June 12, 2014

[FOOD]: Singapore Fine Dining with A Local Twist - Labyrinth

(photo credits: Labyrinth.com.sg)

5 Neil Road, Singapore 08806
(opposite Maxwell Hawker Centre)
+65 6223 4098

There's always that one occasion where you feel like going to atas places just so you can feel atas and eat atas food. But then, there's also the part where atas places eventually leads to extremely atas prices. (atas = high class, high pricing, depending on the context) 

What if you could feel atas, and eat atas and yet, you don't have to pay exorbitant atas prices? 

Look no further than the most talked about newly opened restaurant in Singapore! Only a few months into its opening, and they have already been awarded "2014 BEST NEW RESTAURANT" by Wine and Dine Magazine. And that, I must emphasise, is no easy feat. 

I can honestly say, they deserve every bit of publicity, positive reviews and recognition that they're getting. They are truly unique and one of a kind! 

A brief background on this humble shop before I get onto the tonnes of pictures of food that I wouldn't advise to look at whilst on an empty stomach, it can cause you to have mass cravings for food. You have been warned! 

Labyrinth was born out of banker-turned-self-taught-chefChef Han Li Guang's passion for cooking. Challenging common perceptions, both in taste and visuals, has proven promisingly with Chef LG's signature dishes, that can only be found at Labyrinth, CHENDOL XIAO LONG BAO, CHILLI CRAB & MANTOU and SIEW YOKE FAN (in translation it means Roasted Pork Rice). 

In simpler terms, Chef LG's way of cooking, is simply ATAS fine-dining style but with a very LOCAL twist to it, making his food still taste very "familiar" to the palate. You know what I mean? You know how you always go to those fine-dining places, and you get served like 10 small-sized courses with super weird sounding names and when the waiter serves you the food and explains to you, you have no idea what the hell he's saying? And then when you eat it, it gets even more confusing because you just don't know how to appreciate the food? Like the food's all weird tasting and supposedly it's supposed to be delicious, well because it's fine-dining? HAHAHAH I apologize on that rant, but seriously, that's how I feel whenever I go to a fine-dining restaurant. I've stereotyped it to being just super expensive, and not tasty because it tastes soooo weird!

But, at Labyrinth it's really different. It's really unique and I must say that some dishes actually plays with your mind. haha! What you see, isn't what it is.  You will get what this means when you see the food. 

Also, I must say I am not particularly good with words when it comes to describing food, but honestly, pictures say it better than I can explain it. 

(photo credits: Labyrinth.com.sg)

I must thank my friend, David for inviting me to dine at this restaurant. He and his friends made the dinner super fun and enjoyable. If ever you dine at Labyrinth and you see a young man showing magic card tricks, go up to him and say hi! Request for magic tricks too, he'll gladly show a trick or two for your entertainment! :D 

At Labyrinth you get to choose out of these 2 set menus. There is no A La Carte menu. You get to choose from the Signature Menu (SGD98) or the Degustation Menu (SGD158)

I chose the Signature Menu with my main of the signature Siew Yoke Fan!! The pork belly has been highly raved by like many many food bloggers! Just google "Labyrinth Singapore" and a whole list of results of positive, good reviews will appear! And those are all organic results ok not paid ads haha!

So, we were served with the Amuse Bouche, this is to "open" up your palate so you can taste the food better. I'm just guessing the purpose for this haha.

We were then served with their handmade bread with a side of 3 different type of "jams". All 3 super unique and to be honest, I have never heard of it before stepping foot into the restaurant. LOL! One tip: combine all 3 jams together and they taste really good!

There were a total of 4 of us at the table, with 3 of us ordering the Signature Menu and only one other ordered the Degustation Menu. So thankfully, I had a chance to try out ALL the delicious food that Labyrinth had to offer :D

Pineapple Fried Rice

This is the thing about Labyrinth, all of their food sounds local and familiar, but cooked in a really atas way. But it doesn't stray far away from the taste. This actually really tastes like your usual pineapple fried rice but in a super super higher-level of cooking. The raisins that it's topped with really adds to the sweetness. Not to mention, the Rice Crispies that act as the rice of the pineapple fried rice. Really smart and creative way of re-creating this dish. Delicious too! 

Mango Tomato Bruschetta

This is a Tomato 'Steak" Tartare, with a Mango Yolk on the top. It's "Steak" because it really looks like a beef tartare with like an egg yolk on top. But, it's totally meat-less! It's fully tomatoes and the yolk is actually mango! I HAVE NO IDEA HOW CHEF LG DOES IT, but it LOOKS EXACTLY what it isn't! And it tastes soooo good! How is it possible for tomatoes to taste good?! I personally am not a huge fan of tomatoes, but I actually ate finish the entire thing!!

Coffee Pork Ribs

Do NOT let this picture fool you. It is not just a normal plain looking coffee with a biscuit. It's actually Coffee Latte infused with "pork ribs essence" (I don't really know whats in it that makes the taste). The cookie? It's a cookie baked with AWESOME BACON BITS within it and also sprinkled on the top :D In my honest opinion, the taste of the "coffee latte" leans towards tasting like Ba Ku Teh (Herbal Pork Soup). You believe me now yea that this is seriously a restaurant with a one-of-a-kind menu! 

Now comes one of their Signature Dishes! 

Labyrinth Chilli Crab

You get a WHOLE SOFT-SHELL CRAB, Tempura style, topped with Mantou "sand", with the crab leaning on an orange rock. That orange rock by the way is actually what makes this dish super super super special. It's a CHILLI CRAB ICE CREAM!!!! Screaaaammmmss creativee or what?! Out of all the dishes, this has really got to be my ultimate favourite!

The ice-cream seriously tastes JUST LIKE THE LOCAL CHILLI CRAB taste! Like how is that even possible?! Its texture is just like how ice-creams would be. The soft shell crab was sooo well cooked. When you eat everything together, the combination of the flavours on the plate, complements everything so well and it's just like a foodgasm in your mouth. I really have to say this is one of the MUST HAVEs at Labyrinth. And even they know it, hence you'll get it on both set menus :D 

Artisan Garden Pizza

How cute is the presentation for this pizza dish? It's made out of truffles, spinach tomato crust and chantarelle mushrooms. I didn't try this as I'm not much of a vegetable fan. LOL. But the rest of them said this was delicious! And I take their word for it. Anything with truffles would immediately taste good! Haha

Took a break from all the food and headed to take a few shots of the restaurant's interior.

Chefs hard at work. Dedicatedly preparing all the food for their patrons. 

Black Cod Miso

This was a dish that I've tasted many times before at various restaurants and so the taste for this, to me, didn't match up to the delicious standard to that of the Labyrinth Chilli Crab dish, if that even makes sense? Haha, this dish was delicious, super fresh cod, but I felt it needed more sauce. I still enjoyed this dish very much though, mainly because the cod they used was really very fresh. Cooking cod is not easy, one of the hardest parts to nail down is to actually get the freshest cod. And at Labyrinth you can be assured that they ONLY use the freshest of the freshest ingredients! 

Siew Yoke Fan

Ahhhh! The dish that I was craving for since I googled Labyrinth Singapore prior to visiting the restaurant. It certainly LIVED UP to its fame and to my expectations. I am a super pork belly lover! And if the pork belly isn't well cooked or well executed, I would be super depressed, like why did I just waste my stomach eating all that unhealthy portion of the pork when it doesn't even taste nice. You get my drift?

Well with that aside, this Roasted Pork Belly on Risotto infused with Ramen Broth is simply delicious! The pork skin is really crispy and tasty. I really don't have any other words for this dish other than DELICIOUS!! 

Satay Beef Tenderloin

Now, this is another dish that totally doesn't look like how its name would suggest. I was expecting this dish to be served on like sticks, you know? But here it is, being served fine-dining style but with a super local twist added to it.

And that green banana leaf thing? It is usually a ketupat (rice) but in this case, you can never guess what it actually is inside,

The "ketupat" is in actual fact a peanut-filled mochi. Which was SUPER DELICIOUS as well!!

With all the mains out, it's time for D-E-S-S-E-R-T-S!

Chendol Xiao Long Bao

I honestly find that all of their food presentation, 5 STARS for creativity! This looks like an actual Xiao Long Bao, plus with the "vinegar" sauce at the background. Let me tell you what's inside, the green skin is the "Chendol" with a Red Bean filling and the "vinegar" bottle, is actually filled up with Gula Melaka Syrup. The sweet syrup that MUST be taken together with the Xiao Long Bao. 

Also, the tip is to try and shove the whole Xiao Long Bao into your mouth! LOL Try it! I had a very hard time haha. But it's sooooo tasty!!! 

Apple Crumble

This is Labyrinth's take on a deconstructed apple crumble. I didn't particularly like this dish, as it was not that extraordinary for me. I blame the Chendol Xiao Long Bao and the Chilli Crab, those 2 dishes really had set the bar high! SO when it came to this dish for dessert, it just tasted exactly like eating 2 scoops of ice cream with apple bits and pieces. It still tastes delicious though, do not get me wrong! I'm saying in terms of presentation, it lacks from the others that I've seen. 

Singapore Breakfast

Now, this is yet another dish wholly created by Chef LG where it challenges the mind and perception of the patron. What you see is really not what you get! Haha. This looks like your typical breakfast, your half boiled eggs with dark soy sauce and pepper, paired with a cup of coffee or tea. 

But, adding a touch of Labyrinth flair, that "EGG" you see, is actually NOT EGG AT ALL!! It's a PANNA COTTA w mango puree INSIDE the egg!! The "dark soy sauce" is in actual fact Chocolate Sauce and the "pepper" is actually Cinnamon Powder!  The "tea" on the side is actually a cup of Teh Tarik Creme Brulee. THIS IS DA BOMB!!! The creme brulee was absolutely delicious. I loved the presentation of this dish, but loved the Teh Tarik Creme Brulee even more! 

Doesn't it look seriously like the typical breakfast? 
The half boiled eggs with pepper and dark soy sauce. lol!

Petit Fours

And lastly, it was the petit fours and you are served coffee/tea of your choice with free refills at the end of the service. Not only were these small cakes super adorable, they were really delicious too! I was soo full by the end of it, I could not stuff anymore of these cakes into my tummy. 

I have to say, this has got to be the MOST DELICIOUS fine-dining restaurant I've ever been to. Mainly because I love how all of the dishes have a familiar local taste to them. My favourite is definitely Labyrinth Chilli Crab and Chendol Xiao Long Bao. NO MATTER WHAT YOU HAVE TO GIVE THESE 2 A TRY!! 

Do NOT hesitate to make a booking now! The restaurant is fully booked out EVERY SINGLE DAY IT'S OPEN! Because of the popularity of this restaurant, I will HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU BOOK before rocking up to the restaurant only to be sadly turned away. 

Experience an amazing food journey with Chef LG where he'll take you on a whirlwind of flavours and textures in his absolutely Award-worthy dishes! 

5 Neil Road, Singapore 08806
(opposite Maxwell Hawker Centre)
+65 6223 4098