinese Chef Sebastian Goh’s skills. He has updated recipes with a contemporary approach. For instance, instead of a standard black pepper beef, he wok-sears organic grass-fed beef tenderloin with a robust sauce made of honey and crushed Tellicherry peppercorn ($36). For roast meats, he prepares duck and pork belly in a hickory wood-fired Apollo oven, resulting in crispy, golden brown exterior and juicy meat. To spice up the palate, chicken is stir-fried with dried red chilies, roasted peanuts, spicy bean paste and Sichuan peppercorns ($24). If you want something milder, opt for steamed Kühlbarra barramundi ($22). Sourced from the waters of Southern Singapore, the slab of fish is topped with flavourful ginger-scallion pesto. Complete your meal with fragrant mee sua stir-fried with tiger prawns and Hokkaido scallops ($18). Round off with house-made ice cream or sorbet ($5 per scoop) – flavours range from chocolate-chili to bee pollen.
Pair your meal with fine Chinese teas exclusively curated for Six Senses Duxton by Yixing Xuan Teahouse, a nearby family-run teahouse. Or linger a little longer at the adjoining bar and sip some artisanal cocktails concocted with traditional herbs and botanicals.
88 Duxton Road, Singapore 089540. Tel: +65 6914 1420. Website here
David Yip, culinary expert-turned-restaurateur, launched Circa 1912 to showcase early 20th century Lingnan cuisine. Yip shares that Lingnan was the ancient name for southern China extending from Fujian to northern Vietnam, encompassing the homelands of the Teochew, Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese and other ethnic groups. The unique menu is crafted with the help of two chef-scholars from China who continuously research on this “lost”cuisine.
At Circa 1912, the core sauces and base ingredients are made from scratch using authentic methods. You’ll get sweet and sour pork ($38) made the traditional way with hawthorn sauce (instead of the more familiar tomato sauce). The crispy pork fat cubes are well-tossed with the tangy sweet sauce and accompanied by a sprinkling of strawberries. The homemade crispy Iberico char siew ($24) is made the classic way too – by infusing the meat with bean paste, coating it with caramelised sugar before firing up. Other laborious old-world dishes include the deep-fried crab ravoli ($5 per piece) which comprises crabmeat sandwiched between two pieces of thinly sliced lard and deep-fried till golden.
#01-07-11, Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road, Singapore 228208. Tel: +65 6836 3070.