Chef-owner Han Li Guang (LG Han)’s new established menu has finally took off since a few months ago in May after a year of research and development. There are actually quite a number of hidden “treasures” which we have here in Singapore while probably the majority of us do not know much about them. Having said that, Chef LG Han is the first to acknowledge that local does not necessarily mean the best, so his mission is to think of the best way to showcase the produce instead (Source: The Straits Times).
Restaurant Labyrinth’s Makeover
Showcasing of Chef LG Han’s Collection of his Grandma Kitchen Items which he had well kept with him
and displaying of other Local Art Scene Paintings.
Let us check out what he has to share with us through the following interview on this food exploration journey:
- Share With Us Your Current Menu Concept. How Much R&D Effort Inclusive?
My current menu concept focuses on the “New Expressions of Singapore Cuisine”, where local food is expressed in my own way. A re-examination of Singapore cuisine, the menu encapsulates local produce, inspirations of my grandmother’s cooking, and my memories of growing with food in Singapore.
Tea Egg With Oolong Tea | Amuse Bouche
Presented our local herbal egg using the quail’s egg. The Flowy Yolk Egg was then soaked in the herbal oolong tea and smoked.
These new expressions are an enterprise of national pride – a showcase of the bounty of our farms, orchards and seas through their intrinsic flavours, and by way of flavour pairings. Coupled with the understanding and use of heritage recipes and age-old method, each dish is presented artistically with a contemporary flair.
“NASI LEMAK” CHEONG FUN
Chicken Skin, Ikan Bilis & Egg Yolk Gel
The rice roll is made from scratch using rice, tapioca flour and coconut milk. The mixture has been infused with lemongrass over two days.
BRAISED BABY ABALONE
Homemade Oyster Sauce & Fatt Choy (Black Moss) Tart
Dehydrated Moss Shaped like a bird’s nest. The homemade sauce using live oysters definitely makes a difference!
AH HUA KELONG LALA (啦啦) CLAMS
XO Sambal, Deep Fried Wonton Skin & Chinese Spinach
Each clam’s flesh is removed one by one using the hand. The gelatine is formulated using the clam’s stock.
- Inspired By Your Grandma, Tell Us More About Her.
My grandma’s Hainanese and she’s a homemaker mostly. She’s also the matriarch of our family when my grandfather had to go back to Malaysia after his business failed. She’s very entrepreneurial as well – she had to rent out the house and relocated my father and his siblings off to some other place while she worked as a helper for a rich family who was also her tenants. That’s when she also started cooking not just Hainanese cuisine but also food inspired by Western cuisine with Hainanese touches. These recipes stayed with the family for years to come.
“ANG MOH” CHICKEN RICE, KIN YAN ABALONE MUSHROOM
Home-milled Rice Flour, Grandma’s Chili Sauce & Braised Chicken
Two Words to describe and that is “Familiar & Memories”.
When my cousins, siblings and I were kids, we would meet at her place and she would cook for all of us. That’s how I developed a love of cooking for people you love. She used to fry a fish specially for me every weekend – no one would touch it because it was my favourite dish. My cousins would basically get a drumstick instead of fish. I was touched when I realised how food translated into a love for the family. My grandmother was a role model for me as a chef on how to put passion and love on a plate and to treat everyone eating your food like a family member as well.
GRANDMA’S FISH MAW SOUP
Yellow Tail Snapper Fish Cake, Textures of Fish Maw & Tofu Puree
Letting you experience crispy, soft and springy textures. The black chicken stock is superb. For fish cake lovers, you will know that it is handmade.
- The Value Of Our Local Produce, How Does One Define It?
The current menu is inspired by and highlights the essences of local ingredients and culture, where 80% of the ingredients are locally sourced. As Labyrinth’s focus is on flavour pairings, the value of the produce comes from its natural flavours, which are susceptible to weather and another natural phenomenon.
LOCAL WILD CAUGHT CRAB
Signature Chili Ice Cream, Egg Whites & Salted Mackerel
Chef’ Han has evolved his famous chili crab. The fresh crab meat extracted from live flower crab were marinated with 8 years aged Shaoxing wine which elevates our experience to another level. Not forgetting the tiny like crunchy croutons, in this case, is mantou that bring us to experience our Singapore chili crab in one mouthful.
- Educational Effort On Local Ingredients Has To Be Emphasized More, What Are Your Views On This?
Inclusive of Customer’s Perception.
There is definitely a need for educational effort on local ingredients, to debunk the perception that Singapore has no produce. In fact, the produce from local farms, or grown wildly in the parameters of Singapore, are some of the best I have encountered.
- Local flower crabs and their sweetness, though not usually prized for this taste profile
- The local clams are juicy and sweet
- Silver perch from Nippon Koi Farm has a pleasant balance of meatiness and oiliness given the local climate
NIPPON KOI FARM SILVER PERCH
Herbal Pepper Broth, Ulam Rajah (Flower) & textures of Black Garlic
Transforming the traditional Bak Kut Teh into fish’s version where the perch is cured with Jinhua ham. The intensified herbal broth with 16 years aged mandarin peel reminds one of the Malaysian style’s. Two flavours did not really clash yet it makes one’s body feel nourished.
Local Duck Liver Pate & Goji Berry Jam
Memorance of your childhood, retaining the current presence and moving up towards a “savourish” palate.
- What Were The Challenges You Face In Curating Your Menu? The Michelin* Standard.
The challenge we face in our new menu, and the direction of it, of course, is to discover the produce available – wild caught and farmed in Singapore – and build a network in the community of farmers and gain their trust at the same time, that we’re here for each other and also learn more about farming as a trade and profession, and how things are done differently in Singapore’s climate.
Is there a Michelin standard to how I function? No, for me the standard is the standard of excellence – Michelin or not. In the end, I always say Michelin inspectors are always paying customers and my standard is one of sending the best food and the best flavours every day. As the adage goes: you’re only as good as your last dish served. It’s true in the industry, you can’t just live on your past glory. Every day is a new challenge, and the standard I live by is the standard I set for the staff and the restaurant every day – the best, and only the best.
UNCLE WILLIAM’S QUAIL
Satay Espuma, Muah Chee & Pearl Onion
Moving slightly “exotic”, explore meats or game bird which can also go well with our local satay sauce. Be warned you probably want a plate of at least 10 sticks of satay.
- Each of Your Menu Description and Story
LABYRINTH ROJAK Edible
Gardens Herbs, Natural Stingless Bee Honey & Cempedak Sorbet
Never eaten these before? Mix them well, enjoy it, don’t think anything else if you dislike greens and you will definitely enjoy this rojak!
“LOST GRAIN” FRIED RICE
Whitebait, Dried Scallop & Local “Dashi”
Don’t be shocked. Because when you reached this stage, you will find back the feelings of home-cook. The grains used are a long-lost produce in Thailand which has made a recent comeback. At the end of the courses after roaming like you have travelled around the “world”, you will feel “simple is good”. #ComfortFood
Each dish is my interpretation and expression of Singapore cuisine. The conceptualisation of the dish begins with the produce. For example, Labyrinth Rojak is born out of my interaction with natural stingless bee honey from Batam, which has a unique vinaigrette taste. I thought of our local Rojak, hence finishing the dish with cempadek sorbet, together with local herbs and flowers to create my version of Rojak.
BEAN TO BAR
Artisanal Dark Chocolate & 8 Year Aged Shaoxing Wine
Bitter. Savoury. Unresistable.
CLAM LEAF SNOW | Palate Cleanser
Rosella Meringue & Textures of Grapes
This herbal dessert is commonly by the Chinese in making a tea drink. Hidden fruits are within the snow.
You will be able to see the actual leaf in the restaurant.
Bird’s Nest & Burnt Yogurt Espuma by Hay Dairies Goat Milk
Interesting homemade beancurd presented with a sugar crust.
CRISTAL DE CHINE CAVIAR
Kaya Ice Cream & Sing Hong Loong Toast
Homemade Kaya paired with caviar which brings out the distinct saltiness in replacing the butter. #LavishStyle
Seasonal Treats | Petite Fours
Limited Edition of Postcards About This Culinary Journey As a Gift
Now it is your turn to share the Singapore’s story and experience to the rest especially those who first visit our country.
8 Raffles Avenue #02-23
Lunch | 12 pm – 2:30 pm (Tuesday – Friday)
Pre-Theatre | 6 pm (Thursday – Saturday)
Dinner | 6:30 pm – 11 pm (Tuesday – Sunday)