LÈ Restaurant and Asian Tapas Bar is pushing boundaries further, and it is not the usual traditional Chinese cuisine that Paradise Group has been popular with. There is a bit of drama, voguish music and over the top design elements that makes it appealing and up-to-the-minute.
There are elements borrowed from modern restaurants in New York and London, and features that probably inspired by Buddha Bar’ After all, CEO of Paradise Group Eldwin Chua has always been forward and adventurous in his thinking, transforming a humble zhi char seafood shop to the present group of 9 brands.
I was very surprised to see him humbly serving customers during my visit to LÈ. A young chap in his 30s, you may think he is just another of the waiters. I curiously asked about the price-tag of this concept – a whopping $5.5 million dollars.
You may want to think twice if you want to celebrate your Ah Ma’s birthday with families here. They first have to get through the bar, with DJs spinning chill-out music (during Wed-Fri nights), and a crowd of mostly Westerners and after-office executives hanging out for pre-dinner cocktails and tapas.
Ah Ma may also why there is a Buddha statue in the middle of the restaurant, facing the kitchen cooking dishes like wagyu beef. (Tell her it could be feng shui.)
If you need a place to hang out with your girlfriends after work, and are bored with the usual bars and selections, LÈ offers cocktail like the LÈ Special ($22) inspired by the local Ice Kachang splashed with bacardi oak heart rum, and Asian-inspired tapas of Chili Crab Kueh Pie Ti ($15) and Mantou Burger with Braised USDA Prime Beef ($16). Okay, its a little pricey for ‘local’ food.
The dinner is not your usual selection. One of my favourites is the Dirty Duck ($38 for half duck, $68 for a whole duck). Nothing too ‘dirty’ about it, but the direct translation would have been ‘naughty duck’. A twist to the traditional Peking duck, using duck flash-fried till crispy, shredded tableside by the service staff, and wrapped in scallion crepes with Hoisin sauce spread within
Think duck confit meets Peking duck. This captures the main elements of Peking Duck, with more meat.
There is always some eager anticipation when the service staff cooks right beside you. The Coral Trout ($16 per 100g of fish, $28 for broth) was first plated sashimi style, then poached tableside in light lobster broth. The aroma makes it all more tempting. This is what I call evoking the different senses.
This dish is inspired by the Yunnan dish “Crossing the bridge vermicelli” but LÈ’s version probably upped the theatrics. A friend thought that the lobster soup could be thicker and more flavourful. My initial reaction was so too because Paradise’s Cantonese-styled dishes, are mostly heavier on the palate. But they possibly did it to bring out the sweet freshness of the trout slices.
Some dishes need getting used to, such as the Stir-fried Angel Hair with Japanese dried ebi ($28 serves 4) – a familiar pasta most often used in French restaurants yet giving it a ‘Chinese’ treatment in terms of seasoning and cooked style. I love this dish for its umami flavours, but suspect it will hit middle-ground for most.
On the flipside, some other dishes like the Pan-seared Grade 9 Australian Wagyu with truffle oil and lemon zest sea salt ($160 for 200 grams) is underwhelming, and the high-end price tag is likely to turn some away.
LÈ Restaurant and Asian Tapas Bar has both style and substance. Adding on to the drama, if you stay on till restaurant closing, the chefs will all stand in a row, bow down to customers like in a Japanese shopping centre. Exaggerating and stagey considering this is Singapore, but you have to give it to Paradise Group for making the almost-impossible happen.
LÈ Restaurant and Asian Tapas Bar
#02-314 Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre, Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Boulevard, Tel: +65 6338 8775
Opening Hours: Restaurant 11:30am-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm Daily, Bar 3pm-11pm (Sun-Thurs), 3pm-12am (Fri-Sat)