I’ve got to say – I had a good feeling about this. A local, no-frills nor airs kind of chef, who just wants to create innovative dishes that marry local flavour faves with modern molecular methods, what’s not to like about it?
Plenty, if I go by some other “fusion”-inspired places. But here at Labyrinth, nope, none of the confusion that usually accompanies fusion. Fancy as the dishes may be, there’s real heart behind each dish. And if you spoke to Chef LG Han, you’d see why. You can almost imagine this curious little boy, concocting whimsical little food stories in his head, and then executing it with such grace.
Before your meal even starts, you’re served up quirky, cute “snacks” in a tiffin, inspired by local brekkie dishes of kaya toast presented as mini macarons and chwee kueh infused with coconut flavours.
And then comes the pretty keropok, but not just any keropok you can buy from your neighbourhood mama shop, but one that’s made with dehydrated shrimp and squid bits, topped with little orange baubles of roe.
Next up – bak chor mee. Chef Han turns the dish around on its head, but not in a bad way. For the purists in the house, well, it might be sacrilegious not to have any bak in the bak chor mee, but wait till you try this version. The “egg” noodles are strips of squid while the pork has been replaced with dried anchovies. And no fish cake – it’s perfectly cooked scallop instead. What?? No pork, no fish cake?? What the fish, you might rightfully shriek. But trust me – it all just works!
The other dish I really loved was the Chili Crab. Again – no sauce for the crab to swim in nor those deep-fried pillows of heaven known as mantou but…before you protest again, this dish shines. All thanks to the chili ice-cream, the taste of which is exactly like the sauce you usually slurp up with mantou. Except here, the mantou has been decimated to breadcrumbs but yet again, mix it all up and it works.
And if you’re into satay, you’ll appreciate the Beef Satay dish here. Made with wagyu beef, with bits of foie gras to imitate the fatty bits usually found in satay, this dish is covered with a sweet satay “espuma”, fancy pants word for a foamy, peanut satay sauce and really yummy altogether.
Desserts were a highlight too. Along came two plump dumplings with a tiny jar of vinegar, and being a xiao long bao addict, I was getting ready to get my ginger on..but nope. It was a Chendol XLB instead, that you’re supposed to drizzle the vinegar (which was actually gula melaka) and pop the whole thing in your mouth, at which point, all the red bean and coconut spheres will burst delightfully in your mouth.
Final dish of the night – so befitting of a New Year’s Day dessert. A cigar and some whiskey. Well, not quite. A chocolate/peanut butter ice-cream shaped like a cigar and a fragrant earl-grey/elderflower drink in a cognac glass. Considering the copious amount of bubbly imbibed the night before, I must say, the non-alcoholic dessert treat was spectacular and very welcomed!
All in all, so happy I decided to spend the first day of the rest of the foodie year at Labyrinth.
Address: Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue #02-23, Singapore 039802
Contact: (65) 6223 4098 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lunch | 12 pm – 230 pm (Tue – Fri) *not available on Public Holidays
Pre-Theatre | 6 pm (Thu – Sat)
Dinner | 630 pm – 11 pm (Tue – Fri)
Dinner | 6 pm – 11 pm (Sat & Sun)