Chatterbox reopens on the 14th of March 2022 at the spanking new Hilton Singapore Orchard. Along with the reopening comes a brand new look for this 50+ year old dining institution in Singapore famed for its Mandarin Chicken Rice.
The new look of Chatterbox is a far cry from the rather dated interiors that it sported prior to the refurbishment. Truth be told, it now looks more like a private lounge – the kind that would make for a nice spot for a tete-a-tete or for some casual meetings.
There are also plenty of seating options at the new Chatterbox – from the bar area where diners can sample the inhouse Chatterbox Punch (S$17) before moving on to the meal proper to group dining spaces. In total, Chatterbox has 126 seats.
My favorite area has got to be by the far end of the restaurant where a glass-enclosed balcony overlooks a manicured garden. Other than possessing plenty of natural light in the day time, it makes for a tranquil spot while enjoying some local fare.
I managed to drop by Chatterbox just one day before they officially opened to the public and managed to try everything on their menu. They now have just 8 items on the menu unlike in the past when they also offered salads and even sandwiches. The focus this time is on local fare.
Here is a rundown of their menu:
Table of Contents
Mandarin Chicken Rice
Their most iconic dish, the Mandarin Chicken Rice (S$25), remains just as plump and juicy as I remember, despite a change in the way the chicken is cooked. The bird is no longer boiled in chicken stock but is instead steamed. The piping hot bowl of jasmine rice that came with it was extremely fragrant and the soup was also comforting. Each order of the chicken rice comes with a trio of condiments – homemade chili sauce, ginger puree and dark soya sauce. The presentation of the chicken rice is also updated. It’s no longer served in one of those outdated hotel plates. The current version comes with a cute wooden tea tray. In fact, the plating used for all dishes have been updated and are now quite instagrammable.
Wok-fried Sambal Vegetables
There are two options for the vegetable (S$12) here – either kang kong or winged beans. I tried the winged beans which was delightfully crunchy against the sweet-spicy combination of Chatterbox’s sambal – a slight departure from the sambal I usually try in zhi char stalls which tend to lean towards the spicy side.
Mackerel and Crab Otah-Otah
My dining companions loved the Mackerel and Crab Otah-Otah (S$18). Personally, I don’t like it when the coconut milk flavor is overpowering so I was pleased to find the otah here to be on the milder side when it comes to the coconut taste. This allows the sweetness of the crab meat to shine.
Lemon Butter Tiger Prawns
My favorite dish at Chatterbox has got to be the Lemon Butter Tiger Prawns (S$28). In a dining scene which typically favors drenching the plump seafood with wasabi, cereal or salted egg yolk, I found the savory-sour combination of the lemon butter to be less cloying. In fact, it’s the kind of dish that I imagine would go well with white rice. Lots of it.
Sea Perch with Burnt Green Chili
This seems like a new addition to the menu. The Sea Perch with Burnt Green Chili (S$35) boasts of an elegantly crispy exterior that contrasts with the soft and perfectly white interior. The green chili serves to add flavor and moisture to an otherwise dry dish, although I already found the fish by itself to be quite enjoyable.
Next to the Mandarin Chicken Rice, the Lobster Laksa (S$36) is probably the second most iconic dish in Chatterbox’s history. It remains just as good as in the past, with no less than 350 grams of Boston Lobster thrown into the delectable laksa broth. There is also generous portions of tau pok – perfect for absorbing the coconut milk. A word of advice – the serving is huge and the laksa is best eaten as a sharing dish.
Chatterbox’s Hokkien Mee (S$28) comes generously topped with a myriad of seafood including a number of plump scallops. The pork and prawn stock gave the noodles an intense umami flavor. So good!
Signature Coconut Ice Cream
If there is one item that remains unchanged in Chatterbox, it’s the Signature Coconut Ice Cream (S$15). This is another mainstay for the past 50+ years with its twin scoops of coconut ice cream encased in a coconut husk and topped with lychee and walnuts. Admittedly, this is my first time eating this dessert and I found the coconut ice cream to be slightly on the milkier side. It even comes drenched with chocolate syrup, though I would personally prefer doing without it.
Chatterbox revamped at just the right time when global travel is set to make a comeback. For travelers coming to Singapore, Chatterbox has been top of mind over the decades when it comes to local fare, especially the chicken rice. The nicer ambiance will only reinforce that. For locals, Chatterbox is a venue where they can savor delicious Singaporean dishes in a gorgeous airconditioned setting.
Hilton Singapore Orchard
333 Orchard Road
+65 6831 6291
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