Located on Singapore’s main shopping belt on Orchard Road next to the Thai Embassy, Palais Renaissance is a stylish destination to spend a girlie day out as the retail space features an assembly of choice names for trendsetters and foodies with a taste of high living. A girlie day out at Palais naturally starts with shopping at the exclusive boutiques here.
Maria Grachvogel (#01-07A) is an innovative brand from British shores that pushes the boundaries of conventional fitting and an uncompromising approach to fashion design by creating garments with avant-garde prints and uniqueness. Other than her flagship store in London, this boutique in Palais is the only other stand-alone store and the only stockist in Asia.
Lula Rock (#02-07) is a multi-label boutique carrying tastefully curated items bearing classic silhouettes with a design edge. Here you will discover international cult labels such as Alice Mccall from Australia, House of Holland from the UK, Vivetta which is Italian and Sretsis.
Swing by also to TYAN (#02-11/12), another multi-label boutique that stocks clothing from more familiar international brands such as Vivienne Tam, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Clover Canyon, Paule ka and Vivienne Westwood Anglomania.
In between trendy shopping, ladies will also be spoiled for choice with the latest addition of new F&B tenants that serve up delish brunch and lunch menus.
P. Bistro, #B1-06
Featuring a careful selection of dishes that have been crafted to perfection by kitchen chefs who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, P. Bistro’s menu is sure to charm ladies of every dietary inclination.
The Citrus Salmon Benedict (S$18) in the all day brunch menu is a winner. Sitting atop English muffins, homecured citrus salmon is decked out with poached free range eggs and blanketed with a velvety bright hollandaise. This is one of my fave items here as the zesty emulsion, sporting a cheerful yellow appearance, is a vivacious rendition of a classic brunch staple. Easily one of the best egg benedicts I’ve tasted in recent memory.
On the lighter side, the Pumpkin Soup (S$6) made from pure sweet pumpkin and served with homemade salted almond grains is comforting. Don’t be fooled by its watery appearance. This soup is tasty and luscious.
I enjoyed the Beetroot and Orange Salad (S$12) the most. Gorgeous chunks of beetroot radiate with vibrance amongst orange segments, dollops of goat cheese, and chia seeds which as we know is a superfood, so this vivid salad is not just good-looking and colorful, it’s also delicious and gloriously healthy.
If you’re hankering for an Asian-style salad, the Tangy Pomelo Salad (S$12) is a fresh, snappy treat of fresh pomelo mingling with cherry tomatoes, shallots, coriander, chilli, and tamarind dressing. I like that the pomelo here has not been separated into small pulpy bits and comes in firm, bite-sized chunks instead as it gives the salad more body.
Another must-try dish here is P. Bistro’s original Special Duck Leg Stew (S$28), a lightly braised French duck leg that has been slowly simmered to achieve tenderness. What makes this dish special is how the flavors are reminiscent of traditional Peranakan duck soup. Traditional bouquet garni which comprises of thyme, bay leaves and parsley, is cooked with celery, carrots, mushrooms, some smashed garlic to make the vegetable stock that’s used for the duck stew. Decadent, no doubt, but a justifiable calorie-intake as every bite is an epicurean delight.
I also had an Avocado Smoothie (S$9) and surprised to find out that even though one whole fresh avocado has been blended together with Avocado Gelato (from Alfero, the godfather of gelato that I wrote about before), I did not detect any artificial sweetness in this nutritious and refreshing beverage. For those interested, Alfero’s Avocado Gelato (S$4) can also be ordered here by itself as dessert.
P. Bistro is great for: Brunch aficionados who appreciate food that’s healthy without compromising taste and flavor.
Jing Hua Xiao Chi, #B1-04
This old-school dumplings and noodle house has been around since 1989 and the interior décor in its new Orchard Road address exhibits a bold and graphic take on a Straits Chinese tea room design with hints of Art Deco elements while retaining a communal essence. Drawing inspiration from the original Neil Road flagship, this new outlet showcases a vibrant juxtaposition of bright colors against monochrome striped flooring throughout the main dining hall for an updated twist.
What drew my attention immediately was the dragon motif on the tiled walls at the main entrance. As I nibbled on signature dishes, background music of 80’s Chinese tunes filled the restaurant with a retro ambiance.
Starting with Pan-fried Mixed Seafood & Pork Dumplings (S$6.50/6 pieces), these one-of-a-kind, open-ended potstickers are crispy on the bottom and the petite size is befitting for demure eaters. A great snack to open the meal.
Staying true to its humble heritage, Jing Hua Xiao Chi’s Hot and Sour Soup (S$4) with slivers of tofu, tiger lily buds, and cloud ear mushroom hits a soothing spot thanks to its simplicity and unpretentiousness. Suitably sour and spicy with a mild peppery kick, each sip brings forth rustic comfort.
Signature noodles such as Zha Jiang Noodle (S$6.80) – thick noodles with minced pork and soy bean sauce, fresh sprouts, spinach and julienned cucumbers, and Zha Cai Rou Si Noodle (S$8) – noodles with sliced pork and Sichuan vegetable in soup, are reasonably-priced options for hungry eaters. Separately, the noodles and the sauce have their merits. The noodles are light and not too doughy, and I could tell the minced pork soy bean sauce is made with careful preparation.
What I definitely want to have again next time is the Chinese Pizza (S$10.80), an original creation of crispy pancake stuffed with seafood and pork filling. Ideal for sharing, and even though the seafood pork filling is the same as the potstickers filling, I prefer this treatment as each slice is satisfyingly crunchy and yummy.
You must save room for dessert no matter what. The tender rice balls with fillings of black sesame, lotus seed with walnut, peanut and red bean pastes, gently floating in the Sweet Osmanthus Flower Rice Ball Soup (S$4) is a sweet ending to the meal. These rice balls (aka tang yuan) are superbly smooth! Soft and delicate, they do not stick to the teeth like many others I’ve tried elsewhere. I also find the osmanthus flower fragrance that perfumes the soup tantalizing and I’d be happy just sipping that on its own.
Jing Hua Xiao Chi is great for: Mommy-daughter duo bonding over dumplings and noodles because as much as we all love mom’s homecooked food, she deserves a break and here at Palais, Pampering is spelled with a capital P.
Ishinomaki Grill and Sake Bar, #B1-02
Named after a city in Japan that’s known as a rustic fishing village, Ishinomaki Grill and Sake Bar lives up to its namesake origin by offering fresh and live seafood carefully chosen and air-flown from Japan. The restaurant’s interior features a fishing boat cabin, furnished with raw wood and metal finishes, and tools of the fishermen hanging on the cement walls.
Girlfriends having lunch together at Palais will be delighted to know that the set lunches at Ishinomaki are unbeatable in quality and value. In other words, save the splurging for the boutiques and salons upstairs! The Sashimi and Unagi Seiro Ozen (S$32) features two broad pieces of grilled unagi eel atop a bed of fluffy steamed rice that’s been flavoured with shiitake mushrooms and parsley, then mixed with house brown sauce. This dish is thoughtfully presented in a wooden box and accompanying this set is also six slices of assorted sashimi, chawanmushi, and miso soup. Exceptional value for money, if you ask me.
I highly recommend Tatami Iwashi (S$12) and Eihire (S$12), grilled skate wings and dried young sardine crisps respectively. I can’t decide which one I like better as they are both an assault of intense umami and alluring textures. Just the perfect accompaniment to good ole’ girlie gossip over sake, of which Ishinomaki has a repertoire ranging from fruity to sparkling.
The house Sashimi Assortment (S$35) contains no less than six different varieties of fresh seafood and generously portioned. I was floored by how incredibly affordable Ishinomaki is across the board, considering the fishing-port-to-restaurant-to-table freshness of its high quality seafood.
Notable to mention is the restaurant’s specially imported “Black Box” from Japan’s renowned fishing ports that arrives to the restaurant at least twice weekly, containing seasonal catch that you most likely will not find in other Japanese restaurants in Singapore. With this in mind, visits to the restaurant will be a different experience every time as there’s an element of surprise. Who knows what’s going to be in the next Black Box shipment? During my visit, I got to eat Samekarei (S$25 for 5 pcs) from Hokkaido – a rare, deep sea fish also known as Shark Sole, named as such due to its rough scaly skin. Freshly shipped from Japan just that same morning as part of Ishinomaki’s special Black Box shipment, this fish – prepared sashimi style – has a chewy toothsome texture and tastes rich.
Another Black Box item I had was a super fresh Saba (S$25) that was simply grilled. Notice how the size of this whole fish is longer than a pair of chopsticks. Since it had also just arrived to the restaurant that morning, the freshness of this grilled mackerel was striking. The meat was naturally sweet and so succulent, I found it staggering this was priced at just S$25!?
Ishinomaki is great for: Nipponophiles who spend every vacation in Japan and enjoy top-grade sashimi to accompany her sake while catching up with similarly well-travelled besties.
Think of your trendy, impeccably dressed, sexy gal pal and Ginzawa would be the Japanese restaurant equivalent of that. Incidentally the afternoon I went, a dozen ladies – every one of them well heeled and dressed to the nines, with voluptuous blownouts hair, had just finished eating at the restaurant and were posing for a group photo by the main entrance. This sultry restaurant with its contemporary interpretation of Japanese classics draws that kind of chichi crowd.
Take the Tokusen Hokkai Chirashi Don (S$50) for example. Premium seafood such as uni, sea bream, yellowtail, scallop, red snapper, botan ebi, and more is dusted with edible chrysanthemum petals and stunningly plated in a large porcelain dish. It’s the most stylish chirashi I have ever come across.
Those going for something lighter will like the Sakura Ebi Mizuna Salad (S$22), a tower of Japanese water greens embellished with cute cherry blossom mini shrimps and thick slivers of dried beancurd – a fusion execution combining Japanese with a Chinese twist for added texture.
For the ultimate indulgence, go for the A5 Japanese Wagyu Don (S$50) and you will be greeted with generous slices of grilled wagyu steak and onions over rice, blasted with a sprinkling of pine nuts and garlic chips. You will be savoring every bite of this mouthwatering and decadent dish.
Not big on red meat? The Kuro Buta Zaku Don (S$35) features sinful slices of black pork belly that has been braised for 8 hours – melt-in-your-mouth tender! — over rice, tsukemono (Japanese pickles) and a deck of crispy seaweed.
All the rice dishes mentioned above, including Chirashi Don, is part of a lunch set that includes miso soup, chawanmushi, and dessert. Ginzawa also serves A5 Japanese Wagyu Tataki (S$30) that’s lightly seared but more impressionable for me was another appetizer item: Sake Kinuta Maki (S$12). Served cold with crunchy and frilly tosaka seaweed, this artful appetizer of salmon, seaweed, and egg yolk sauce, wrapped with vinegared radish is sensational and you’ll have to taste it to know what I mean.
Ginzawa is great for: Stiletto-clad sassy BFFs who are classy, confident, and unapologetically living it up.
PS. Café, #02-09A
I recall years ago when my gal pal Pei was visiting from Hong Kong, we met up for brunch at this PS. Café. Even though this café has been around inside Palais for years, this is the place for legendary brunches and lazy afternoon teas with girlfriends.
The opinion I have of PS. Café is the consistently huge portions of food served so I’m always careful with what I order, to avoid food wastage. Mushroom Wellington (S$27) is a savory vegetarian option that’s incidentally only available here at the Palais branch. Crumbly homemade pastry parcel filled with juicy wild mushrooms and roasted cashews, this is hearty and satisfies without feeling overly stuffed since it’s just vegetables after all, right?
I find the Crispy Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich (S$28) to be manageable as well. Here, soft-shell crab is battered and deep-fried, stacked with avocado slices and tomato-tamarind chutney, then sandwiched by toasted sourdough. I think of this as a friendly iteration of Singapore Chili Crab, the island’s most famous seafood dish, with a fresh twist. Eating with hands still required though, but there’s no messy de-shelling of crustaceans involved. Just sink your teeth into this palatable sandwich.
There’s plenty of hefty choices on the menu but as part of my commitment to eat healthier, I’m drawn to this item on the menu. Superfood (S$26) is a rockstar salad comprised of blueberries, roasted almonds, sunflower seeds, goji berries, baked pumpkin, quinoa, broccoli, baby spinach & crisp romaine lettuce, tossed in an orange & rosemary dressing. This is as delicious and inviting as it sounds; eating this makes me happy because I know my body’s thanking me for all the wholesome goodness.
Whether it’s for brunch, lunch, tea, or dinner… It goes without saying that PS. Truffle Shoestring Fries (S$15) is a definitive item to order. There’s always someone craving this mountain of fries that’s been tossed with grated parmesan and truffle oil, and the rest of us can’t resist reaching for it too as soon as it arrives to the table.
I’ve always found creative drinks served with brunch an appealing notion, because drinking during the daytime – in the name of a complete gastronomical experience, of course, should be a fun and joyful affair. The Rosé and Berries Sangria (S$19) is a girlie-girl drink through and through with dainty rose buds, likely edible so I popped a couple in my mouth, and an assortment of berries merrily playing together in a concoction of lemon soda and rosé.
PS. Cafe is great for: Hipster-sisters who relish the laid-back atmosphere here, and have no qualms helping herself with the other’s food. Sharing is caring, and there’s certainly more than enough truffle fries to go around.
Palais has every aspect of pampering and wellness covered, and there are a handful of prominent aesthetic clinics here. Even though I am not familiar with every beauty and spa salon here, one in particular piqued my interest. The east-meets-west TCM GUASA Brightening Skin Treatment (S$446) offered at TOUCHE Elite (#03-04), a medic-aesthetic beauty rejuvenation centre, is something that I hope to try next time as the luxurious treatment utilizing gua sha promises radiance and clear skin. The treatment is priced at S$449, but there’s an introductory price of S$39.90 – for first time customers aged 21 years & above, Singaporeans & PRs only; not valid with other promotions.
As we all know, the mall has been home throughout the years to Passion Hair Salon (#02-01/06), much publicized thanks to its celebrity clientele. Haircut for ladies start at S$99 for stylist, all the way to S$409 for director; appointment required. I’ve gotten a haircut there before the salon moved to the new space with wall-to-wall windows facing Orchard Road and I remember it being a grand experience. The interior decor at the new 7000sqf space is luxurious and personally curated by proprietor David Gan himself. The collection of modern baroque-style furniture, paintings, and fittings is sourced overseas and locally. This lavish space may easily be mistaken as an art gallery and a hair affair here will have you walking out feeling supremely pampered.
A fabulous conclusion to a girlie day out at Palais would be a relaxing body treatment after brunch at any of the restaurants detailed above, sharing giggles over a pampering manicure at Renaza Nail Spa (#03-11), then getting primped at the hair salon. How about spoiling yourselves with more shopping at the boutiques afterwards? Palais is a ritzy one-stop destination to enjoy in a regale time with your besties and as the mall tagline goes, “Luxury (is) in full bloom, only at Palais”.
390 Orchard Road
Tel: +65 6737 6992
Shopping Hours: 10AM to 10PM daily
Tenant Directory Link: http://www.palais.sg/shops.php