Labyrinth (1 Michelin star) Pre Theatre Menu – a very average dining experience

Labyrinth

I have a soft spot for progressive cuisine. My favorite restaurant to date is Gaggan. I enjoy the modern take on Indian food – licking plates and eating with my hands felt fun and liberating. I was also impressed by Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin. Thus, I made sure to include Labyrinth in my latest Singapore trip. Labyrinth has 1 Michelin star and does a modern take on Singaporean cuisine, using many techniques from molecular gastronomy to propel local Singapore food into the 21st century.

Labyrinth-Muruku

I came here with a friend for their Pre Theatre Menu (SGD 68) which is the same as their lunch menu, served at 6 pm. You’re directed to a lounge when you arrive and served murukku and apple flavored water. Service is a little stiff and formal from two of the waiters, like they aspire to a caricature of what they imagine French Michelin-starred restaurants are like. Having been to France and dined at Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, I can assure you it’s not like that over there. Some staff are really friendly though.

Labyrinth-Singapore

Unfortunately, one of the Indian or Malay waiters had a really bad case of halitosis, like there were pounds of ripe old tonsil stones stuck somewhere in his throat. That was a real turn-off in a meal setting. I usually don’t comment on things like these unless it affects the dining experience, and this did. I had to hold my breath while he explained the dishes and wait for the nauseating miasma to disperse before I could get started on my food. It was a real struggle.

Oolong-Tea-Egg

Dinner started with Oolong Tea Egg. This is described as “Uncle William’s quail egg” and it’s one of their signature items. It’s a quail egg with a liquid interior yolk which is not the yolk. The liquid has been injected into the egg to replace the yolk. It’s very smoky. I liked this.

Nasi-Lemak-CCF

The second snack is “Nasi Lemak” Cheong Fun – chicken skin, ikan bilis and egg yolk gel. It’s a soft pillow of chee cheong fun (CCF) that tastes like nasi lamak due to the spicy anchovy sambal inserted inside. The egg yolk gel coats the CCF bite to add some creaminess and the crispy shard of chicken skin provided a nice texture. Decent.

Heartland-Waffle

Heartland Waffle ended the trio of snacks, described as local chicken liver pate and goji berry jam. The waffle is soft and fluffy. Pay attention KFC! This is how you should do a waffle!! It has a strange, intense flavor from the liver and goji berries that I didn’t like at first, but I enjoyed it after chewing for a while. It’s very tasty. This is the best one out of the three starters.

Mantou-Coconut

There was a complimentary snack described as coconut butter with deep fried buns. These are the same mantou you’ll see served with chilli crab in Singapore. It was a nice flavor but it’s not ready for prime time yet. The butter was very hard to spread. My friend called this “experimental” which is the best way to describe the dish. I told her I’ll be stealing that word for my blog.

Ang-Moh-Chicken-Rice

The plates sequence started next with “Ang Moh” Chicken Rice. This is another one of their famous dishes which features home-milled rice flour, grandma’s chilli sauce and braised chicken. There are chilli strands on top of the dish, which reminds me of A Noodle Story. The dish tasted interesting but it’s not my favorite thing. It is remarkably similar to one of my failed meal prep dishes – creamy chicken.

Nippon-Koi-Farm-Silver-Perch

Nippon Koi Farm Silver Perch is described as “Fish Bak Kut Teh”. It’s herbal pepper broth, ulam raja and textures of black garlic. You’re served the fish first…

Fish-BKT

…then the BKT broth is poured out of a teapot tableside.

Labyrinth-BKT

This was my favorite dish of the night. The fish was cooked well and tasted good. I enjoyed the crispy vegetables on top of the fish. I thought the deep fried vegetables were a little too oily but overall, this creation has very nice flavors. I love the sweet herbal soup.

Indonesian-Pork-Collar

There are two options for your main. My friend went for the Indonesian Pork Collar. It’s char siew, mixed greens, kale and pickled bak choy. I liked the fatty char siew and the flavored dust. It’s delicious but I don’t think I’ll enjoy eating the whole thing since the fat and sugar will be a bit cloying after a few mouthfuls. The pickled bak choy is very important for cutting through the rich flavors.

Toh-Thye-San-French-Poulet

I had the Toh Thye San Farm French Poulet (SGD 10 supplement). This is a Cantonese style roast chicken with glutenous rice and egg yolk from Freedom Farm. There are two parts to this dish – the fillet of roasted chicken and the medallion of sauced chicken inside glutenous rice. I liked the latter but the former tasted a bit plain. I thought it was sous vide chicken but the waiter told me it’s been cooked for 5 hours at 55 degrees Celsius in the oven with sugar on the skin to crisp it up. There are crispy prawn cracker crumbs on top, which I thought was a nice though.

Labyrinth-Rosella

Next up came the palate cleanser called Clam Leaf Snow made with rosella meringue and textures of grapes before the dessert course. Our waiter even brought out a rosella plant so we could see what it was made from, but this felt more like a rehearsed, robotic scene than a genuine attempt to add value, which I experienced at Waku Ghin and Shinji.

Clam-Leaf-Snow

I did enjoy the palate cleanser though. It was quite good for something meant to just reset your tastebuds. I particularly liked the fruits at the bottom.

Cristal-De-Chine-Caviar

The dessert course was Cristal De Chine Caviar, basically a modern interpretation of kaya toast. It is made with kaya ice cream and Sing Hong Loong toast. This was excellent! I love the crispy bread the nice caramelized kaya ice cream. The kaya is salted too so there’s burnt notes and salty notes. I also enjoyed the hot (bread) and cold (kaya ice cream) temperature play. The edible miniature maple leaf was a nice touch. 10/10. I’ll eat the hell out of this if they served it separately.

Labyrinth-Petit-Fours

Labyrinth ended the dinner with a duo of seasonal treats. The petit fours were durian macaron and chiffon pandan. The durian macaron is very strong tasting. Even though I like fresh durian, I’m not a fan of durian desserts. It’s a no from me. The chiffon pandan was a plain, unsweetened hunk of cake. I think it’s supposed to be a palate cleanser after you eat the tiny durian macaron.

Labyrinth-Us

The bill came up to SGD 172 (RM 524) for two. The dishes at Labyrinth tries to be creative for the sake of being creative. A lot of the techniques were unnecessary and forced into the dish to provide some pizzazz. The smoke-and-mirrors felt like an attempt to divert your attention away from the very average food. There was nothing extraordinary about the taste or execution of most dishes. It did not make me want to return. Labyrinth would have gotten into my Bottom 3 if not for Shisen Hanten, The Song of India and Crystal Jade Golden Palace.

Cielo Dolci Gelato with hot dishes, salad and other modernist dishes @ Whimsical Gelateria & Caffe, Solaris Dutamas

Whimsical Gelateria Caffe

Whimsical Gelateria & Caffe at Solaris Dutamas started out as a gelato place before expanding their menu to offer a very interesting combination of gelato with hot dishes. It all sounds very exciting, new and interesting and thus we dropped by over the weekend to check it out and have a late breakfast.

whimsical salad

I actually first heard about this place from Sean (who provides a very up-to-date listing of Klang Valley restaurants) and was intrigued at the unusual menu. It’s molecular gastronomy, in a sense, or rather modernist cuisine. I originally thought it’ll be somewhat gimmicky but I was proven wrong.

whimsical solaris dutamas

They don’t just put gelato into every single dish, they only do it if it makes sense and adds to the experience. I thought that shows remarkable restraint. The dishes with gelato are helpfully marked with an ice-cream symbol and we ordered ALL the unusual ones.

Tomato Basil Salad (RM 20.90)
Cielo Dolci Basil Gelato manifests as cooling dressing on a garden of large Japanese cucumber strips, Romaine lettuce, red + cherry tomatoes, chive & goat cheese, with the complete touch of balsamic reduction.

Tomato Basil Salad

This was the salad that we ordered to share and what dispelled my initial thoughts about gimmicky use of gelato. We had sharing plates and tasted everything and it was amazing! I don’t usually give rave reviews for salad but this one works very well.

The crunchy bits of baguette adds sweetness to the juiciness of the salad, and the balsamic vinegar works well for a touch of acidity but what made the dish magic is the basil gelato – it wasn’t sweet and it wasn’t savory, it just tastes strongly of basil and I was surprised at how well gelato goes with salad to provide a textural contrast and a delightful mouth-feel.

Rise & Shine! (RM 24.50)
Cielo Dolci Beef Bacon Gelato shining upon a bed of pancakes with beef sausage, scrambled eggs & strips of beef bacon. Rounded up with salad on the side.

Rise and Shine

This is pure genius! The classic hot full breakfast with eggs, sausages and (beef) bacon is given a touch of magic with a scoop of beef bacon gelato! I didn’t quite like the usage of beef bacon but that was the only beef I had with the dish. smirk

The beef bacon gelato goes very well with the hot breakfast, which I didn’t expect. I thought it’ll all become a messy gooey mess but it didn’t melt that fast, surprisingly. I ate this by cutting up the bacon, putting some eggs on it and scooping some beef bacon gelato into the eggs before popping it into my mouth. The pancakes soaks up the melted gelato well too!

Duck on the Run! (RM 23.90)
A stack of smoked duck, caramelized onion & poached eggs on waffle & finishes with house hollandaise sauce.

Duck on the Run

We couldn’t find any more hot dishes with gelato so my better half ordered this instead. It’s okay, albeit the pancakes were slightly too thick in comparison to the (admittedly) paltry amount of duck.

Maybe this didn’t come across as interesting with the other contenders with gelato thrown into the mix so I gave it an honest fair try but I simply can’t recommend this dish. My dear couldn’t finish it either so we’ll try the other fare on offer next time.

Cotton Candy Affogato (RM 13)

cotton candy affogato

This is a delightful concoction which rivals the best affogato I had in Sydney about a week ago. It consists of Cielo Dolci Coconut Gelato with gula melaka (palm sugar) which is topped with a nicely spun web of cotton candy!

cotton candy

You pour the shot of espresso into the mix and it’s puzzlingly categorized as a dessert over here (I was asked if I wanted it now or after my meal, at brunch) although it’s served as a standard coffee drink in Australia and Europe.

affogato cotton candy

Nevertheless, it was a great affogato, the second best I’ve had in my life, and that is high praise indeed considering we just came back from France earlier this month and I just came back from Australia a couple of days ago.

gelato flavors

We also had a scoop of Cielo Dolci Bailey’s & Chocolate Gelato (RM 10.90) for dessert.

Cielo Dolci Baileys Chocolate Gelato

I asked for a recommendation and the lady there suggested this flavor. There is a RM 3 surcharge for flavors with alcohol ingredients, which I thought was well worth it. I thought it was very good, as did my dear.

whimsical bill

The service is attentive and good, and there is a current promotion where you get 30% off your bill if you fill in a survey form (which we didn’t get, but we still got the discount). I also strangely got a complimentary Whimsical Lemonade (RM 13) which no one told me about, but which I had asked about since it was so good. The total came up to RM 71.75 for the two of us after the discount, which is quite significant, considering the original price is RM 93.20.

whimsical gelato

Overall, I’ll say this is a great place for brunch on the weekends. It can be a bit full at times though, and besides the one miss on our order, I thought all the hot and salad dishes with gelato was delightful. I’ll like to see them do something with their nasi lemak gelato in a dish someday. Do note that they take cash only so no credit card facilities are available at this place.

whimsical us

It can also be a bit tricky to find if you’re not very familiar with Solaris Dutamas, and there’s no signage up yet, so here’s the address:

Whimsical Lemonade

Whimsical Gelateria & Caffe
D2-G3-05, Solaris Dutamas,
No. 1, Jalan Dutamas 1,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-64190966

Molecular Gastronomy Experiments: Silkie Black Chicken “Soup” Jelly

black chicken jelly

Black chicken soup gellification. Yeah, this is a solid jelly black chicken “soup” I made for my dear! There’s nothing that sounds more appealing than suspending the beautiful black meat of the Silkie chicken in a jelly with wolfberries, dried scallops and other ingredients usually used in cooking this Chinese soup.

hb ling sick

I came across this idea when my better half had a sore throat and didn’t want to eat any solid food. It’s known as a curative food in traditional Chinese medicine.

silkie chicken

I’ll make her Silkie black chicken soup, with a twist! It’ll be *entirely suspended in clear agar* so you can see the distinctive black meat and black bones of the Silkie chicken!

silkie chicken jelly

You will need:

  • 1 whole black chicken
  • Goji berries
  • Dried scallops
  • Chinese dates
  • Agar or gelatin

silkie chicken flesh

I bought one of the small Silkie chickens you can find in wet markets here. This is the famous black chicken (which is entirely black – bones, flesh, organs) that’s commonly sold here for soup although it can be cooked like a regular chicken. I know of other black chicken breeds out there – a USD 2,500 per chicken Ayam Cemani made the headlines last year, but the ones we get are Silkies (which has contrasting white feathers when alive).

silkie black chicken

You need to portion the chicken by cutting it up as you normally would – there’s eight edible portions (2 x drums, thighs, wings, breasts) plus the carcass. I wrote a guide on how to French cut a chicken last time for a poached chicken with beetroot and nectarine dish I made but you can cut this anyway you want since it’s going into a soup.

black bones

Do make a nice cut for the parts you want visible in the jelly though – I used a drum in one and a wing (minus drumette) with a chicken leg in another.

chicken toenails

Silkie black chickens are always sold whole here, and undressed, so remember to take the pieces of cartilage (?) off the feet. I don’t know what they are called, so I call them chicken toenails. smirk

silkie chicken soup jelly

I put a 1 litre pot of water to the boil and added in all the goji berries, Chinese dates, dried scallops etc. You can also add ginger if you like.

silkie chicken soup

Once the water is boiling, I added in the pieces of chicken and set the timer for 30 minutes. That’s all you need for the black chicken soup – it’s ready to drink (and I did take some out so she can have the soup first).

agar gelatin

Next up, comes the fun modernist cooking bit – gellification! I used agar instead of gelatin since I wanted it to set only when it has totally cooled. I used clear agar but you can try out other colors like blue or green to play tricks with your mind while eating – it’s flavorless anyway, but I reckon clear would showcase the beautiful black chicken and bright red goji berries well.

agar

I poured the agar into the black chicken soup and carefully stirred it before portioning it out. It’s important to remember that the dates, scallops, and goji berries will set so you can actually move it around since the viscosity of the liquid has changed slightly.

black chicken soup

I arranged it so that it’ll come out in one square and one round mould.

setting chicken soup agar

…and my dear accidentally drank one of the agar-infused bowls while it was cooling coz I asked her to finish the soup. Haha! Oops! ;)

black chicken agar

No worries, I still had one and here’s how it turned out after putting it in the fridge for 2 hours to set the agar. It can be helpful if you have sore throat since a cold jelly is probably easier to eat than anything else.

jelly black chicken

I thought it was nice but I could have improved on the dish since my dear had cooked porridge so ideally my next version would look like this:

black chicken jelly draft

Yes, I drew it on a napkin.

jelly chicken soup

It’s fun to incorporate easy molecular gastronomy and modernist cooking ideas to even the most traditional dishes to spice it up! :D

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