FINE-DINING: CORNER HOUSE
1 Cluny Road, Nassim Gate, Singapore Botanic Gardens EJH Corner House, tel: 6469-1000
Jason Tan makes one of the most impressive debuts by a Singaporean chef-restaurateur at this lovely bungalow inside the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
After honing his craft at places such as the now- defunct Julien Bompard Restaurant and Sky On 57, he comes into his own with a creative menu of modern French dishes that are exquisitely plated.
The food tastes as good as it looks, with ingredients sourced from around the world for their outstanding flavours.
The setting complements the food, with the house surrounded by greenery. Tables on air-conditioned balconies, especially, look out on verdant gardens.
MID-PRICED: TAO SEAFOOD ASIA
12 Marina View, Asia Square Tower 2, 02-10, tel: 6844-9969
Among the few seafood restaurants that opened this year, Tao Seafood Asia stands out with some dishes that are so good, they stay in your mind.
One of these is the Stir-fried Fish Maw, a Thai- Teochew dish. The sponge-like delicacy is fried with prawns in a little wok until all the juices and seasoning are infused into the fish maw. The Pot Roasted Crab With Glass Noodles, another Thai-Teochew dish, is also very good. Here, the glass noodles soak up the flavour of the crab and are the star of the dish.
The fact that the restaurant is in the financial district makes it good for families outside working hours. While the area is packed at lunch on weekdays, it is quiet in the evenings and weekends, which are the best times for a seafood meal. Think ample and cheap parking, and for those who do not drive, no crowds to jostle with and easy access via buses and MRT.
MASS-MARKET: DIAMOND KITCHEN
500F Marine Parade Road, tel: 6448-0629
This nondescript restaurant on the ground floor of a Laguna Park block has been packing in the crowds since the media brought attention to its excellent Malaysian-style Chinese cooking early this year.
It helps that prices are reasonable, too, with an average bill of $35 a person for dishes that include live seafood.
The Gan Xiang Crab, a Malaysian stir-fried dish where the crab is tossed with a blend of herbs and spices, is finger-licking good, while the Superior Stock Clam Bee Hoon allows you to savour the natural sweetness of the shellfish.
Service is slow, especially on weekends when the place is usually full. But the food is worth waiting for.
3 Punggol Point Road, 01-08/09, tel: 6448-8511
It is not new, but this local seafood restaurant moved back to its original location in June. It had moved out in 1994 when the land was acquired for redevelopment.
While some dishes such as seafood mee goreng and sambal kangkong are good, it also boasts the worst dish I've eaten this year.
Its Lala Beehoon is so peppery that it is impossible to eat. The spice overwhelms the palate and stings the throat, making the clams in the dish redundant.
Service here is poor too. I can understand that most restaurants are struggling with staff shortage problems, but there does not seem to be a system in place here when it comes to taking orders and serving the food.
It was total chaos when I was there, with servers ignoring diners and dishes not appearing despite reminders.
This article was first published on December 28, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.