Wong Ah Yoke Food Critic recommends

Food Picks: The Dining Room, Grissini, and more

PHOTOS: MARINA MANDARIN SINGAPORE, SHERATON TOWERS, WONG AH YOKE

GRANDMA'S PERANAKAN DISHES

Shermay Lee, who used to run an eponymous cooking school but is now better known for her range of bottled chilli sauces, is partnering Sheraton Towers executive chef Eric Cheam for a Peranakan buffet at the hotel this month.

Available only on weekend evenings at The Dining Room, the buffet features dishes based on recipes from Lee's late grandmother, Mrs Lee Chin Koon.

They include the popular Ayam Buah Keluak, which in her family is cooked with chicken thighs and pork ribs. Other dishes include Udang Nanas Pedas and Oven-baked Whole Snapper With Sambal Hijau, and there is also a Nyonya Rojak station where diners whip up their own version of the salad.

Besides the Peranakan highlights, the dinner spread also includes its regular seafood on ice as well as local items such as bak kut teh and chicken rice.

WHERE: The Dining Room, Sheraton Towers Singapore, 39 Scotts Road MRT: Newton WHEN: Tomorrow, Sunday, April 28 and 29, 7 to 10pm PRICE: $68 (adult), $34 (child, six to 12 years old) TEL: 6839-5621

MODERN UKRAINIAN FOOD

Today is the last day to taste the dishes of Ukrainian chef Yaroslav Artuykh, who is cooking at Grissini restaurant.

I had never eaten Ukrainian food before until I tried it on Tuesday and the chef's creations were totally not what I had expected. His is a modern take on traditional Ukrainian dishes, making them lighter and more refined.

Lunch today is a special $98 five-course menu, while dinner offers a la carte as well as four-course ($65) and five-course ($78) sets.

One interesting item you get at today's lunch is Edible Candle, which is clarified butter with garlic and herbs that is moulded into a candle. When lit, the butter melts and is collected in the base of the candlestand. You dip pieces of bread in it.

Another interesting dish is Lamb's Tongue ($34, above), which is steamed, then grilled under a salamander. It comes with a meat sauce and polenta, and the chef adds some chilli padi for a Singapore touch. The tongue has a springy texture and tastes milder than I expect.

WHERE: Grissini, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, 392 Havelock Road MRT: Outram OPEN: Today, noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm TEL: 6233-1100

PUBLICO BRUNCH

If hotel buffet brunches are not your thing, then Publico Ristorante's a la carte brunch may be what you want instead.

The Italian restaurant at InterContinental Robertson Quay launched its Capri Sundays last month with a menu of egg items, antipasti, pizza, pasta and main dishes.

Most dishes are good for sharing, so though prices may appear on the high side, the average bill for each person is generally lower than most buffets.

I start with Calamari & Cauliflower Fritti ($15), which is a great idea. I like calamari fritti, but it can get monotonous chewing on the squid after a while.

In this case, you get a break with pieces of battered and deep-fried cauliflower - which are softer and sweeter. The dish comes with a lemon and caper aoili dip, which works great with both.

This is followed by Avocado On Toast ($21), which I am hoping will enlighten me on why the dish is so popular with Instagrammers. But the mix of burrata cheese and spicy avocado on toast fails to create a eureka moment. It tastes decent, but is not memorable.

Save your calories and money instead for Cozze e Vongole ($26), a seafood broth of clams and mussels with passata and white wine. It comes with toasted bread, which is wonderful for soaking up the delicious soup. But if you skip the bread, it's a light and healthy dish that does not leave you feeling sluggish the rest of the Sunday.

I keep the meal light with an order of Fish Of The Day (market price, above) as the main course.

It's a whole seabass, grilled and covered with a sauce made with fresh tomatoes. The fish is fresh and the sauce sparkles like no canned tomato sauce can. It is less sharp, but boasts sweeter and more complex flavours from garlic and herbs.

For dessert, there is only room for Tiramisu ($16), which is served creatively in a flower pot with a sprig of mint sprouting on the chocolate soil. It tastes good.

WHERE: Publico Ristorante, 1 Nanson Road MRT: Chinatown/Clarke Quay/Outram WHEN: Sundays, 11am to 4pm TEL: 6826-5040

CHICKEN PERFUMED WITH CHINESE WINE

Peach Blossoms' new chef Edward Chong launched his revamped menu recently with some interesting dishes.

The Flambeed Chinese Wine Spring Chicken ($32) may be a latecomer to the flambed chicken fad, but it is the best version I've eaten.

That's because the chicken is soaked in Chinese wine before it is fried and the aroma of the spirit perfumes the meat. Other restaurants tend to pour the wine over the chicken just for the flambe. They do that at Peach Blossoms too, so get your smartphone camera ready in video mode.

Roasted Tomahawk Steak In "Xinjiang" Style ($180, above) is another good dish. The beef is rubbed with spices such as cumin and Sichuan pepper, which give it a distinctly Asian flavour. It comes with green papaya salad on the side - a great idea because its acidity balances the fat in the meat.

WHERE: Peach Blossoms, Marina Mandarin Singapore, 6 Raffles Boulevard MRT: Promenade OPEN: Noon to 3pm (weekdays), 11am to 3pm (weekends and public holidays), 6.30 to 11pm daily TEL: 6845-1118

Book a meal at The Dining Room, Grissini or Publico Ristorante with Chope.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe