I don’t write puff pieces, I write balanced reviews; in every review, I mention the good and the bad. But Tong Le Private Dining was perfect in every way, from the moment I made reservations to the moment I exited.
Starter: Trio of dim sum
Helmed by executive chef Martin Foo, who was with Lei Garden before joining the Tunglok group, the 6-course modern Chinese set menu starts from $80 to $250 for lunch; and 7-course dinner from $120 to $500. The menu changes fortnightly, according to fresh seasonal produce. The more expensive sets feature Japanese food from Sushi Mieda. Chiobu picked the $120 set for lunch, but I was troublesome. I informed them in advance that I wanted the $180 set, but I didn’t want Japanese food, I wanted only Chinese food. They accommodated my request. In total, we paid $342 for two persons.
Soup: Bird’s nest with hairy crab roe
Service: Except for bringing the food to our mouths, never once did we lift our hands. Upon arrival, the automatic door swung open. A receptionist greeted us, asked us for our reservations, and pressed the lift for us. When the lift arrived, she went inside to press “10 Floor,” came out of the lift, and held the lift open for us to enter. When the lift opened at 10th floor, a server bowed, greeted us, and walked us to our private room. When the meal ended, another server walked us to the lift, waited with us for the lift, went inside to press “1,” got out of the lift, and held the lift door for us. We only used our hands for one purpose–to lift the cutlery and bring food to our mouths.
Wild-caught garoupa done two ways
Decor: The architecture is like the Changi Airport control tower, skinny body with a huge head. It revolves! It is a revolving restaurant! so that we got a panoramic view of the stunning Marina Bay.
Braised dried seafood, wild mushroom, Kurobuta pork
Food: Nothing short of spectacular. Unlike many fine dining restaurants that don’t serve food hot, Tong Le serves its food steaming, the way Chinese food should be eaten, the way your mama tells you, “Always eat hot food.” And the food had a finesse that only a confident, experienced chef is capable of.
Braised live South African abalone with black truffle
Every dish was flawless. Started with dim sum: crystal dumpling redolent of truffle; abalone siew mai with xo sauce bursting with flavors; and who knew the sweetness of crab could go exceedingly well in a potato croquette? The savory bird’s nest–my guess is they stop serving the controversial shark’s fin, and substitute it with bird’s nest–was even more delicious than shark’s fin; the soup was flavored with hairy crab roe, and every mouthful, cramped full of crab, fish maw, and other delicacies. At first I thought the soup was thick, but I looked closer. It was smooth as water, so the illusion of thickness came because the broth was extremely robust. This was heaven.
Poached abalone with fish mousse noodles in seafood broth
The wild-caught garoupa done two ways–steamed and battered–created an orgasmic contrast of textures in the mouth: smooth as silk, tender as a lover’s kiss, fresh and crispy. Chiobu’s braised dried seafood with Kurobuta pork was breathtaking as it was delectable. My braised African abalone with black truffle was so light and sweet it felt like a summer day by the sea.
For the carb dish, my fried rice with minced Kagoshima wagyu (above) had a fantastic texture, when eaten with crispy rice, and fragrant with wok hei. Chiobu’s poached abalone in seafood broth tasted like hae mee tng, with an interesting fish mousse noodles. For desserts, the double-boiled hashima (below) was layered on an egg white pudding–I feel more beautiful just typing out the ingredients.
Dessert: Pumpkin paste on homemade coconut ice-cream
And then, they sent in a plate of cakes with a Chinese poem, wishing Chiobu Happy Birthday! She was very moved!
Nowhere in Singapore can you find a restaurant quite like Tong Le. Some restaurants have a view, but mediocre food. Some restaurants have great food and service, but no ambience. Tong Le has everything; it’s the real Mccoy, the whole 9 yards. In Mandarin, Tong Le means “happy together” because happiness shared is happiness doubled. What Tong Le has promised in its name, it had given us: a nonpareil meal, a beautiful memory, an immeasurable joy.
60 Collyer Quay, OUE Tower Level 8 & 10, Singapore 049322
T: 6634 3233 (By reservations only, no walk-ins)
Tong Le Private Dining Menu
11.30am-3pm, 6-11pm, Closed on Sun
Dress Code: Smart Casual. No tees, berms, shorts, sandals, slippers.
Note: Children under 10 not allowed, except on Sat and PH.
Rating: 4.8/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.