my wife’s close couple friends bought dinner @ labyrinth by han li guang at neil road on 30.4.2014. 🙂
i knew of the restaurant the day before, started googling, and found the beautiful food photos in bibikgourmand.
there was a reference made on willin low of wild rockets fame. i did like wild rockets & the laksa pesto pasta maybe 15 years back. personally i did not see any similarity just looking at bibikgourmand photos or having seen & tasted the food afterwards. 🙂 one was fusion in combining “western” & “singaporean” ingredients and most importantly, making the result taste good & not for fusion sake (in that both were similar).
in labyrinth’s case, it was going back to the ingredients, reassemble them into something that looked quite different (but very artisan & beautiful) and yet delivering the (excellent!) taste though perhaps not the overall experience eg the chilli crab ice cream combined with deep-fried soft-shell crab tasted like very good chilli crab but it’s not the same as eating a meaty crab, nor was it expected to be. 🙂 the science of taste? molecular cuisine in its finest form? i am NOT qualified to say… 🙂
amuse bouche? the lime sorbet was nice, simple, refreshing, nothing special.
we were served focaccia bread with a garlic mousse, olive powder, balsamic jam. quite unique & pretty good & fun. could’t say this would match good freshly baked bread in a good restaurant, but they were good anyway & matched the food theme. balsamic jam was good, garlic mousse too, olive powder too refined for my taste buds..tasted nothing. 🙂
#1 this dish looked very like a beef tartare with the egg yoke even, and the taste was quite exquisite. 🙂 the mango sphere sat on a roasted tomato, which was very tasty & great with the greens. the mango sphere was, to me, amazing only to wonder how it was done but did not add much taste nor texture. it was a thin liquid & did not have the silky egg yolk texture.
#2 the chilli crab looked incredible, a piece of art, so pretty. & excellent flavours, superb dish 🙂 the deep-fried soft-shell crab combined very well indeed with the chilli crab ice cream. they were arranged with the crab mousse, ikura, seaweed on mantou (馒头) sand to give a picture of sea (and tropical island?). not sure if the mantou sand added anything, my palate not sophisticated enough to capture all the taste & texture, need more practice..haha. 🙂
there was a choice of mains – curry chicken or siew yoke fan.
#3 the curry chicken was better than what i expected, though my wife did not like the dish so much. deep-fried chicken balls did not sound that great for main course, but these were quite tasty & you could taste the curry. the quinoa (“kin wah”) risotto was tasty too. i am beginning to like quinoa. my son’s friend made a good quinoa salad & my wife too so she was less impressed. as a “deconstructed” or “reconstructed” or “pigeon-holing not important” dish that was plated quite nicely, looked different & yet tasted like curry chicken, the dish was a great success. so it was good & exceeded my expectation but c/w with a good main (fish or meat) in good restaurant, it may or may not measure up after the initial excitement. also, like going back to the excellent chilli crab, it was indeed a “wow” experience, very pleasantly surprised, but not the same as eating a meaty crab. so it’s a different kind of satisfaction & expectation.
#4 the siew yoke fan was again superbly executed. 🙂 the crackling belly pork was excellent, though our friends said the ones they had at basilico recently were even better. the risotto was very tasty, though i could not really tell if it was a ramen (tonkotsu?) stock.
there were 2 desserts in the set – chendol xiaolongbao & a deconstructed apple crumble.
#5 the chendol xiaolongbao, with red beans, coconut milk ice shavings inside, had genuine chendol taste, was light & quite refreshing. it was pretty ok, i enjoyed it though it was not a favourite for me.
#6 the apple crumble was very good. the stewed apple balls, apple crisp, baked white chocolates & yogurt ice cream all very tasty & combined well. an excellent dessert. 🙂
the 5-course menu was S$78pax, a reasonable price for the quality of food & overall a very enjoyable fun experience. the food was very artisan (perhaps that would become an industry standard in due course), very creative (to me it felt totally new & had no peers in Singapore as yet). the other “affordable” place where the food presentation is very artisan is jaan (where i had the best degustation dinner on 20.1.2014 with the same couple friends), recently just got on to pelligrino world’s best 100, at 100th place. andre, iggy’s, les amis all very costly & i have yet to convince myself it is worth spending the money. it’s all about experience, very subjective, and also depends on expectations and perspectives, and perhaps very importantly on the the company too. 🙂