Food Picks: New dishes at The Dragon Chamber, omakase sets, chilli crab specials

The dishes at  Oriole Coffee + Bar are available for takeaway and delivery as well.
The dishes at Oriole Coffee + Bar are available for takeaway and delivery as well.PHOTOS: ORIOLE COFFEE + BAR

Chilli Crab specials at Oriole

It may be September, but Oriole Coffee + Bar continues to celebrate one of Singapore's favourite delicacies - chilli crab - in new dishes that launched on Thursday (Sept 2).

The sauce is blended in-house, using a base sauce, and adding tomato and chilli sauce, lemongrass, shallots, garlic and ginger. The best part is, you don’t have to fuss with shells.

My favourite new dish is the marinated de-boned mid-wing coated generously with spicy chilli crab sauce ($18.50++).

I also enjoy the chilli crab linguini ($30++), which is already a menu bestseller. The heat is most pronounced in this dish and I relish every bite with the crab lump meat.

Two dishes feature the chilli crab sauce with cheese - a 12-inch chilli crab thin-crust pizza ($32++) and waffle cheese fries with chilli crab dip ($16.50++), a returning dish with nacho cheese drizzled over the fries this time. I'm not particularly keen on the combination because the cheese mutes the heat. But go for the dishes if you prefer something more mellow. I go for the crisp fries below the cheesy layer and dunk them into the sauce served on the side.

Other offerings include a chilli crab burger ($28++), which has a thick crab meat patty topped with the sauce; and fried butterfly buns with chilli crab sauce ($18.50++ for two). They pair well with light, easy-drinking beer (from $10++ for a bottle) from home-grown brewery Specific Gravity.

The dishes are available for takeaway and delivery as well.

Where: Oriole Coffee + Bar, 01-01 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard, 96 Somerset Road
MRT: Somerset
When: Thursday (Sept 2) to Nov 30, 10am to 10.30pm daily
Tel: 6238-8348
Info: Go to this website or order here.

Omakase at Ren Lounge


 Fresh Oysters (left) and Uni. PHOTOS: REN LOUNGE

If you are looking to indulge  in an omakase meal in a more casual setting, head to Ren Lounge in the foodie enclave of South Beach Avenue.

The space features a lounge for bar snacks and drinks, a private room and a 16-seat counter to watch the chefs in action. Helming the kitchen is executive chef Samuel Lau, formerly from the one-Michelin-starred Shinji by Kanesawa at The St Regis Singapore.

Prices range from $80 to $180 for lunch, and $160 to $300 for dinner.

As with an omakase meal, menu items change depending on the chef, to showcase the freshest seasonal produce. Highlights from my meal include an uni and ikura starter, an assortment of sushi and a chutoro donburi.

If you prefer a simpler meal or snacks with drinks, the lounge area offers bar bites such as oysters (from $28.80 for six) and ebi tempura ($13.80). Mains include lamb rack ($32.80), Australian Angus sirloin steak ($26.80) and chirashi bowls (from $28.80).

Where: Ren Lounge, 01-01 South Beach Avenue, 30 Beach Road
MRT: Esplanade
Open: Noon to 2.30pm, 5 to 10.30pm, Mondays to Saturdays, closed on Sundays
Tel: 6983-4825
Info: E-mail reservations  @  renlounge.sg

New dishes at The Dragon Chamber


Assorted Beef Claypot. PHOTO: THE DRAGON CHAMBER

Venture into The Dragon Chamber, which is not quite your typical traditional Chinese restaurant.

It has recently updated the menu with dishes such as a nourishing double-boiled almond mushroom sea whelk and conpoy soup ($16); tofu duo in a rich and sweet pumpkin gravy ($24); and assorted beef claypot ($40) with beef tendon, oxtail, tongue and cheek cooked in a housemade fermented beancurd and oyster sauce.

For more luxe offerings, go for the fried kinmedai fish with crispy scales ($88) served in a Hong Kong-style sauce, or Golden Cloud Dragon Mountain ($88 or $138), a dish of fried whole lobsters tossed in sweet and savoury golden egg floss.

I'm also happy to see some of my favourite dishes still on the menu. They include the wagyu truffle beef hor fun ($32 or $58) with deep-fried hor fun strips, poached egg and truffle gravy; and Firecracker Chicken and Maple Fritters ($16 or $30), which is basically la zi ji or deep-fried diced chicken with chopped dried chillies, cashews, chives and Szechuan peppercorns served with crunchy "youtiao" fritters baked in maple syrup.

A new dessert item is salted caramel ice cream and fries ($12). I'm fine with the combination, but the addition of Szechuan sauce, candied bacon and dried plum is too much. Try this only if you are in an adventurous mood.

Where: The Dragon Chamber, 2 Circular Road
MRT: Raffles Place/Clarke Quay
Open: 11am to 3pm, 5 to 10.30pm, Tuesdays to Sundays, closed on Mondays
Tel: 6805-8181
Info: Website

Correction note: Oriole Coffee + Bar has clarified that its chilli crab sauce is blended in-house.