Sunday, August 19, 2012

Restaurant Recommendations: Singapore

CUT by Wolfgang Puck
Type of food: steakhouse

Wolfgang Puck has gone from the son of a humble butcher in Austria to a multi-million dollar global enterprise. He now runs two dozen restaurants in the United States and has his own television shows, gourmet foods and even kitchen appliances. It is therefore no surprise that when the Singapore government wanted to lure big spenders to the country’s first casino resort, it asked the celebrity chef for a bit of his Midas touch.

CUT by Wolfgang Puck

CUT at Marina Bay Sands Singapore is one of Puck’s four restaurants under the same name and the first in Asia. Since it opened two years ago, the steakhouse has become the it-place where the who’s who of Singapore can be seen slicing prime beef over grand cru Bordeaux. The interior, designed by Singapore’s own Tony Chi, is sleek, masculine and fashionably dark. Larger-than-life portraits of Hollywood celebrities from Helen Mirren to Denzel Washington and Jack Nicholson hang on the walls opposite equally dramatic floor-to-ceiling wine displays.

At CUT, portions are generous and the selections are as rich as the dishes themselves. For appetizers, try the blue fin tuna tartar and American blue crab cakes. True meat-lovers should take a stab at the Australian Angus porterhouse, a 990-gram hunk of prime beef aged for 35 days and grilled to perfection on hardwood and charcoal. Those who wish to sample a variety of different cuts may opt for the “Tasting of New York Sirloin,” an assortment of corn-fed beef from Illinois, American Wagyu from Snake River Farms in Idaho and Japanese Wagyu from Shiga Prefecture. Dinner for two with wine can easily set you back 400 Singapore dollars (HK$2,500). Such is the premium an international celebrity chef can command.

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True Blue
Type of food: Peranakan

If your palate desires something more local, then give Peranakan cuisine a try at True Blue, an award-winning restaurant housed in a two-story colonial building on Armenia Street and mere minutes from the City Hall MRT station.

Peranakans are descendants of Chinese migrants who settled on both sides of the Malacca Strait beginning the 15th Century. Their food combines Chinese culinary techniques and the rich offering of local spices and herbs. If you have never tried Peranakan cooking before, True Blue is a good place to start.

True Blue

The restaurant’s main dining hall is a throw-back to the traditional Peranakan home. The interior is adorned with an abundance of handicrafts and antiques and complete with a chim chae, an  airy courtyard typical of Peranakan architecture. Signature dishes include ayam buah keluak, a chicken stew with a black sauce made from the hard nuts of the kepayang tree, and beef rendang, a spicy meat dish with coconut milk, galangal ginger, lemongrass and turmeric leaves. While scooping out and savoring the soft flesh of the kepayang nuts, you may be interested to know that the raw nuts contain hydrogen cyanide, a highly toxic substance that can be removed only after they have been boiled and fermented for weeks.

Despite its understated décor, True Blue is fine dining with high prices to match. Dinner for two will run you around 150 Singapore dollars (HK$950). Enhance your dining experience by visiting the Peranakan Museum, a stone’s throw away from the restaurant. If you wish to bring home a piece of local culture, drop by True Blue Shoppe next door for a colorful selection of traditional jewelry, clothing and cookware.

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These restaurant recommendations previously appeared in the 16 August 2012《Go Asia》supplement of The South China Morning Post.

As printed on The SCMP

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm, maybe we should give this a try the next time we're in Singapore. :) Looks like a nice place.