You might wonder, what's the fuss about? Afterall, Marina Bay Sands already has a stellar line-up of celebrity chef restaurants such as CUT by Wolfgang Puck and Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda, mostly expensive indulgences which many can't afford to splurge on regularly. Well, with the opening of Long Chim, your perception might just change.
Long Chim, meaning “come and taste”, is an invitation to sample a modern yet delicious take on affordable Thai street fare. Yes, delicious and still affordable even in a upscale setting. We each forked out only $36 after splitting the bill among our dinner group of three.
Unbelievable! How rare is that? Even a typical meal in a casual café can amount to (or sometimes even go beyond) that easily. #notkidding #notexaggerating
The restaurant's illuminated entrance depicting streets of Bangkok in pop-art graffiti style itself is a visual stunner, leading us into a sprawling space which incorporates the bar area, main dining hall, private dining rooms, and open kitchen into one gorgeous interior. Just look at the photos to have a glimpse.
Your next question might be, "can an angmoh guy really cook Thai food?". For the uninitiated, chef David Thompson is well-known for his culinary skill and expertise in Thai cuisine.
In 2001, he launched Nahm in London and it became the first Thai restaurant to obtain a coveted Michelin star, while Nahm in Bangkok is consistently on San Pellegrino's annual Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list and ranked 13th on World's 100 Best Restaurants 2014.
Chef David is also the author of two cookery books, Thai Food and Thai Street Food.
As the waitress took down our orders, I enthusiastically asked, "will chef David be cooking for us?" Disappointingly, he didn't. If he did, perhaps it would make a huge difference to our plate of Stir-fried Rice Noodle with Siracha, Pork & Prawns ($19).
Not to say that it was no good, the chewy texture of rice noodles and overall moisture of the dish was spot on, pork was lusciously fat, prawns were fresh and delivered a crunchy bite. Intensely sweet at initial mouthful, it morphed into an addictive spiciness which lingered on. The problem was - no wok hei! We saw the lady chef attacking the wok real hard over high flaming fire, but to quote William: "got clang, got fire, but doesn't mean got wok hei." Ouch.
I love the Aromatic Beef with Cumin, Coriander and Turmeric ($11) which came in form of satay skewers, superbly marinated and cooked to tenderness with a pinkish centre. Usually I do not eat much squid because my face is prone to pimples whenever I have it, but the Grilled Squid Gorlae ($10) coated in a coconutty dry curry was so delightful yummy, it made me threw all caution to the wind.
All mains are served with white rice, which is the perfect accompaniment for dishes like Sour Orange Curry of Snakehead Fish with Water Mimosa ($20). Interesting sounding, decent tasting, but not exactly memorable.
Tom Yum Chicken Wings and Feet with Holy Basil ($16) had Nat (Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow), William and myself debating for quite awhile and it epitomize the fact that taste is subjective. The soup reminded me (in a good way) of the Quickie Tom Yum Chicken Wings Soup I had cooked sometime back using instant tom yum paste. Flavors are well-balanced but not as robust as some of the renditions I had before.
I thought the broth could be more sourish, the guys felt that it was already very sourish. The spiciness level could also be leveled up, but Nat felt that being overly spicy will overpower all other flavors. We wondered if the heat has been purposely muted down to suit the wider palate, but that being said, William was already breaking out in sweat over some of the dishes.
What we agreed on: The wings were wonderfully tender but chicken feet were still hard, and that the combination was exotic. Why not the usual seafood huh? It is not that big an issue for me as I love these two ingredients, but we wondered about the acceptance level of Caucasians who made up the majority of diners on evening of our visit.
Another thing we agreed on: The Mango Sticky Rice ($10) was terrible. In fact, it was one of the worst I've ever eaten, with sourish mango and cold hard undercooked rice, topped with fried mung beans that was hard instead of crunchy. What could have gone wrong, went horribly wrong, except for the delish fragrant coconut cream. This item was waived off from our bill after we provided our honest feedback.
The dessert that got our praise was the Black Sticky Rice with Pandanus Noodles ($10). Looking like a distant cousin of Chendol with those green jelly-like noodle in coconut milk, it was made unique with the use of Candle's Tear or Tien-Ob in Thai, which imparted a smokey scent that was most pleasing.
Service was attentive, the staff were adequately knowledgeable and what they didn't know, they bothered to find out. Overall, we were happy with our meal. Affordable and accessible, I wouldn't hesitate to return to Long Chim again.
Address: #02-02, Atrium 2, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018955
Contact: +65 6688 7299
Opening Hours: Daily Dinner 6-10pm , Bar 6pm-Midnight
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands via lifts at:
- L1, next to Hermès Watch Boutique and GUCCI
- L1, opposite Mikimoto
- B1, next to Prada (through the casino entrance)