Restaurant Review

Worth trekking to Sentosa for Wok°15 Kitchen

The aromatic Fried Pork Belly With Soya Sauce with crispy skin.
The aromatic Fried Pork Belly With Soya Sauce with crispy skin.ST PHOTOS: WONG AH YOKE
Japanese Greenhouse Tomato Served With Wasabi- Infused Sesame Sauce.
Japanese Greenhouse Tomato Served With Wasabi- Infused Sesame Sauce.ST PHOTOS: WONG AH YOKE

Taking the time and effort to go to Sentosa Cove for a taste of the new chef's cooking at Wok°15 Kitchen pays off

The Chinese restaurant at One°15 Marina Club has undergone a seachange.

Previously run as a joint venture between the marina and the Crystal Jade group, the club is now managing it on its own and has changed the name from Crystal Jade Premium to Wok°15 Kitchen.

Reopened last month with new chef Chum Kar Ho from Hong Kong, it also boasts a different menu.

The selection of dishes does not look very innovative though, comprising the usual soups, barbecued meats, live seafood, stir-fries, noodles and rice - pretty much what you see in most Hong Kong-style Cantonese restaurants.

Just perusing the choices, you would think it not worth the time and effort to trek all the way to this corner of Sentosa, unless you are a member of the marina club or own one of the luxurious homes in Sentosa Cove.

But a taste of the chef's cooking will likely make you change your mind. It certainly does mine. Because what appears common in print in many cases turns out to be exceptional on the palate, with distinctive, well-balanced flavours.

  • WOK°15 KITCHEN

  • One°15 Marina Club,

    11 Cove Drive, Sentosa Cove, 01-11, tel: 6305-6998

    Open: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 10pm, Tuesday to Saturday; 11am to 2.30pm, 6 to 10pm, Sunday; closed on Monday

    Food: 4/5 stars

    Service: 3.5/5 stars

    Ambience: 4/5 stars

The only one to disappoint is the cold dish of Japanese Greenhouse Tomato Served With Wasabi- Infused Sesame Sauce ($8). Despite the promising description, the fruit does not taste much different from a market-variety tomato. And the sauce is pretty similar to bottled Japanese sesame salad dressing. There doesn't seem much that shows the chef's skill, I feel.

Other dishes, however, do.

The Double Boiled Sea Whelk Soup With Chicken, Starfruit And Pomelo ($36 a pot) has the broth, already robust with meat and seafood flavours, tinged with the delicate sweetness of the fruits. And as you drink the soup, you bite into an occasional pomelo sac that bursts to release its citrusy juice.

Many restaurants here offer sea whelk and chicken soup, but only once before have I had it with starfruit and pomelo. Putting fruit in soups is a more common practice in Hong Kong and one that I like because fruit is a natural sweetener that often also soothes the throat and lungs.

I am not very convinced initially when the restaurant manager taking my order recommends a dish of Fried Pork Belly With Soya Sauce ($13), which is off the menu. Why would I want my roast pork fried, I thought. That is something that my mother would do only with leftover meat from the day before, when the crackling has gone limp and the meat has dried out.

But this dish is nothing like that. The slices of pork come with perfectly crispy skin and moist meat, while the top-grade dark soya sauce has a very pleasing aroma. The wok heat also caramelises the sugar in the pieces of leek in the dish, turning it very sweet. And bits of chilli padi impart just enough spice to perk up the flavours.

I still prefer roast pork fresh from the grill with juicy meat interlaced with layers of fat. But this dish offers another good way of serving it.

Because there are only two of us at dinner, I do not order a whole fish but opt for a Sauteed Garoupa With Beancurd In Superior Broth ($24) instead. It does not look very appealing when it arrives - a small piece of fish fillet, a piece of fried beancurd and a slice of mushroom covered in a pale, thick sauce. But it tastes much better than it looks: The fish is fresh, the beancurd is smooth and the gravy is delicious and collagen-rich.

The Stewed Beef Brisket ($26) is good too, with the pieces of meat and tendon cooked till just tender enough, and the gravy thick and tasty, but not too salty to eat on its own. Nonetheless, it would go well with rice or egg noodles.

I end the meal with a plate of Braised Vermicelli With Diced Seafood, Salted Fish, Shrimp Paste And Vegetables ($22). This is one of my favourite Hong Kong noodle dishes, but is not always done well. Very often, I encounter a watery, flat version, but it is excellent here.

Lashes of shrimp paste from Tai O, a fishing village in Hong Kong known for the condiment, as well as bits of fried salted fish give the gravy a robust flavour that is soaked into the vermicelli. Pieces of prawns add crunch and sweetness, as do beansprouts and diced asparagus. It is a very satisfying dish that, stuffed though I am, I cannot stop eating.

Just to eat this dish again is worth another trip to Sentosa Cove.

•Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke

•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 08, 2016, with the headline 'Food worth a trip to Sentosa'. Print Edition | Subscribe