Indochine, Empress Place, Singapore
A trendy sort of place, an airy glass and metal dining room, softened in spots with coloured fabrics and Buddha statues. Great view of the river. The menu is a mix of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian; I keep thinking Slanted Door in SF.
Grilled baby octopus is slightly rubbery, and the citrusy dressing overwhelmed by too much finely minced raw garlic.
An ordinary stir-fry of asparagus in a light chilli sauce, with several pieces on the very fibrous side.
Tender, flavourful cubes of beef tenderloin with a honeyed pepper sauce.
A pleasant pomelo salad with prawns, the dressing is good, a background of acidity touched with spicy notes, fragrant ground rice powder and a pungent hint of fish sauce.
A fair attempt at avant garde desserts. An elegant perfume of lemongrass hung over a creme brulee with otherwise classic breeding.
The menu claims a oolong flavour in a white chocolate dome that rests on a thin moist layer of spongecake, but instead of the mellow woodsy notes of typical oolongs like tieguayin, I taste more of a assertive nutty and herbal flavour more typical of a green tea, which would be more of a standard pairing with white chocolate. Perhaps it's a green oolong or something.
A dessert trio that seemed to be their signature was disappointing. A big cloak of coconut milk over a mochi-like dumpling (tangyuan or ah bolling) filled with ground black sesame, the skin of the dumpling overcooked, pastry instead of a sticky and chewy. Black sesame ice cream was nice but nothing exceptional, the texture on the icy side. lastly, another rather icy ice cream, might have been ayam or taro, but also undistinguished.
Very friendly, helpful and intelligent service. Not particularly excited about the food, but we only sampled a small part of the menu. I hear the duck can be good. But I wish there was more care and refinement in the cooking.