VLV is the latest venue to rise in Clarke Quay as it takes over the hard-to-miss heritage building that was Indochine for a number of years. The place has recently been transformed to become a truly multi-faceted venue. Guests can choose between drinking in an alfresco setting, partying inside the sleek club lounge or dining in style at the snazzy second floor space. Or you could do all three in one night! The Singapore address is just the first of a series of venues planned by the brand as it intends to expand in other gateway cities.
I recently dropped by the one-month old VLV to check out some of its cocktails as well as have a go at its dining menu. The restaurant upstairs offers modern Cantonese fare in a setting I could best describe as “Neo-Taipan” – modern and refined with subtle Chinese touches. It’s an apt theme considering the building itself dates back from the 1880s. The interiors are truly beautiful and I recommend having a long and leisurely dinner here to absorb as much of the stunning ambiance as possible.
Before dinner started, we had a go at their signature drinks list at the club lounge downstairs. The menu obviously draws inspiration from the venue’s riverside setting – with names such as “Quayside,” “The Boat” or the more literal “By the River.”
We started off with these Canadian Lobster Wantons ($16). One of my favorite light bites, I order fried wantons whenever I see them available and VLV’s version came with generous fillings. The crispy skin was also notable and there was no compromise whatsoever in the crackling department. Even the outer edges remained highly crispy.
Speaking of things that crackle, the Crackling Pork Belly ($18) that came next is another dish to try if you enjoy crispy food. Make sure to dip the meat with some rich mustard for an extra kick.
We then had a humongous Peking Duck ($110 for a whole duck) which was done two ways. It came first with your typical popiah wrapper, spring onions and lettuce to go along the succulent duck skin. What was different about VLV’s version is the inclusion of avocados and a special “foie gras” sauce for the wrap. The result was a cornucopia of flavors – from the richness of the avocado down to the sinful qualities of the foie gras sauce complementing the slippery and delectable duck skin.
While it is highly common for the residual duck meat to be chopped and wrapped in lettuce leaves, VLV’s version was theatrical and creative with the minced meat stuffed inside cones. This added a most welcome crunch to each bite. A scene stealer if I may say so.
The Premium Soya Prawns ($36) were plump and decked copiously in mouthwatering sauce. I’ve always had my own reservations about eating prawns without peeling them but this is definitely a dish to eat the skin with in order to appreciate the rich (and addicting!) flavors of the sauce.
VLV’s Beggar Chicken ($55) is perhaps one of the most elaborate menu item of the house. In keeping with the true spirit of the dish, the clay-wrapped chicken demands a person to knock it open with a hammer. The treasure within beckoned with a golden brown hue and a tenderness that could only be achieved after hours of baking.
The chicken was accompanied with a side of special rice, grown from a high altitude. The grain came with a chewy texture not too dissimilar from risoni.
The sound of what I thought were firecrackers greeted us as the next dish was served. The Sizzling Romaine Lettuce ($24) came to us as the name suggested – frizzling against the claypot that it was housed in. For a guilt-free option, you can’t go wrong with these fresh, wholesome greens flavored with shrimp.
By now, most of us at the table were quite full but the Kimchi Seafood Fried Rice ($28) demanded our attention with its generous seafood topping and egg yolk. The Kimchi flavor was pronounced but not very spicy – which is good news for people like me.
We ended the meal with a duo of desserts. First came the Luo Han Jelly ($12) which also made a theatrical entrance as hot water was poured over dry ice to create a smoky effect. The jelly is best eaten by simultaneously scraping the coconut flesh with each scoop. It made for a refreshing finish to the meal.
If you have space for just one dessert though, I really recommend the Or Nee ($12) – yam paste with coconut ice cream and pumpkin. While not as visually stimulating as the Luo Han Jelly, the richness of the paste was simply memorable and it remains a mystery to me how the gooey effect was achieved despite not adding any lard. It was really good I managed to finish one entire bowl on my own!
3 Merchant’s Court
River Valley Road
Reservations: +65 6661 0197
Dinner 6.00pm–11.00pmClub Lounge