15 Stamford by Alvin Leung which was unveiled to the public a day ago is one of the last new restaurants to open on our shores before 2018 draws to an end. The dining experience at the 150-seater restaurant capped off my dining escapades for this year with a perfect note!
You may have already heard of Chef-Founder Alvin Leung before. Wearing a "demon chef" persona, he is best known for using rule-breaking culinary rebellion as his personal brand, and his multi-faceted cuisine at 3 Michelin-starred Bo Innovation in Hong Kong. Is anyone fancying a "Sex on the Beach" (featuring an edible condom filled with honey and ham) right now?
Well, we will not be getting the same X-treme Chinese cuisine over here at 15 Stamford but before you get disappointed, I must quickly say it is by no means a bad thing.
For this new restaurant which is Chef Leung's second foray into Singapore (the first being Forbidden Duck which opened in May 2018), we will get to see another side of his culinary talent as he showcases his favorite recipes in Asia, paying tribute to different cuisines including Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Malayisa, Hong Kong, and of course, Singapore.
As it's aptly described: " A Singapore Base, An All-Asian Soul".
The menu looks welcoming with a selection that will appeal to both tourists who are new to Asia cuisines, and also locals who are expecting a fresh sensory experience.
Get your wallet well-prepared though, as prices are not exactly on lighter end of the scale. To give you a sense of how much to fork out: Starters $12~$26, Salads $18~$32, Noodles & Rice $28~$38, Grills $24~$220, Mains $36~$108, Sides $10~$12, and Desserts $14~$16.
You can make a simple estimation on how much a complete meal might add up. To me who is a normal salaried worker, I will categorise 15 Stamford under those once-in-a-while-splurge rather than everyday-dining kind of places.
Your next question might be: "Will the splurge be worth it?". My answer is "Yes".
Our table was impressed right from the moment the starters were served. The kueh pie tee lookalike Bluefin Tuna Tartare in Gochujang Sauce served in Nori Taco ($18) is a brillant pop of Korean influence that titillated with gentle heat of housemade Korean red chili paste.
We also enjoyed the Hokkaido Scallop with Salted Plum & Shiso ($26), and Hamachi with Calamansi Ponzu & Roasted Sesame ($28) very much, especially the latter with its bright burst of citrusy flavors.
One cannot go wrong with scallops if it's fresh, plump, and well-grilled to an ideal texture which is very much the case here for the Hokkaido Scallop with Adobo Butter & Ginger ($12 per piece). The buttery tanginess of the Filipino adobo sauce, and aromatics from the fried ginger shreds complemented the shellfish extremely well.
I put myself under an illusion that this meal was made somewhat less guilty with an inclusion of a salad item haha. Featuring charred corn, baby corn, and popcorn, the Three-style Corn, Heirloom Tomatoes & Cucumbers in Hong Kong "Pat Chun" Sweet Vinegar ($18) is no where near what I would described as healthy eating, but it is certainly worthy of a repeated order again and again. That explosion of contrasting textures and flavors in the mouth was fabulous!
The grilled Whole Boston Lobster served with Mangosteen, Tomato & Spicy Thai Dressing ($58) took us by surprise because of the addition of the sweet tropical fruit to a savory dish. Hey, the pairing actually works!
Another superb item from the grill is the Chargrilled "Bak Kut Teh" Pork Chop with Compressed Watermelon, Angelica & Barbecue Sauce ($38). Chef Leung shared that this dish is inspired by the Malaysian-style black herbal style bak kut teh which he prefers.
Marinated with over 8 different herbs and spices, including Chinese angelica or dang gui, for 12 hours, the huge slab of pork chop is then grilled over charcoal fire to a wonderful smoky char. I appreciate that the pork chop has a balanced mix of lean meat and fatty parts, and while it is tender, it still retained a very enjoyable bite (unlike those which are artificially over-tenderised with tenderiser powder).
Ooh and that accompanying barbecue sauce! All the herbal flavors that we expected in bak kut teh are concentrated in that fragrant, moreish sauce. It really elevated the pork chop to another level! The angelica syrup-infused watermelon cuts through the richness of this dish just nicely.
Many of us love the Malaysian-inspired Bone-in Beef Short Rib Rendang served with Cabbage Salad ($68) too. The bone-in U.S. Beef Short Ribs were sous vide for 72 hours in rendang marinate for 3 days! No wonder it was so extremely soft and flavors has permeated the meat thoroughly.
The price of Singapore Laksa with Jasmine Tea-smoked Onsen Quail Eggs, Housemade Dried Shrimp Oil, Shrimp Floss & Tiger Prawns Tempura ($32) made my eyes did a double check, but it would be foolish to compare this to our usual hawker versions. Premium ingredients like big crunchy tiger prawns are used. The quail eggs are exqusitely smoked in jasmine tea, and has a molten-center which gave such a delightful burst in the mouth.
As the thick rice noodles are already cut into short strands, it was easy to spoon it up together with loadful of prawn and lemak gravy. Oh my goodness that gravy! Thick, coconutty, intensely robust with dried shrimp oil and shrimp floss. It was fantastic! (I would have finish the gravy till the very last drop if the efficient staff had not cleared away our bowl too quickly.)
We're supposed to dunk the tempura prawns into the gravy and let its batter soak up the flavors but I thought perhaps pairing the laksa with grilled prawns might work too. It would be lovely to have some of that smoky grilled aroma lingering in the laksa broth.
Our meal concluded with Mango Pomelo Sago with Coconut Snow ($16), a dessert party of luscious sweet mango flesh, pomelo bits, sago, and yuzu theatrically served with nitrogen coconut ice.
If I have to narrow my recommendation to 3 must-try dishes at 15 Stamford, I would choose the "Bak Kut Teh" Pork Chops, Beef Short Ribs Rendang, and Singapore Laksa. Go go go for it!
15 Stamford by Alvin Leung
Address: The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, 15 Stamford Road, Singapore 178906
Contact: +65 6715 6871
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun Lunch 12pm-3pm | Mon-Sun Dinner 6pm-10.30pm
Prices are stated in Singapore dollars and subject to 10% service charge & 7% GST. Information is correct at point of published date.
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