>$60

Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House, Tanjong Pagar Centre: Good Food but Confusing Menu

Been wanting to visit Blue Lotus at Sentosa for the longest time because of rave reviews. But it’s inaccessible and it’s hard to gather a group of people to go there because it’s a communal dining place. But this year, Blue Lotus has rapidly expanded. They opened Blue Lotus Noodles and, shortly after, in a month or so, Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House at Tanjong Pagar Centre.

On their website, it claims that Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House “marr[ies] traditional Chinese flavours and essences with western culinary techniques that are borne from the unique. A first ever proposition for a Chinese restaurant…” HOLD ON A MINUTE. That’s a huge claim, to say that they are the first to combine Chinese ingredients and Western cooking in the world? in Singapore? Have they done their research? Because I’ve definitely eaten dim sum in Western style in a London Michelin-starred restaurant many years ago.  And mod sin in Singapore, a movement to cook Singapore food with Western techniques, has been going on for decades. Sack their copywriter!

The restaurant space itself is very lovely, eclectic, comfortable. But the menu, like the website, is a mess. Almost half the items on the menu are recommended. I’ve been to at least 1500 restaurants and eateries since I started this blog. I’m a virtuoso at reading menus, but this menu is one of the most confusing menus I’ve seen. At the most, only 10% of the items should be recommended. Make a decision.

To compound the frustration, there aren’t many grilled items and the grilled items are recommended alongside the non-grilled. For the lunch menu starting from $18/pax (a main and a dessert), there are only 3 grilled items out of 9. For tapas, there are 3 out of 12. A la carte mains have more: 5 out of 10.

Because the menu is so confusing, we just got whatever the server recommended. The crab balls ($22) with a chilli pomelo sauce are a deconstructed version of Singapore’s chilli crab. It’s excellent. The balls are packed with crab meat and the chilli has a kick and a richness undercut by pomelo.

The oven baked grilled chicken rice ($20) is also excellent. The chicken thigh is marinated such that even the meat is tasty. The skin is crisp but the meat is tender and moist. It comes with a kickass chicken-rice-chilli and ginger. This is a good rendition of our local Hainanese chicken rice but I wonder if people are willing to part with 5 times the price of a plate at a hawker centre.

The grilled barramundi ($26) is mind-blowing. It’s so fresh and cooked so perfectly. The taste of assam doesn’t overpower the fish’s delicate milkiness. The assam itself is quite spicy and delicious although it is a little too sweet.

The only dish I didn’t is the mirrored glazed chocolate stone ($18), which is is 72% dark chocolate cake with mixed berry ice cream. So-so. The surrounding ingredients don’t really go with the chocolate.

The tang yuan is dusted lightly with salt, which gives it a sweet-salty flavor: quite nice.

As you can see, I quite like the food here. But now, having time to study the confusing menu while writing this review, I regret the food we ate because I didn’t get to eat many grilled items. And it is very frustrating for me to miss out on what I should have ordered. It’s like going into Ali Baba’s cave and coming out empty-handed.

From the menu, I would have concentrated on ordering mostly grilled items like hickory smoked honey-glazed kurobuta pork belly ($16), rack of lamb ($32), wagyu ribeye ($48), fermented tofu barley risotto with pan seared baramundi ($28), ending with baked cinnamon apple pie ($12). If only the menu isn’t so convoluted or if I have 20 minutes to mug up on the menu. Can they hire a professional menu-writer or an expert on user-experience?


MENU


Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House
5 Wallich Street, #01-13 Tanjong Pagar Centre Singapore 078883
Tel: +65 6996 0880 / +65 6910 0880
11.30am–10.30pm, closed Sun
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Food: 7.25/10
Service: 7/10
Price: 7/10
Decor: 8/10


You may be interested in…
Jiakpalang Eating House, Alexandra Road: Mod Sin Cze Char Shows the Versatility of Singapore Food
Wine & Chef, Keong Saik Road: Surprisingly Good Mod Sin Food With $6 a Glass of Italian Boutique Wine
Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong, Haji Lane: Fish Farm Opens a Seafood Restaurant at Bar Stories
Po Restaurant, The Warehouse Hotel, Robertson Quay: $28 Popiah and Other Mod Sin Cuisine by Willin Low and Lo & Behold Group


Written by A. Nathanael Ho.

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