Gourmands chase exclusivity. They hunt down hidden encounters at temples of gastronomy, seeking to carve out everlasting memories of dishes they can only find in one place, at one particular time.

This experience is something the good folks at OCBC have cultivated for its Cardmembers in Singapore with the OCBC Gastronomic Adventures. For this programme, our nation’s top restaurants, including the Michelin-starred greats, have worked together with the bank to create unique menus, which includes one-of-a-kind dishes, available only to OCBC Debit and Credit Cardmembers. If you have an OCBC card, you’ve got a passport to dishes that even regulars at these participating restaurants have not, and probably will never be able to try.

Owners of either the OCBC VOYAGE or 365 Cards get an added step into this inner circle of dining privileges. Those with a VOYAGE Card receive drink-pairing options at special rates or a corkage waiver, while those with the OCBC 365 Card can receive 3% cashback when they dine on the weekdays, or 6% cashback when they dine on the weekends if they meet the minimum monthly spend. Receive S$50 cash credit when you sign up for an OCBC 365 Card here, if you apply by 30 September 2018. Applicable only for new OCBC Credit Cards online applicants. Terms and conditions apply.

To foster some conviction, read on to find out more about the meals you will enjoy at these meccas of extravagance under the OCBC Gastronomic Adventures. Get those cards ready, and make sure you request for the OCBC menu when making reservations.

COMO Cuisine

ocbc gastronomic adventures como cuisine

COMO Cuisine brings favourite dishes that are big on flavours while retaining the quality across the COMO Hotels & Resorts properties to Dempsey Hill, fusing most of these classics with Asian flavours we know and love.

A six-course menu, priced at S$180++ per person, has been created for OCBC Gastronomic Adventures. The list of dishes reads like Executive Chef Timothy de Souza’s homage to island life, with seafood elements forming its bulk.

Breaths of the sea are captured in the amuse bouche, which starts with golden orbs of uni atop prawn, all cradled by tempura nori that crackles with salt when bitten. That mouthful is quickly chased by muscular slivers of kingfish sashimi wrapped in watery cucumber dressed in a fermented yuzu paste for a citrusy zing.

While you’re still satisfied by the tangle with all things umami, de Souza changes gears into Maldivian territory with the appetisers. A curried lentil pottage, made with toor dahl and tamarind paste, is served with a round of sweet Japanese scallop. So moreish is this spicy-sour sojourn that your stomach is warmed from the first sip to the last.

This contrast between delicate and hearty is a theme that recurs throughout the menu, peaking with the lamb dish, an OCBC Menu special. Being Australian, de Souza decided to bring a slice of home to the restaurant with his play on roast lamb. A golden brown crust of sourdough bread and herbs enclose lollipops of lamb, prepared perfectly medium rare. To add some intricacy to the homely course, de Souza serves the meat with artichoke puree and mustard fruit for acid, accompanied by cashew hummus to ground the whole portion.

Nothing makes a meal better than good wine, so OCBC VOYAGE Cardmembers can purchase either a bottle of Sallio Riesling Semillon 2015 at S$135++ (U.P. S$145++) or a bottle of La Masia Pinot Noir 2013 at S$165++ (U.P. S$185++). Valid until 20 October 2018.

COMO Cuisine, 18A Dempsey Road, Singapore 249677, +65 6304 6688.

Labyrinth

ocbc gastronomic adventure

Few restaurants in Singapore come as close to embodying the locavore philosophy as Chef LG Han from one Michelin-starred Labyrinth. At his Esplanade domain, everything you see on the menu is local produce. The furthest his culinary map extends is to Batam, where nutty stingless bee honey is sourced for the sauce in his Labyrinth Rojak, drizzled on herbs procured from Edible Gardens that rest over a puckering cempedak sorbet.

You can taste the sheer joy Chef Han exercises over shaping whatever he can find from farms around our agriculturally-lean land into inventive plates in the four-course lunch menu at S$68++ and 10-course dinner menu at S$178++ designed for OCBC Cardmembers. Lalas from Ah Hua Kelong are layered like petals in a clam gel, moulded into wanton skin that gives it the shape of a tart without the heft. Quail legs from Uncle William in Kranji Farm are turned into skewers as a play on satay, with peanut espuma giving the dish a familiarity undercut by the gamey meat.

Chef Han also delves deep into the archives of memory to bring childhood favourites to the fore. Entrées like “Ang Moh” Chicken Rice harken to a time where his grandmother was a landlady for a British couple struggling to acclimatise to Singaporean food. To make our national dish more palatable, she served it with a sauce inspired by Campbell’s mushroom soup. That cheeky nod to the past is reimagined as a silken dumpling, al dente because it is made with rice flour ground in-house and cooked in a chicken rice stock, stuffed with gingery braised chicken, his grandmother’s chilli sauce and a button mushroom roux.

The pinnacle of the meal is the OCBC special dish: Chef Han’s version of otah. He’s long had a gripe with the fact that the fish in otah is masked by spices as it is blended into the rempah. His version showcases silver perch fish, as its flesh forms a firm, borderline crunchy bed for the spicy rempah coated over it. The combination swims with fish fat in an aromatic tom yum-style broth bolstered with kaffir lime. When you spoon all components together, you have a mouthful of bliss that reconciles the fish before you with the first time you had otah charred in a banana leaf by the roadside. A meal at Labyrinth is that cerebral — it intertwines the chef’s story with that of our nation, and your own too.

Complete that tale by bringing a bottle of your favourite wine for the meal, as OCBC VOYAGE Cardmembers can enjoy a corkage waiver (U.P.$50++). Valid until 20 November 2018.

Labyrinth, #02-23 Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039802, +65 6223 4098.


Chinoiserie

There are chefs and then there are the chef’s chef — the leading names in gastronomy who raised, whipped and cajoled an entire generation of cooks to scale greater heights. Singaporean celebrity chef Justin Quek is one of them.

At Chinoiserie, his brand new fine dining Chinese restaurant in MBS, the chef’s trademark flair of elevating Chinese flavours find a greater expression. Toss out all notions of a lazy susan in the middle of the dining table or wet tissues in foil packs sitting underneath the chopsticks.

Instead, you get the experience similar to a Western fine dining restaurant from starters to petit fours. Here, signatures like duck foie gras stuffed into a delicate xiao long bao sitting in an ethereally light golden broth share the table with wok fried lobster Hokkien noodles kissed by the smoky fragrance of wok hei.

Nowhere is his mastery seen more than in the Chaoshan-style steamed whole ayu stuffed with scallop mousse, a dish available only to OCBC’s Cardmembers. Here, the delicate flavour of ayu — well-loved in Japan for the tender sweetness of the flesh is gently steamed and topped with chilli, garlic and ginger. It’s pure culinary ingenuity as the steaming takes the sharp edge of these otherwise forceful flavours, giving pride of place to the creamy flavour of the fish. This assembly sits on a reduction of stock, sesame oil and light soy sauce — just enough to flavour the fish.

“My own parents came from Chaoshan and they brought with them the dishes from their homeland,” says chef Justin. “But to me, they were just flavourful family-style food of my family, which we enjoyed together.”

These dishes are part of a six-course menu (S$200++) exclusive only to OCBC VOYAGE Cardmembers. Take things up a notch and go for the four-glass wine pairing priced at S$98 (U.P. S$136++). Valid until 20 October 2018.

Chinoiserie, Galleria Level, B1-13/14/15 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956, +65 6688 7782.

Corner House

There’s a grand French narrative at one-Michelin-starred restaurant Corner House but Jason Tan, its chef/owner has always consciously added a local slant in his menus. It may not take centre stage ala mod-sin but the inflections tend to be subtle and unintrusive.

That’s certainly the case for the seven-course OCBC exclusive menu priced at $238++ per person with elegant dishes like carabinero prawns dressed with yuzu kosho and caviar as well as an avant garde rendition of kaya toast — where a kaya parfait made of local humble ingredients like pandan leaves, gula melaka and coconut milk is sandwiched between a pair of crumbly sable biscuits.

Stand out dishes include the New Zealand Blue Cod “Crispy Scales” where the creaminess of the fish meets the satisfying crunch of the fried scales. The A4 Toriyama Wagyu is a revelation as it is served not just with classic condiments like garlic and endives but the meat itself has been brushed with soy caramel that adds just a touch of sweetness to the fattiness of the beef.

But OCBC Cardmembers will be in for a treat as chef Jason is introducing a new dish that’s an amalgamation of three cultures: Spanish, Japanese and Peranakan. Enter the Bomba Rice dish, where Spanish rice grains are cooked like a paella complete with the crispy charred bits, accompanied with a sous vide egg and covered in a buah keluak emulsion. 

Despite always having had a local slant, it’s the first time chef Jason is plating up a rice-based dish. It’s served in a stone mortar, and meant to be mixed like a chirashi bowl, offering spoon after spoon of delicious comfort.

These dishes are best savoured with a good glass of vino and VOYAGE Cardmembers can opt for a seven-course wine pairing at $100++ (U.P. $188++). The experience starts from a glass of champagne right down to two dessert wines. The labels change day to day depending on what’s available but those up for an extra treat can get premium labels Henri Boillot, Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Perrieres or Domaine Clos Fantin, Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Malconsorts at $338++ each (U.P. $398++).

Corner House, 1 Cluny Road, E J H Corner House Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 259569, +65 6469 1000.

 

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.