Chef Shen Tan is back in the F&B scene, whipping up her delightful creations – now at a nostalgic space in the iconic Raffles Hotel! I first met this cool gal at her former restaurant Wok & Barrel; thanks to her candid demeanour, unadulterated honesty and genuine passion towards her craft, we quickly hit it off and became friends. I am excited for her now that she’s embarked on a new chapter in her culinary career… in the form of Ujong at Raffles Hotel Arcade, serving up creative reinterpretations of popular Singaporean dishes. What exactly does that mean, what has she got on the menu and how does the food taste?
Paying homage to the dishes enjoyed by Singaporeans since the early days, Ujong offers a unique melding the old with the new. Well-loved Singaporean food is given a slick update through Chef Shen’s carefully-curated creations while the quaint interior of the restaurant that resembles coffee houses of the past, sets the tone for an unpretentious affair.
The standout in Chef Shen’s selection of main dishes is the fragrant and fluffy Nasi Lemak, complemented with a generous side dish portion of Beef Rendang and accompanied with homemade achar, ikan bilis and a fried egg. Other side dish options are banana leaf-wrapped grilled fish with otak rempah, or two chicken wings, but I say go straight for the beef rendang as I think Chef Shen excels in preparing this. Recalling the comfort food she grew up with has inspired Chef Shen’s original creation: Ujong’s Claypot Rice with Five Spice Pork, featuring pork that’s been marinated for two days in dry rub, then confit in lard, after which it is grilled and tossed in a special spicy vinegar sauce.
What truly piqued my interest on the menu were the Singaporean-meets-Italian dishes on the menu. Chef Shen’s signature Ba Chor Mee Pasta – five-spiced pork done confit-style with handmade tagliatelle, and Hae Bee Hiam Mentaiko Capellini taste as interesting as they sound; the latter turned out to be too spicy and “noodle-y” for me (if that makes sense). I don’t eat a lot of carbs so I had just a little bit of both for taste. There’s also Har Zi Meen, prawn-flavoured fine noodles with IndoMie-inspired dressing of chilli, garlic and onion, served with a choice of crispy pork or crispy chicken. From this East-meets-West fusion lineup I enjoyed the Fish Curry Laksa best, a tantalizing plate of slippery laksa noodles tossed in fragrant curry and crispy chunks of fish. This dish is superbly palatable and satisfying thanks to the textural contrast, and the laksa noodles are light enough to not feel like a colossal amount of carbs. I’d totally go back to have this again.
I ought to point out that my dinner at Ujong was paired with excellent wines, a Chef Shen initiative to dispel the misconception that Asian food can’t be accompanied with world-class wines. Carefully selected to complement the food, Ujong’s modest wine list includes fine Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Syrah and Malbec. Personally I loved the Marchese Antinori Riserve 2010 Chianti, a medium-bodied fruity red with mellow tannins that played very well with the flavorful spices in the dishes.
Alongside the delicious savoury offerings, Ujong’s dessert menu featuring five mouth-watering treats is an extension of the fusion concept where Chef Shen has incorporated a delicious local twist. There’s Puloh Hitam Pudding with Gula Melaka Butterscotch served with Homemade Coconut Ice Cream, her version of sticky toffee pudding using Asian black glutinous rice. The homerun for me is the Shendol Delights, an absolute must-try! With the concept of a deconstructed chendol, this winning creation of coconut panna cotta with gula melaka syrup is topped with homemade red bean ice-cream to lend a modern spin to an old school favourite. I’ve had similar versions elsewhere before and imo Chef Shen has hit the right spot of textural balance and flavors in this elegant reinterpretation.
Come, let’s see what all these food (and more) look like, shall we?
Yusheng Salmon Ceviche and Salad
Softshell Chilli Crab with Deep Fried Mantou
Nasi Lemak with Beef Rendang
Ba Chor Mee Pasta
Fish Curry Laksa
Hae Bee Hiam Mentaiko Capellini
Har Zi Meen (Prawn Flavoured Noodles) with crispy pork and chicken
Claypot Rice with Five Spice Pork
Puloh Hitam Pudding with Gula Melaka Butterscotch served with Coconut Ice Cream
Banana Crack Parfait
UJONG @ Raffles
#01-10, 328 North Bridge Road
Raffles Hotel Arcade
Tel: (+65) 6635 6502