Coriander Leaf restaurant is located in the scenic Chijmes grounds which are just across the road from Raffles City. It had relocated there a few months ago from their former location at Clark Quay. According to their website, Coriander Leaf serves “an exciting authentic Asian menu which features both traditional and interpreted dishes, reflecting modern and traditional cooking techniques.”
We are sometimes apprehensive when descriptions of cuisines are prefaced by the words “fusion” or “modern” as “fusion” often ends up being confused and “modern” just means that the chef is probably too lazy to stick with traditional cooking techniques. In the case of the Coriander Leaf restaurant, we know that this was not the case and had been fans of them at the former location. We visited them at the new location at Chijmes to see if anything had changed. It is still helmed by the well-known chef Samia Ahad.
The decor at the new Coriander Leaf restaurant still has the warm wooden look. The Chijmes location does look more spacious and has a more contemporary feel. The open concept kitchen and a long L-shaped counter takes centre stage in the restaurant.
As is the trend these days, the Coriander Leaf restaurant serves their dishes in small plates, tapas style, to facilitate sharing. Their menu is neatly organised into five categories. We ordered six items from different categories. During lunchtime, there are two fixed priced menus at $17 and $35 respectively. Here are the dinner and lunch menus.
We started the meal with the rice noodle salad with roast duck, mint, coriander leaf, Vietnamese basil ($12). The mixture of these items resulted in a refreshing salad that had a unmistakable Asian flavour. Thai and Vietnamese images come to mind.
The blue spanner crab croquettes with tomato chutney ($15) was next. The three Asian style crab-cakes were resting on a thin bed of tomato chutney. The crab and potato were well blended to create a creamy texture on the inside. The outer skin was crisp. Very tasty and goes perfectly with white wine or beer. Together with the tandoori chicken, these were the two items we had fond memories of from their Clark Quay days. They, together with other items from the past, are grouped under the “Familiar” category.
The tempura of shiitake, honshimeji, enoki, with dashi mousse and soy dip ($12) was a member of the “Umami category. The three types of mushrooms were prepared tempura style and can be eaten with either the soy sauce or the dash mousse dips. While this was a nice snack, it was not one of the better dishes that day. The mushroom flavours were not prominent enough. The dashi mousse was interesting, but we had to be judicious in using it as its strong taste overpowers the tempura.
The tandoori chicken ($17) was our favourite dish, then and now. Tender, smoky and cooked just right. A tad too salty on certain bits, but still very good.
The final savoury dish was the braised beef briskets, kimchi, daikon slaw, steamed bun ($14). A nice description, but when it was served it looks like a Hokkien braised pork in a bun or “kong ba pow” to us. This was basically kong bak pau with a twist. Beef instead of pork and with kimchi inside. Somehow the kimchi did not blend well with the taste of the whole arrangement. Just the beef with the bun would have been fine.
By this time, we were already quite full. A good guide to ordering for two person at the Coriander Leaf restaurant is to start with four or five items and see what happens. We could have stopped there but the items in the “Sweet” category looked too tempting to ignore. We decided to pick one, and the avocado ice cream, fried banana fritters, gula melaka sago ($14) turned out to be a good choice. The avocado ice-cream must have contained a lot of real avocado as we could taste the natural flavours distinctly. The goreng pisang pieces were sweet and had a crisp outer glazed skin.
Coriander Leaf restaurant has a short but adequate wine list to cater for most budgets. We had a bottle of Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Blanc from the Cotes du Rhone ($61). It is described in the menu to have notes of honey and pineapple. We could not taste all that but it was very enjoyable. It did the job of refreshing our palates after each course, which was important as there were so many varied tastes to deal with that day.
Overall, Coriander Leaf may have moved to Chijmes but it still an excellent place to sample a cross-section of Asian cuisine, presented in both traditional and new ways. The familiar dishes brought back good old memories. The new ones were generally fine except that the kimchi with beef was too modern for our liking. Full details of the menus and parking options when visiting the restaurant are available on their website.
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
#02-01 CHIJMES 30 Victoria Street
Tel: +65 6532 3357
Nearby Stations : City Hall, Bras Basah
Mon-Fri : 12 noon – 2.30 pm
Mon-Thurs : 6pm to 12 midnight
Fri & Sat : 6 pm to 1 am