I’ve always been intrigued by molecular gastronomy. Traditional cooking can be delicious and serves it’s purpose as food to be eaten for sure, but the science and art involved in molecular cooking brings the food to a different dimension. It involves various senses to appreciate the meal and I feel the diner has to be very present and mindful to savour every bite. For sure, it’s not a meal for those who blindly chomp down their grub without looking, thinking and feeling.
It was my dream to try the works of Heston Blumenthal (of Fat Duck, Bray) and Grant Achatz (of Alinea, Chicago) when I first watched foreign TV programs featuring their kitchen. I was all starry eyed and knew I HAD to go there! And lucky was I to have done so a few years back, complete with the whole nerve wrecking process of trying to score reservations! (kiasu-ism trained in local Singapore schools helped. We needed that kind of skills to get the tutorial slots of our choice back then.) The only regret is that my camera was bad at that time but I have now upgraded.
Now, I like trying local inspired molecular gastronomy meals from various cities around the world like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, Bangkok, Jakarta and Bilbao, but I don’t know what took me so long to try one that belongs to Singapore featuring local flavours.
Restaurant Labyrinth located in Esplanade Mall was my choice for dinner today and since they are located next to Singapore’s most prominent theater hall, they do serve pre-theater menu which is convenient for diners who wish to have a good meal before watching the performance. The pre-theater menu is served starting from 6pm -6:30pm and would end before 8pm, which is the usual timing for night performances. The menu was essentially the same as their set lunch menu which consists of 6 courses. I was going to watch Forbidden City: Portrait of An Empress so this dinner slot and menu was perfect. Moreover, the full tasting courses tends to be way too filling for me. I think 6 small courses was just right.
A small mortar and pestle with spices was placed on the table. I didn’t use any of it but I guess you could choose to spice up your dishes if you want. It’s quite a Singaporean thing to always have optional chilli around.
Radish cake, rojak, nasi lemak
This was actually brought over in a metal tingkat container. Every piece is unrecognizable to their true flavour – the chwee kueh looking piece tastes like nasi lemak, the one at the back was rojak and the marshmallow looking one on the right is radish cake.
The fluffy sand looking thing is liquid nitrogen dehydrated laska stock which was pumped with laksa flavour. The fake noodles are coconut jelly. It’s a cold dish except for the huge juicy oyster which was nicely grilled.
OCK Curry Puff
Inspired by household name Old Chang Kee, this one will totally let you believe you’re having an Old Chang Kee curry puff if you ate it blindfolded! The texture and taste were both so similar to the real deal. I loved this (well, I love curry puff so why would I not like something which tastes exactly like curry puff?) even though there was coriander sponge.
Indonesian Pork Belly
Siew yoke umami rice
The mains were in big enough portions to fill and that’s good. I managed to steal a bite from my partner and the pork has really melty fats and the skin was super crispy. One of the best siew yoke I’ve had in a while really. Chef Han can totally open a roast meat stall featuring this siew yoke!
Rissotto with flavours of pencai, a truly local inspired twist. It actually worked out well and I polished everything. I can’t decide which main course was better.
Lotus seeds, sago, spheres
This one was to mimic the taste of our very local dessert chngtng. The spheres were liquid sacs of red bean and the sweet soup was infused with ginger and pandan flavours. It was pretty much chngtng but not very impressive I feel. The texture when the spheres burst was grainy and I’m not sure if it was intended to be, but it could be improved.
Reese’s peanut butter chocolate
Cigar served on an ashtray with a glass of brandy. Very bad ass looking only that it is actually peanut butter ice cream coated with chocolate and served with iced elder flower infused earl grey tea. The “brandy” was a refreshing addition to the meal and exactly what I needed to cleanse my palate.
Pseudo macarons which tastes like kaya and butter.
Overall the meal was pleasant and I did enjoy but I’m sure there are even more interesting dishes that I’ve yet to try.
It’ll be a nice meal for those who do appreciate the science and art of molecular gastronomy, but those who are after pure classic food may not be able to see the value of it, since most of the flavours tastes like what you can find in simple hawker fare.
Overall: A good place which serves local flavours in molecular gastronomy format
8 Raffles Ave
Esplanade Mall #02-23
Tues – Fri: 12pm – 2:30pm
Tues – Fri : 6:30pm – 11pm
Sat & Sun: 6pm – 11pm
(Closed on Monday)