Wong Ah Yoke Food Critic recommends

Food Picks: Sky22's "nasi ulam", Beni's Hokkaido menu and more

PHOTOS: COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT SINGAPORE, WONG AH YOKE, YORK HOTEL SINGAPORE

UNIQUE DISHES WITH A VIEW

Sky22 at the new Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena hotel does not look especially interesting. By all accounts, it is a typical all-day hotel eatery except for its fantastic view.

The food, however, is not your typical fare.

My favourite dish is the "Nasi Ulam" Wild Rice Salad ($22), which has a mix of chopped ingredients, including organic betel leaf, ginger flower and toasted coconut, that gives the dish a lovely aroma. There are also pieces of charred octopus, all tender and smoky, and crunchy long beans.

Another very interesting dish is Oven-baked Camembert Cheese ($18), which comes accompanied by pieces of rosemary-balsamic portobello mushroom on grilled sourdough. It is a delicious combination and, because you get a whole round of cheese, good for sharing.

WHERE: Sky22, Level 22 Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena, 99 Irrawaddy Road MRT: Novena OPEN: Noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10pm daily TEL: 6378-2040


JAPANESE-FRENCH CHRISTMAS

If you are looking for a place to dine at for Christmas that is more exclusive, Beni may be what you are looking for.

The 24-seat restaurant in Mandarin Gallery serves only omakase-style French cooking using Japanese ingredients. And for the year-end festive period, chef Kenji Yamanaka has come up with an eight-course menu focused on ingredients from Hokkaido.

There is nothing even faintly resembling turkey or logcake. Instead, you get interesting creations such as an appetiser where king crab meat is covered with scallop mousse and sea urchin, then wrapped in caul fat and baked (above).

The main course is a piece of Nozaki A5 wagyu tenderloin that is infused with hojicha tea leaves and salt-baked in low heat. The result is tender and flavourful beef that, for me, is the highlight of the meal.

The $278 menu also comes with a pairing of four Krug champagnes for an extra $180. Those who do not wish to imbibe can go for a tea-pairing if they are extravagant enough to fork out an extra $100 for the four teas, fancily bottled in wine bottles and served in wine glasses.

WHERE: Beni, 02-37 Mandarin Gallery , 333A Orchard Road MRT: Orchard/ Somerset WHEN: Dec 22 to 25, 29 to 31, 7 to 10pm TEL: 9159-3177


SPIFFY SPOT WITH LOCAL FARE

While you are unlikely to find the best hawker dishes in a hotel, there are some places which dish out very good versions of local fare.

You pay a lot more, of course, but the pay-off is a comfortable air-conditioned environment, good service and better-quality ingredients.

York Hotel's White Rose Cafe is a place I'd recommend for good local dishes. It recently refreshed its menu and there are a number of dishes that I would go back for.

Seafood Curry ($15, above) is ideal for those who like the taste of fish head curry, but can't appreciate the gills and eyes in the head. The curry here is similar, but comes instead with prawns, squid, black mussels and clams, besides the usual ladies fingers. It's yummy spooned over steamed rice.

Seafood Mee Goreng ($17) is good too. The balance of ketchup and chilli sauce is just right and there is good wok hei in the fried noodles.

WHERE: White Rose Cafe, York Hotel Singapore, 21 Mount Elizabeth MRT: Orchard OPEN: 11am to 11pm daily TEL: 6737-0511


ADRIFT IN BOLD FLAVOURS

Adrift by David Myers has a new executive chef and a revamped menu.

Gone are the dishes with odd ingredients, such as the preserved green papaya soup with lobster.

Instead, chef Wayne Brown interprets Myers' California izakaya concept in more easily appreciated ways.

That doesn't mean boring, however.

Many of the dishes, which are meant to be shared, excite the palate with bold flavours.

There's usually a mix of textures, too, to keep things from being monotonous in the mouth.

The snacks are especially fun, comprising little pockets of food that you can pop whole in your mouth. Try the Prawn Toast ($12, above), topped with spicy mentaiko mayo; and the Potato Hash ($8), topped with creme fraiche and caviar.

From the bigger plates, the Charcoal & Black Beer Battered Cod ($31), served with bottarga aioli and horseradish slaw, is memorable for both its inky appearance and delicious taste.

WHERE: Adrift, Lobby level, Tower 2 Marina Bay Sands Hotel, 10 Bayfront Avenue MRT: Marina Bay OPEN: Noon to 2.30pm (weekday lunch), noon to 3pm (weekend brunch), 6pm to 2am daily TEL: 6688-5657

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2017, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe