Letting Your Tastebuds BLOSSOM at Marina Bay Sands!

Usually, when you’re looking for Chinese cuisine, there’s two ends of the spectrum to pick from. If you’re trying to please the more traditional elders in the family, you’d be advised to err on the safe side: think good old dishes that have been done to death. Delicious, but not quite adventurous. Or, you can go experimental. But that’s not always a good option when it’s a large group.

Nestled within these walls is a really cosy place to gather and eat!

Which is why I was very pleasantly surprised when I recently dined at BLOSSOM, a fairly new outfit at Marina Bay Sands. It’s located in the lobby of the hotel area: I admittedly had some misgivings about noise, thinking it might be a little too bustling. But the design of the restaurant put me at ease quite quickly. Nestled along the side, with tasteful partitions, the high ceilings of the lobby dissipated noise while allowing a wonderful amount of light to come in. As the evening went on, the light faded, setting a wonderful atmosphere around the table.

What the interior of the restaurant looks like. All that natural light.

But of course, ambience only brings you so far. The purpose of visiting a fine dining establishment like this one is to eat, and there is not much point if the food’s not up to scratch.

Luckily, it’s more than up to scratch: it will probably satisfy the older generation with its quality, and pique the tastebuds of the more adventurous with its subtle twists! I began my meal with two appetisers: Crispy Silverbait with salt and pepper ($12++)  and the Deep-fried Fresh “Huai Shan” (a carrot cake of sorts) topped with pork floss ($10++).

This silverbait is good. Really.

The silverbait disappeared quite quickly: it was crispy with punch, and definitely very more-ish. It came with a light batter, with bits of spice embedded in it. Altogether, while it’s a type of dish you can get elsewhere, there was something I quite enjoyed about this version.

The carrot cake with pork floss, on the other hand, was definitely unique. The carrot cake bits were crisp, but still moist and crunchy inside. The pork floss added a burst of flavour that really came out nicely, and the taste just keeps growing on you. I started by eating more of the silverbait, but kept taking the carrot cake subconsciously. Definitely something to try!

Next up was the combination platter, with 3 items: the Golden Pear Stuffed with Minced Pork ($5.80++ for 3 pieces), BLOSSOM’s Signature Steamed Prawn Dumplings ($7.80++ for 4 pieces), and the Steamed Siew Mai with Quail Egg ($7.80++ for 4 pieces).

Combination platter for the tasting; you’ll have to order each item dimsum-style!

Do not be fooled by the appearance of the golden pear: it merely resembles one (beautifully so, in its presentation). But it’s actually a semi-savoury dough that is slightly gooey, with minced pork inside and a crispy stem. The dough is made from tapioca flour, with that elusive QQ texture that’s quite the rage in Chinese cooking. I know your parents taught you not to play with your food when you were growing up, but I think the chef had a lot of fun playing with the food he makes here!

The prawn dumplings were interesting as well, with a bit of squid ink. Firm bite of prawns, though this wasn’t as unusual as the other dishes. What I enjoyed though, to my own surprise, was the combination of siew mai and quail egg. The siew mai has crunchy prawns, and the quail egg has a gorgeously soft centre that goes with the texture. Have a bite of each together, and you’ll get quite the flavour explosion!

After the dimsum, came the Baked Chilean Cod in Chef’s Recipe ($26++). This was a real highlight for me: soft, milky cod, with a tangy sauce that goes excellently with the fish. Usually, you’ll find that cod can be rather limp, and the sauce dominates a bit too much, with the fish providing just texture. Here, the sauce managed to balance the flavour explosion of the tang with the opening for the fish’s fragrance to come through. I’m told there’s a mix of Japanese soy sauce and mirin here, but Chef was rather discreet about his own secrets! Definitely try this!

Unassumingly stellar cod: this was great!

The next dish came out rather interestingly: shrouded in a glass cover all steamed up. Naturally, curiosity got the better of me and I got rather excited!

As it turns out, it was the Smoked Chicken with 15-Year Old Pu Er Tea Leaves and Chrysanthemum ($50++ per portion). This was really quite the surprise for me, and ended up being a real highlight. Most chicken served in Chinese restaurants can be a bit boring: dependable, tasty, but boring. And I’ve sat through enough Chinese banquets to associate them with the last bits of the meal: it comes out, people eat it, and the rice course comes out after.

This was different. This was very different. Somehow, they’ve managed to smoke the chicken to have it still be juicy, but with incredibly fragrant tea aroma in each bite. I am not kidding: this dish had me baffled in how wonderful it was. Each piece had a luscious bite to it (gently coated in the natural oil from the cooking), and a wonderful head of the pu er.

Look at how glorious this isGorgeous. Just gorgeous.

There is nothing I can say about this dish that won’t fall short of the mark. Just order it, and experience it for yourself. It’s a real winner.

Last dish of the night: Crispy Rice and Lobster in Lobster Soup ($24++). After the excesses of the previous dishes, this was a nice comforting note to close on. The soup had a sweetness from the crustacean that counterbalanced the richness of the meal prior, and lobster bits had just the right amount of bite to it. The addition of the crunchy bits of crispy rice (popped and then fried) gave it a nice texture in the mouth: this is not your usual lobster soup dish! Overall, this was a simple dish, but evocative of the colours and home in its complexity. I can imagine coming here just to have this on those days when you need something simple to relax with.

BLOSSOM was quite a surprise: for the location and cuisine, prices really are quite reasonable. I’d come back with the family folks for special evenings when you want to cater to a broader spectrum of tastes without sticking to the boring tried and tested. Remember to order the smoked chicken!

Thank you Blossom for the invitation.

Blossom Restaurant

Website for Reservations

Marina Bay Sands Hotel
Lobby Tower 2
#01-05
2 Bayfront Avenue
Singapore 018972

ADRIFT by David Myers launches new, tantalizing menu with team of new chefs!

ADRIFT by David Myers has always been one of my favourite restaurants at Marina Bay Sands. When it first launched two years ago, I remember the contemporary take on Asian-inspired food that David Myers and his team brought to Singapore’s culinary scene. It is, therefore, with great excitement when I heard that a new menu was being launched, albeit this time round with a new slate of chefs on board to freshen the line up. Continue reading “ADRIFT by David Myers launches new, tantalizing menu with team of new chefs!”

The Bird Southern Table & Bar: Good food, but its chicken might not fly with everyone

YardBird Southern Table & Bar is among America’s most recognisable restaurants. Its two outlets in Miami Beach and Las Vegas have received much praise for their comfort Southern food, which includes their signature Lewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken that’s made with a 100-year-old family recipe.

Now YardBird has flown into Singapore, albeit under a different name. Renamed to avoid confusion with the Hong Kong izakaya of the same name, The Bird Southern Table & Bar has been open for business since July across the ground floor and basement one of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

The Bird’s menu features numerous Southern classics such as Shrimp ‘N’ Grits, Buttermilk Biscuits and Butter Lettuce and Grilled Mango Salad. But in a nod to its new home, the joint has also incorporated local and seasonal ingredients into the menu. Its crab cakes, for instance, are inspired by local black pepper and chilli crab dishes

Drinks – More than a hundred options

The joint has an extensive drinks menu. Alcohol lovers will be thrilled with more than a hundred options for beers, cocktails, wines, bourbons and whiskeys.

Check out the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade ($27++), which is the restaurant’s signature punch made with Wild Turkey Bourbon, blackberry puree, fresh lemon, cardamom & Angostura Bitters. Tart and tangy, the cocktail is the right amount of sweet.

For a visually arresting drink exclusive to Singapore, try the Sub-Zero Floral Aviation ($24++). A Lavender-scented fog shrouds the gin-based cocktail, which comprises Marugotu Shibori Yuzu, Maraschino Liqueur and Crème de Violette. The drink tastes sharp, yet retains a pleasant flowery taste.

Excellent range of appetisers, salads and sides

The Deviled Eggs ($14++ for 3) are delicious. Prepared with dill, chives, and smoked trout roe, one is simply not enough. But if you prefer something crispier, order the Fried Green Tomato & Crispy Pork Belly ($14++ for 3). Thanks to the pimento cheese and smoky tomato jam, this dish is slightly sweet and salty. It is an addictive combination.

The Butter Lettuce & Grilled Mango Salad ($18++) is excellent. The char-grilled mango cubes are ripe, fresh and juicy, while the smoked pecans provide texture and a savoury counterpoint to the sweet salad.

I found the Macaroni & Cheese ($14) visually appetising but too rich. This dish is supposedly special because it features five types of artisanal cheeses and a crispy herb crust. But I cannot distinguish the various cheeses and feel full after just a few spoonfuls. Only order this if you are a rabid mac and cheese lover.

Mains – Are they worth it?

Most diners will probably order the Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles ($45++; half portion depicted) or the Lewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken ($35++). The Bird is famous for brining its hormone-free chicken over 27 hours, before it is seasoned and then and fried.

I try the former, and while I’m a huge fan of the dish’s honey hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon, sharp cheddar cheese waffle, and bourbon maple syrup, the chicken does not live up to its mythic status as amongst the United States’ best fried chicken. The chicken is tender but relatively plain – most of the dish’s flavour comes from the honey hot sauce and the outstanding spiced watermelon. I would recommend that you order this to judge the joint’s chicken if you are new to the restaurant. But I will skip this on my next visit and try one of the restaurant’s other mains instead. The restaurant also serves ribs, fish, shrimp and steak.

Go for the Southern sweets!

The Cafe Creme Brûlée (S$16++) is good with its strong coffee flavour, almond orange biscotti and orange gremolata. While tasty, I am not sure if The Bird’s rendition is really that memorable.  Likewise, the Banana Pudding (S$14++) is good but not outstanding. Chantilly cream and vanilla wafers sit atop a rum-soaked banana cake, which contains several fresh banana slices.

Instead of these two desserts, I would save space for more distinctive Southern sweets like the Flower Pot Mississippi Mud Pie ($18++), or the baked-to-order Peach Cobbler ($25++). Do allow 25 minutes for preparation.

Verdict – Pricey with a great ambience

Inspired by the Southern United States, The Bird incorporates modern-rustic design with industrial touches. With its glass windows, the industrial-themed ground floor area offers good views of the pedestrian traffic around Marina Bay and al fresco seating. On the other hand, the basement is done up in the style of a rustic barn and features a private dining room that can be configured into two rooms for 6 to 10 people, and a 30-seater semi-private dining room.

The Bird is expensive, and its signature chicken is not out-of-this-world. But its ambience, drinks, and the high quality of food means it is a place worth saving up for. I will probably return again to sample more of its extensive and promising menu.

Another reason to return to The Bird is the good service. The joint appears to have trained its staff well. Staff constantly check in with diners on their meals, are familiar with the menu, and provide expert recommendations on drink pairings. It is certainly a breath of fresh air.

Thank you, Bird Southern Table & Bar, for the invitation.

The Bird Southern Table & Bar
B1-07
Galleria Level
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Singapore 049433

Reservations: 6688 9959
Website

Lunch
Mon – Fri 11am to 4pm

Dinner
Daily 4pm to 11pm

Weekend Brunch
Sat and Sun 8am to 4pm

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Marina Bay Sands’ Skypark at level 57 is one of the most iconic locations in Singapore. On a clear day, or with the illuminated night sky, the view is breathtaking. Although frequently packed with hotel guests enjoying a dip in the infinity pool, the pleasures of the Skypark is also accessible when one dines at Spago. The critically acclaimed flagship restaurant opened by the renowned chef Wolfgang Puck, Spago promises guests a range of Californian cuisine with global accents. With the space divided between a terrace lounge and a fine dining restaurant, Spago is meant for those seeking a chic spot to spend the night or to have that intimate dining affair. Continue reading “Social Hour with a Spectacular View at Spago, Marina Bay Sands!”