WONG AH YOKE RECOMMENDS

Din Tai Fung, Palette and more


PHOTOS: TUNGLOK, PALETTE, FAIRMONT SINGAPORE, DIN TAI FUNG

DIN TAI FUNG

Whenever National Day comes around, Steamed Chilli Crab Dumplings (above) will make an appearance at Din Tai Fung.

Available at all the Singapore outlets of the Taiwanese eatery, they combine the popular Singapore crab dish with the chain's famous xiao long bao dumpling.

Besides the usual minced pork, each dumpling is also filled with crabmeat, as well as a dose of spicy crab-based consomme that explodes with flavour in the mouth. The extra fillings mean that the dumplings are almost 11/2 times the size of a conventional xiao long bao.

They are priced at either $7.50 or $8 for four pieces, depending on which outlet you go to.

WHERE: All 19 Din Tai Fung outlets MRT: Various OPEN: Various times but most outlets are open from 11am - 10pm on weekdays & 10am - 10pm on weekends & public holidays. INFO: Steamed Chilli Crab Dumplings are available till Aug 31


PALETTE

I am usually not a fan of foodcourts because the generic dishes taste like they come from one central kitchen. Plus, it is often impossible to find a seat during mealtimes.

But Palette at Capitol Piazza is not that kind of foodcourt. For starters, it calls itself a restaurant and bar - even though most of the dishes available are hawker fare.

You do not have to hunt for a seat, but are led to a table by the staff. Then, you place your order on an iPad and wait for the food to be delivered to your table. And you pay the bill when you leave.

All these come at a higher price than at a foodcourt, but then the food here does not come from the usual operators.

My favourite is the Dry Fishball Noodle ($7.90, above) from Ah Koong in Johor Baru. The noodles are tossed in a delicious mix of chilli and black sauce, with minced pork and crispy lard. The fishballs come in a separate bowl of soup - springy and with the unmistakable taste of ikan parang.

Another item to try is the Huat Huat BBQ Chicken Wing ($12 for half dozen), which is aromatic with rose wine and a charcoal smokiness.

Not everything is good, but with more than 400 items offered by 10 food brands, you will find at least a few that you will enjoy. There are interesting drinks too, such as cocktails and a sparkling version of bandung with selasih (basil).

WHERE: Palette Restaurant & Bar, B1-20/27 Capitol Piazza, 13 Stamford Road MRT: City Hall OPEN: 11am - 10.30pm daily TEL: 6384-3359


SZECHUAN COURT

Beijing-based masterchef Su Chenfu's stint at Szechuan Court last year was so successful that he has been brought back for another promotion at the Sichuan restaurant in Fairmont hotel.

His menu this time is slightly different, with some Sichuan staples that were not served last year.

If you like your food spicy, order the Fried Diced Chicken, Dried Chilli, Peppercorn ($32). The chef does it very well, with the chicken aromatic from the spices and so spicy that sweat was raining down my brow halfway through the dish.

There is also the Supreme Szechuan Pot ($68, above), a large claypot dish containing scallops, prawns, sliced fish, fish maw, chicken, pork belly, roasted pork, and various types of mushrooms and vegetables such as broccoli and Tianjin cabbage. Think of it as a mala hotpot that is ready-cooked.

To remove the burn on your lips, end the meal with a dessert of Crispy Roll Of Glutinous Rice ($12). The rice is steamed, then pounded, before being formed into rolls and deep fried. Served with brown sugar from Sichuan, it has a soft chewy texture and a delicate sweetness that miraculously douses any flames in the mouth.

The promotion ends on Monday, so you will have to be quick.

WHERE: Szechuan Court, Level 3 Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Road MRT: City Hall OPEN: Noon - 2.30pm, 6.30 - 10.30pm daily TEL: 6431-6156 INFO: Promotion ends on Mon


DANCING CRAB

Dancing Crab recently opened a second outlet in Orchard Central and, unlike the one in Turf City, it opens for lunch and dinner daily. The Turf City outlet opens for dinner daily, but for lunch only on weekends.

To cater to the Orchard Road lunch crowd, the new outlet has also come up with quick dishes that are suitable for one person. These include Fish Tacos ($11), Seafood Jambalaya ($15) and Creole Black Pepper Shrimp And Rice ($15), which are one-dish meals.

My favourite, however, is a non-seafood dish.

Chicken And Waffles ($15, left) may sound like an odd combination, but the fried chicken and waffles do go very well together. The Southern fried chicken, with its juicy meat and crispy skin, is sinfully good, while the waffle tones down the greasy feeling - especially if you drizzle maple syrup over it.

The original Seafood Boils that Dancing Crab is known for are available at the new outlet too. But there are some fresh flavours, such as spicy miso butter and zesty garlic butter, for those who want to try something new.

WHERE: Dancing Crab, 07-14/15 Orchard Central, MRT: Somerset OPEN: 11.30am - 3pm daily, 6 - 10pm (weekday & public holiday eve), 6 - 10.30pm (weekend & public holiday) TEL: 6509-1878

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2015, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe