In this week’s Hot 50 Tables, we review Labyrinth, a mod-Sin restaurant that whips up unique takes on chilli crab, bak chor mee, beef rendang and more
When it comes to food, I’m not fussy; I’m a typical Singaporean from the heartlands through and through. Give me kaya toast over pancakes any day. Sunday tze char dinners are the highlights of my week.
Helmed by banker-turned-chef Han Li Guang, Labyrinth is particularly known for its avant-garde renditions of local cuisine, elevating +65 classics with a fine dining spin from the heart of Esplanade Mall.
Honestly, I had some doubts. I love Singaporean food for being simple but oh-so-decadent. Mod-Sin attempts to elevate this simplicity and, in my opinion, complicate it with fancy variations and *gasp* smaller portions. I convinced myself to get lost in the anomalous philosophy of Labyrinth, and hoped I wouldn’t lose it.
A Singapore food makeover – yay or nay?
One of the first dishes I tried at Labyrinth was its take on bak chor mee (minced meat noodles), which received a posh makeover, with its egg noodles being replaced with squid, and fish cake with fresh Hokkaido scallops. But the presentation is flawless – no one would fault you for thinking that it was ‘actual’ bak chor mee. While it was rich and tasty (what could go wrong with scallops?), it lacked any squeamish fatty element that would put off health-conscious diners. Though if it were up to me, I would have had it in all its carb-y, oily goodness – bring on the guilty pleasures!
Beef rendang was another local staple that got the Fairy Godmother treatment. It takes the form of a garden, with deep fried potato blackened with squid ink acting as a ‘pebble’, and quinoa as the ‘soil’. Again, this was definitely easy on the eyes and rich in flavour, and had I been served a bowl of rice along with it, I would’ve not held back.
What truly stood out to me, however, was the tze char staple, chilli crab – but it’s not what you think. For this odd rendition, a soft shell crab tempura is served with a scoop of chilli crab ice cream (yes, you read that right). Perhaps because it wasn’t trying to be anything else but itself, the chilli crab dish won me over. The crispy and warm crab balanced out the tangy chilli crab ice cream perfectly, making it my personal highlight of the night. And I didn’t even need to get my hands dirty.
After this whirlwind of an adventure, I think it’s safe to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed mod-Sin cuisine. While local cuisine remains as my go-to comfort food, I’m definitely saving another venture into Labyrinth for a special occasion!
In five words…
Fancier versions of your faves.
Labyrinth,#02-23 Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Ave, Singapore 039802, p. 6223 4098. Open Tue-Fri 12pm-2.30pm, Tue-Sun 6.30pm-11.30pm.