To be honest, Angela May was never on my radar until last year, when I saw a publicity poster of her cooking class and noticed how good she looked.
That was because when the Thai-American was living in Singapore, before moving to New York three years ago, she was better known as a TV host despite having been trained at the famed Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy in Paris.
But since joining Deliciae Hospitality Management - which owns restaurants such as Sabio and L'Entrecote - last year, she has been making her presence felt in the food scene by contributing to the chain's menus.
A week ago, Deliciae also opened a restaurant bearing her name, Angela May Food Chapters, on level two of Robinsons The Heeren, in a partnership with the department store that will see more of its restaurants opening there later this year.
The menu is what the chef calls "vegetable-forward", meaning the dishes come with lots of vegetables, though not all are vegetarian.
ANGELA MAY FOOD CHAPTERS
Robinsons The Heeren, 260 Orchard Road, 02-02, tel: 6681 -7440: open: Noon to 9.30pm daily for a la carte
Food: 3.5 stars
Service: 3.5 stars
Ambience: 3 stars
Price: Budget about $80 a person, without drinks
There are not many choices, just two starters, three salads, six mains and three desserts in the a la carte section. There are also choices and sets for breakfast (10.30am to noon), brunch (10.30am to 2pm) and high tea (2 to 5pm).
You must love your greens to eat here. There are a few seafood items, but meat lovers have only one dish - Charred Pork Collar ($39) - and even that comes with lots of vegetables. The menu mentions a mint pomelo salad, but my order comes with arugula and pomegranate instead. I'm not complaining though, because I like the sweetness of pomegranate with the meat.
Inspired by the charcoal-grilled pork sold roadside in Bangkok, the meat is good too, beautifully charred and tender with just a bit of fat to moisten it.
Like the pork, most of May's cooking is a mix of her Asian heritage and Western culinary training. It is not fine-dining, but boasts strong flavours that make me forget how healthy some of the dishes are.
These include the Caramelized Cauliflower Steak ($22), a vegetarian main course that comprises a chunk of grilled cauliflower with a parsley and cilantro relish, and roasted pepper puree.
I would prefer the cauliflower cooked a little bit longer to bring out more sweetness, but I love the intense flavour of the pepper puree. The parsley and cilantro relish is less striking on its own, but brings another taste layer when mixed with the puree.
The Josper Grilled Laksa Lobster Roll ($42) stands out because of the laksa yogurt sauce on the shellfish. It is fragrant with coconut milk and spicy enough to hit the spot. But you don't need to worry about too much burn either, because the bun should help to put out any fires.
And if that isn't enough, the accompanying kale salad with wolfberries will do the job quite effectively. The fibre-rich vegetable helps to put some heft on the plate too, as the roll is too light for a main course.
The starter I order - Slow Cooked Egg In Dou Miao & Tiger Prawn Soup ($22) - is also tiny, with the egg surrounded by three mid-sized prawns sitting in a small pool of soup. Disappointingly, the soup lacks any arresting flavour and the prawns are bland, making this one of the less successful dishes at my dinner.
I much prefer the Shaved Asparagus & Arugula Mint Salad ($24), which has a well-balanced sweet and slightly tart dressing.
Buried under the leaves is a slow-cooked egg and on the side is wasabi lettuce tempura, and these add dimensions of flavour and texture that make the salad more interesting.
Feeling pleased with how healthy my dinner is, I spoil it all by indulging in the desserts.
My favourite is the Inverted Almond Crust Cake ($9), which looks dry on the plate but is actually not. In the mouth, it reveals a gooey texture that I love. And though a little too sweet, the combination of almonds, egg and butter is also delicious. It would be perfect paired with a cup of tea or coffee, but there is caffeine-induced insomnia to worry about.
The Ginger Gula Melaka ($9) is less to my liking, mainly because I prefer ginger in savoury dishes and not in a cake. The spice also masks the gula melaka, which I am hoping to be more dominant. But otherwise, the cake is fluffy and topped with a rich layer of muscovado butter cream that should appeal to those with a sweet tooth.
May also makes nice choux pastries ($4 each) with interesting fillings that are off the menu. Check out the one with cucumber mint. It is quite refreshing - especially after the heavy cakes.
- Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke
- The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.