The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): French and modern local Chinese fare in gorgeous chic setting.
The must-orders (if any): Lobster bisque, Octopus, Wagyu beef cheek, Cuisses de Grenouille (frog legs)
Summary: Launching in October 2017 within the new Sofitel Singapore City Centre, Racines is a French/Chinese dining concept helmed by Executive Chef Jean-Charles Dubois, and the beautiful setting alone is reason to visit – it’s all natural light-friendly full length glass windows, chic suspended light fixtures with a touch of orange cosy, and glorious spaciousness. Food-wise, the French aspect is handled competently – the Lobster Bisque positively steals the scene with its olfactory assault of an oceanic fragrance, possessing so much intense personality that even the inherently alpha-male Emmental ravioli fails to distract with its cheesy assertiveness, while elsewhere the Cuisses de Grenouille (French-style pan-fried frog legs) conducts itself with tender restraint and confident poise. The soft Wagyu Beef Cheek tears away in abject, utter surrender without a knife, and the firm and smokily charred Octopus comes accompanied with a very indulgent pike roe. The Chinese fare (which is essentially atas modern tze char and local fare), on the other hand, is more mixed in its performance – whilst the sweet and sour Kurobuta pork poshes up the traditional Chinese send-up with its luxuriously fatty and crunchy qualities, the Szechuan frog leg is less numbing than it was powdery and disposable in its embers of spice. Presumably, the idea might have been that ang mohs buay tahan.
I had sight of the physical full menu for when Racines fully launches, and the Chinese side of things – think Hot and Sour Soup with Chicken, Mushroom, Crabmeat, Tarragon Pesto and Grilled Sourdough; Wok-fried Crispy Cereal Tiger Prawns, Garlic Butter and Curry Leaves; Hainanese Chicken Rice; and Singapore-style Sri Lankan Crab in either black pepper or chilli crab style – may well please the parents and older folks while the younger and posher ones get to frolic in French, but as it stands from my experience, the French proceedings leave the stronger impression.
Lobster bisque – traditional lobster bisque, coral oil, basil, Emmental ravioli and micro cress.
Octopus – chargrilled Galician octopus with avocado, lime creme fraiche and smoked sweet paprika.
Local kale salad with black olive cookie, baby heirloom tomatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds and passionfruit vinaigrette.
Wagyu beef cheek – 48 hour slow cooked wagyu beef cheek, truffled mashed potatoes and seasonal greens.
Cuisses de Grenouille – pan-fried local boneless frog legs with pink garlic, parsley and wild mushroom emulsion.
Frog – stir-fried frog legs in spicy Szechuan salt.
Squid – Nyonya-style stir-fried calamari.
Meat – sweet and sour crispy Kurobuta pork.
Mango sticky rice – sliced mango, sticky rice, homemade coconut ice cream.
Mousse Au Chocolat – light Valrhona mousse, chantilly, crispy pearls.
Yuzu tart – yuzu tart, lime butter monte, crumble, rice crispies.
I also managed to try some cocktails from 1864, the tea lounge/cocktail bar concept for Sofitel Singapore City Centre. The happily-presented Sofitini was a zesty diversion, while the refreshing Wallich Punch would likely suit the alcohol-conservative. I had a Negroni as well – the classics deliver.
1864, the cocktail bar and hotel tea lounge.
Sofitini – Belvedere vodka, apple cinnamon syrup, passionfruit puree, lime juice, ginger, egg white.
Wallich Punch – Kraken spiced rum, cucumber, apple puree, calamansi, green tea honey syrup.
The sounds of the upcoming Chinese dishes intrigue, and I may well be back to satiate my curiosity, but the quality of the French fare and the endless possibilities for the gorgeous space provide reasons for a return.
Grade: High B3, low A2.
Racines (Sofitel Singapore City Centre)
9 Wallich Street
This was a hosted meal, courtesy of Racines and 1864.