What: Recently launched The Spot Singapore at Marina One may sound messy on paper—with offerings such as breakfast grab-and-go options (with coffee from Toby's Estate), a comprehensive drinks list, menu of contemporary European cuisine with Southeast Asian flavours, a soon-to-be launched private cigar lounge, and adjoining retailers 1855 The Bottle Shop and The Macallan Boutique @ 1855 (also Southeast Asia's first)—but I was surprised by how the various elements fell beautifully together into a sort of urban retreat that I could very well live in.
What to expect: Food is usually an afterthought at all-in-one concepts, but the kitchen, helmed by Executive Chef Lee Boon Seng (formerly of Osia and Curate), serves up dishes that are pleasantly complex, layered with familiar Asian nuances.
If you like bright and unique flavours, you’ll be in for a treat at The Spot.
The three starters we started with were all zesty and refreshing in different ways.
Chef’s Scallop Carpaccio ($30) marries flash-steamed scallops with Ambarella (Buah Longlong), Jicama (Mang Kwang) and green apple. It is an ingenious and uncommon combo with acidity and a grassiness that worked for me, though it might not be for everyone.
I’d thought the Roasted Carrot Soup ($18, not pictured) would be spicy, from the lemongrass chorizo prawn salsa topping, but turned out to be cheery orange-carrot notes on the tongue, brightened with a hint of ginger.
The Charred Grilled Octopus ($25) challenges the usual ‘pure-tasting’ octopus dishes by piling textures and flavours of preserved green papaya slaw and a thick peanut-red miso emulsion.
Served with pearl rice risotto, wrapped in blanched butter lettuce leaves, and a brilliant housemade fish broth—made even more flavoursome with salted plum, tomato, dried shiitake mushroom, ginger and dried sole—the Local Skate ($25) is a reinterpreted Seafood Mui Fan I’d gladly return for.
Chef's use of housemade coriander oil, housemade salsa and ikura layers on a complexity that keeps you engaged every bite.
You’ll definitely taste the 'Thai’ in chef's Pan-fried Red Snapper ($28). The rich green curry emulsion the fish arrives in is robust and slightly spicy, balanced with some bitterness. The accompanying Thai ping-pong eggplants were sweet, and crisp outside, soft within—almost like a grape.
Tried a number of duck dishes this period, but none quite like the Glazed Local Duck Breast ($28). Along with a wonderful plum ginger vinegar jus, chef presents sweet, perfumed notes from the chrysanthemum powder and housemade chrysanthemum honey glaze on the duck. The florals bloom on the palate, but does not overwhelm the taste of the duck.
This dish of Beef Short Ribs ($40) takes mad long to prepare—total of 4 days, chef lets on—and the effort shows: deeply savoury Java long pepper sauce, with an almost chocolatey hint; tender beef, full of flavour and just a bit of char; brought together with pickled oyster mushrooms and aerated porridge, served with a spring onion chimichurri (inspired by porridge condiments).
Made from a reduction Zhenjiang (or Chinkiang) vinegar, the pairing caramel vinegar to the Pork Cheek "BBQ" ($26), equally flavourful and just enough fats, is possibly chef’s version of Marmite that will have you and your dining companions scraping the plate for more.
Chef's unique layering of flavours continues through dessert.
With caramelised candied parsnip, malt molasses and a bed of coffee crumble and licorice meringue, chef serves up his own Licorice Root Ice Cream ($15) that’s been carefully blended from licorice root powder and malt extract for a subtle anise-like flavour. Very well-executed of an ingredient typically disliked for its overwhelming medicinal taste.
The Sea Coconut Brulee ($14) was more to my liking. Chunks of sea coconut peek out once you crack the crisp caramelised layer, and that sweetness uplifted with a light, housemade sour cream ice cream and kaffir lime foam.
For me, it's pretty amazing and heartwarming to see Southeast Asian flavours elevated to such a setting, while still keeping it fun and approachable. Watch out also for their happy hour deals and affordable set menus—$30 nabs you a 2-course set lunch, and $98 for a 5-course dinner set that is good to share for two if you add another main.
This was an invited media tasting session, though all views expressed are my own.
Address: #01-26/27 Marina One The Heart, 5 Straits View, Singapore 018935
Tel: +65 6284 2637
Opening hours: Closed Sundays; Monday to Friday 7.30am-11pm; Saturday 5.30pm-11pm