From Kuala Lumpur, the accolade-laden Dancing Fish Signature has arrived on our shores at Tangs Plaza. The restaurant, which serves no lard and no pork, melds the best of Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines and this hits home in our Southeast Asian little hearts – we love our rice and spices. Although we note that rempah plays an important role for many Malay-Indo dishes, not all dishes are necessarily spicy. It is not difficult to find good Indonesian food in Singapore but this is among one of the best.
For starters, the Chicken Satay ($12) consists of four sticks of marinated chicken thigh meat grilled to perfection with the right amount of char. The spices and herbs for the marinade are different from the Singapore-style satay. The taste is more savoury than sweet. The satay sauce has granular peanuts bits that add extra texture to the bite. The only gripe is the price tag. It is $3 for a stick of chicken satay. I can easily find satay in Singapore for less than a dollar per stick. No doubt, these skewered meats are delicious and every morsel is tender. Order it if you favour quality over quantity.
The restaurant’s namesake comes from its principal dish, Dancing Fish with Dabu-Dabu ($37). Fresh tilapia is skilfully sliced and deep-fried into a curvy pose, looking very much like it is ‘dancing’. Yes, you can eat the entire fish including bones and fins! The meat is firm and sweet, the skin and bones are crispy and tasty. Along with the spicy and sour dabu-dabu dip, the fish is extremely delectable. There is really no bone to pick with this one.
To include fibre in our diet, we have Gulai Pucuk Paku ($13). Pucuk Paku is an edible jungle fern that can be stir-fried with sambal belacan or in this case, gulai (curry). The young shoots are juicy and the curry is fantastic with their fluffy rice, which deserves a hearty mention. Forget your ketogenic diet. Rice is free flow per head with three options: Nasi Wangi Putih (fragrant white rice, $3), Nasi Berempah Kuning (yellow spiced rice, $3.50) and Brown Rice ($3.50). I highly recommend the yellow rice for its fragrance and it goes well with any gravy.
Udang Masak Lemak Chilli Padi Nenas ($33), a Nyonya prawn curry that is cooked with pineapples, turmeric, herbs and spices. I really like pineapples in cooked food. The result is often tantalising and it evens out the heaviness of the dish. The prawns are easily deshelled, which is a verification of their freshness. Unless you have a health check the next day, remember to slurp the essence from the prawn heads. Don’t waste.
Tahu Telur ($12) serves as a great respite from all the meat dishes. The golden tower is made up of many bean curd cubes and it lies on a copious bed of crispy egg floss.
The Bebek Goreng Bali ($26) is known as the crispy duck. In Bali, they fry it to the bone so that it is quite dry and crispy; that’s the way Balinese like it. But here, the duck meat is not as dry as we had initially feared. In fact, the thigh portion is succulent and fatty. The meat is well marinated with herbs and it is coated with desiccated coconut for a richer flavour.
For some of my dining companions, the Buntut Belado Enak ($36, below) is their favourite dish of the meal. The marinated oxtail is first braised and then charcoal-grilled to retain its tenderness while locking the intense flavours of the spices. Surrounding the caramelised meat is a thick layer of collagen fats that melts in your mouth. The toppings are not capsicums but cooked green and red chilli that are non-spicy; they are actually tangy, sour and sweet. Eaten together, the taste is just sublime.
We were extremely stuffed but we managed to squeeze in a dessert, Sweet Potato with Coconut Scrappings, Palm Sugar and Vanilla Ice Cream ($10) to complete the meal. The warmth of the steamed sweet potato mash juxtaposes with the cold vanilla ice cream nicely. Good to have but not a must-order, it is overshadowed by the strong offerings of the main menu.
On the whole, the food quality and service in Dancing Fish are excellent. The prices are on a steep side but from the rempah to the sweet potato mash, everything is made from scratch, nothing is premade. The hard work in sourcing for some of the more unusual ingredients is commendable as well. The restaurant is also good for family and friends’ gatherings as these dishes are best shared.
Dancing Fish Signature
310 Orchard Road, TANGS at Tang Plaza, Level 4, Singapore 238864
tel: +65 6339 1048
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Written by Cheang Shwu Peng. She used to be able to eat for three but we know that age catches up on everyone, she is now only able to eat for two. She also does not have the habit of sharing food unless it is necessary.