Din­ing Dis­cov­er­ies

Where to eat, drink, and be merry this month

Portfolio - - IN THIS ISSUE - BY AN­TON D. JAVIER

The best places to eat, drink, and be merry this month

NAV­I­GAT­ING SIN­GA­PORE FLAVORS AT LABYRINTH

The menu was pep­pered with fa­mil­iar names chicken rice, Nasi Le­mak, ro­jak, fish maw, kaya toast. There­fore, my brain im­me­di­ately con­jured up im­ages of the food I had for lunch or din­ner from last week. But once Labyrinths wait staff placed the dishes in front of me, fol­lowed by Chef Han Li Guangs ex­pla­na­tions, and fi­nally, the first bite, I re­al­ized that this was go­ing to be a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence un­like any other.

Labyrinths new Ex­pe­ri­ence Tast­ing Menu, Homage to My Sin­ga­pore , is like a beau­ti­fully penned love letter from Chef Han, where he draws from fond mem­o­ries of his child­hood and culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ences that have shaped his sen­si­bil­i­ties. He hon­ors lo­cally sourced pro­duce and lets them shine with­out com­pro­mis­ing their nat­u­ral flavors through overly com­pli­cated tech­niques . Honey is sur­pris­ingly tangy, lo­cal veg­eta­bles and herbs a bit earth­ier, and seafood slightly smaller, but burst­ing with sweet­ness.

The meal starts with play­ful bites like the Nasi Le­mak Cheong Fan, which ex­hibits the un­mis­tak­able flavors of the break­fast dish in a sin­gle bite, as well as the Heart­land Waf­fle, which, ac­cord­ing to Chef Han, is his take on the Pri­maDeli fa­vorite pan­dan fla­vored waf­fles slathered with lo­cal duck liver pate and goji berry jam. Mean­while, the Labyrinth Ro­jak is a beau­ti­ful jumble of sea­sonal veg­eta­bles and ed­i­ble flow­ers from Ed­i­ble Gar­den City, tossed with tart stin­g­less bee honey and ground peanuts.

As the menu pro­gresses, Chef Hans cre­ativ­ity grows, par­tic­u­larly in dishes like Ang Moh Chicken Rice, which cap­tures the sim­ple yet com­plex flavors of a plate of chicken rice in a sin­gle dumpling. The Lo­cal Wild Caught Crab is equally ex­cit­ing too, with sweet flower crab­meat paired with Labyrinths in­fa­mous chili crab ice cream. Of course, what is a Sin­ga­porean food ex­pe­ri­ence with­out kaya toast, so ex­pect the Cristal de Chine Caviar dessert to wow you: Kaya ice cream sand­wiched in be­tween Sin Hon Loong toast, topped with caviar and driz­zled with a sweet egg yolk sauce.

Visit Labyrinth at #02 23, Es­planade Th eatres on the Bay, Tel: 6223 4098

TASTE THE BROTH OF LIFE AT NAMI

You know that dis­tinct sa­vory Ja­panese fla­vor, the whis­per of umami that comes ever so sub­tly as you tuck into a bowl of sukiyaki or ra­men? You have dashi to thank for that, which is also known as the broth of life . At Shangri Las NAMI, you ll dis­cover that dashi is the back­bone of Ja­panese cui­sine and is re­spon­si­ble for en­hanc­ing and en­liven­ing the flavors of Ja­panese dishes. The an­cient broth is both sim­ple and com­plex, where an as­sort­ment of in­gre­di­ents like kombu, bonito flakes, dried fish, and even mush­rooms are skill­fully used and lay­ered by Chef Shi­geo Ak­iba. With Chef Ak­ibas ex­per­tise, NAMI has de­vel­oped eight types of dashi used across dif­fer­ent dishes, which in­clude clear soups, chawan­mushi, and seafood and meat of­fer­ings. To fully ap­pre­ci­ate the mag­i­cal broth, NAMI in­tro­duces its spe­cial Dashi Menu, which is com­prised of a med­ley of small ap­pe­tiz­ers and fol­low by Ha­m­aguri clam soup, sea­sonal sashimi with two sauces, a sa­vory egg cus­tard with udon noo­dles, crab, and shi­itake mush­rooms, Miyazaki beef loin, and Sakura shrimp rice with miso soup. Even the dessert on this menu fea­tures dashi, which does won­ders for the fruit cock­tail with plum vine­gar jelly stock. Beyond the Dashi Menu, NAMIs fla­vor­ful broths can still be ex­pe­ri­enced through sig­na­ture dishes, which in­clude the Pan fried tuna head with sweet soy sauce, Ja­panese Saga wagyu beef sir­loin A4, sea urchin, rice, and Chef Ak­ibas spe­cial sauce and sea­sonal truf­fles. Visit NAMI at Level 24, Tower Wing, Sh angr i La Ho­tel, 22 Or­ange Gr ove Road, Tel: 6213 4398

ZAFFERANOS NEW HIGH

Zaf­fer­ano, which is lo­cated on the 43 rd floor of Ocean Fi­nan­cial Cen­tre, is a restau­rant that of­fers more than just ex­cel­lent and re­li­able Ital­ian food. Its a place you bring peo­ple to when you want to im­press. As soon as you step in, its not hard to be in awe of the lux­u­ri­ous in­te­ri­ors and hard to beat panoramic views of Sin­ga­pore. But after a few years of be­ing in busi­ness, Zaf­fer­ano has de­cided to shake things up and this is where new Head Chef Emanuele Faggi comes in. While young, the Tus­can na­tive was in good com­pany be­fore head­ing to Sin­ga­pore an in­tern­ship with Chef Gualtiero March­esi at the famed LAl­berta Re­sort, a stint at 2 Miche­lin starred Cracco Ris­torante, and learn­ing along­side Chef Carlo Cracco. So at Zaf­fer­ano, the name of Chef Fag­gis game is re­gional yet in­no­va­tive, where he up­holds tra­di­tion, while in­tro­duc­ing his own per­sonal touch. Shin­ing ex­am­ples of the great­est hits from the new menu in­clude raw red prawns from Mazara served with warm ri­cotta, tomato con­fit, and cock­tail sauce es­puma, as well as the in­dul­gent su­per fino Carnaroli Ac­quer ello risotto from Verceli with saf­fron, bone mar­row, and 24 karat gold leaf. Chef Faggi has his way with meats as well, start­ing with the Queensland farm rack of lamb thats paired with egg­plant pure , sauted b ok choy, and cof­fee pow­der, 150 day grain fed black an­gus beef ten­der­loin thats grati­nated with liquor ice and ca­pers, and fi­nally, the in­cred­i­bly fla­vor­ful roasted Bresse pi­geon with mixed berries and rose­mary smoked white turnips. Visit Zaffe rano at Level 43, Ocean Fi­nanci al Cen­tre, 10 Col­lyer Quay, Tel: 6509 1488

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