NEW OFFERINGS AT LE BINCHOTAN
Le Binchotan, which opened 1½ years ago, has updated its menu with head chef Jeremmy Chiam taking over the restaurant in Gemmill Lane as chef-owner.
The restaurant still marries French and Japanese ingredients and techniques. But many dishes are his new creations.
These include Uni & Caviar ($25), a cold starter with layers of corn mousse and caviar topped with luscious pieces of sea urchin and shoyu pearls.
Another memorable dish is Edible "Charcoal" ($23), a new-age springroll. What looks like crispy pieces of charcoal are two deep-fried rolls of slow-cooked beef short rib wrapped in popiah skin covered in charcoal powder. Dipped in garlic yogurt, it is delicious.
A few dishes from the old menu remain, including Sakura Ebi Cappellini ($27). The pasta tossed with shio kombu and chives is not terribly original but is nonetheless a winning dish. I'd eat it again in a heartbeat.
WHERE: Le Binchotan, 01-04, 115 Amoy Street MRT: Telok Ayer OPEN: 11.30am to 3pm, 6pm to midnight (weekdays); 6 to 11pm (Saturdays). Closed on Sundays TEL: 6224-1045
DOLCE VITA'S FRESH PASTA
Fans of fresh pasta will be happy at Dolce Vita. All the pasta here are made in-house by chef de cuisine Marco Manocchio, who remembers watching his grandmother making them while he was growing up in Rome.
On the menu are classic dishes such as spaghetti carbonara ($30) and tagliatelle with Bolognese ragout ($48 for two persons).
I tried the Norcina ($36), which is tagliolini with Umbria sausage, ricotta, spinach and black truffle. You get a satisfying dish with varied textures and the wonderful aroma of truffles takes it up several notches.
It is a heavy dish though, so consider splitting it between two persons if you are planning to order a main course as well.
For a starter, check out the treccia campana ($34), a braided buffalo mozzarella from Naples. The milk curd is spun and twisted by hand to draw the water out, giving it a firmer texture than normal mozzarella.
It is shaved at the table and served with anchovies, sundried tomatoes and arugula, and dressed with a little olive oil. Simple but good.
WHERE: Dolce Vita, Level 5 Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, 5 Raffles Avenue MRT: Promenade OPEN: Noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), noon to 3pm (brunch on weekends), 6.30 to 10.30pm daily TEL: 6885-3500
SUPPER AT LONG JIANG IN CLARKE QUAY
If you're constantly cracking your head over where to eat when hunger pangs strike in the wee hours, here's a good place.
Long Jiang Classic Noodle & Congee House, which opened in Clarke Quay last October, is helmed by chef Francis Chong, formerly from Long Beach and Peach Blossoms.
The eatery opens until 4am and its congee is ideal for supper. There are seafood and meat options and it's hard to resist the Signature Ocean Treasures Congee ($48), which comes with conpoy, live prawns, clams, crayfish and crab.
The crabs are not big and it's inevitable that some of the seafood gets overcooked as the congee sits bubbling on the table, but the congee is really sweet from all the live seafood. The pot is supposed to serve three to four persons, but my friend and I had no problem polishing everything off.
We also had room for half a portion of Signature KL Soya Chicken ($18 for small), which has a distinct fragrance of Chinese rose wine and boasts smooth and juicy meat.
There are other dishes such as Live Prawn Noodle Soup ($12.80), as well as many seafood items that are off the menu. Just check with the restaurant when you make your booking.
WHERE: Long Jiang Classic Noodle & Congee House, Clarke Quay, 01-16 Block B, 3 River Valley Road MRT: Clarke Quay OPEN: 11am to 2.30pm, 5pm to 4am daily TEL: 6266-3323
GARDEN DINING UNDER A DOME
Garden dining sounds really romantic, but the reality is that Singapore weather is not entirely conducive to such a pursuit.
Cool, breezy evenings are few and far between. It's often either raining or muggy instead.
But the newly installed Garden Domes at Summerhouse in Seletar allow you to enjoy the outdoor experience without the inconveniences. The three transparent domes, each big enough to hold eight diners, are climate-controlled and have piped-in music. When the lights are switched on after dark, it feels quite magical.
You can enjoy a full dinner in the domes with a minimal spend of $300 a couple and an extra $120 for each additional person.
Or order from the bar menu, which requires a minimum spend of $300 for the whole group. Just book in advance.
The year-old restaurant's dinner menu has been updated, though the farm-to-table concept remains.
New dishes such as wood-fired free-range French poulet ($28), with the chicken raised in a local farm, are definitely worth checking out.
WHERE: Summerhouse, 3 Park Lane MRT: Punggol/Yio Chu Kang OPEN: 6 to 10pm, Wednesdays to Sundays TEL: 8608-3340
Book a meal at Le Binchotan, Dolce Vita, Long Jiang Classic Noodle & Congee House or Summerhouse with Chope.