Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chinois by Susur Lee

C says:

We're big fans of Susur Lee after watching him on the second season of Top Chef Masters. He was previously a consultant chef for Club Chinois and now he's back, again in partnership with the Tung Lok group, to open Chinois by Susur Lee at Resorts World Sentosa.

Most of you would know that because of A, Chinese food usually isn't quite our thing, and coupled with some lacklustre reviews that we've heard about the place, it definitely wasn't on our to-go list. Still, I had some Tung Lok dining vouchers that I had to use by end September, and when we realised they were valid for the a la carte menu at Chinois, we thought it was the perfect opportunity.

I like the decor - kind of an understated chic. It's classy without seeming too poncey, so you don't feel too out of place if you don't dress up. Having said that, I was quite horrified with the family who, between them, came in wearing torn denim shorts and a plain white tee more suitable for sleeping in.

There are a few set menus available, ranging from $80 to $120 per person, but we had to order a la carte to use the vouchers and I'm glad we did. We got a chance to try and share a bigger variety of dishes. Bear in mind that portions are quite small; we didn't eat all THAT much.

We started with the soya duck tongues with XO chilli sauce. Unlike the ones that we had at Jade Palace, the tongues here didn't have any bone or cartilege. They were perfectly stewed so they were soft but still had some texture, and served with a home made XO sauce and dried chillies. This was extremely tasty and at $10, pretty decently priced.

Their signature dish is a crab claw stuffed with abalone served with an uni sauce, but unfortunately they'd sold out so I'd recommend pre-ordering it when you call for your reservation. We ordered the other uni dish on the menu, a braised uni and asparagus broth that had amazingly complex flavours.

Being a Chinese restaurant, most of their signature dishes are in the seafood rather than the meat category. We ordered two fish dishes, both of which were outstanding. The marble goby with black truffle had an intensely flavourful sauce, from the truffle, garlic and a superior broth base. If we thought that was good, the oven baked cod was even better. It was served with egg white, salted egg yolk and a black vinegar reduction, which was both sweet and tart, that really brought the dish to life.

The baked mushrooms with a morel and soy milk broth were ok. The broth was interesting but the dish as a whole was quite ordinary. What did impress us, was the steamed tofu with preserved vegetable and garlic. It came with a fragrant soy sauce commonly served with steamed or fried fish, and it was so simple but the flavours were excellent.

The roast lamb loin with braised eggplant and jasmine rice was a bit of a letdown. The lamb had quite an overwhelming five spice marinade, and generally this was nowhere near the standard of the fish.

I have to reiterate that portions were small, so at this point A was still hungry. We ordered two more appetisers - a seared foie gras with smoked duck breast, and momotaro tomatoes with crab meat.

The tomatoes were pretty much an elevated crab mayo salad, but the foie gras was very good, especially if you don't like overly fatty foie. Somehow the one here was quite light so it wasn't too rich and jelak.

The dessert menu is quite interesting, with a mix of both Asian and Western desserts like a chocolate lava cake. On hindsight we should have had dessert here rather than the disappointing gelato at Candylicious.

Service was very good, with most of the waitresses able to speak good English. At lunch time they have a Dim Sum menu that looks pretty interesting too. Overall I was very impressed, and prices aren't prohibitive either. The total bill, before our voucher use, was $190, which granted isn't cheap but is no more expensive than a fancy dinner at most non-celebrity restaurants these days. I definitely want to try their dim sum next, and of course their signature crab claw.

A says:

I think the reason some people have been disappointed by this place is because they go expecting their usual Chinese-style meals. So the first thing you should know is that this isn’t going to be your conventional Chinese fare. It’s by no means molecular or fusion, but the flavours are interesting enough to be very unique.

Hits include the duck tongue, foie & duck breast, steamed tofu and the two fish dishes.

Everything else was by no means bad, just a bit mediocre, especially the lamb and tomatoes with crab.

The service is great here. And ambience-wise, the place looks quite classy, yet the atmosphere is fairly relaxed, which may be from the very eclectic customer mix. There were some well dressed patrons mixed with some people who looked like they just got off the boat. Although I hear this is common for restaurants at Resorts World. (I wonder how the Joel Robuchon customers dress).

Overall, a very good experience. I’ll definitely be back at some point, especially for the fish and duck dishes.

Chinois by Susur Lee
Hotel Michael, Resorts World Sentosa
26 Sentosa Gateway, #02-142/143
Tel: 6884-7888
Lunch: 11.30 am to 3 pm
Dinner: 6.30 pm to 11 pm

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