As we approach the tail end of 2015, The Straits Times highlights the best noms in town this year.
Park Bench Deli, 179 Telok Ayer Street, tel: 6815-4600, open: 9am to 10pm (Monday to Friday)
Photo: Park Bench Deli’s Instagram
This sandwich combines two of my favourites things: kong bak pau (braised pork belly stuffed into steamed buns) and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches with pickles). The slices of pork are braised in a rich, full-bodied brew of soya sauce, caramel, scallions and garlic.
A generous amount of pork is stuffed into a hoagie roll spread with hoisin aioli. It sounds far too rich. But there are strips of daikon and carrot pickle, lime leaf and fresh coriander leaves to stop food coma from setting in.
A sprinkling of crushed peanuts seems superfluous, but the crunch and aroma add a little something to the sandwich.
What makes a dish a best dish? It would have to be something I hanker after, that I remember out of all the things I eat for work. This sandwich is unforgettable.
2. COCONUT RISOTTO
Bacchanalia, 39 Hongkong Street, tel: 9179-4552, noon to 2.30pm (Wednesday to Friday), 6 to 10.30pm (Monday to Saturday)
Photo: Bacchanalia’s Facebook page
Coconut Risotto, which is part of the $150, seven-course tasting menu, is one dish that makes me sit up. Its charms go beyond the pretty plating. Thai flavours – galangal, ginger, sawtooth coriander and kaffir lime leaves – bring a new spin to what is a very Italian dish.
Instead of broth, the carnaroli rice is cooked with second-press coconut milk and coconut water. There is heat from fermented sambal and baniwa chilli powder from Brazil, a blend of several types of chillies. First-press coconut milk finishes off the dish, together with a sprinkling of fermented strips of coconut.
Bright, fresh and moreish, this is another dish I remember months after I have it.
3. SALTED CARAMEL SOUFFLE
Spago, Sands SkyPark, Level 57 Tower 2, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, tel: 6688-9955, open: noon to 2pm, 6 to 10pm (weekday), 6 to 11pm (weekend)
A well-made souffle is difficult to find here. It might arrive at the table standing tall, but many are wet and undercooked inside.
None of these problems plagues Spago’s souffle ($24). It is cooked all the way through, with a crunchy top helped by polka dots of caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt.
I am happy to eat the souffle as is, but the accompanying sweet-tart Fuji apple sorbet and creme fraiche are irresistible.
Tan Hsueh Yun, The Straits Times, December 27, 2015