Serving Chinese and French cuisine, Racines, the all-day restaurant at newly opened Sofitel Singapore City Centre, has families in mind.
“We serve Chinese and French cuisine so the younger people can have French if they want to, and at the same time, the older folk can have Chinese food if they prefer. This way, the family can dine together,” says Jean-Charles Dubois, the hotel’s executive chef. (Many of us would remember him as the former chef-owner of restaurant Balzac, with its peerless shoestring fries.) And what a delightful place for get-togethers: the sprawling restaurant features high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling glass windows that let in a flood of natural light, and level ground throughout which makes it wheelchair-friendly.
From the French menu, the lobster bisque ($28) makes a pretty starter. It’s light and creamy in texture, but richly flavoured with the sweetness of lobster, and livened up with petite ravioli filled with emmental. The boneless pan-fried frog legs ($26) is also worth having, with its tender meat nicely complemented by a coating of aromatic pink garlic and parsley. For mains, the classic wagyu beef cheek ($38)—with all its sweet, caramelised, and falling off the bone unctuousness— was excellent, and begging for a good glass of hearty red wine. Slow-cooked for 48 hours, it is served with chef Dubois’ creamy, light truffled mashed potatoes, another delectable carry-over from his Balzac days.
While chef Dubois helms the French kitchen, chef Andrew Chong takes care of the Chinese fare. Have the Nonya-style stir-fried calamari (from $58), redolent with Asian spices just mildly hot, and draped in creamy coconut milk-based gravy. The sweet and sour pork is a classic case of doing something simple very well indeed: the kurobuta pork used ensures it is tender and flavourful, and the sauce is nicely balanced. Of the Chinese dishes, the star would be the frog legs stir-fried in spicy Szechuan salt, Szechuan peppercorns and generous handfuls of dried chillies ($58). Piquant, slightly fiery and with a relatively mild but distinct numbing quality typical of Szechuan cuisine, they make a most delectable treat.
Desserts are positively delightful, playful in its composition and beautifully presented. Have the zesty yuzu tart ($16) with lime butter monte, crumble and rice crispies, or the mousse au chocolate ($16), comprising Valrhona mousse, chantilly and crispy pearls. Wash it down with coffee from its Nespresso bar.
Boasting 180-degree view of the Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood below, Racines also has its own apiary to provide fresh honey, its own herb garden, impressive live stations, and a state-of-the-art Weinz oven for freshly baked pastries and breads. Breakfast promises to be an expansive treat, and plans are afoot for Sunday champagne brunches. Meanwhile, worth noting is its attractively priced $38 weekday set lunches.
9 Wallich Street, Singapore 078885. Tel: 6428 5000
This was first published in Wine & Dine’s November 2017 issue – Happy Hour, ‘Restaurants’