Tan Hsueh Yun Life Editor recommends

Elemen offers inventive vegetarian meal; Gallery & Co's twists on familiar favourites; and Antoinette's fetish menus

Quinoa Brown Rice at Elemen
Quinoa Brown Rice at ElemenPHOTOS: TAN HSUEH YUN, GALLERY & CO, ANTOINETTE

INVENTIVE VEGETARIAN MEAL

While I am nowhere close to switching to a plant-based diet, I enjoy having vegetarian meals because they never weigh me down.

Elemen, which has restaurants at Millenia Walk and Thomson Plaza, is one recent find and the flavourful food and modern presentation are impressive. The food defies categorisation as the dishes draw influences from Chinese, Japanese and Italian cuisines, among others.

Although diners can order a la carte, the best way to get the best of the menu might be to opt for the five-course ($23.80) or eight-course ($32.80) meal. It sounds like a lot, but one of those courses is a beverage.

Double-Boiled Maca Soup, made with the South American root, is supposed to give energy and stamina. Although the soup is made without meat bones, it has a rich, nuanced flavour that warms the belly on a rainy day.

I pick Sizzling Quinoa Brown Rice for the main course, and it is the standout of the meal.

The quinoa is lost in it, but the nutty brown rice, which develops a crisp crust at the bottom of the heated stone bowl, is fantastic. Slices of mushroom, red and green bell peppers and greens make it a hearty choice. A tangy and lightly spicy sauce leaves a tingle on the tongue. More, I think to myself. More.

WHERE: Elemen, 01-75A Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Boulevard MRT: Promenade TEL: 6238-0511 OPEN: 11.30am to 4pm, 5.30 to 10pm daily INFO: www.elemen.com.sg



Otak Otak Taco ($17). PHOTO: GALLERY & CO

FAMILIAR FAVOURITES WITH A TWIST

In a food-mad city such as Singapore, menus have to evolve often to entice diners back.

Gallery & Co at National Gallery Singapore has a completely new menu and the options are exciting. They were created by Anthony Yeoh, chef of Restaurant Cocotte in Little India, and put a new spin on familiar favourites.

My favourite dish is Otak Otak Taco ($17, photo), where a slab of battered and fried mackerel otah is wrapped in a flour tortilla with grilled corn, pomegranate arils, green herb salsa and chilli aioli. It is a delicious take on fish tacos, and the corn and pomegranate are little flavour bombs that make the tacos pop.

Chicken Dumpling soup ($17) features sturdy chicken and sauerkraut dumplings in a chicken broth flavoured with lemongrass, turmeric and ginger. What gives it heft is quinoa and fregola, little ball-shaped pasta from Sardinia. It is a mish-mash of cuisines which works very well.

For dessert, Sweet Potato & Yam Tart ($8.50) is familiar and new at once, reminding me of Chinese New Year nian gao fritters sandwiched with slices of yam and sweet potato. This dessert is less calorific and just as good, especially if you have some lime-zest-dusted coconut mousse with each forkful.

WHERE: Gallery & Co, 01-05 National Gallery Singapore, 1 St Andrew's Road MRT: City Hall TEL: 6385-6683 OPEN: 11am to 9pm (Sunday to Thursday), 11am till late (Friday and Saturday) INFO: www.facebook.com/GalleryandCo



Goma Hamachi ($18.80). PHOTO: TAN HSUEH YUN

KYUSHU HIGHLIGHTS

If you have travelled to Kyushu in Japan, you will know that it boasts superb seafood and beef. Kumamoto, Fukuoka, Kagoshima and Nagasaki are among many cities with great produce.

Sun With Moon Japanese Dining & Cafe at Wheelock Place is having a promotion on food from Kyushu until Oct 31, and there is a slew of good things to order. These range from torched aged mentaiko or spicy cod roe ($13.80) to Kagoshima wagyu cutlet ($23.80) cooked rare.

The must-order, as far as I am concerned, is Goma Hamachi ($18.80, photo), a generous serving of yellowtail sashimi slices sprinkled with sesame seeds laid out on the rim of a plate. In the middle, there is a pool of sweet soya sauce, an onsen egg and chopped spring onions.

The idea is to mix the egg with the sauce and dip the fish in it. Anything, especially grilled beef, dipped in egg yolk is delicious and it works very well with raw fish, too.

I finish the hamachi too quickly. There is still egg left in that soya sauce, which is irresistible despite being - or perhaps because it is - too salty and too sweet. So I grab a spoon and have myself a Japanese version of a Singapore breakfast of soft boiled eggs and soya sauce. Some kaya toast would have been great.

WHERE: Sun With Moon Japanese Dining & Cafe, 03-15 Wheelock Place, 501 Orchard Road MRT: Orchard TEL: 6733-6636 OPEN: 11.30am to 2.45pm, 5.30 to 9.30pm daily INFO: On The Food Trail: Kyushu! promotion available until Oct 31, go to www.sunwithmoon.com.sg



Chocolate Pancake ($18). PHOTO: ANTOINETTE

SATISFY YOUR CHOCOLATE FETISH

People who read my column will know I have some food fetishes. I cannot resist yuzu, matcha and chocolate, for example.

Antoinette's chef Pang Kok Keong has come up with a Fetish Campaign, where he highlights one ingredient, creating a sweet and savoury menu around it.

It started with Fetish Matcha and the current Fetish Chocolat season is on till Oct 31.

The creations are made using Valrhona chocolate and the dishes show its versatility.

Take, for instance, the savoury dishes. Dark chocolate shows up in braised wagyu brisket ($30) and the chocolate deepens the flavour of the stew, which is served with perfectly made and cooked buttered pappardelle. White chocolate is almost undetectable, but adds a pleasing richness to the Hollandaise served with sous vide salmon ($28).

For dessert, opt for Chocolate Pancake ($18, photo) because the pile of feather-light pancakes hits the spot. The stack is topped with banana nut crunch and caramelised bananas, with warm chocolate sauce and salted caramel poured over it all. The vanilla Chantilly served alongside is, I think, meant to provide relief from all that richness. It is superfluous. Just revel in all that chocolate.

WHERE: Antoinette, 30 Penhas Road MRT: Lavender TEL: 6293-3121 OPEN: 11am to 10pm (Monday to Thursday), 11am to 11pm (Friday), 10am to 11pm (Saturday), 10am to 10pm (Sunday) INFO: Fetish Chocolat available until Oct 31, go to www.antoinette.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2016, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe