Chinois by Susur Lee @ Resorts World Sentosa

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Setting

Interior of Chinois by Susur Lee

Barely months after Club Chinois by the Tung Lok Group (“Tung Lok”) shuttered at Orchard Parade Hotel, it reappeared at Hotel Michael as Chinois by Susur Lee (“Chinois”), joining the cadre of big name chefs with outposts at Resorts World Sentosa (“RWS”).

With his wind-swept long hair tied back into a ponytail, the Hong Kong-born and Canada-based Lee may not be a familiar face in Singapore until he took on the role of poster boy for Chinois, but make no mistake, his credentials (including a cookbook to his name, numerous TV appearances and several restaurants in North America under his belt) are not to be trifled with.

In a marked departure from the old world Club Chinois, this RWS reincarnation sports a decidedly swanky interior (all the better to lure the deep-pocketed high rollers) featuring rough-cut stonewalls and lots of dark wood plus a sleek long bar (yes, it’s unusual for a Chinese restaurant but hey, this is not your usual oriental eatery) where mocktails and cocktails are concocted.

What to expect?

With Lee at the helm, albeit via long distance, expect modern Chinese with an eye for visually arresting plating flourishes.

But, like they always say, the devil is always in the local execution and this holds more truth with celebrity chef restaurants that put the names of big name chefs at stake with less-than-perfect kitchen execution.

Thankfully, the cooking at Chinois is accomplished and credit goes to Tung Lok’s long-serving senior executive chef, Ken Ling, who spent 14 years commanding the back of house at Club Chinois and now hones his craft exclusively at Chinois.

Chilled Hokkaido scallops with peanut, yuzu and pomelo dressing
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At dinner, the starter of char-grilled Hokkaido scallops are served chilled in an ice-carved bowl with shimeji mushrooms in a light and refreshing drizzle of yuzu-scented peanut and pomelo dressing, an obvious nod to Lee’s razor-sharp eye for aesthetics.

Char-grilled pork tenderloin with asparagus

Lemongrass-marinated rack of lamb

Lemongrass-marinated rack of lamb arrives looking pretty on a bed of fried carrot cake (local style) while char-grilled pork tenderloin on sprigs of asparagus promises to seize your taste buds with seriously smoky hints.

Crab claw stuffed with abalone in sea urchin sauce

Most spellbinding is the voluptuous hunk of crab claw stuffed with sliced abalone served piping hot in an intoxicating sake-scented sea urchin thick broth that coats the palate with umami.

But the dinner takes an abrupt western dive with desserts. The concluding poached pear paired with chocolate rice crisps, raspberry sorbet, blue berry gelo and mascarpone cheese is decent but boasts nary an element of Chinese – we reckon a deconstructed black sesame or walnut paste would have been more dazzling.

Notwithstanding that, Tung Lok has scored a major goal with Chinois. Lee’s apparent celebrity fluff is a key driver but, to be perfectly honest, Ling’s kitchen flair did not go unnoticed. If our mostly-exemplary dinner is anything to go by, Chinois is well on its way to becoming a star.

Chinois by Susur Lee | Hotel Michael, Sentosa Gateway  | Tel: 65-6884 7888

For picture story, visit www.facebook.com/bibikgourmand

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© Evelyn Chen 2013

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