Nov 29, 2016
With his Bangkok restaurant, Nahm, sitting in seventh place on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, the opening of David Thompson’s Singapore restaurant, Long Chim, has been eagerly awaited. RACHEL LEES finds out if it lives up to the hype.
It always feels horribly unkind to review a restaurant during opening week, when staff isn’t yet in the swing of things and teething problems are all but a surety. But I’m just as eager as the rest of Singapore to try the much-anticipated Long Chim, Michelin-star chef David Thompson’s new restaurant in Marina Bay Sands. So when a table is available on the first Saturday night of service, I snap it up.
Thompson (above, far right) – whose restaurant Nahm is number seven on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list – has promised Thai street food but as we enter Long Chim, it feels like Bangkok via New York. The place has swagger. The dimly lit entrance, with its paved floor, evokes a laneway, which leads to the cocktail bar. Beyond the cosy booths, bar stools and hanging lights shaped like upturned cocktail glasses, the main dining room (below) opens grandly before us.
Everything is slick, from the undulating ceiling to the wooden floor, framed by shop house tiles. Tables are bare but for glasses, plates and metal tins housing chopsticks and cutlery – that is, until the food arrives. While we wait, the open kitchens provide plenty of theatre; flames leap from woks as Thompson intently instructs his team. The pungent aroma of fish sauce wafts across the restaurant.
With a name that means “come and taste”, word is Long Chim’s final menu, whittled down from a shortlist of 150, will ultimately feature 70 dishes. For now, there are but 30 items to try. We start with moreish vegetarian spring rolls (S$10) served with homemade chili sauce, and skewers of aromatic beef with cumin, coriander and turmeric (S$12). The crunchy prawn cakes with herbs (S$12) are salty and crisp; the coriander, laksa and curry leaves as tasty as they sound. We consider a second round, of each, but bountiful mains have already arrived.