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3 Restaurants to Impress Guests

Whether you have to take clients out to a business lunch, your maybe future in-laws to dinner or your out of town guest to the perfect Singapore restaurant, we’ve got you sorted. The Straits Times Food Editor, Tan Hsueh Yun’s, picks:


For a Business Lunch

Where: Osteria Art, 01-01, 55 Market Street, tel: 6877-6933, open: noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 11pm (Monday to Friday), 6pm to midnight (Saturday), closed on Sunday

Why: This 80-seat restaurant is an anomaly in Singapore. The decor is sleek and smart and the overall feel is luxurious. Service is polished but also warm. Then you look at the menu and do a double take. Can the prices be real?

A meal here will not prompt the bean counters at the company to question the bill when you submit it to them for claims. A Power Lunch costs but $32 a person. It is a substantial three-course meal.

I expect the servings to be petite but they are good-sized.

On the day I go, the starters are Leek & Potato Soup or Beef Tartare With Pachino Tomato Salad. The beef is chopped roughly, which I like because every forkful has bite. It is not overly seasoned too, so the sweetness of the meat is apparent.

My choice of Rigatoni With Beef Ragout for main course is comfort food served in a deep bowl.

I would pick the Red Snapper With Herb Crust or the Lamb T-Bone chops with mashed potato at a real business lunch, because that pasta makes me wish I am at home on the couch, watching TV and digging into the bowl. It is so very moreish and the pasta is perfectly al dente, not something you can take for granted in Italian restaurants here.

Even dessert is not a throwaway course. The wobbliest pannacotta, flecked with vanilla seeds, is surrounded by raspberry coulis, diced mango and little meringues. It is a light, bright dessert to round of a meal of serious business talk.

A bracing cup of coffee keeps the post-lunch coma at bay so you can focus on work.

The restaurant is exactly what you want for a business lunch. With tables spaced well apart, you can talk strategy without other people overhearing.

There is energy in the room, feeding off its location in the heart of the Central Business District.


Meet the Parents

Where: Cassia, 1 The Knolls, Capella Singapore, tel: 6591-5045, open: noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm

Why: Whether you and your beloved are meeting each other’s parents for the first time or you are gathering to hammer out wedding details, book a table at Cassia, a Cantonese restaurant at the Capella Singapore.

The elegant interior by architect Andre Fu is stylish, serene and instantly calming. Well-spaced tables make it easy to have a serious conversation and you can size everybody up properly too.

The restaurant seats 94 indoors and 12 on the terrace. There is a private room which seats up to 12 and with an area for mingling before the meal. The minimum spend for the room is $1,000 for lunch and $1,500 for dinner.

Any nerves or jitters will instantly be soothed by the food. Haute Cantonese best describes it. There are modern touches, many of the dishes come in individual portions and almost everything is exquisite.

Steamed Chilean Sea Bass With Crispy Fermented Bean Crumbs And Vegetables ($18 a person) is one of the signatures, as is the Wok- fried Australian M9 Mayura Wagyu With Black Pepper ($32 a person).

There is dim sum at lunch, with star offerings such as Porridge With Fish Maw, Century Egg And Wild Mushrooms ($8.80 a person) and Steamed Barbecued US Kurobuta Pork Bun With Black Truffle ($4.80 for two).

Sentosa seems a long way to go for a meal. However, first impressions count and if you want to make a good one, get away from the bustle of the main land and settle into the plush comfort of Cassia.


Entertaining Out-of-Towners

Where: Samy’s Curry Restaurant, 25 Dempsey Road, tel: 6472-2080, open: 11am to 3pm, 6 to 10pm, closed on Tuesday

Why: What do you want friends from out of town to experience in Singapore?

I suppose tourist sites such as the Merlion Park, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Gardens by the Bay and the museums are de rigueur.

So, too, are visits to a wet market, where many Singaporeans still do their food shopping, and meals at hawker centres, where the best street food vendors offer their wares.

Another place to take them to is Samy’s Curry Restaurant, which started in the 1950s. The 300- seater has had a few updates, with more comfortable chairs and smaller tables rather than the long communal ones of yore. There is even a 50-seat air-conditioned area.

Some things have not changed, however. The food is still served on banana leaves and this is something Mr V. Maheyndran, 55, is determined to stick to. He has communicated this to his children, Ms Nagajyothi Mahendran, 31, and Mr M. Veerasamy, 27, who now run the business, on no uncertain terms.

A briyani set, with rice, two vegetables, gravy and pappadums is $3.60 and diners choose the meats they want.

One must-order dish is fishhead curry (from $21). This is Singapore in a claypot because it was thought up here, although there is a Bengali dish of fish head cooked together with rice.

The Singapore version came about because a savvy South Indian chef wanted his food to appeal to more people and chose fish head, which is prized among the Chinese.

Today, there are Indian, Chinese, Malay and Peranakan versions of the dish.

The one at Samy’s is particularly good, with fresh, meaty heads cooked in a piquant gravy.

Also good are Mysore Mutton ($10) and bone-in fried chicken ($5.20 a piece). Wash it all down with Masala tea ($2.50) before taking a stroll through the Botanic Gardens nearby.


By Tan Hsueh Yun, Food Editor at The Straits Times, August 2, 2015

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