The Chendol Xiao Long Bao for instance, is in fact a dessert masquerading as the Chinese dumpling. Pandan-infused har gow skin is wrapped around a refreshing mix of coconut, grass jelly and red bean. And instead of vinegar as labelled on the accompanying bottle, it is stored with gula melaka to drizzle over as generously as you would like. Finally, eat it just as you would eat a xiao long bao – in one bite and nothing more.
New Home, New Menus, New DishesFollowing the move from Neil Road to Esplanade Mall, Labyrinth continues to stride in set menus but with a string of new dishes debuting after a good six months of R&D – quite the norm for any creation in Chef Han’s ‘culinary lab’. Also, the restaurant has recently launched new menus for lunch, pre-theatre, dinner and even a tasting menu for the bar, ranging from and affordable $38 to $168.
The brand new nine-course tasting menu, “A Day in the life of a Singaporean” walks you through a typical day’s worth of food. First, a quartet of breakfast snacks like Kaya Butter, Radish Cake, Rojak and Nasi Lemak, before proceeding on to lunch, dinner, supper and finally breakfast again. We loved the Kaya Butter (pictured above) and Rojak. While the former resembles a macaron, the ‘shells’ are actually cookies made with dehydrated kaya, sandwiched with creamed salted butter. As for the Rojak, Chef Han works culinary magic in turning that crisp and chewy yew char kway into a soft puff pastry-like consistency and injects it with sweet sauce.
What we tried: 5-Course Lunch Discovery Menu
The 5-course Lunch Discovery Menu ($88) sets you on a journey with dishes that Chef Han grew up with – an edible biography of sorts. It starts with Orh Luak, presented as a sous-vide egg that has been coated with batter then deep fried, covered in a light oyster foam with a garlic chilli mayo on the side and caviar for elegance. Not one element of this hawker favourite of ours was missing in this modern re-presentation.
One of our favourites that afternoon was the Satay Beef – a much richer version of the humble skewered and grilled meat. Here, Australian wagyu is marinated in a house-made satay marinade and served with satay espuma sauce. A cube of foie gras sits atop the steak to recreate that layer of fattiness. Of course, no satay is complete without the ketuput and onion, which comes in the form of a peanut butter mochi and gnocchi respectively.
We’ll leave the other dishes – Fish & Chips, Carbonara and Apple Crumble (pictured above) – for you to discover on your own. The only thing to keep in mind: “What you see is not what you get”. Labyrinth, Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue #02-23, Singapore 039802 See also: Where to Eat in City Hall Best Fusion Restaurants in Singapore
Written by Peh Yi Wen