Sometimes, I feel like a stranger in my own country. Last week must have been the first time in eons since I've set foot in Collyer Quay. To say the landscape has changed is an understatement. I was attending my second food tasting session organised by The Fullerton Heritage, and almost missed the place because I couldn't recognise the area!
The venue was One on the Bund, which occupies the now defunct Clifford Pier (红灯码头). This historical landmark, according to Wikipedia, was "built in 1933 ... and was a landing point for immigrants and other sea passengers."
What used to look like this:
Clifford Pier as I remember it.
(Photo courtesy of www.earthdocumentary.com)
... now looks like this:
The grand entrance of One on the Bund.
I couldn't believe my eyes. The entire place - and I mean, entire - has been converted into an upscale, fine dining Chinese restaurant. A cheongsum-clad waitress would stand poised at the towering glass doors, ready to welcome you. Step inside, and you are instantly transported back into a world of old Shanghai glamour. It was all terribly opulent and ostentatious, and the huge expanse of space, incredible. I must have uttered the word, "WOW!" a gazillion times.
The reception area, complete with giant warriors. Not your usual crowd-around-the-lectern set up. How's that for a first impression?
One of two waiting areas.
Big, bold, beautiful pieces of art adorn every nook ... every piece a creation of someone renowned. It's akin to dining in an art gallery, really. You'd see quirky touches like bird cages, firewood, lanterns and chinois-themed sculptures dotting the dining halls - a very eclectic collection. The interior concept and culinary direction are the brainchild of Calvin Yeung - owner, creative executive chef and designer extraordinaire.
Dining hall in front of the drinks bar.
At the far end of the main entrance is a drinks bar and another dining hall. The door opens out to an al fresco dining deck.
Here, you'll be able to dine with a view of the Marina Bay.
We were seated in a private dining room with a noodle bar. I found it a nightmare taking photos though, what with a reflective glass table and very dim lighting.
The three paintings which elicited three "WOWs!" from me.
I was struck by this series of paintings - so much fluidity and movement in them. At first glance, I thought the girl looked very familiar. Later, I had the privilege of meeting One on the Bund owner, Calvin, and when I commented how much I loved these paintings, he asked, "Don't you recognise her?"
"Well," I hesitated, "She does look a lot like Zhou Xun."
He broke into a wide smile and nodded.
Double-boiled mushroom soup.
Our first dish was a vegetarian soup - a medley of mushrooms. No seasoning ... just pure, unadulterated soup. You either like it or you don't, especially if you prefer rich, hearty ones. I quite enjoyed it. The mushrooms were meaty and succulent.
Next to our room, a fire was started to roast our Peking Duck. The wood chips - apple wood, if I remember correctly - are imported from Beijing.
The signature Peking Duck (order in advance).
Top left: The chef carving the duck.
Top right: The Peking Duck platter.
Bottom left: First time I tried dipping the skin in sugar. It was lovely!
Bottom right: The conventional way of eating Peking Duck.
In the meantime, the chefs were busy preparing our Red Thread Noodles (the colour comes from carrots). I thought they should be called Golden Thread Noodles, since they looked more golden than red. I must have been very hungry because I wolfed them down in a jiffy.
Top left: Preparing the hot water.
Top right: Making and cooking the noodles.
Bottom left: Ready to serve!
Bottom right: Freshly made noodles which were deliciously light and springy.
Eastern Sea Dragon (Braised Fish Fillets in a Chilli Broth).
Cooked on the spot, the fish was really fresh and firm to the bite. Just don't bite into the peppercorns like I accidentally did. :( Well, nothing a cup of Jin Sang Zi (Golden Throat) chinese tea (bottom right photo) cannot soothe. My only gripe is, since we weren't served any rice, two slices of fish is hardly filling, especially as a main dish.
The signature Crispy Lamb Ribs (order in advance).
I am not a fan of lamb, but I managed one rib. The skin was really crispy, and was the only part I could stomach. I've never fancied lamb because of the musky, gamey smell. I know lamb connoisseurs would say that the best lamb dishes have absolutely no smell. But I could smell this one the moment it was plonked in front of me.
Dessert was a blend of east and west.
There is a wide array of pastries available. Macarons, truffles, tiramisu, traditional Chinese pastries - you name it. I particularly enjoyed the Chinese pastries (top photo, in yellow) which had red bean and lotus paste centres, and were served warm. Equally enjoyable was the tiramisu, which came in a huge slab and generously drenched in liquer.
Overall, this is the place to come to if you want to impress. The posh interior will take care of that. You do need deep pockets though, for the prices are as extravagant as the decor. I can see myself coming here again, as long as I am not picking up the tab. ;) And this time, I would order rice.
One on the Bund
80 Collyer Quay
Tel: 6221 0004
For more information on their special menu offerings, visit One on the Bund's website here.
Much thanks to One on the Bund for this food-tasting session, and The Fullerton Heritage for facilitating it.