When you visit a restaurant that weighs in at 3,500 square feet, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by its sheer size.
Once you step in and discover that it’s an all-day diner serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a crew consisting of a sommelier, a coffee barista, a mixologist and an executive chef Lee Boon Seng, who hails from Osia and Curate in Resorts World Sentosa, you wonder perhaps if you should come for a glass of wine, a cup of espresso, a swizzle perhaps or even a meal.
Then it hits you that taking centrestage in the heart of the space is an island, or a massive bar, that dispenses beverages, and it fills up at dusk with a decibel-busting drinking crowd, and you wonder again if you should take a chance with the food.
Confusing as it is, The Spot is a spot that doubles as a cafe, a bar and a restaurant. While it may lack the soul of a boutique eatery, the contemporary European cooking with South East Asian inspirations by Lee is sound, even tasty, yes even if the menu smacks of Asian fusion cliché at times.
Scallop carpaccio is nothing like the ones we know, this comes steamed and paired with a light and acidic buah long long (a tropical fruit with green skin from Indonesia or Malaysia) and green apple vinaigrette and topped with julienned jicama and celaraic root remoulade. Unusual flavours and textures that work surprisingly although one wonders.
Roasted carrot soup arrives with a delicious whiff of young ginger and a tinge of orange citrus flavour. But what sets it apart from the garden variety carrot soup is the addition of coconut cream, which lends the soup an added dimension. That’s not to mention the savoury crown of lemongrass chorizo prawn salsa for that much-needed savoury note.
Local skate (a stingray-like fish) is pan-fried and served on a bed of Kokuho rice risotto cooked in fish stock with shiitake. At the table, a homemade fish broth enriched with salted plum and dried sole is poured. If you’re looking for a comforting one-dish meal, this chazuke-like dish is it.
Green curry may have been done to death in Thai restaurants but Lee’s rendition as an emulsion with crispy-skinned pan-fried red snapper, eggplant and spinach puree and a side of torched Thai ping pong eggplant is suitably alluring, even if green curry is nothing new.
The same can be said for the duck dish -local duck breast with crisp skin glazed with housemade honey chrysanthemum served with an invigorating plum ginger vinegar jus flecked with sago pearls and diced apples. Can’t say the butternut squash puree that comes alongside it is a match made in heaven though.
Asian-fusion may be a dirty word but you can’t deny a chef his well-deserved raves when his Asian flavours are executed with flair. And assuming that Lee cooks to this quality even with a full house, The Spot is certainly worthy of some attention.
If booze is your thing, don’t leave without popping into the next-door wine retailer, 1855 The Bottle Shop wine retailer, which is sited next to an impressive The Macallan boutique, a first in South East Asia for the whisky distillery.
5 Straits View, Marina One #01-26/27, Singapore 018 935; thespot.sg