Housed in the spanking new wing of Suntec City, LÈ Restaurant and Bar is the Paradise Group’s attempt to put a new spin on Chinese fine dining. Mr Eldwin Chua, the CEO of Paradise Group, shares, “Many people have the perception that Chinese cuisine is conventional and dated. We hope to redefine modern Chinese fine dining as an exciting and voguish affair, evocative of a night out at a swank New York or London venue.”
If they were looking to one-up themselves (and the competition), boy, have they done it right.
Envisioned as a theatrical production where the audience is brought through various acts, the avant garde-inspired spaces within the 10,000 square feet restaurant presents a ‘stage’ where diners experience different settings from their arrival. When I first stepped into the 80-seater lounge bar at the front of the restaurant, I was extremely impressed by the design thinking behind the space. A Nordic herringbone structure of timber beams frames the ceiling of the lounge, which is flanked by floor-to-ceiling wine chillers and a stylish bar counter. There are also over 200 labels of wine available to cater to every discerning diner’s whims and fancies.
Moving on to the leads of the night – the food. We were welcomed by an extensive menu of Asian-inspired cocktails with such intriguing descriptions that I had a hard time making my choice of poison. As one who prefers my alcohols sweet, I picked the elegant Autumn Evenings, a beautiful symphony of chrysanthemum tea, yuzu juice, elderflower liquer served with generous dollops of real soursop and scotch whiskey. There is also the LÈ special I have made a mental note to try on my next visit. It is an interesting twist on the Ice Kachang we all know and love – the cocktail is spiked with curacao, creme de menthe, pomegrenate syrup and spiced rum.
Our drinks were complemented by the serving of two tapas dishes, carefully curated with an Asian spin. Braised Foie Gras with Red Wine ($26) presents a whimsical visual treat of foie gras terrine poached in red wine and cherry jus, artfully plated to resemble luscious cherry globules. It was like eating an art piece. One was supposed to pop a foie gras globule into her mouth along with a real unseeded cherry (because matching foie gras and berries is how the French do it, we were informed) and experience a brilliant symphony of flavors in one’s mouth. The next tapas served was the Mantou Burger with Braised USDA Prime Beef ($16), a quirky take on the traditional braised pork belly with steamed buns (kong ba pao) we all grew up eating.
We were then ushered through a bridge-like pathway into the sprawling 212-seater restaurant, yet another impressive display of interior design. Eldwin graced our table during the tasting and shared that LÈ is indeed their baby – it took the team over a year to conceptualize everything, from the aesthetics of the space to the menu’s plethora of offerings. The brothers, Eldwin and Edlan, who run Paradise Group, hired a light and sound specialist and sent him to Dubai, Taipei and Vegas to ‘get inspired’, before executing the design of the space. The results definitely show that no stone was left unturned.
But, yes, back to the food. We were served the Alaskan Crab ($10, min 2 orders) off LÈ’s extensive seafood menu, a zesty mix of crab meat, tangy grapefruit cubes and cherry tomatoes in a sesame ddressing atop an impressive cloud of dry ice. The presentation was impressive and the crab itself was good, but not mind-blowing.
That said, the highlight of the night for me was the Dirty Duck ($38 for a half duck, $68 for a whole duck). The Paradise Group has an excellent reputation for its apple wood-roasted Peking duck in its other outfits, and LÈ’s version is another jewel they can add to their crown. The duck is stewed for six hours in a special blend of spices and its skin is flash-fried till it is crispy. It will be shredded tableside by the service staff and handwrapped with cucumber, Hoisin sauce and basil in homemade scallion crepes. I must say that the scallion crepes were simply fantastic – extremely soft and doughy, with the slight fragrance of scallion oil.
Hot on its heels was the Coral Trout Poached in Lobster Broth ($16 per 100g, $28 for the broth). Like that of the Dirty Duck, a wait staff prepares the entire dish by your table. But before that, the whole raw fish is brought to your table so that all parties can admire the fresh tautness of the meat. The lobster broth is lip-smackingly delicious. Fish maw is boiled until it melts into the broth, and there are generous servings of bamboo pith and enoki mushrooms found within.
Next up was the Pan-Seared Grade 9 Australian Wagyu ($160/$240 for 200g/300g). It is seared with truffle oil and served with lemon zest and sea salt on the side. Everyone at the table unanimously agreed that the lemon zest and sea salt pairing accentuated the taste of the beef so much more than eating it plain. Wrapping up the dinner was a delicate serving of Stir-Fried Angel Hair with Japanese Dried Ebi ($28/$42).
Just when we thought we were about to burst at the seams, the desserts came. Aptly named “Sweet Temptation” of Mango Sago, Avocado Cream, Yakult and Sesame Pudding ($13), we could not resist the pretty presentation and the interesting concoctions. Again, a crowd favorite was the interesting Yakult and Sesame pudding blend.
It was one of the most spectacular meals I have had a in while – I am definitely going back for more of their theatrical food servings and wonderful cocktails.
LÈ Restaurant and Bar
#02-314 Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre
Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Boulevard
Lunch: 1130am to 3pm, daily
Dinner: 6pm to 1030pm daily
Telephone: 6338 8775
Promotions: 1 for 1 cocktails, 3pm to 11pm till 31 October 2013