Sam Leong started his career with the Tung Lok group and my wedding dinner was actually planned by him. He proceeded to become a master on his own rights with his strong Cantonese cuisine background and coupled with Chef Mike Tan and his French cooking techniques, started this fusion cuisine. A fantastic combination of the freshness and bold flavours of Cantonese cuisine and delicate presentation and texture of French cooking, this “cooking theatre” made dining an experience on its own.
Forest offers a 5 course dinner set, a 8 or 10 course degustation menu, and a la carte menu. You can also do omakase based on your budget and party size. The restaurant is situated in the uber 5-start Equarius Hotel and not accessible without a vehicle made this a perfect spot for that quiet tit-a-tat with the special someone. After an amuse bouche that tasted like takoyaki, we started to worry if the fusion theme was taken a little too far. Amuse bouche frames the cooking style and type of cuisine you would expect from the chef. It was not a promising start.
The 10-course degustation menu started with the Hokkaido King Scallop steamed in natural flavour and served with Thai green curry sauce (清蒸带子球，青咖喱). The scallop was encrusted in tofu and chopped scallions and pepper, steamed and then laid on a bed of Thai green curry. The umami of the scallop was diluted with tofu but then enhanced with the strong curry. OK lah.
Next was a very complex dish of wagyu, foie gras wrapped in salmon skin and deep fried (姜茸鹅肝和牛卷). Roulade is the French equivalent of a Chinese spring roll, except that it is wrapped in filo and not flour skin. Sam took it another level by wrapping salmon skin with all the savoury and deep fried it to a crispy deliciousness. Decadent and sinful, but good eat.
Next is the Chinese seafood yam basket inspired dish. Boston Lobster wok fried with egg white and fresh milk served in a cheese basket (鲜奶炒龙虾，芝士盏). The egg white and milk were fried to become like a 赛螃蟹 and combined with the sauteed lobster, mushroom and asparagus, and placed in a cheese basket that was shaped into a bowl. The dinner was getting interesting.
Then came the mushroom dish (清炖羊肚菌汤，纸包野山菌) . Morsel Mushroom was baked together with other types of mushroom and baked in baking paper 纸包焗 with conpoy (dried scallop). The end result was a really tasty consomme that was satisfying in the umami department with its “meaty” taste even though it’s totally vegetarian. The baked mushroom could be accompanied with plain rice and that would be a meal by itself. The highlight of the evening.
Next, a fish dish that consisted of a steamed piece of goby on a sour lemongrass Thai-style stock (泰式番茄丝蒸顺壳). The goby was a tad tough and “lougou” (楼狗, a Teochew term to described that although the fish was fresh, but because it was too big or stuck inactive for too long, the meat was not tender), the sauce did not do the fish any favour. It was obvious that the fish was steamed separately from the sauce, and the taste did not integrate. Disappointing.
Sam’s dad was a master of shark’s fin soup and abalones. Sam attempted a variation of this dish using a salt baked method. 6 Head Abalone oven baked with black truffle sauce in salt crust, accompanied with King Oyster Mushroom and Broccoli (盐焗黑菌鲍鱼伴鸡腿菇时蔬). The abalone was tender and succulent. The sauce was the letdown. The accompaniment was really disappointing. It could do better with a duck feet braised in the au jus or just bamboo pith to soak up the taste. Another down.
Charcoal grilled and served with sauteed assorted mushrooms (again?) topped with seared foie gras (again?) in black pepper sauce (炭烧特级鹿儿岛和牛板鹅肝). The black pepper sauce was not the Western style but the Chinese style pepper sauce that had the pepercorn still intact. Too many of the ingredients were repeated from earlier dishes that it gave a feeling of deja vu. The chard that came as a side was bland and an obvious after-thought. A real waste of a really good piece of beef.
Crab craw steamed with egg white and vermicelli in Chinese wine (花雕蛋白粉丝蒸蟹钳) was pretty out of place in tonight’s degustation.Everything else did not require any deboning or deshelling. This actually came with the shell still intact. Would love it if it just took it out. No need to proof the freshness or the source of the crab.
The final savoury dish was Winter Melon Noodle braised with pickled pepper in superior chicken stock (泡椒汁银丝条). Instead of flour-based noodles, Sam used a winter melon, shredded into strands and cooked it like noodles. The broth was sticky with the chicken stock and slightly sour and hot from the szechuan peppercorn and pickles. Great end to the dinner.
The dessert was a trio of mango pudding, coconut ice cream on popping candy and a chocolate mousse. Sweet ending. But coffee was extra (what?).
Service was OK, could be even better (more attentive). The ambience was great and the food taste was up and down. Overall a great experience, but I would go a la carte the next time.
Equarius Hotel, Resort World Sentosa
8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island (Harbourfront MRT), Tel: +65 65776688
Michelin Singapore 2016 1 Star, 2017 Tables