Food critic Wong Ah Yoke recommends

Food Picks: Folklore, Basilico, Ramen Keisuke Kani King, Long Beach @ Dempsey

TOK PANJANG
TOK PANJANGPHOTOS: FOLKLORE, WONG AH YOKE

TOK PANJANG FOR CNY

I love Chinese New Year dishes such as yusheng and pencai, but there's only so much of these that one can eat in the two-week festive period. To give my palate a break, I have made a booking for the tok panjang dinner at Folklore. The restaurant in Destination hotel in Beach Road specialises in Eurasian and Peranakan food.

Chef Damien D'Silva came up with a Eurasian menu last Christmas, but for Chinese New Year, he is presenting a dinner buffet of his Peranakan maternal grandmother's family recipes.

Tok panjang, which means "long table", describes the feast laid out by the Peranakans in the old days for festive occasions and celebrations.

For Folklore's tok panjang dinner, the chef is offering 17 dishes, most of which are not found in the restaurant's a la carte menu. I went for a sampling and it was pretty amazing. There are familiar items such as kueh pie tee and ayam buah keluak, but also dishes I have not seen before, such as a crazily spicy prawn salad and his family's version of fish maw soup that comes with pig intestines.

There're also two other very good soups: bakwan kepiting with excellent pork and crabmeat balls, and itek teem (duck soup with salted vegetables).

My favourite item is the sambal belimbing, made with the local fruit that is very tart, but the chef balances the flavours so well that the dish is neither too spicy nor sour - just very moreish.

WHERE: Folklore, Level 2 Destination Singapore Beach Road, 700 Beach Road MRT: Nicoll Highway WHEN: Feb 15 to March 2, 6 to 9pm daily PRICE: $68 an adult, $28 a child TEL: 6679-2900


CHEESES GALORE AT BASILICO

If you like cheeses, you will find it hard to resist the cheese room at Basilico this month. The room, which opens during dinner, offers 30 types of Italian farm cheeses, many of which are not easily found here. They range from mild to pungent varieties, including some spicy ones.

The dinner semi-buffet at the restaurant is doing a tour of Italy this year, with each quarter devoted to a different part of the country, starting from the south and moving up north.

Until April 3, the focus is on the food of Sicily, Sardinia and Calabria, and the chef has come up with main course choices such as hay-smoked grilled beef tenderloin, lamb chop and scamorza-stuffed wagyu beef served with Sardinian vegetables and aged balsamic vinegar. Or opt for asparagus tortelloni with San Marzano tomatoes, eggplant, fresh basil and Sicilian pecorino.

Diners can choose one main course, but the antipasti and desserts are on the buffet spread.

WHERE: Basilico, Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road MRT: Orchard WHEN: Till April 3, 6.30 to 10pm daily PRICE: $92 a person for dinner; $58 a person for antipasti buffet, cheese room selection and a main course; $68 a person for cheese room selection and dessert buffet


 

QUICK BITE AT KEISUKE KANI KING

Each time Keisuke opens a ramen outlet with a new flavour, one can expect to find long queues. And you won't find me there.

I can think of better ways of spending two hours than queuing for food because it's easy to find good food here that can be served to you within 15 minutes.

So while the others throng the next Keisuke outlet, I will go to the two-year-old Keisuke Kani King in Cineleisure Orchard.

Kani is Japanese for crab and the speciality here is the crab broth which boasts the delicate yet distinct sweetness of the shellfish.

The toppings for the ramen is standard stuff - pork belly char siu, julienned bamboo shoot, shredded leeks - and there is no crab meat.

Diners can also add extras such as flavoured egg ($2) and seaweed ($1). There is also a choice of clear soup, thick soup, spicy soup and tsukemen (dipping soup).

I like the clear soup version (from $12.90) for its light and clean flavour. And the flavoured egg, which boasts a soft yolk, is a must.

As for the other toppings, that depends on how hungry or greedy you are feeling.

WHERE: Ramen Keisuke Kani King, 01-03 Cathay Cineleisure Orchard 8 Grange Road MRT: Somerset OPEN: Noon to 3pm, (Mondays to Fridays), 5 to 10pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 5pm to 2am (Fridays and eve of public holidays), noon to 2am (Saturdays), noon to 10pm (Sundays and public holidays) TEL: 6262-6968


FRUITY YUSHENG AT LONG BEACH

Yusheng, the raw fish salad served during Chinese New Year, usually comprises a variety of vegetables. But Long Beach has come up with a fruit version this year that looks as lovely as it tastes.

It is made with the best fruit the restaurant can get hold of, so the selection may vary each day.

At my tasting, there were kiwifruit, mango, grape, peach and various berries such as strawberry and raspberry.

It costs $288 with a serving of abalone conch. It is enough for a table of 10 and comes in a red lacquer plate that diners can take home if they are having the dish with one of the restaurant's Chinese New Year set menus. They can also add other seafood to the dish, such as raw hamachi or geoduck, at extra cost.

What I like about the yusheng is how refreshing the fruit is, with their natural tartness balancing the sugars. And a salad makes sense if you believe it's better to eat fruit at the start of the meal, not after.

WHERE: Long Beach @ Dempsey (25 Dempsey Road); Long Beach King (220 Stadium Boulevard); and Long Beach @ Stevens (opening soon at 30 Stevens Road) MRT: Orchard; Stadium; Stevens WHEN: Till March, order a day in advance INFO: www.longbeach seafood.com.sg

Book a meal at Folklore with Chope.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe