We ended up being in El Nido on Flo’s birthday so I made plans instead to celebrate it a week after when we were back in Singapore. Before our trip, I had already screened all the restaurants that a foodie like him might like. In the end, I settled for the one and only restaurant so far in Singapore that specialises in Neo-Sin food.
While we now have numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, most of them are skewed more towards the European or Japanese direction. And with their stars, prices of their menus have inevitably increased. Although Restaurant Labyrinth doesn’t have a special star, it does have quite a number of awards under its name.
It has been in the limelight because of how Chef Han has taken our local hawker dishes and elevated them by using a mixture of food science and modern technology to put his own creative spin on them. And that being said, my dear Flo is definitely a man who appreciates Singapore’s local food scene, so Restaurant Labyrinth was my pick!
We started off with the intention of ordering one tasting menu and adding on a few dishes from the ala carte menu since the former seemed to encompass a whole plethora of items that might over fill us if we both settled for it. Unfortunately, we were informed that we could only order off the ala carte menu alone, or both of us would have to opt for the tasting menu. With just these two options available, we decided to ditch the tasting menu and go ala carte.
Having done some research, we quickly settled on two starters, two mains, and two desserts.
To begin, we were presented with a palate cleanser of Sugarcane, Lemongrass and Mint.
After which, we had a ‘snack‘ of mini Bak Kwa (Sweetened BBQed Pork) Muffins with Homemade Salted Butter. These were adorable to look at, and quite delicious to eat – a little sweet, a little salty, and a little pork bacony.
We headed into the starters with Chef Han’s signature Hokkaido Scallop ‘Bak Chor Mee’.
In Singapore, we have a flat yellow noodle dish that is tossed in a black vinegar sauce and topped with minced meat and sometimes, fish cake. What we had that night was a bowl of Saffron-infused Squid Noodles, topped with Tapioca and Anchovies Powder, with a delightfully pan-seared Hokkaido Scallop, sliced to look very much like a fish cake. The black vinegar and side of sambal chilli tied the entire dish together such that it not only looked like what we might get at the hawker’s, but it also tasted reminiscent of the original ‘bak chor mee’ only with none of the elements being the same.
Both Flo and I also enjoyed the second starter of ‘Laksa’. This was created using Coconut Jelly Noodles, Laksa Snow (dehydrated laksa gravy), Deep-fried Laksa Leaves, and a beautiful, fresh and juicy piece of Hiroshima Oyster. The flavour of laksa was very pronounced and the oyster on top helped give a taste of the ocean – very much replicating the briny crustacean flavour that fresh cockles give to a bowl of creamy, indulgent laksa.
For our mains, I opted for the Cod ‘XO Noodle Soup‘ while Flo went for the A4 Ohmi Beef ‘Hor Fun’.
I wasn’t quite so keen on the Evaporated Milk Noodles but the Cod with a thin sheet of Tomato Veil and small blobs of Garlic Cream was delightful. The cod was cooked perfectly and the skin was nice and crisp – just the way I like it! The only bone I had to pick was that I found two fish bones in my cod. Boo!
Flo’s beef was beautifully executed and kept rare in the middle. It remained juicy and tender, and incredibly flavourful with its thin marbling of fat within. The noodles were a mixture of flat rice noodles and squid noodles to give it a bit more texture and chew.
The dish was topped with Lup Cheong (Preserved Chinese Sausage) Floss, Deep-fried pork Lard, Pickled Green Chillies, and finished with an ‘Inside-Out’ Egg that had a touch of Hor Fun Gravy on top ready to be tossed into the noodles.
Flo finished with a Chendol Xiao Long Bao for dessert which he thoroughly enjoyed. It was created using dumpling skin and filled with Kidney Beans, Coconut Spheres and Crushed Ice. A dash of Gula Melaka on top and pop it went into Flo’s mouth!
This was cleverly put together with the Gula Melaka Sauce parading at vinegar often eaten with the original Pork Xiao Long Baos.
We then shared a visually exciting sweet aptly named ‘Cigar’ for the way it was presented – A thin roll of Chocolate filled with Reese’s Peanut Butter Ice-Cream with its base treated with Liquid Nitrogen for that white, ashy finish.
Inside the ash tray dish used to served the dessert was the Peanut Butter Chocolate Crumbs masquerading as ash. Instead of Cognac to go with the ‘cigar’, this was served alongside a glass of cool, lightly sweetened Earl Grey Tea with a single Elderflower Cube.
We were treated to petit-fours to round up our meal. Instead of the typical Kaya Toast we often get around Singapore, Chef Han levelled it up by using Kueh Bahlu, and filling it with Kaya Butter Mousse and Oscietra Caviar for that hint of saltiness. While familiar and nostalgic, the downside was that the kueh bahlu was a little on the dry side even if the flavour was on point.
All in all, we had a wonderful meal and the ambience at Restaurant Labyrinth was intimate with enough space between tables so we could make good conversation. There were a few misses in their service such as failing to top up our water during the latter half of our meal, but we’re not too fussed like that. I liked that they gave us some time in between each course so that we could dine at a good pace and not be overwhelmed by all the food.
We were both nicely stuffed by the end of the meal so I think it was a good thing we went for the ala carte menu. It also meant that we could choose items we prefer since there were some dishes on the tasting menu that we were not quite so keen on.
I’m glad that Flo enjoyed the dinner though and was very happy with the present I got him – a Star Wars Stormtrooper Royal Selangor Tumbler. He was so excited when he saw it while we were out shopping for pillows that I had to get it for him.
The dinner and present hardly measures up to the immense joy that Flo brings to me every day. Sure, we have our difficult moments but I believe that they only serve to make us understand each other while strengthening our relationship. He has taught me so much about love and patience in our time together, and he has made me want to be a better woman not only for him, but for myself. I am without a doubt blessed to have Flo in my life and I pray that this birthday will only be one of countless more happy events that we will celebrate together!