From Heartland to Hauteland: Thanks to creative chefs and mixologists, you can enjoy your kopitiam favourites even in posh restaurants and bars. Try them all…
Kaya Toast Baked Alaska, $24
Cut by Wolfgang Puck, #B1-71 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, tel: 6688-8517
Executive chef Joshua Brown’s love for the local breakfast of kaya toast with eggs and kopi manifests itself in this bestseller. It combines well-loved local flavours with traditional French dessert: a coconut sponge cake forms the base for a pandan gelato and coconut sorbet dome, decorated with meringue peaks that call to mind the Esplanade. It’s served with egg-yolk sabayon, dark soya sauce and coffee crumble.
Hokkaido Scallops with Liquid Nasi Lemak and Sambal Chilli, part of the Omakase Menu (from $128)
Wild Rocket, Hangout @ Mt Emily, 10A Upper Wilkie Road, tel: 6339-9448
King of mod-Sin cuisine Willin Low recreates nasi lemak in his usual style: with lots of respect for the original, so it stays most recognisable. The carb element is made into a sauce – Thai jasmine rice is cooked with coconut cream and pandan juice until it breaks down. This is then teamed with a pan-seared Hokkaido scallop and homemade sambal ikan bilis.
Chendol XLB, part of the $108 Signature Menu
Labyrinth, 5 Neil Road, tel: 6223-4098
Other than a superficial resemblance, not much about the Chendol XLB is anything like the original xiao long bao dumpling its name alludes to. For starters, it is presented as a sweet dessert. In place of the broth and meat are coconut and red bean spheres (made through spherification), gula jawa icicle and grass jelly. These are all wrapped up in a pandan har gow skin and served in a traditional dim sum basket. It’s mind trickery at its best.
Bespoke Prawn Soup Cocktail, $24
Elixir Bar at Kuvo, #02-01 Orchard Shopping Centre, tel: 6733-8272
An alcoholic version of the well-loved Singapore dish of prawn noodle soup sounds almost blasphemous – a savoury and warm cocktail? But bartender Yutaka Nakashima makes his inspired take work with Kuvo’s signature prawn broth as a base for his concoction of zhu ye qing liquor, balsamic vinegar, lemon peel, thyme, sea salt and sesame oil. And no, the drink is not served with noodles.
Siew Yoke Fan, part of the $108 Signature Menu and $148 Heritage Menu
Labyrinth, 5 Neil Road, tel: 6223-4098
“The secret behind the dish is actually perfection of a very traditional recipe,” says chef-owner Han Liguang of his popular recreation of pork belly rice. In other words, despite the restaurant’s molecular gastronomy leanings, he has left this dish – and the pork belly itself, in particular – more or less in its original form, but has spruced it up with risotto cooked in ramen broth, and a sous-vide egg. The pork belly and eggs are sourced locally.
Halia Chilli Crab, $26
Halia at the Raffles Hotel, #01-22/23 Raffles Hotel, tel: 9639-1148
Ten years after its inception, The Halia’s Singapore-style chilli crab spaghettini is still a mainstay of the restaurant’s menu. It’s not an easy task, recreating a dish as iconic as chilli crab, but The Halia has done it with aplomb by keeping things straightforward: tossing generous chunks of crab in a simple chilli sauce with plenty of Asian herbs like lemongrass and ginger, then serving it with pasta done perfectly al dente.
Foie Gras, $35
Bacchanalia, 23A Coleman Street, tel: 6509-1453
Bacchanalia’s tribute to satay uses foie gras instead of chunks of meat as the main ingredient, but the crowning glory of the dish is surely the excellent peanut sambal sauce, a piquant mix of sambal, lemongrass, ginger and gula melaka. Zingy tamarind jam and chopped chestnuts provide texture and balance of flavour.
Roti John Tortilla, $15
Oriole Coffee + Bar, #01-01 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard, 96 Somerset Road, tel: 6238-8348
Much like the post-clubbing staple, Oriole’s take on roti john is meant to satisfy those late-night munchies. Instead of the usual mutton or chicken, the Roti John Tortilla has minced beef spiced with curry powder, dried chilli and fresh red chilli. The meat is mixed with egg and sandwiched within crispy tortilla. A thin layer of sour cream is the cherry on the icing of this delicious flavour bomb.
The Grape Gatsby, $23
Hopscotch, #01-04 Red Dot Traffic Building, tel: 6327-4820
Kyoho grape liqueur, cleverly mixed with yogurt liqueur, vodka and nigori sake, gives this cocktail a smooth consistency and flavour that’s reminiscent of our favourite childhood drink, Yakult. It’s deceptively easy to drink, so be sure not to down one too many (like we used to with those Yakults).
By Tan Min Yan, Her World, August 2015
Photography: Tan Wei Te, Veronica Tay & Winston Chuang, Art direction: Sharmaine Khor