Coriander Leaf opens its doors at CHIJMES, featuring culinary inspirations from India to South East Asia, with a modern twist. The menu serves up an array of small plates, grouped into five categories: FRESH, FAMILIAR, SPICY, UMAMI, and SWEET.
Seated right by the bar counter with front row view of the open kitchen, what I ate reflect a choreography of carefully balanced flavors. The welcome drink of Tougarashi Umeshu, chilli pepper-infused Japanese plum wine, is a brilliant prequel as it tantalizes and preps the tastebuds for what’s coming up.
Jumping straight into select dishes from every category, highlighting the culinary creations of Samia, founder and head chef at Coriander Leaf.
Marinated prawn salad, grated coconut
The coconut salad is deceptively plain in appearance but packs a refreshing crunch, imbued with the mild sweetness of shredded fresh coconut.
Rice noodle salad, roast duck, mint coriander leaf, Vietnamese basil
Charcoal grilled baby lamb chops, harrisa, yoghurt, dried chill paste, pickled onions
My fave item of the evening, baby lamb chops are marinated in dry chili padi rub before hitting charcoal grill and along with the slight bitterness of harrisa, the acidity of pickled onions, cooled by yoghurt and fresh mint, this dish packs oomph and is one of the better lamb dishes I had in recent memory.
Grilled eggplant, chickpeas, browned butter
This is vegetarian, but one bite and you won’t care that it is. Hearty and comforting.
Braised beef briskets, kimchi, daikon slaw, steamed bun
The braised beef cheek bun here is embellished with kimchi and just the right amount of spicy something paste that play well with the chunk of beef cheek that melts in the mouth.
Spicy wok fried tiger prawns, Japanese momotaro tomatoes, chili padi
I was initially nervous about the spicy category because I find many dishes described as spicy (in Singapore) generally tend to tip towards the extreme end and I generally avoid very heavily-spiced food. But I find that in the case of grilled prawns, the chili padi tomato sauce accompanying it turns out to be a melody of sweetness and tartness, with a slight fiery kick afterwards. Five pieces of shrimp on the plate and while I normally would just have a couple, I went for the third one because it was good and I couldn’t stop myself.
Soft shell crab, salted duck egg yolk sauce, curry leaves
The crispy deep fried soft shell crab tossed in creamy salted egg yolk sauce will no doubt brings forth cheers and perhaps even tears of joy to some. Yes, I’m looking at all of you platinum members of the salted-egg-yolk-anything fan club. These days there’s no escaping salted egg yolk this or that, since it’s the new in-gredient replacing the truffle fad a few years ago. While I have no bone to pick with this soft shell crab dish (heh), I’ve had a similar version elsewhere before.
Oven roasted, kecap manis, rubbed. Cape Grim Angus, spicy dip, fish sauce, lime juice, coriander
Nepalese minced chicken momo dumpling, roasted tomato relish, Szechuan pepper
White Rabbit condensed milk ice cream, mango granita, leche flan, sweet potato, jack fruit, Frosted Flakes, shaved ice
Spiced lava cake, teh tarik ice cream
Keywords to note: Teh Tarik ice cream. White Rabbit condensed milk ice cream.
Don’t expect to get them by the scoop here. You get the full-on indulgent royal treatment, the former with spiced lava cake and the latter with shaved ice decked out in mango granita, sturdy cubes of leche flan, slivers of jack fruit, and the crunchy goodness of frosted cereal flakes. To top it all off, literally, a dainty piece of gold leaf punctuating this opulent dessert inspired by Halo Halo, Filipino shaved ice. WINNER.
All in all, flavors compliment one another really well in everything I’ve tried here. As I’m writing this, mere hours after my dinner at Coriander Leaf concluded, my stomach is bloated because I over ate and I’m recovering from food comatose. There are still plenty others on the menu to be sampled next time.
The real highlight of the evening for me, beyond the food served here, is the exceptional selection of drinks. The first page of the drinks menu lists sake, umeshu, whiskey, and beer. I didn’t get past this first page because I was mind blown by all the interesting things I see.
In particular, the umeshu list… Mango Milk Umeshu, Strawberry Milk Umeshu, Red Shizo Umeshu, Matcha Umeshu, Tomato Umeshu, whaaaaaattt. *screamssss* They all sound downright fantastic and I managed to sample only a small fraction of what’s on the list. They taste as good as they appear in print. Finally! There’s something else that I can
binge on enjoy drinking besides wine.
While naturally Coriander Leaf aims to showcase their kitchen creations, I’d revisit the restaurant again just to try more drinks. Say, inverse the ratio of consumption and order food to accompany the drinks next time.
The new Coriander Leaf is exciting. Then again, I wasn’t expecting any less from Aun (aka chubbyhubby) who so very kindly invited me to check it out. With its array of modern Asian tapas and a brilliantly curated umeshu collection, Coriander Leaf is poised to become a delightful destination for good eats.
I’m always stumped from lack of choices whenever out-of-town friends visit. As in, what are the options after they’ve enjoyed prerequisite local hawker fare? Doesn’t make any sense to bring them to a steakhouse or Italian or French joint, coz they get plenty of that in their home cities. Coriander Leaf is definitely at the top of my list now, because the menu is made up of Asian flavours in fresh interpretations, with a good dose of Singaporean-ness in them to remind us of the diverse cultural influences we get on this island. My peeps, ie. well-travelled pals with discerning tastebuds, will most certainly appreciate that.
I’m excited to go there again next time. Congratulations on the re-opening.