Asian or heritage food takes the starring role in these three establishments

A new chapter
East meets West in Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant’s new signature dishes, which highlight cosmopolitan interpretations of classic Cantonese cuisine alongside entirely novel creations by the restaurant’s executive Chinese chef, Chan Shun Wong. Artfully presented with a colourful smattering of accompanying ingredients, several of the mains and appetisers have been prepared in familiar methods steeped in tradition, and at times replete with European-inspired flair.

Steakhouse regulars will find familiar comfort in Stir-fried Wagyu Beef Cubes with Black Pepper and Longan ($36-$72++), a concoction of Australian wagyu beef cubes paired with asparagus, longan fruit and black pepper for a sweet, savoury and slightly spicy flavour profile. Meanwhile, the crunchy batter of Deep-fried Prawns Coasted with Yuzu Mayonnaise ($10-$50++) is juxtaposed against the subtle sweetness of dragon fruit, topped off with tangy house-made yuzu mayonnaise, fresh yuzu and cherry tomato. Another delicacy, Stir-fried Assorted Mushrooms with White Truffle Oil ($10++), offers a variety of textures in a mushroom assortment fused with an intense truffle aroma.

Not forgetting the purists, chef Chan presents Xin’s Signature Home-style Roast Duck with Tea Leaves ($32++ for half duck, $58++ for whole duck), which has been smoked with a trio of tea leaves — pu-er, chrysanthemum and jasmine tea — before it is roasted to a crisp and carved. Those who prefer soupy comfort food will take delight in sipping the gravy of Poached Clams, Xin Cuisine Style ($22-$42++), which is chock-full of nourishing ingredients such as snow fungus, preserved vegetables and bamboo pith, while the Poached Rice with Seafood in Superior Broth served with Crispy Rice is exactly what its name entails: morsels of scallops, prawns and conpoy mixed into a carbohydrate-laden indulgence of soft and crunchy broth soaked grains. — By Michelle Zhu

Level 4, Holiday Inn Singapore
317 Outram Road
Tel: 6733 0188
Opening hours: Open daily
Lunch: Noon to 2.30pm;
Dinner: 6.30pm to 10.30pm

Slice of Asia
There is nothing Irish about Mayoborn chef-owner Andrew Walsh’s new restaurant, whose name is inspired by Irish author Patrick McCabe’s 1992 novel, The Butcher Boy. Walsh’s second and newest venture after Cure, Butcher Boy presents a menu with offerings that are in fact saturated with Asian influences through and through — from the sauces and sharing plates to even the beverages.

Like its name suggests, the casual bar and grill on Keong Saik Road does serve up several cuts of meat, such as the 48-hour sous-vide US Grain Beef Short Rib ($33++), which is to be paired with a variety of sauces including sambal, black pepper, Vietnamese, XO and yuzu béarnaise. Snacks under the Small Plates section of the menu are just as enticing, with their Japanese, Korean and Thai interpretations of “chips n’ dips”.

The main draw of Butcher Boy, however, is its lip-smacking arsenal of alcoholic beverages and cocktails, many of which are delivered in fun and whimsical ways. Street Side Milk Punch ($18++), a heady mixture of cachaça, Thai milk tea and salted caramel syrup, is ingeniously packed in an unsuspecting takeaway bag for one to carry and sip from inconspicuously while taking a walk down Singapore’s squeaky-clean streets. Those who appreciate a spectacle for the senses will delight in prying open the smoke-densed wooden box of the Smoking Carriage ($22++), which opens up to a bittersweet concoction of Dictador 20-Year rum, salted caramel syrup, bitters and orange. Coincidence or not, the concept of this house signature is akin to that of London- based bar Mr Fogg’s, whose Smoking Carriage cocktail features the same rum but with Lapsang Souchong syrup and chocolate bitters instead. — By Michelle Zhu

31 Keong Saik Road
Tel: 6221 6833
Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday: 5pm to midnight;
Friday to Sunday: Noon to 3pm

Food tales
Fans of Chef Damian D’Silva (formerly of Soul Kitchen and The Immigrants Are Coming) have been waiting to taste the food that he is well-known for — dishes he learned from his Eurasian father and Peranakan mother. At his new establishment Folklore, Chef D’Silva is determined to tell the story of his upbringing through his food. The question is: Has he captured the true flavour of Singapore heritage food?

Options decided to put Chef D’Silva’s menu to the test. Some dishes are familiar and others not quite. Every Eurasian or Peranakan household would have their own list of signature dishes, and as a Eurasian I must say that some of the dishes are new to me while some are still missing from his menu, such as Devil’s Curry, Feng and Beef Smore. Chef D’Silva has promised me that he will look into it.

But on to the tasting plates — I was eager to try dishes that my mother and grandmother used to make, such as Singgang ($20). This dish is usually cooked only on special occasions because of the amount of work that goes into it. Firstly, wolf herring is used and because the fish has many fine bones and deboning it takes forever, only adults in the household were tasked to do this. Back then, the children got to enjoy the flavourful mash of fish that is cooked in a mild chilli paste... and, now, we get to enjoy it too as Chef D’Silva has perfected this simple dish.

Chef D’Silva hits all the right notes with the Mulligatawny soup ($14), which has generous portions of shredded chicken. This is one dish that is on every Eurasian family’s New Year’s Eve dinner menu. Tasting it definitely transported me back to my childhood.

The Hati Babi Bungkus or Wrapped Pork Heart ($18) is not for the faint-hearted as this Peranakan dish is a mix of minced pork and liver that is marinated with coriander, tamarind, soya sauce and shallots. The mixture is then wrapped in caul fat, which is the fat that surrounds the pig’s stomach, and grilled. This dish is best shared as the flavour can be rather overwhelming.

Two other must-try dishes are Sambal Buah Keluak ($22) and Sambal Buah Keluak Fried Rice ($22). Why? Because buah keluak ranks high in Peranakan households and Chef D’Silva gives these dishes the respect they deserve. The flavour of the seed is brought to the fore as you savour every spoonful of the well-balanced dishes.

As Folklore’s menu is extensive, we recommend that you come with a huge appetite and an appreciation that these dishes are all labour-intensive. Be patient if the dishes are not being served as quickly as you can scarf them down.

Did Chef D’Silva manage to transport me back to yesteryear? Yes, I was able to savour heritage dishes that have lost their shine over time as people become busier and are not willing to spend hours slaving over a hot stove. — By Audrey Simon

Destination Singapore Beach Road
700 Beach Road, Level 2
Tel: 6679 2900/9021 9700
Email: [email protected]
Opening hours:
Monday to Sunday:
Lunch: Noon to 2.30pm (Last order: 2.15pm);
Dinner: 6pm to 9.30pm (Last order: 9.15pm)

This article appeared in Issue 801 (Oct 16) of The Edge Singapore.