East-west confusion at LE Restaurant and Asian

East-west confusion at LE Restaurant and Asian

LE Restaurant and Asian Tapas Bar
#02-314 Suntec City Mall 3 Temasek Boulevard
Tel: 6338-8775
Open for lunch and dinner daily: 11.30am to 3pm; 6pm to 10.30pm.
Tapas bar opens from 3pm.

SINGAPORE - If nothing else, LE Restaurant sure knows how to make a first impression. Forget your conventional "hello, nice to meet you" - this is the equivalent of a stranger taking your hand, twirling you around a brightly lit stage, turning on a laser light show and leading a crew of black clad staff in synchronised world music grooving, all before saying "my name is . . ."

Over the top is perhaps an understatement at LE Restaurant - the Paradise Group's latest release that blends current trends such as tapas and cocktail bars into its core Chinese restaurant business. So you get this schmoozy bar area outfitted with a tapas bar serving Asian fusion bites, leading into a main dining hall dressed like a gold and black theatre where a giant, shimmering Buddha statue sits centrestage.

With the pulsating lounge music blasting at levels not very conducive to one's dimsum enjoyment, it feels as if you've wandered into someone's Buddha Bar fantasy amplified tenfold.

Even as it awkwardly fuses Chinese cuisine with its definition of fine dining elegance - food is served under those steel domes of yore that are rarely seen now except maybe on old TV shows and cruise ships - LE is actually a reliable Chinese restaurant at its core. What one can't understand is why it would dilute what it does best with lashings of jarring east-west confusion.

It will draw eyeballs for sure, and piqué the curiosity without doubt. But tantalise the tastebuds and keep people coming back for more, like cream of bak kut teh and baked cheese tofu? One isn't too sure.

On the plus side, you get very decent Cantonese-style cooking, such as juicy, bouncy siew mai ($7.80) and har kow ($7.80) topped with gold coloured sago and rice flour rolls ($8.80). There's at least one fusion creation of snails and cheese in puff pastry ($9) which isn't half bad, and would be better with a lighter and flakier crust.

The mini egg tarts, too, are reliably scrumptious. If the prices seem higher than the norm, they are, but a current 50 per cent off dimsum promotion brings the price down to more conventional levels.

Unusual for a Chinese restaurant - but perhaps in a nod to its international leanings, the staff is a veritable United Nations of servers, with nationalities as disparate as Indian, European and Korean. All are pleasant and eager to please if rather clueless about the food, and order-taking is inefficient but to be expected given the clear strain on resources in this opening period.

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