(THE NEW PAPER) - Celebrity chef Alvin Leung earned three Michelin stars for Bo Innovation in Hong Kong and he makes his Singapore debut with his most recent concept, Forbidden Duck.
His celebrity status - cemented by his colourful personality that is on full display during his many television appearances - is also a draw.
The opening day on May 3 saw a nearly full restaurant and, even though Forbidden Duck was not meant to be open on weekends until May 19 due to the number of requests for Mother's Day bookings, it will now be open this Sunday too.
But this rush has a downfall.
On the opening day, service was tentative and chaotic. I hope that has been sorted out by now.
Luckily, the food and the surprisingly friendly prices will make you feel more forgiving.
Since duck is the focus here, the Signature Slow Roasted Duck ($88) is worth checking out. The duck is cooked in an oven for three hours before being roasted in the last 30 minutes to get that crispy skin. This results in flavourful meat that is more pink than some may be comfortable with.
The duck was served with a steamed bun flavoured with calamansi and a hoisin sauce with calamansi, but I found them unnecessary. The meat was good enough on its own.
Chef Leung likes the food in Singapore and laksa is one of his favourites, so he created the Laksa Style duck ($18). It is an interesting take, but did nothing for me because I wanted the laksa to be more lemak.
The Seafood Rice in Aromatic Duck Soup ($32) was indeed aromatic, delicious and comforting. I thought the crispy rice - added before the soup is served - was gimmicky, but the rice ended up providing texture.
As for the Iberico Pork Char Siu ($30), I found it tender, fatty enough, and less charred and sweet than usual. For those very reasons, some thought my enthusiasm for the char siew was misplaced. I don't care. I will order another plate when I am back.
I was not blown away by the dim sum. The Pesto Duck Spring Roll ($6) was too salty, while the Steamed Black Truffle and Duck Tongue Dumpling ($8) did not excite.
But the Crispy Taro Pastry Stuffed with Duck and Preserved Vegetable ($6) worked for me because the salt levels were balanced.