If you’ve been impressed by the young chefs’ pop-up at Magic Square, another destination featuring young talents worthy of your consideration is V Dining, a concept restaurant at Scotts Square by V-ZUG, a Switzerland-based upscale producer of household appliances. But unlike Magic Square, where local ingredients and regional flavours come to the fore, V Dining serves modern European cuisine with Asian inflections. And with Tippling Club’s Ryan Clift as the brand’s global ambassador, it comes as no surprise that Clift is also steering the menu at V-Dining as Culinary Director.
For V-ZUG’s first concept restaurant in the world (but really, it looks more like the posh kitchen of a very wealthy friend), Clift has put in place a team of ex-Tippling Club staff headed by head chef, Lee Jing Peng, a five-year Tippling Club alumnus with stints at both Les Amis and Joel Robuchon Singapore and who was last sous chef of Clift’s Tanjong Pagar restaurant.
Working with a young and deft team of ex-colleagues from Tippling Club, Lee has assembled a pair of bimonthly-changing modern European tasting menus (4-course for $138++ and 6-course for $168++) constructed with the same playful DNA that we’ve come to associate with Clift. But make no mistake, the menu here is entirely executed by the on-site team led by Lee.
Like Tippling Club, your meal here begins with a parade of snacks, five of them to be exact at dinner. While the tempura “chicken rice” roll with cucumber, sesame mayo, black soy sauce and chilli is interesting concept-wise, the standout is the “laksa” snack, warm and piquant laksa mousse topped with deep-fried “tau pok” crotons, laksa leaves and shredded coconut flakes, think heart-warming laksa flavours with the added bonus of “tao pok” crotons. Yes, you won’t get the vermicelli and the blood cockles from this “laksa” but it’s a better-than-decent take that deserves a mention.
You might think you’ve had tonkotsu ramen but the “tonkotsu” from V Dining’s six-course dinner menu is like nothing you’ve had. For a start, scallops are thermomix-blended into a paste, slow-cooked to a desired consistency, then hand-cut into noodles and served in a ramen-like pork broth broth studded with bamboo shoot cubes and julienned leeks. With each slurp of the “noodles”, you sip on some of the heart-warming broth that, in my opinion, is just as tasty but much less salty than the ramen standard. One wonder why squid “noodles” were served in the first place for reasons other than cost if scallop “noodles” could have such a springy consistency and yet deliver on flavour.
For the seafood course, Lee dispatches a hunk of grilled Norwegian cod topped with torched miso glaze cooked with reduced mirin, sake and a host of other ingredients including, strangely enough, Tobasco sauce. On its own, the miso glaze may come across as heady, even a tad salty, but with the fish, the marriage is quite the perfect union. To finish, Lee rests the cod on torched pak choy and tops it with the bijou caps of enoki mushrooms finished with a table-side pour of shiitake mushroom dashi.
There are two desserts with the longer tasting menu, of note is the hojocha-inspired one. More interesting than it is exhilarating, the Japanese inspirations come in the form of the hojocha custard with hojicha tuile matched with black sesame sponge, black sesame tuile and a scoop of jasmine rice ice cream. A well-composed dessert of measured flavours, none overwhelming the other.
At $168++ a head, I reckon this tasting menu by Lee is worth a gamble. In fact, I bet you will like it. The jury is still out on how long each menu will stay but if I have my way, I’ll make the scallop “noodles” a fixture. Ditto the “laksa”.
6 Scotts Road, ScottsSquare #03-13, Singapore 228 209; v-dining.com; +65-6950 4868