With a few exceptions, such as Salt Grill at Ion Orchard and the celebrity restaurants at Marina Bay Sands, food establishments in malls here tend to fall into two groups: mass-market eateries and Chinese restaurants.
But 63, a modern restaurant that opened in Paragon late last month, is neither.
In terms of design and menu, it would seem to fit well in trendy restaurant enclaves such as Keong Saik Road or Amoy Street. Instead, it is tucked away in a relatively quiet section on the fourth floor of the Orchard Road mall, among art galleries and high-end crystal boutiques.
The restaurant's chic decor of copper and timber makes it stand out from the shops. It is especially hard to miss the intricately designed wood ceiling, which extends out of the eatery across the walkway to connect to a bar and more seats in an open space outside.
The menu is filled with mostly modern European dishes such as steaks and pastas, but with original touches. There are a couple of Asian dishes too that are also given the chef's creative treatment.
Among this is the 63Chicken Rice ($18), which is described in the menu as poached chicken thigh with aromatic long grain rice. I suspect it is unlikely to be a straightforward version of Singapore's favourite hawker dish. Unfortunately, it is sold out both times I dine at the restaurant - first for dinner, then for lunch.
04-09 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, tel: 6100-6363, open: 9am to 10pm daily
Food: 4/5 stars
Service: 3/5 stars
Ambience: 3/5 stars
Price: Budget from $60 a person, without drinks
But I get to try the other Asian dish, 63Garoupa Sweet&Sour ($28), which is a take on traditional sweet and sour fish that is original and familiar at the same time.
What is familiar is the sweet and sour flavour combo. But it does not come from ketchup or vinegar; instead the housemade sauce is more like a berry jam. And instead of pineapple cubes, the chef tops the sauce with fresh longan and pomelo that add refreshing layers of sweetness and acidity to the dish.
The garoupa itself is battered and deep-fried to a light golden hue, with a crisp coat enveloping moist and smooth flesh. To give your palate a refreshing break from the fruity sauce, the chef also thoughtfully places some thinly julienned cucumber on the plate.
The other dishes are more Western-centric, but benefit from some Asian touches as well.
The two pasta dishes I try are exceptional. Prawns & Oysters ($25) stands out more because of the novel idea of adding plump and juicy oysters to the linguine. It also comes topped with a sunny-side-up fried egg that almost completely covers the pasta.
Novelty aside, the kombu, garlic, lemon and chilli (with a choice of mild or spicy) tossed with the linguine create a flavour profile that is bound to tickle most Singaporean palates.
The other noodle I try, Vegetarian Pasta ($18), has a similar mix of kombu, garlic and chilli that works just as well with spaghetti, mixed mushrooms and San Marzano tomatoes.
The same tomatoes are featured in a salad, Tomatoes, Cheese & Herbs ($18). What could have been an ordinary tomato salad is made to blossom with frizzy shavings of Tete de Moine cheese and a delicious dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and lemon.
Meat lovers will also find many reasons to be happy at 63, which is owned by the same people behind 63Celsius at Asia Square.
The Spanish Duroc Pork Chop ($28) is a piece of grilled meat that impresses with its delicious flavour. The burnt pepper mash it sits on is a good match and a stalk of grilled leek - which tastes smoky and sweet - provides the fibre.
The beef here is good too. I recommend the Wylarah Wagyu Striploin ($48 for 200g) because the MBS8-grade Australian beef boasts good flavour and enough fat to keep it moist. This is served with kombu butter, mushrooms and pea tendrils.
But if you have deep pockets, it is worth splashing out for the Toriyama Japanese Striploin ($60 for 150g). It is not a big piece of meat, but with the high fat content of the A4-grade beef, it is enough. To cut the fat, it comes with a soya sauceyuzu dip, wasabi and a leaf of baby gem lettuce.
I have tried only one dessert, Keylime Tart ($10), which is decent but not a standout. Order it if you need a sweet finish for your meal. But if, like me, you do not have a sweet tooth, spend the money on a beef upgrade instead.
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• The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here