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The doors recently burst open at this low-key yet high-class restaurant. CaN LaH (a Singlish expression meaning “I can do it”) is helmed by Chef Francis Chong Wui Choong. With over 30 years of experience, the award-winning chef – the former Executive Chinese Chef at Marina Mandarin Singapore – delivers his Signaporean-Malaysian menu with a nod to the cuisine found at hawker centres, but with a refined, modern approach.
The space is very minimal yet has an elegant feel. There is an outside terrace with intoxicating, panaoramic views of Victoria Harbour, so enjoy this whilst getting intoxicated on some cocktails.
I looked at the stomach-busting menu and muttered to myself, “Can lah, I can and will do this.” First up, dry laska with lobster and seafood ($238). Instead of a coconut soup base, the noodles are stir-fried in laksa paste. I prefer the traditional versions of laksa (and there are many), but I couldn’t fault the well-seasoned noodles and generous helping of lobster.
Black Nyonya kuih pie tee ($88 for 4) is a famous snack from Malacca, south-western Malaysia. This dish has a twist, incorporating Japanese black bamboo charcoal into the pie tee’s thin and crispy tart shell.
With pies tee, diners have to fill them with the ingredients – an interesting, hands-on experience. Once piled to the top, I took a one-time mouthful of thinly sliced carrot, lettuce leaves and prawn topped with chilli sauce. The presentation and concept are nice, however, this dish was quickly forgotten – it took me much longer to make one than to eat it!
Grilled sambal turbot ($238). Sambal is a traditional chilli sauce or paste made with different types of chillies and spices, and the sambal that covers the turbot doesn’t overwhelm; it’s light and slightly sweet. My fillet was beautifully grilled, and the firm, large white flakes had a subtle taste-of-the sea flavour. One of my favourite dishes.
I can see a repeat visit to CaN LaH in the near future, especially for the ambience on the awesome terrace – a relaxed place to kick back and savour a few cocktails. The prices are on the high side for flavours that wouldn’t feel out of place at a hawker centre, but it’s Central after all.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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