“Demon chef” Alvin Leung returns to Singapore a couple months after debuting here with his Peking duck eatery Forbidden Duck at Marina Bay Financial Centre, this time with a refined concept starring his interpretation of Asian dishes.
Housed in a beautifully conserved, high-ceilinged space at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, his elegant 150-seater is what we’d imagine diners would flock to for classy family gatherings or dinners with out-of-town friends who want a taste of local in a polished setting. Just as you’d expect, prices aren’t wallet-friendly here – but hey, this is the kind of place you can lunch with your significant other’s crazy rich parents.
Gathering his favorite recipes from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, and beyond, Leung puts his own modern spin on these dishes, transforming them into creations that are at times unrecognizable, yet still familiar to your taste buds.
Take the char-grilled “bak kut teh” pork chop ($38), for example. It looks nothing like the Malaysian-style aromatic broth, but this hunk of meat has been marinated with a variety of herbal spices for 12 hours, resulting in smoky bites that taste just like the earthy dish.
The herbal barbecue sauce offers more intense bak kut teh flavors, while the angelica syrup-infused watermelon is a refreshing break from the fatty meat. Toss aside your confusion over its appearance versus taste, and you’ll find it’s quite an interesting take on the pork rib soup.
Then there’s the bone-in beef short rib rendang with pickled cabbage (no crispy bits here, except for the fried scallions). Leung explained that he sampled various versions of beef rendang, from traditional to grandma’s best, before whipping up his own rendition.
For $68, you could probably fill up on enough rendang to last a week at your regular hawker spot, but this fork-tender slab of meat has been sous vide for 72 hours in marinate, so there’s that on the effort front.
Naturally, laksa ($32) made it on the menu as well, in its usual coconut milk broth elevated with tempura tiger prawns, jasmine tea-smoked onsen quail eggs, and house-made dried shrimp oil and floss. The rice noodles are snipped into short strands, Katong laksa-style, so you can heap on the rich gravy and top each spoonful with a gooey egg for maximum enjoyment.
Elsewhere on the line-up, Leung’s whole Boston lobster comes sprinkled with mangosteen and lashings of spicy Thai dressing ($58) for a citrusy finish, while the grilled Hokkaido scallop ($12/piece) gets the Asian treatment with soy garlic vinegar butter sauce and deep fried shredded ginger. Chilli crab also makes an appearance, in the form of an Alaskan king crab (seasonal price) paired with buttery slices of corn bread with polenta.
On the sweet side, the classic mango pomelo sago ($16) turns into an ice kachang dish with shaved coconut ice, mango chunks, pomelo bits, sago, and yuzu.
No doubt everything here is sophisticated and plated prettily with lots to savor, but unless you’ve got the dough to spare, save this restaurant for when you’re in the mood to have a celebratory treat.
15 Stamford by Alvin Leung is at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, 15 Stamford Rd.
6715-6871. Daily noon-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm.
MRT: City Hall