Chef Wan’s Kitchen at Esplanade Mall

Chef Wan’s Kitchen
#02-14 Esplanade Mall
8 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039802
Reservations: reservations@chefwanskitchen.com

Operating Hours
Lunch: 12pm to 230pm daily
Dinner: 530pm to 1030pm daily

Halal status: Post-MUIS audit, pending certification!
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Recommended dishes: Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup (S$17.90), Prawn Curry with Pineapple (S$21.90), Steamed Jackfruit Custard (S$5.90), Churros Cheese Tart (S$5.90)

Hey guys! Oof sorry I haven’t updated in a while. I recently finished reading Shoe Dog – it’s the very entertaining autobiography of Nike founder and Oregon native, Phil Knight. I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH!!!! It was such a candid, page-turner of a book and I really dug the conversational tone. His narrative voice was so engaging and so humorous, I found myself laughing out loud many, many times on the train, alone in my room, sitting in a cafe; basically everywhere. Plus you learn all these interesting nuggets of pop culture/historical trivia, like how Puma was a splinter-faction started by one of the Adidas brothers! (OK my mum actually told me that a few years ago and I totally dismissed it like “ok what do you know about Adidas, mommmm?” I’m the worst.) And how Nike was the first brand to introduce air cushions into their shoes! Boy, it sure made me reconsider my #teamadidas stance.

Anyway after Shoe Dog I moved on to Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline, which is a science fiction novel set in dystopian 2044, about this protagonist trying to crack a virtual egg-hunt game designed by an 80’s-obsessed game-maker. It is absolutely riveting as well and I’m about halfway through. UGH SO GOOD. You guys should get on that stat if you’re looking for new reading material.

Alright so unsolicited book recommendations aside, as those of you who watched my Instagram stories would know, I was invited to the new Chef Wan’s Kitchen at the Esplanade last week to try out their menu! Ok quick STORYTIME. When I was in London during Raya 2005, I went to this Hari Raya gathering organised by Malaysia House with my Malaysian friends (Ya I was the only Singaporean Malay in my uni and I felt sad and lonely) and Chef Wan was totally there looking fabulous! I mean, I didn’t go up to him or anything because I was a little starstruck (“my mum watches you on tv!” LOL.) but it was cool nonetheless. Anyway I digress.

The all-new Chef Wan’s Kitchen is located on the second floor of the Esplanade, and it’s really the ideal place for a chill dinner with family, especially as the windows look out to the Esplanade waterfront and the gorgeous Marina. It’s the Chef’s first proper sit-down restaurant in Singapore, after he experimented with buffet-dining at the now-closed 1-Market, so I was pretty excited to check it out.

Here’s a look at the restaurant decor:

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Look you can see MBS from here! Gorge.

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You can also look out upon the Esplanade Waterfront and watch people passing by (like a creep)

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View of the entrance/exit from the inside

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View of the entrance within Esplanade Mall

On to food – check out this super packed full food table comprising all the dishes we got to try that night!

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Food_Spread

Clockwise from left: Lawar Salad, Javanese Fried Chicken, Nyonya Laksa, Pineapple Prawns, Oxtail Soup, Lontong, Beef Rendang, Ayam Percik and finally Mee Rebus in the middle!

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I tried to do a flatlay like the other very zai photographers around me but let’s face it I was born to eat, not take photos.

We got to try so many dishes omg so let’s break em down dish by dish!

1. Balinese Vegetable and Chicken Salad (S$17.90)

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Balinese Vegetable and Chicken Salad (S$17.90) – 6/10 (sorry this photo is so overexposed)

This lawar salad is made up of tempeh (which is my favourite superfood ever), jackfruit, chicken, and long beans tossed in coconut milk. I truly, love tempeh. Like I will eat it in every which way except for raw BUT it was not enough to save this salad for me. I am not a salad person (unless presented to me in a poké bowl lol or doused in that terrific Japanese sesame dressing), so I really was not feeling this traditional Balinese. Ergo, through no fault of the restaurant’s, this was a weak start for me. Oh plus, S$17.90 for a chicken salad seems pretty steep don’t you guys think? Sorry salad, you’re not lawa to me (lawa means good-looking in Malay and yes I made a terrible pun sorry!! #carpediem). 6/10

2. Javanese Fried Chicken (S$18.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Javanese_Fried_Chicken2

Javanese Fried Chicken (S$18.90) – 8/10

Oof ok I love fried chicken, and this one comes with a bowl of slightly sweet dipping sauce. I think it was a little like peanutty? Anyway the chicken was really crispy on the outside and really quite moist/juicy on the inside, so that was great! However, as with the salad earlier, I’m not quite sure the pricing is sensible here – knock a few dollars off and I might consider it a fair price. 8/10

3. Bibik Neo’s Laksa Noodles (S$15.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Bibik_Neo_Lemak_Laksa_Noodles

Bibik Neo’s Lemak Noodles (S$15.90) – 8/10

OMG look at how lemak it is, all glistening and thick. The laksa was tasty with a really substantial, creamy broth made from coconut milk and also ground prawns! The actual prawns are really big and fresh, and that egg yolk doused in lemak gravy is just 💯. Also love the taupok in it! Now in all honestly I prefer my laksa just a little less thick, but if you guys love your gravy rich as heck, please go for this one. I’d highly recommend asking for more sambal to spice it up, as it can get a little jelak without the heat. 8/10

4. Prawns in Pineapple Curry (S$21.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Nyonya_Gulai_Udang

Prawns in Pineapple Curry (S$21.90) – 9/10 (ugh sorry my photo is so Bad & Blurrie *DAB*)

OK, 15-year-old me would never imagine I would someday be sitting around blogging about how much she enjoyed eating pineapple curry prawns, but here I am doing it anyway. My god, what an adult I’ve become. Anyway yes it was SO SEDAP! And sneakily pedas (spicy), like when you have that first spoonful of the curry you go ‘oh interesting, this is sweet and fragrant with rose notes. I was expecting more of a prickly pineapple taste!’ and then you feel your tongue tingling and then your mouth is suffused with a warm spicy glow. Mmmmmm. 9/10

5. Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup (S$17.90)

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Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup (S$17.90) – 9.5/10

Ahhhh you guys this was my favourite dish of the night! Omg I mean you can tell from the picture just how complex the soup broth is – it was very, very flavourful and savoury. The oxtail was perfectly tender and came off the bone fairly easily, while the potatoes and carrots were a welcome addition to the texture. This definitely could use some roti perancis (french baguette) for dipping, and I wish they’d serve some warm toasted bread to go with the soup. 9.5/10

6. Lontong in Vegetable Curry with Coconut Milk (S$13.90)

Chef_Wans_Kitchen_Lontong

Lontong (S$13.90) – 7/10

OK maybe it’s not even fair to rate this, but honestly guys, I would not go out to eat Lontong. It’s just not my thing – my mum and brother love it, but I’m more of a soto ayam girl when it comes to traditional malay breakfast food. So while I feel like this was objectively a good lontong, I just would never order it, especially at S$13.90 oh boy. But for all you lontong fiends out there, HAVE AT IT. 7/10

7. Selangor Beef Rendang (S$22.90)

(No picture because I am just the worst and seriously forgot to take one, but you can refer to the main photo of all the dishes at the start of this post!)

OMG guys the rendang is SO tender!!! Seriously the beef just melts in your mouth. The rendang gravy is tasty enough, but my rendang palette has been so, so spoilt by the great cooks in my family (mostly my aunts). I felt like it was missing just a little something to make it more fragrant and complex. Sorry Chef! 8.5/10

8. Grilled Chicken in Spicy Gravy (S$18.90)

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Grilled Chicken in Spicy Gravy (Ayam Percik) (S$18.90) – 7/10

Mm i had high hopes for this ayam percik, because I LOVE ME SOME AYAM PERCIK. As advertised, the gravy was spicy and delicious, but I thought the actual chicken was a little bland inside. Now this really should not be the case, because they’re supposed to have marinated the chicken in spices and also the gravy, before grilling it. This one came across more like regular fried chicken that they poured some gravy over – I need the meat inside to be more flavourful please! 7/10

9. Cik Aini’s Mee Rebus with Prawn Fritters (S$15.90)

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Cik Aini’s Mee Rebus with Prawn Fritters (S$15.90) – 8/10

Cik Aini refers to Chef Wan’s mum, who made a living selling mee rebus for 31 years to support her family, so this dish is really a tribute to her (😭 😭😭 OK why am I crying while typing this in bed?)

ANYWAY this was interesting because I’m not usually a mee rebus type of person given (a) see Soto Ayam reference above and (b) my aunt already makes literally the best mee rebus ever, and hers is the only mee rebus I will ever bother eating. HOWEVER. This version was not bad! The mee rebus gravy is thick, flavourful, slightly sweet but also gently spicy (the spice creeps in langorously on your tongue). I hate yellow noodles because of the alkali taste but this one didn’t taste plasticky so that was good. I’d still be REALLY reluctant to part with almost S$16 for a bowl of mee rebus though.

I also didn’t understand the whole prawn fritter addition, because the mee rebus is already so heavy, but luckily the prawn fritter was crispy and light, like an atas vadai. 8/10

FINALLY we were done with the starters and mains. We moved onto dessert:

10a. Steamed Jackfruit Custard (S$5.90)
10b. Kueh Jongkong (I think! It was a bonus off-menu item)  

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Steamed Jackfruit Custard (S$5.90) and the off-menu Kueh Jongkong! UGH that gula melaka syrup is what’s UP.

Ooh the jackfruit (or nangka in Malay!) custard is delicious! I used to think I was firmly #teamcempedak and thought jackfruit was like a low-rent cempedak, but this custard got me re-evaluating my life decisions. It’s reminiscent of Krave’s divine Cempedak Crème Brûlée (again, typing all those accents on a Macbook is torture) – the nangka is sweet but with hints of bitterness so it’s not cloying. Loved it, 9/10.

This other kueh jongkong thing is like ok I’ve never tried it in my life but the tastes are instantly recognizable – it’s creamy and coconutty with an amazing gula melaka flavour. The texture is like panna cotta or pudding, yum! I’m not sure if it’s going to be a permanent menu item but try asking for it if you guys are curious! 8.5/10

We closed with the pièce-de-résistance:

11. Churros Cheese Tart ($5.90)

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Churros Cheese Tart (S$5.90) – 9.5/10

UNFFFFF ok I loved this Churros Cheese Tart omg. Firstly, how pretty does it look? Secondly, the churros tart crust was pretty genius – although I did wish it could be lighter. Thirdly, THE CHEESE WITHINNNNNNN. It’s like Bake cheese tarts but with slightly heavier cream cheese inside. YUMMMM. Definitely worth ordering! If you’re a light eater I’d recommend sharing with one other person because chile you don’t want to eat all that crust after a heavy meal at Chef Wan’s Kitchen lol. 9.5/10

That’s it for my review you guys!! Wasn’t that a long one? Lol in all honesty I think during my next visit here I’d probably be happy with the oxtail soup and maybe 2 other dishes before moving on to dessert. I’d definitely want to come back and bring my family here to try the food. The ambience is lovely – laid-back vibes, warm lighting, wood interiors, a beautiful view of the waterfront outside. As you can see above there were definitely dishes I liked, but also a few I wouldn’t care for. Luckily the menu is extensive enough for you guys to pick whatever you feel like eating most. Give it a try for yourselves; hope you guys have a great time there 🙂

Chef Wan’s Kitchen
#02-14 Esplanade Mall
8 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039802
Reservations: reservations@chefwanskitchen.com

Operating Hours
Lunch: 12pm to 230pm daily
Dinner: 530pm to 1030pm daily

Halal status: Post-MUIS audit, pending certification!
Halalicious rating: 8/10
Recommended dishes: Chef Wan’s Oxtail Soup (S$17.90), Prawn Curry with Pineapple (S$21.90), Steamed Jackfruit Custard (S$5.90), Churros Cheese Tart (S$5.90)

 

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One thought on “Chef Wan’s Kitchen at Esplanade Mall

  1. Pingback: List of Restaurant Reviews (always updated!) | Halal Eats in Singapore

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