The name "Labyrinth" calls to mind the exploration in a culinary journey, which is what a diner experiences as he has his meal. That is the concept behind Restaurant Labyrinth, run by Singaporean chef Han Li Guang (or "Chef LG Han").
Restaurant Labyrinth re-interprets traditional recipes, local cuisines and cultures and takes diners on a gastronomical adventure and provide a dining experience that challenges perceptions. Diners are treated with foodfare that showcase the marriage of modern culinary skills and traditional methodology.
I had the opportunity to take on a gastronomical adventure with Chef Han and I am glad that I did. Having enjoyed Singaporean foodfare for a long time, I was piqued by curiosity, challenged my perceptions regarding traditional recipes, and reconcile with the new interpretation of the traditional recipes, local cuisines and cultures.
"Homage to my Singapore" Tasting Lunch Menu by Chef LG Han
The Labyrinth Chilli Crab | Local Flower Crab atop Chilli Crab Ice Cream
The Labyrinth Chilli Crab has been through numerous iterations. Its latest version features local wild-caught flower crab atop with a scoop of Chilli Crab Ice Cream and locally farmed ice plant curry leaves, egg white ribbons and a side of deep-fried mini buns. This is definitely not the traditional Chilli Crab you can get from any seafood restaurants in Singapore. Chef Han reinvented the dish with a nice twist of Chilli Crab ice cream. The ice cream was a perfect replicate of the Chilli Crab sauce with the right amount of spicyness and taste. The crab meat was freshly prepared. Soak up the remaining chilli crab "sauce" with the mini bun and enjoy the delightful version of neo-Singapore's Chilli Crab. (Food Rating: 4/5)
Hainanese Satay | 3 Cuts Local Pork
Showcasing Chef Han's Hainanese roots, Chef Han's Pork Satay was cured and marinated for 48 hours and uses three different cuts of local pork (i.e. cheek, armpit, shoulder) on each skewer as well as local egg plant to achieve perfect balance in texture. Like a typical Satay dish, this dish is completed with the quintessential Hainanese Satay Sauce with Pineapple Puree and a pan-seared Nasi Ulam "Ketupat" featuring six types of local herbs and Sakura Ebi wrapped in purple Sweet Potato leaf. The Nasi Ulam, a traditional Malay herb rice salad and in Peranakan culture, was amazing with nice savoury taste. Savour each bite and enjoy the different layers of taste from this onigiri. Finally, end the snack with a shot of Sugarcane Kombucha on the side. (Food rating: 4/5)
Orh Luak | Local Oyster | Caviar
This Orh Luak Takoyaki (or Octopus Balls) is back on their menu with improved recipe, topped with Russian Sturgeon caviar and Bonito Flakes. It is amazing how a Singaporean Fried Oyster Omelette is reinvented it in Takoyaki-style, yet retaining its local flavours. (Food rating: 3
Pr"atas" | Black Winter Truffle
Prata is an Indian-influenced flatbread dish found in several countries in Southeast Asia, including Singapore. Atas: Origin Malay - a term to describe a person or someone that is high class. Chef Han's Pr-"atas" is an "atas" play on his favourite type of prata. Pr"atas" comprises of a traditional prata dough with a jammy yolk layered with Black Winter Truffles and served with a Whipped Curry Lardo dip with Curry Oil. At first bite, the truffles exploded first, followed by the nice curry and finally the nice prata fragrance. (Food rating: 4/5)
Rojak | 12 types of local herbs from EGC | Jackfruit textures, fermented honey
Labyrinth's version of rojak looks nothing like the typical Southeast Asian salad that is tossed in a dark prawn paste dressing. This rojak is an aesthetic assemblage of 12 local herbs, jackfruit (cempedak) sorbet, peanuts and fermented honey. Mix the ingredients well and get ready for a mind-blowing experience. The fermented honey has a nice acidity that replaces the classic tamarind juice used in a traditional rojak. This rojak is no different from the traditional rojak, with similar taste and flavour. (Food rating: 5/5)
Bak Chor Mee | Local Squid | Hokkaido Scallop | Lardo | Dried Flounder
Chef Han took another creative approach to the Singaporean fare by recreating Bak Chor Mee. So, what is Bak Chor Mee (肉脞面)? It literally means “minced meat and noodles” in the Teochew dialect. This seafood-inspired Bak Chor Mee uses saffron-infused sliced squid as springy "yellow flat" noodles, flash fried sliced Hokkaido Scallop as fish cake, and olive powder and anchovies as "minced meat". The noodle cannot be complete without a drizzle of black Chinese vinegar and a small amount of heady dried shrimp sambal. (Food rating: 5/5)
XO Fish Noodle Soup | AHK Pearl Garoupa
A creative rendition of Singapore's local favourite - XO Fish Noodle Soup comprises of crispy Fatt Choy wrapped around the fresh Pearl Garoupa fillet. The 12-year Flor de Cana rum-infused milk fish broth came from boiled Garoupa bones and simmered until thick. The dish is then served with homemade Fish Paste noodles. This rendition of XO Fish Noodle Soup was amazingly delightful. The fillet was freshly prepared and the crispy black moss (or Fatt Choy) gave that added texture. (Food rating: 5/5)
Sizzling Plate Steak | Tochigi A4 Wagyu Striploin
The Cairnhill Steakhouse was one of the first steakhouses in Singapore to showcase premium air-flown beef from Australia on a cow-shaped sizzling plate. Chef Han's family once owned Cairnhill Steakhouse. The Sizzling Plate Steak comprises of Wagyu Striploin, Hainanese-style Red Wine Sauce, Confit Heirloom Baby Carrot and French Bean, Faux Jacket Potato made of Fried Potato Skin, Pomme Puree (similar to Mashed Potato), Sour Cream and Smoked Bacon Bits - all served on a traditional cow-shaped sizzling plate.
Came together with the Sizzling Plate was a red candle with fresh warm bread. The red "candle" was made from beef essence as dip. When eaten, the bread dipped with beef essence had distinct beef flavour.
(Food rating: 4/5)
Ice Kachang | Oyster Plant
The shaved ice dessert comprises of Oyster Plant that gives the purple colour, syrup made from Wandering Jew and Rosella, Strawberry Peach Gum, Dragonfruit and other fruits. It showcases lesser known local herbs like Oyster Plant, Wandering Jew and Rosella. It has a nice colour and the taste was mildly sweet. (Food rating: 3/5)
Cereal Prawn | Oatmeal Soft Serve
An innovative rendition of Cereal Prawn, served with Oatmeal Soft Serve. This wonderful dessert comprise of 20-year Shaoxing Wine, Oatmeal Soft Serve, Goji Berries, mini Muah Chee Balls and a box of "Cereal Prawn" Cereal Mix. The Cereal Mix includes deep-fried Sakura Eni, mixed with oats, chilli and curry leaves, served in Labyrinth's customised Cereal Box. Unlike a typical dessert that associates with sweetness, this creativity makes you experience desserts in a different perspective. (Food rating: 4/5)
Kaya, Teh Tarik & Eggs | Caviar
Who could have thought that a "Ya Kun" kaya toast is made of Meringue? Served with Teh Tarik Meringue "Toast" with Authentic Traditional Housemade Hainanese Kaya (Coconut Jam), Bordier Butter, topped with Russian Caviar. This "atas" rendition of a local kaya toast was delightful. The texture of the Meringue was perfect as if it was just toasted from the charcoal stove.
About 70 per cent of Restaurant Labyrinth's ingredients come from across the island. As a sustainable restaurant, Chef Han chooses to utilise local and regional produce to demonstrate his dedication to supporting these smaller agriculture businesses. Among its suppliers are Edible Garden City, Ah Hua Kelong, Uncle William Quail Farm, Kühlbarra and Sea Farmers, all of which Han has named dishes after.
Address: Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Ave, #02 - 23, Singapore 039802
Price: $$ (Homage to My Singapore Lunch Tasting Menu - SGD138)
Food Rating: 4/5 ★★★★
Ambience: A simple, less formal setting, giving diners a comfortable dining experience. Unlike other Michelin-starred restaurants, Restaurant Labyrinth's less formal interiors give dinners a comfortable dining experience.
Service: The staff were attentive but not intrusive, giving diners a pleasant dining experience.