The Scoop: New Italian Inspiration At La Strada, Long-lost Heritage Dishes At Folklore, Fun Plates At Le Bon Funk And More

A round-up of good eats and dining news from Singapore in August 2018.

This month, we try out revamped menus from Italian restaurant La Strada and seafood restaurant Majestic Bay, seek out bold and imaginative sharing plates from natural wine bar Le Bon Funk and delve into Peranakan-Eurasian chef Damian D’Silva's childhood memories with hare heritage dishes at Folklore. 

Crispy Prawns in Peanut Satay Sauce (Credit: Majestic Bay Restaurant)
Crispy Prawns in Peanut Satay Sauce (Credit: Majestic Bay Restaurant)

New Twists On Old Favourites At Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant

Chinese-style seafood dishes get an adventurous twist with a new chef, Chee Hin Yew, taking the reins at Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant. Chee is not entirely new to the restaurant, having worked at its sister Majestic Restaurant for more than a decade. He has injected excitement through eight new dishes on the a la carte menu. Bored with chilli and black pepper crabs? Try the sauteed mud crab with basil leaves and white wine sauce ($68++). The crustaceans, which are imported from the Philippines, are coated in a velvety cream sauce spiked with white wine that doesn’t overwhelm the sweetness of the crab’s juicy flesh. Each mouthful is rounded with the aroma of basil leaves.

Chee loves prawns and satay, so he combines them in a dish ($28++, above) that has lots of bite with fried succulent prawns slathered with a chunky peanut satay sauce. Pair the prawns with “ketupat” made with glutinous rice that is great for mopping up the satay sauce. Chicken rice typically comes with meat at room temperature, but here, the free-range chicken is presented piping hot in a claypot ($32++). It is based on a recipe Chee learnt in Kuala Lumpur. The flavourful chicken stock-infused rice is cooked with silky slabs of deboned chicken and topped with parsley and spring onions. Relish in the sizzle as the rice and meat are tossed and heated up a la minute at your table. A 45-minute waiting time is required for this dish and only four servings are available daily.

Controfilleto (Credit: La Strada)
Controfilleto (Credit: La Strada)

La Strada Takes Inspiration From Italian Sojourn

Where best to get inspiration to whip up Italian food than from a trip to Italy? La Strada’s head chef Dalton Fong and his team spent 10 days eating their way from Florence to Naples to fuel the latest menu revamp. About 90 percent of the menu has been switched up. New additions include Fiori di Zucca ($22), where stalks of crispy tempura-fried zucchini flowers are balanced by creamy soft buffalo mozzarella piped into the flowers. Besides the restaurant’s signature carbonara, new pasta dishes include the Spanner crab squid ink tagliolini, which is given a unique twist with a rich nduja salami spread, tomato and bacon.

Also new is the Grigliato section, which sees meat and seafood being grilled over hickory charcoal in a Josper grill. Deserving of its prime spot in the section is the Controfilleto ($52), a luscious slab of USDA prime rib-eye that is made even more voluptuous with a dollop of porcini butter. Save space for the Maiale, which features Bangalow pork chops from New South Wales that are so naturally sweet that they meld with the honey mustard dressing.

Sourdough and charcuterie (Credit: Le Bon Funk)
Sourdough and charcuterie (Credit: Le Bon Funk)

Fun And Funky Dishes At Le Bon Funk

Food at wine bars are often an afterthought, but at Le Bon Funk, a spirited natural wine bar, the food does not play second fiddle to the about 200 wine labels that are made with minimal chemical and technological intervention. In the same vein, food served here by Canadian-Japanese chef Keirin Buck adopts an au naturel approach, using techniques, such as fermentation and charcuterie-making, in his cosmopolitan cuisine that is anchored by French and Italian elements.

Open the meal with a thick and dense sourdough ($6) that is best paired with house-made charcuterie (from $18, above), such as capicola, hazelnut and tarragon salami and soppressata. Buck makes 12 types of charcuterie and matures them in a chiller for up to two months. Other dishes are fun and off-beat, such as the Cedar Jelly And Foie Gras Toast ($18), which pays homage to the kaya toast. Subtle sweetness from the cedar fuses seamlessly with the buttery richness of cognac-cured foie gras shavings smeared on a crusty brioche. For desserts, the eyebrow-raising star is the Celery Custard And Buckwheat ($10), which is the by-product of a delicious kitchen accident when Buck accidentally mixed celery into a panna cotta.

Sotong Masak Sambal Belado (Credit: Folklore)
Sotong Masak Sambal Belado (Credit: Folklore)

Folklore Unveils Rare Heritage Dishes
Folklore marks its first anniversary with an updated menu that further plumbs the time-honoured family recipes of its Peranakan-Eurasian chef Damian D’Silva. D’Silva insists on using age-old, time-consuming techniques to yield deep and soulful flavours from his food, so he takes no shortcuts in recreating traditional dishes like Ikan Assam Surani ($30), a delicate baby threadfin smothered in a sweet and sour gravy. The recipe calls for precise slicing of garlic, shallots and chillies by hand into specific, consistent sizes so the nuances of the ingredients can be drawn out when cooked. Combing local wet markets, the chef seeks out forgotten ingredients like sukun, or breadfruit, to whip up the classic Malay dish of Sayur Lodeh ($16) with young jackfruit, beancurd and tempeh in a creamy curry. Other highlights from the new menu include an Indonesian dish of Sotong Masak Sambal Belado (market price), which features fresh, sweet squid cooked in a fiery, bright sambal of tomatoes, chillies, lime and lemon basil leaves, and Prawn Sambal With Petai ($26), D’Silva’s all-time favourite recipe passed down by his grandmother.

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