With an array of dining options and watering holes, one must be spoilt for choices when spending an evening at Clarke Quay. Fortunately, new kid on the block VLV stands out among its many competitors with its multi-dining concept – the Restaurant, Club Lounge, and its al-fresco Courtyard by the riverside.
Located at the two-story heritage building (formerly occupied by Indochine) right beside the central fountain square, it is difficult to miss its traditional yet contemporary architecture. VLV specializes in Chinese cuisine with Western influences – as you can immediately tell from its majestic and well-designed exterior. Upon entering the restaurant, dim warm lights coupled with stylish furnishing and ambient electro-pop music tops it all with a modern touch of class.
We were invited to have a taste of their “Tasting Dinner Set” ($68++ per person) which comprises a few of their signature dishes such as the Kagoshima Kurobuta Char Siew and Crackling Pork Belly. This 8-course set serves in individual portions, dismissing the issue of shared or uneven portions.
Each table is greeted with a “surprise” starter which changes daily, a gesture initiated by Chef Martin himself. Ours was the Charcoal Tou Fu (found in the vegetarian menu) served on a cute wooden spoon which made it easy to eat. The Tou Fu had good texture with a nice savory taste.
The Trio Appetizer consists of Crackling Pork Belly, Kagoshima Kurobuta Char Siew, and Crab Meat Salsa with Charcoal Bread. The two pieces of pork belly are served with mustard and spicy miso sauce each. Do not be fooled by the tiny drip of the sauces as they explode with flavor once placed in your mouth. The meat is lean and the skin is crispy, just as its name suggests. The Kagoshima Kurobuta Char Siew is prepared with less sugar and made even healthier with the accompaniment of fermented black beans. Although sweet enough, the meat was too fatty for my liking which made it slightly challenging to chew on it. The Crab Meat Salsa had a nice blend of sweet and sour while the Charcoal Bread provides a crisp layer with buttery undertones.
We were also fortunate enough to enjoy their signature Peking Duck ($55 for half, $110 for whole, not included in dinner set) served in two different ways. Firstly, the usual preparation of wrapping the duck skin with crispy beancurd skin – except that Truffle Foie Gras sauce is used alongside avocado slices which made the Chinese gourmet delicacy truly original to VLV. There is also the house made Goma Hoisin Sauce as a condiment to go along with. The duck skin was satisfyingly crispy in the wrap, although I was a tad disappointed that the Truffle Foie Gras sauce did not wow us as much.
The remaining duck was served as Spicy Duck Cones, which did amuse us with its theatrical presentation (dry ice) that is totally Instagram-worthy. This unique creation is noteworthy with the nice combination of sweet, mildly spicy, savory, and crispy texture – perhaps more impressive for those who like the unconventional.
Next up, we had the Poached Ocean Fish with Fresh Sichuan Peppercorn in Clear Soup. I almost forgot about the latter part of the dish due to its clear base when I took my first spoonful and nearly flinched when the pepper took effect instantly. For someone who does not really take spice, the soup was too pepper-ish for me. The fish however, was extremely fresh and almost melts upon chewing it. This dish would perhaps be most comforting when it is cold outside or when you are feeling under the weather. Plus, you will never have to worry about your soup turning cold.
The Mint Lychee Sorbet brought a much needed respite right after the peppery soup. It does a fantastic job not only as a palate cleanser but as an aesthetic treat for the eyes. I like that it is presented in an iced shot glass, which ensures the cooling and refreshing element of the dish. Personally, this is one of my favorites from the dinner set. The only disappointment was that the ice glass was not bigger.
Another personal favorite from the set is the Steamed Lobster with Egg White and Bonito. This is actually Chef Martin’s signature cooking style for seafood, which means that you can also have your crabs prepared this way. The half-lobster was sweet, succulent, and full of umami. The Bonito flakes not only complement well with the egg white but also elevate the sweetness of the crustacean. There is no guessing why this dish reminds me of the familiar Japanese Chawanmushi, except with premium quality seafood.
We moved on to the main dish of the dinner set – Roasted Pork Belly Braised Noodle with XO Sauce. Unlike the appetizer, the pork belly was slice into tiny bits, which allowed the pieces to absorb the XO sauce and to accompany every spoonful of the springy noodles. I felt that the sauce was too strong, with the XO overpowering the taste of the pork belly. Not the best dish of the night, but still worth a try.
Finally, we made it to the dessert. By this point, our stomachs were stuffed with oriental goodness. Thankfully, the Egg Waffles with Berries & Black Sesame Ice Cream came in a portion just right for indulging while not risking our buttons bursting. The waffle was sweet and fluffy. What I particularly liked was the added crumbs that gave a crunchy texture along with the ice cream. What a way to wrap up this great dinner set.
Overall, the 8-course dinner set did showcase VLV’s consistency in delivering luxurious oriental delights. While the pricing may be a little steep, their extensive menu does provide some value sets, such as the “Tasting” lunch set at $98++ for four.
VLV still has plenty to offer with their Club Lounge and Courtyard for those who would rather opt for a party or chill-out session while keeping it classy. It is definitely the new place to be for a great night at Clarke Quay.
P.S. I assume some of you would be wondering what VLV stands for. Well, too bad we did not receive an answer for that. But if I have my take, it will certainly be Value, Luxury, and Versatility.
VLV Singapore Location Address:
3A Merchant’s Court, River Valley Road, #01-02, Singapore 179020
Operating hours: Daily (Lunch 12.00pm – 3.00pm), (Dinner 6.00pm – 11.00pm)
Contact: +65 6661 0197