15 Stamford by Alvin Leung has officially opened at The Capitol Kempinski Singapore. Helmed by the so-called “demon chef” Alvin Leung who holds 3 Michelin stars for his Bo Innovation restaurant in Hong Kong, the venue pays tribute to various Asian cuisines such as those from Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The menu at 15 Stamford by Alvin Leung consists of Asian favorites but with creative twists through Chef Leung’s contemporary touch. I had the opportunity to visit the restaurant one day before it opened and I must say I was impressed.
The first thing one notices as one enters the 150-seater restaurant is its stunning interiors. The dark and grand palatial design by the late renowned Jaya Ibrahim blends well with the heritage building which houses it and is very much suited for a traditional luxury hotel brand such as Kempinski.
For the amuse bouche, we had the Bluefin Tuna Tartare in Gochujang Sauce (S$18). This is actually part of the bar menu but I found it so addicting with the crunchy taco shell providing a nice juxtaposition to the spicy sour soft tuna cubes within. Think of it as a Korean-tinged kueh pie tee. It’s an excellent teaser to the palate with me having to make a conscientious effort to save more tummy space for the dishes that followed.
Next came the Hokkaido Scallop with Salted Plum and Shiso (S$26). Plump raw pieces of scallops soon graced our table just begging to be devoured. This is a good albeit relatively standard dish for sharing. Alternatively, a more interesting scallops dish is the Hokkaido Scallop with Adobo Butter and Ginger (S$12 per piece). Served on a decorative shell, the Hokkaido Scallops here come grilled in soy garlic vinegar butter sauce (hence the “adobo”). It is then finished off with deep fried shredded ginger. I could definitely perceive the Filipino inspiration here. The tangy adobo sauce complemented the scallops (you’d want to slather more on it) well.
Continuing on the theme of “tangy” appetizers, the Hamachi with Calamansi Ponzu and Roasted Sesame (S$28) is a slightly different take to your usual hamachi sashimi. Calamansi is used wantonly here which makes this a relatively refreshing option.
The Three-style Corn, Heirloom Tomatoes and Cucumbers in Hong Kong “Pat Chun” Sweet Vinegar (S$18) attracts the curious eater with three types of corn – charred corn, baby corn and surprise, surprise – popcorn! It’s paired with “pat chun” or “eight treasures” vinaigrette and serves as an excellent vegetarian option for starters. I enjoyed the contrasting textures of the corn against the other veggies here.
The idea of having a whole lobster may be too mainstream these days when it comes to upscale restaurants so I have to say I was floored when I saw the Boston Lobster with Mangosteen, Tomato and Spicy Thai Dressing (S$58). The grilling conforms to your usual Boston Lobster but the highlight here I have to say is the mangosteen. This is probably the first time I’ve seen cooked mangosteen being used in a savory dish and the result is a fruity tinge to the already sweet crustacean meat. The accompanying spicy Thai dressing wasn’t as strong compared to the mangosteen which I certainly did not mind.
Prior to the dinner starting, Chef Leung made a short demonstration and explained the inspiration behind one of the grills – the Chargrilled “Bak Kut Teh” Pork Chop with Compressed Watermelon, Angelica and Barbecue Sauce (S$38). He mentioned his intention to pay homage to local cuisine. Of the two versions of “bak kut teh” he preferred the herbal one and thus decided to create a dish around it.
This “bak kut teh” pork chop is notable for lacking any of the soup that the local dish is supposed to have – a deliberate move by Chef Leung. Instead, all the flavors that one would expect from the herbal “bak kut teh” has been infused into the large slab of meat. Even the accompanying watermelon came soaked in the fragrance of Angelica herbs.
Among the dishes I had that evening, my favorite has got to be the Bone-in Beef Short Rib Rendang served with Cabbage Salad (S$68). While I did not care much for the unappetizing pink-ness of the cabbage, the bone-in beef short rib was heavenly. The fibers possessed a remarkable softness with the fibers collapsing like butter with the stroke of a knife. My only complaint about the beef is the delightful rendang sauce was a bit lacking in amount. I will be back for this.
I did not think that the Singapore Laksa with Jasmine Tea-smoked Onsen Quail Eggs, Housmade Dried Shrimp Oil, Shrimp Floss and Tiger Prawns Tempura (S$32) would leave much of an impression but the thick prawn and lemak broth won me over – so much so I had two small bowls. The onsen egg was an interesting creation with the yolk indeed possessing a smoky Jasmine tea flavor.
We ended the meal with Mango Pomelo Sago with Coconut Snow (S$16). It is more theatrical than it is groundbreaking but then again, I prefer to have this Chinese dessert the traditional way.
It has been a while since a new restaurant in Singapore left such an impression on me but I can wholeheartedly say that there are plenty of dishes here to love. Ironically, 15 Stamford by Alvin Leung may end up becoming the perfect antithesis to the molecular cuisine that has been shaking up Singapore’s culinary scene today. The pre-Christmas opening also belies its deserving inclusion among the best new restaurant openings in Singapore in 2018.
15 Stamford by Alvin Leung
15 Stamford Road
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore
Phone: +65 6715 6871