COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Gone are the days when Chinese food was all about traditional decor and familiar flavors. Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House, one of the newcomers at Tanjong Pagar Centre, is shaking things up in the scene by giving the cuisine a modern makeover. If you think the name sounds familiar, it’s ’cause the eatery is the third establishment by Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House, the four-year-old Quayside Isle resto famous for its chilli pomelo crab.
Taking things casual at its CBD outlet, Blue Lotus introduces the East to the West with an open kitchen layout, sleek decor and hints of traditional Chinese design elements scattered throughout the restaurant. If you prefer to enjoy the night breeze when you swing by for dinner, the sheltered alfresco area is great for chillin’. There’s also a private room outfitted with a TV and karaoke kit within the cosy 60-seater indoor space, but no one had booked it when we visited, so here’s hoping it’s as soundproof as they say it is.
As for the food, expect a slightly different take on Chinese cuisine. Sure, familiar-sounding dishes like claypot mapo tofu ($18) with fried rice and onsen egg, pork trotters ($12) with ginger and vinegar, and steamed mee sua ($24) with Chinese wine and poached Boston lobster tail make appearances on the menu, but they’re all tweaked a little in line with the style of Blue Lotus.
For starters, we’d recommend the fried crab balls with a chilli pomelo sauce ($22) or the baked chicken skin with a chilli yogurt dip ($9) — both are equally as addictive and probably not the healthiest, but who’s counting calories? If you’re hungry for more, the hickory smoked honey-glazed kurobuta pork belly ($16) and prawn paste boxing chicken ($14) are worth a try as well.
When it comes to the main meats, carnivores won’t feel left out with options like roast rack of lamb marinated in five spices ($32), salt baked drunken chicken ($24) and the medium rare slices of Aussie wagyu beef ribeye with red pepper chilli purée ($48).
But if seafood is more your thing, go for the pan-seared barramundi on a bed of fermented tofu barley risotto ($28), crispy fried king prawns ($28) or oven baked Atlantic cod fillet ($34).
What we couldn’t get enough of was the hot stone pork lard truffle-flavored fried rice ($20). Yeah, just thinking about it could probably make you gain a few kilos, but sometimes these things are just worth it.
The assemble-it-yourself dish comes with pork lard butter, Chinese sausage chunks, fried rice, coriander leaves, more crispy pork lard, baby asparagus, spring onions, shallots, soya sauce and a pipette of truffle oil — you can either toss it all into the hot stone bowl yourself, or get a server to do it while you capture the entire process on video for Instagram.
Another carb-y dish you gotta try is the chilli pomelo la mian soup with crab meat ($22) — Blue Lotus is known for its chilli pomelo crab, after all. But just a warning: The soup’s spice level was cranked up a notch too high for us (although, to be fair, we’re wimps when it comes to anything spicy).
Now on to the sweet stuff. Desserts also get the fusion treatment here, with a lychee parfait sandwich ($14) made of brioche, lychee parfait, raspberry, peanut crumble and mint, and the grilled banana with chocolate crumbs and a scoop of Thai milk tea ice cream ($14). As for those who don’t mind emerging from the restaurant with durian breath, order the crème brûlée and keep those luscious globs of durian flesh to yourself.
Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House is at #01-13 Tanjong Pagar Centre, 5 Wallich St, 6996-0880. Mon-Sat 11.30am-10.30pm.