"It's an honour to be working here," says Chef Shen Tan. After over a year since the much-missed The Wok & Barrel on Duxton closed, she returns as executive chef of Ujong at the iconic Raffles Hotel, occupying the space of now-defunct Empire Cafe. Her famed Mod Sin (modern Singaporean) signatures make a comeback on the menu alongside some new delights like claypot rice and even breakfast fare—with a twist, of course.
Unofficially dubbed the "Minister Dish" after a former politician left a hilarious comment on this dish, the Singapore Chicken Rice Onigiri ($19.90) teams perfectly tender, braised chicken leg with a zingy chilli sauce, good quality black sauce and a neat row of hand-shaped chicken rice Japanese onigiri.
Probably more familiar to my mother's generation, the Har Zi Meen ($17.90) is Chef Tan's take on prawn-infused noodles. Here, the noodles are tossed in a dangerously addictive, spicy-tangy dressing and topped with your choice of crisp pork strips or juicy, deep-fried chicken. My advice is to flirt with the server and ask for both—the mix of flavours and textures paired just right with the thin noodles.
I wasn't too impressed by the somewhat lacklustre Hae Bee Hiam Mentaiko Capellini ($25.90) but as if to make up for it, her famed Madam Tan's Nasi Lemak (starts $16.90) and signature Ba Chor Mee Pasta ($25.90) were as tasty as I remembered.
"Nothing is not improved with lard; lard is king," she proudly proclaims, and the proof of the pudding is in the generous amounts of crisp lard bits lurking amongst the 5-spice pork confit and handmade tagliatelle, as well as in the her rendition of local favourite, 'chai tao kueh' or 'carrot cake' ($13.90, served with crispy prawn fritters).
Layers of lard, lup cheong, fried shallots, mushrooms and hae bee make up this savoury terrine-radish cake amalgam then fried with egg and meant to be enjoyed with their homemade sambal chilli.
Taking a jab at the traditional Chinese New Year dish, the new and unique Yusheng Salmon Ceviche & Salad ($25.90) is my new favourite from Chef Tan. Dressed in a refreshing lime and plum sauce, it hit all the right notes and accentuated the textural mix of salmon sashimi, crunchy cucumber, coriander leaves, lettuce and carrots.
Ujong Raffles Hotel #01-10 Raffles Hotel Arcade 328 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188719
Tel: +65 91073028
Operating hours: Daily 8am - 10pm