Vietnamese

River Wok – a place to discover Indochina cuisine from Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia

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!

Passion Crush
A cocktail comprising a mix of cointreau, rum, kaffir lime leaves and passion fruit.

It was quite a pleasant combination of flavours.

Smokey Sunset
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.

Coco Bay
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.


VERDICT

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).

Address:
River Wok
80 Mohamed Sultan Road, The Pier, #01-12, Singapore 239013.
[Map]
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.

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Categories: Asian, Eating in Singapore, Laotian, Thai, Vietnamese | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vietnamese Cuisine at Pho Street

Pho Street is a quick service restaurant which first opened in December 2013 and serves authentic Vietnamese pho and street food. It is headed by Chef Hà Vị Cang Kenny, who is from Ho Chi Minh City and has more than a decade of experience in Vietnamese cuisine.

A brand-new revamped menu has recently been introduced from June 2015, with some interesting new offerings and also some tweaks to their existing dishes.

I was invited for a food tasting session (thanks to the Select Group for the invite!), so some of the food pictures in this post may be at reduced portions (at my request), as I did the tasting alone that day and I wanted to try a variety of dishes but didn’t want to waste food (in case I couldn’t finish).

Passionfruit & Basil Mojito – this was a bit sweet but still quite a nice drink (non-alcoholic) to cool you down on a hot and humid day.


APPETISERS

Fresh Summer Rolls with Prawn, Pork Belly and Fresh Herbs (2 pcs) – In Vietnamese cuisine, typically I prefer the fried version of their spring rolls over this one as usually the rice paper wrapping is too thick and chewy! However, the version served here has a thinner rice paper skin, plus it was mainly full of greens, with prawns and a slice of pork belly which wasn’t fatty. Dip it into the chef’s special sauce and overall I thought it was quite a refreshing and healthy appetiser.


Vietnamese Snack Platter (Crispy Fried Pork Roll, Roasted Chicken Skewer, Vietnamese Crabcake) – I liked the presentation of this dish!! Note that the normal serving has 2 pieces of each food item but as mentioned earlier, I wanted to save room in my stomach to try other dishes, so the photo below is of a reduced portion.

The fried pork roll was indeed crispy and the somewhat translucent chilli dip is an accompaniment to this tasty spring roll. The opaque chiili sauce is to be used for both the crabcake and chicken skewer. I liked the crabcake and found it to be a flavourful mixture of pork and crab meat. As for the roasted chicken skewer, this was marinated with lemongrass and a chilli paste but it tasted rather “healthy” to me (i.e. I think I’m too used to satay and yakitori and prefer my skewered meats to be a little charred! LOL…). In addition, I felt that the pickles, which accompanied this dish, weren’t sour enough!


Crispy Chicken Mid-Wings served with Caramelised Sweet Dip (3 pcs) – This was still nice and crisp even after letting it sit there for a while. I could taste a salt and pepper seasoning in the batter but found the coating on the chicken to be a little too thick and a little salty, but I must say that the dip goes well with the wings. Families with young children will probably like this dish.


Sesame Rice Crackers with Fragrant Minced Meat and Spices Dip – It was my first time trying this dish and it was yummy! In my opinion, this would be a perfect side dish to go with beer!! ^_^

The sesame rice crackers were crispy and fragrant and the minced meat was flavoured with a lovely blend of spices and chilli. The dip on its own was very tasty and it would actually go very well with rice or noodles (thinking along the lines of bak chor mee) but too bad there is no such combination on the menu and this meat dip is only available with the crackers. It’s most definitely something that I would order again!

How do you eat it? Use the spoon to scoop the minced meat onto the rice cracker and pop it into your mouth! :p


MAIN COURSES

Beef lovers should try the Pho Beef Combination which consists of beef slices, balls, shank, tendon and tripe. I was getting quite full from eating all the appetisers, so I asked for a smaller portion with lesser noodles (actual serving size will be much more than that shown in the picture below). The meat was tender and the soup broth was light and flavourful and you can taste the beef essence in it! Squeeze the lime into the soup to give a different dimension to the overall flavour. Don’t forget to dip the beef into their special chilli sauce if you want an extra “kick” to this soupy dish!


Dry Rice Vermicelli with Roasted Pork and Spring Roll – Again, I asked for lesser noodles but the pork chop is of the actual serving size and this dish also comes with one fried spring roll which is cut into two halves. The noodles are served with a crunchy mix of vegetables, pickled carrots and radish, a sweet sour sauce and topped with crushed peanuts. Do ensure that you mix the ingredients well, otherwise you may end up like me as I ate a slice of pork before mixing everything up and found the meat to be too salty. Once you have mixed all the ingredients well and eat the pork in the same mouthful as the noodles, then it won’t be that salty. I would have preferred the pork to be grilled but this had been roasted in a combi oven and thus lacked that smoky grilled flavour which I like. Overall, it was still quite a nice main course and the sweet sour sauce made it very appetising.


For those of you who like bread – the restaurant also serves Banh Mi, which is a toasted sandwich of crusty bread stuffed with meats, mayonnaise, pickled carrot & radish, cucumber, chilli and fresh cilantro. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough room in my stomach, so I didn’t try it.


DESSERT

Cream of Mung Bean with Coconut Sauce & Crushed Peanuts – Wow…I’ve never had this dessert before and it was quite refreshing! The only dessert that I’m familiar with that uses mung beans is tau suan, so this was quite an interesting dessert to me! Note the cup shown is of a reduced portion size as I was already quite stuffed from the meal. The dessert was smooth, creamy, not too sweet and not too thick, so you can actually drink it with a straw. There was also shaved water chestnut bits and crushed peanuts in it and these gave an added texture and flavour to the dessert. Mmm…it was quite a nice ending to the meal! ^_^


VERDICT:

Generally the food was quite nice and at affordable prices! However, I felt that some of their dishes, which have roasted meat in them, could taste even better if the meat was grilled instead of oven-roasted.


Location:

Pho Street @ Westgate
3 Gateway Drive, #B2-K6/K7
Singapore 608532.

Nearest MRT: Jurong East

Other Outlet:
Pho Street @ Bedok Mall
311 New Upper Changi Road, #B1-40
Singapore 467360.

Nearest MRT: Bedok

Opening Hours for both outlets: Daily: 11:00am – 10:00pm (Last order: 9:30pm)

Categories: Eating in Singapore, Media Invite, Vietnamese | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orange Lantern at HarbourFront

Have been patronising this restaurant for several years already and here are some of my top picks…

Nem Cung Đình 越南宮廷春卷
Vietnamese Imperial Rolls – Out of the three types of spring rolls which the restaurant serves, this is my favourite! I especially like the spring roll skin which
looks like a piece of netting.


Chả Giò 越南春卷
Vietnamese Spring Rolls – This is my 2nd choice out of the 3 different types of spring rolls. The Imperial Rolls still taste better.


Cơm Gà Bì Chả Trứng 烤鸡扒饭
Grilled Chicken Chop with Rice – This dish comes with a fried egg and some minced meat with egg thingy.


Vietnamese Chicken Curry with Rice – A lovely curry dish which is extremely popular with some of my overseas visitors who aren’t too adventurous with food!


Chè Ba Màu 三色冰
Three Colours – This is the Vietnamese version of chendol. You can consider ordering this if you are still hungry after having the main course as it contains red beans, jelly, etc.


Vietnamese White Coffee – Coffee and boiling water are placed in a metal filter which drips the coffee down into the cup below. Once all the coffee has dripped down into the cup, you can remove the metal filter and enjoy the coffee.


Address:
Orange Lantern
1 Maritime Sq
#01-98 HarbourFront Centre
Tel: 6274 1968
Operating Hours: 11am – 10pm daily

Categories: Eating in Singapore, Vietnamese | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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