11th July 2014.
We were aware that Ding Dong is related to Open Door Policy. Therefore, Liang Wei was hesitant to visit the restaurant at first but due to a comical miscommunication on my part, we found ourselves in Ding Dong for lunch one afternoon.
Ding Dong is contemporary retro-chic if there is such a term for it. It is full of mischief and very playful which reflects in its interiors and cuisine. The interior design of Ding Dong was by Jerry de Souza, the creative director of Spa Espirit (of which Open Door Policy & Ding Dong are under).
Stepping into the restaurant, you can’t miss the aluminium Chinese Jianzhi (剪纸) decorations around the restaurant. These were done by local artist, Edison Teo (aka GalactikCaptain), an avid illustrator and “doodler” with the local Band of Doodlers.
The restaurant is known for it’s a wild creations like the Pi Pa Kao Cocktails, but both Liang Wei and I aren’t pretty to fork out money for the a la carte menu or the cocktails, famous they may be due as they are pretty expensive.
Instead, we opted for the Lunch Set (35++ SGD) which changes from time to time. During our visit, we had the Spicy Pumpkin, Prawn and Coconut Veloute as well as the Kingfish Sashimi with Black Daikon, Wasabi and Yuzu. Among the two the veloute fared much better with its rich and balanced flavours that resembled a refined version of the Thai tom yum.
The kingfish sashimi on the other hand, was underwhelming as the wasabi and soy sauce was mixed up, resulting in a rather messy and monotonous dish where the flavours of the king fish failed to come through.
The mains were much better. The Asam Pedas Salted Barramundi with Okra and Baby Eggplant as well as the 48 Hours Beef Cheek Rendang were both home-inspired creations by Chef Jet Lo who heads the kitchen of Ding Dong.
The barramundi was very succulent and the beef cheek rendang was amazing with its amazingly tender flesh and good contrast of crispy toasted brown rice and Chinese coriander a well as tasty rendang gravy.
The desserts were quite interesting too. The Asian Spiced Gluten Free Cake with Tamarind Sorbet and Roselle Gel is a love it or hate it affair but it is an entirely different story when it comes to the Malacca Cendol 2013. While the name itself mentioned Malacca (or Melaka), it was not the source of inspiration for this dish but rather a fun, exotic name chosen by the chef.
This dessert is the epitome of Ding Dong, a playful combination of popcorn, condensed milk, crushed nuts, cubes of gula melaka jelly, crushed ice, peanuts, ice cream and salted caramel as the divine finishing touch. This is pure godsend in a hot sunny weather. Both Liang Wei and I enjoyed this dessert tremendously for its variety of textures and flavours such as the mix of crunchy popcorn peanuts, the mocha-like smoky sweetness from gula Melaka, the rich salted caramel as well as the subtle sweet corn ice cream, all of which worked very well together.
From what both of us gathered, Chef Jet Lo loves using gula Melaka in his cuisine. Chef Jet Lo hails from Sabah in Malaysia and the food back at home was a major source of inspiration for him at Ding Dong.
The food at Ding Dong is considerably pricey but portions are quite decent. What we had are lunch set portions and the a la carte would be more substantial that what we had. However, if you wish to get a taste of what Ding Dong has to offer without breaking the bank, the $35++ 3 Course Lunch Set provides a better value for money.
23 Ann Siang Road