“New contemporary Asian exploration”
LE Restaurant and Asian Tapas Bar is Paradise Group’s latest foray into modern Chinese dining, after immense success in their casual dining concepts Taste Paradise and Paradise Inn. I was fortunate enough to meet Paradise Group CEO Eldwin Chua during my tasting session and had the opportunity to ask about his inspiration for LE restaurant.
LE Restaurant’s 212 seater represents a new challenge for Mr. Chua, an exploratory push towards avant garde Asian cuisine that caters to a more formal audience. It would have been a lot simpler to just open another Paradise Inn, but LE restaurant is to represent personal as well as corporate growth development and to push the boundaries of food entrepreneurship.
A strong passion for food and value to customers is what drives the continued success of Paradise Group’s tremendous achievements.
I had a hard time trying to find LE restaurant because a) Suntec is huge and undergoing revamp b) the directory doesn’t show where the #02-300+ numbered units are. It just shows up till #02-40. Fortunately we stumbled upon a banner ad while walking around which mentioned that LE was near the Suntec convention centre.
One does not simply walk into LE.
A huge culture difference that LE is trying to introduce to Chinese diners, is the pre-dinner drinks bar. In most European fine-dining settings, there will always be pre-dinner drinks and perhaps some tapas sides, then progressed to the main dinner. In Asian restaurant cultures, this is not practised. We just go straight for the chilli crabs.
LE bar has created a wonderful eclectic lounge and attempts to convince diners on the importance of having alcohol before your food. There are multiple deals like 1-for-1, 20% off and champagnes bottles for less than a hundred. I am definitely for the movement to support drinking and eating.
From left: LE Special ($22), Silky road in Summer ($22), Little Nonya ($22)
Being a former man behind the bar, it’s going to be tricky to persuade me over cocktails. LE’s direction is create Asian inspired cocktails that exhibit oriental influence and uniqueness. They set their numerous cocktails apart by utilizing Bombay Sapphire East (gin infused with lemongrass and heavier spices) and Barcardi Oakheart (slight smoked, spiced rum) instead of regular run of the mill gin and rum.
Silky Road in Summer, a hot cocktail not performed often in bars, was a blend of ginger and milk akin to teh-halia. The spiced rum worked really well with the ginger and was smooth and comforting. An Asian Irish Coffee if you will. Perfect as an after meal digestive.
Little Nonya was citrus flavoured with a spiced rum kick with nods of laksa leaf. A daring play with Asian spices. Overall a balanced drink, but the heavily sugar rimmed glass tilted towards the sweet side too much. Would have been perfect without it.
The LE Special cocktail however, doesn’t quite work for me in terms of flavour pairing. It’s overall plainly sweet (not a problem usually), but mixed with spiced rum the flavours just seem to stick out by itself. A combination of blended ice, gula melaka, coloured syrups and chendol jelly, there seems to be no connection between the familiar Ice Kachang and oakheart rum, seemingly individually pieced together.
Nonetheless, the bar carries the usual stock of hard liquors, whiskeys and also a huge selection of wines. So don’t worry about finding your poison here.
Chilli Crab Kuey Pie Tie ($15 for 4). This was quite yummy- shredded chilli crab with wet sauce absorbed by the alfalfa sprouts hidden below, and contained by the crispy kuey pie tie shell. Pop the whole thing in your mouth and you won’t create a mess like I did.
Mantou burger with braised USDA prime beef ($16 for 4). Another fusion twist on the Chinese kong ba bao (pork belly bun), being represented in a mini slider version using shredded USDA prime beef. Personally I didn’t like how this high quality meat was treated- shredded and braised. There was no way to taste the flavours of USDA prime Angus. Like any whiskey connoisseur will scream at you for adding mixers to a 21 year old single malt scotch, I don’t think such you should braise or shred such good quality beef. Any other cheaper cut of meat can be used and no one would be able to tell.
From a business perspective though, I understand that it’s a strategic decision for more premium ingredients to be used to sell at premium prices.
We soon moved in to the huge dining hall. If you squint really hard, you can see LadyIronChef Brad cameo in this picture. The huge 1.2 metre glass resin custom made Buddha statue is the restaurant’s centrepiece display, and has created quite some controversy amongst guests. Nonetheless, I think Singaporeans should be open-minded and accept design in any form, shape or religious expression. No one is intentionally looking to offend anybody, so chill out.
The dinner lighting in the restaurant personally seems a bit gloomy, being very dim in most areas and having spotlights shining from the top creates cold undertone shadows on your face. Look at my picture with CEO Eldwin Chua at the end to see what I mean. I prefer warm lights all around instead for a cozier vibe, but I guess this is their lighting interpretation.
Alaskan Crab Tomato Relish Shooter ($10/ shot, min. 2). A very refreshing appetizer to start the meal, tangy tomato with sweet Alaskan crab meat and a kick of Jap sesame sauce. Cleanses the palate really well and prepares you for the exciting dishes coming.
Dirty duck ($38/$68). This is LE restaurant’s interpretation of the Peking duck. Quite impressive how many of the dishes will have table side service, and same goes for the dirty duck. They first present this brown, dirty looking meat which is their duck that has been stewed in spices then flash fried. The servers then proceed to shred up the meat and wrap with cucumber, Hoisin sauce and basil in homemade scallion crepes. Admittedly, I was too excited and ate the dish before taking a photo of the portioned version. OH WELL. You can check Melicacy’s blog for her expert photos.
I felt the dirty duck was very well balanced in herby spice blends and the skin was crispy perfection. A very good rendition to a long time classic.
Coral Trout Poached in Lobster Broth ($16/100g, $28 for the broth). This was my favourite selection of the night. Fresh fish meat presented then poached gently table side with a separate rich and delicious lobster broth. It is then served into individual bowls. The broth contains bambo pith, enoki mushrooms, fish stomach and clams. A very multi-layered rich soup, not reeking of fishy taste. Soup fans will love this.
You can also request for Red Garoupa fish meat instead of Coral trout.
This dish in Chinese is known as 过桥东星班, literally ‘crossing bridge coral trout’. The dish prefix 过桥 ‘crossing bridge’, was adapted from the Yunan rice noodle soup dish 过桥米线. ‘Crossing bridge’ or 过桥 is a style of having a separate hot broth and ingredients, then added together to cook quickly right before serving. One popular name origin says that in the past a scholar’s wife on a small island who had to cross a bridge to bring her husband food, found that by the time she crossed the bridge her soup noodles would get cold and soggy. She then decided to put the hot soup in a large earthen pot with oil on the top to keep it insulated, while packing the noodles separately. She would then only combine the ingredients after crossing the bridge for a warm meal.
Pan Seared Grade 9 Australian Wagyu Beef with Lemon Zest ($160 for 200g). If you know your beef marbling, you will be impressed. The maximum marbling score they are allowed to give in Australia is a MBS 9+ (it’s a different grading system for Japan), so this is pretty near perfection for it’s origin. Just look at the intense fat marbling on the raw meat before they seared it.
Extremely tender and juicy, the meat quality is just amazing and seared well by the table side service with hints of truffle oil. The grated lemon zest which you can dip on the side is supposed to help you cut through the intense fat if you find the umami overwhelming. I for one prefer my fats. Even though Wagyu is a Asian cow breed, the dish preparation appears to be more western inspired though and left me a bit puzzled on brand to dish alignment. The price is also not for the faint-hearted.
Stir-fried Angel Hair with Japanese Dried Ebi ($28/$42). I’ve been assured the portion we tasted here was not the actual serving size. There is at least twice as much more pasta, and is more for a sharing plate like the noodles you have as the last course in a Chinese restaurant.
A French and Asian fusion dish, the angel hair pasta is fried in lobster broth for that extra sweetness and then topped with Sakura ebi shrimp. A very nice carbohydrate dish to fill up the tummy.
Sweet temptation ($13). For dessert, we had this set of shooters containing from left: Avocado cream with coffee ice cream, yakult and sesame pudding and mango sago. I quite liked the heavy avocado cream with the coffee kicker, but the yakult and sesame pudding was the star. Akin to Italian panna cotta, the sesame was subtle and not overly powering the yakult pudding. Sweet, with contrasting textures from the sesame and pudding, this was a scrumptious dessert to end the night. The mango sago was pretty standard. Meh.
At the end of last order I think around 930pm, the kitchen will start to close and a closing announcement will be play. The staff all start clapping in appreciation for a day’s hard work and the chefs take a bow, so don’t be shocked if you’re staying late.
LE restaurant is made to appeal to the numerous corporate crowd around Suntec, and serves as an alternative to entertain business clients rather than going to Marina Bay Sands. They have multiple private rooms for booking and also a large space for private events. LE also offers a cheaper dim sum lunch menu so that office executives can have lunch here regularly without splurging a bomb.
LE is extremely targeted in their clientèle and aims to give you more value for the price you pay anywhere else. Some of the items might be quite expensive, but LE promises a range that can cater from mid to high spending. Not a casual restaurant destination, visit LE restaurant during special occasions or that one important client you need to impress.
Expected Damage: $30 (dim sum lunch)- $80 (dinner)/per person
LE Restaurant and Bar: #02-314, Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Boulevard | Facebook
*It’s near Suntec Convention centre