CHINESE NEW YEAR FARE AT SI CHUAN DOU HUA
Every year, I look forward to Si Chuan Dou Hua's fugu (puffer fish) yusheng ($198) and, this year, the restaurant has added bittergourd to the dish. It is not as bitter as I expect and adds a lovely crunch to the celebratory salad.
To tone down the bitter flavour, consultant chef Peter Tsang has removed the white inner pith and soaked the bittergourd overnight.
You get just a hint of bitterness, followed by a sweet finish from the honey in the yusheng dressing.
Other dishes by chef Tsang include steamed garoupa luxed up with clams, baby octopus and river prawns ($24 for 100g, minimum order of 600g); and the Instagram-worthy crispy noodle with lobster in egg gravy ($58).
Each portion of the "flying noodles" is individually prepared by ladling hot oil onto the sheng mian to sculpt its shape. Unlike others I've seen, there is no hidden chopstick propping the noodles up.
The dishes are offered only at Si Chuan Dou Hua's UOB Plaza outlet, as part of the a la carte menu and set menus (priced from $88 a person) available till Feb 26.
WHERE Si Chuan Dou Hua, 60-01 UOB Plaza 1, 80 Raffles Place MRT Raffles Place WHEN 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm daily (till Feb 11); 11am to 12.30pm, 1 to 3pm, 5.30 to 8pm, 8.30 to 10.30pm daily (Feb 12 to 26) TEL 6535-6006 INFO E-mail email@example.com
GET FESTIVE WITH PASTA
Angel hair pasta in my yusheng - now that is a pleasant surprise for pasta lovers like me.
At Italian restaurant Basilico, the festive dish is tossed with Amalfi lemon-poached scallops, shaved Norcia black truffle, pickled porcini mushrooms, apple wood-smoked salmon and caviar.
Priced at $128, it is good for six to eight people and available for dine-in only from Feb 11 to 26.
The olive oil and eight-year aged balsamic vinegar tie everything together with more traditional ingredients such as plum sauce, pickled ginger, shredded carrot and the must-have pok chui crackers.
Add on the yusheng to Basilico's five-course Lunar New Year menu ($108 a person, $158 with wine pairing, dine-in only from Feb 11 to 13, 6 to 9.30pm). Highlights include the 32-yolk ravioli stuffed with marinated pork, crab and chives, paired with an old hen broth.
Finish the meal with a smooth and creamy panna cotta topped with chrysanthemum tea gel and lavender sphere.
WHERE Basilico, Level 2 Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road MRT Orchard WHEN Feb 11 to 26, noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), noon to 3pm (weekends), 6 to 9.30pm daily TEL 6725-3288 INFO www.regenthotels.com/regent-singapore/dining/basilico
PLANT-BASED DISHES AT VIOLET OON SINGAPORE
The nasi goreng kang kong ($23) has been on my mind ever since I tried the vegan dish at Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill at Clarke Quay. The vegetable stems provide crunch and the fried jasmine rice is delightfully spicy.
It is part of the restaurant's expanded plant-based and gluten-free menu, one that is packed with loads of flavour and spice.
Two fried beancurd dishes stand out - the garam assam tau kwa ($20) with a sweet diced pineapple compote and julienned ginger flower for a pop of flavour; and the tau hu goreng ($11), with julienned cucumber, beansprouts and a sweet and tangy peanut sauce.
For a spicy option, go for the jagung bakar pedas manis ($18) - grilled corn with a spicy and tangy sauce, topped with feta cheese. The dish is not vegan because of the cheese. The same goes for the meatless meatball rendang ($18), made with walnut and cheese.
I like the restaurant's stronger plant-based push and hope to see the other outlets under Violet Oon Singapore follow suit.
Those who are planning to embark on a plant-based diet in the new year can start here.
WHERE Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill, 01-18 Clarke Quay, 3B River Valley Road MRT Clarke Quay OPEN 6 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays TEL 9834-9935 INFO violetoon.com