River Wok, a new restaurant that specialises in Indochina cuisine, just held its official grand opening celebrations on 3 May 2018.
Helmed by Executive Chef Kantha Chookiat, who has over 30 years of culinary experience in the region, the restaurant’s menu features traditional favourites and reinterpretations of well-known dishes from Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. The Thailand-born chef has earned recognition among many distinguished individuals, having served Singapore’s late Founding Father and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and royalties like Prince Edward, the Princess of Monaco and the King and Queen of Sweden. Having drawn inspiration from his travels all around the world to places like Germany, Indonesia and India, his food has earned him the title of “Indo-Chinese Treasure” in Cuisine and Wine Asia Magazine.
The restaurant is located in the vicinity of Robertson Quay and diners can choose to either dine al fresco, with a view of the Singapore River, or…
…dine indoors, where it is much cooler (i.e. for those who don’t like the warm and humid weather).
All diners will be served with some crispy keropok, whilst waiting for your food to arrive.
I’m not familiar with Laotian food, so I was glad to have the opportunity to try some of the dishes.
Koi Pa Salmon ($18)
A Laotian dish consisting of marinated Norwegian Salmon sashimi cubes, with Asian herbs in chilli and lemon juice.
This sat in a crispy shell, which made it feel as though you are eating kueh pie tee, but with a different filling. The standard serving comes with three of these wanton-like shells. Traditionally a different fish is used in this dish in Laos, but since the fish cannot be found in Singapore, salmon is used in its place.
Nam Khao Hor ($14 – this is the non-vegetarian version)
Laotian hand rolled rice paper with lemon marinated minced chicken, roasted rice crumbles and greens.
As I had never tried Laotian food before dining here, I had always assumed that rice paper rolls were uniquely Vietnamese, so I learnt something new from dining here! The ingredients were a well balance of flavours and I enjoyed the crunch from the roasted rice crumbles. Hmm…I concluded that I prefer Laotian fresh rice paper rolls over the Vietnamese version!
The dish pictured above was a tasting size, but the normal serving comes with four pieces.
Yam Tuapoo Goong Sod ($16)
This is a traditional Thai Wing Bean and Tiger Prawn Salad, which also includes shredded chicken, boiled egg, fish sauce, lime juice, chilli paste, coconut cream, topped with fried shallots and roasted grated coconut.
The wing beans were crunchy and I thought the salad was refreshing, with a hint of spiciness. My hubby on the other hand felt it tasted too “green”, as he isn’t a big fan of veggies. I would recommend this to those who do like crunchy greens and want a spicy entrée.
Pho Bo (Wagyu) ($26)
A premium version of the traditional Vietnamese dish, as it is served with sliced Wagyu beef, which is then cooked at your table after you place them into the rich and flavourful clear beef broth. Bean sprouts, herbs and some veggies are served on the side, so that diners can add to their liking.
If you want to ensure that your beef gets cooked, don’t wait too long before putting them into the bowl, as the soup is still hot when it arrives at your table.
The tender slices of wagyu beef made this classic Vietnamese dish feel so luxurious!
Gaeng Phed Ped Yang ($22)
Roasted duck in a rich and flavourful Thai red curry with Thai eggplant, pineapple, grapes, cherry tomatoes and white beech mushrooms.
I loved the rich fragrance of the coconut gravy and felt that the various fruit that were added to this dish gave an extra dimension to the flavours. Overall, the curry was a little on the sweet side, but I really enjoyed it even though it was my first time having duck curry and I concluded that it’s probably my new favourite curry dish!
Banh Chuoi ($12)
A savoury Vietnamese dessert consisting of banana fritters and black sesame ice cream, served with some gula melaka sauce drizzled over.
Just two words to describe this – goreng pisang!! The black sesame ice cream went down well with the fried banana. If you are an unadventurous diner, this would be a safe dessert to order.
Khao Neow Ma Muang ($10)
A traditional Thai sweet sticky rice pudding paired with slices of sweet mango and coconut cream, with a sprinkling of black sesame over the top.
The rice ball reminded me of eating ketupat, except that this was made using glutinous rice and when we cut into it, we found that it was still warm! Remember to leave room in your stomach if you want to order this dessert – I was stuffed from all the earlier dishes and thus was trying to find a spare slot in my stomach to be able to digest this! Loved the sweet slices of mango, which accompanied this dessert (but then again, I’m biased to anything that’s mango)!
More pictures from their Grand Opening celebrations…
The lions from the lion dance troupe had earlier left an auspicious message on the ground, shaped using mandarin orange segments. This was followed by some traditional Thai dance performances.
Various canapes were served, but I only managed to try some of them.
Indonesian Chicken Satay and Vietnamese Sugarcane Prawns
Both were tasty morsels and some other guests agreed that the satay was really good! Satay is available in the restaurant’s menu at $28 for a dozen sticks, including cucumber, onion and rice cake.
Roast Beef with Caramelised Onions and Truffle Sauce
Chicken Balls with Tamarind Sauce and Rice Crumbs
This was really good and very flavourful!
A cocktail comprising a mix of cointreau, rum, kaffir lime leaves and passion fruit.
It was quite a pleasant combination of flavours.
The presentation was interesting and this cocktail consists of Grand Marnier, lemongrass, spiced rum, lime and orange juice.
I found the taste of the lemongrass rather overpowering and the alcohol was rather strong. It was my least favourite out of the three cocktails that I had tried.
This concoction is served in a young coconut and contains lime, coriander, coconut cream and gin.
My favourite cocktail of the night, as I found the flavours very pleasant and easy to drink. This cocktail is available at the restaurant, but if you can’t find it on the menu, do enquire with the wait staff.
Overall, the food was much better than I had expected. It was my first time trying Laotian food and I did like it! However, the dishes that really stood out for me were the Duck Curry and the Pho Bo with Wagyu.
This place is good for those who want a variety of food, as there is a selection of different dishes representative of the different countries (i.e. Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia).
80 Mohamed Sultan Road, The Pier, #01-12, Singapore 239013.
Opening Hours: Daily 12pm to 11:00pm (Last Order at 10:30pm)
Telephone: (65) 6732 1126
Getting There by MRT:
9-min walk from Fort Canning station
15-min walk from Clarke Quay station
Disclaimer: This was a media tasting session, but all opinions expressed are entirely of my own.