Restaurant review: Long Chim vs. Adrift

How do LONG CHIM and ADRIFT, the two latest celebrity chef offerings at Marina Bay Sands, fare?

Long Chim
Long Chim
05 May 2015

Long Chim

#02-02 ATRIUM 2, THE SHOPPES AT MARINA BAY SANDS, S018956. TEL: 6688-7299. OPEN DAILY. 6PM-MIDNIGHT. LAST ORDERS 10.30PM. WWW.MARINABAYSANDS.COM/RESTAURANTS/LONG-CHIM.HTML  

“God, this is spicy,” we gasp, fanning our tongue like an Englishman eating chilli padi for the first time. The Thai food at Long Chim hurts so good. It’s cooked by an angmoh — Bangkok-based Aussie David Thompson. But that’s not why we initially went with zero expectations.

Few months ago, we had a disappointing, overpriced meal at David’s famed fine-diner Nahm in Bangkok, ranked No. 7 at this year’s S. Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants (down from No. 1 in 2014). But here at Long Chim, he gets his refined yet gutsy interpretation of Thai street food incredibly right. The man has, after all, lived and cooked in Bangkok for over 20 years. He is currently overseeing things at the MBS restaurant, and will return occasionally even after he goes back to Bangkok. In his absence, Thai head chef Yingyod Raktham helms the stoves. While most celebrity chefs are politically-correct and slick, David often appears frumpy and faintly bored. It’s mostly about the food for him.

Long Chim
Long Chim
05 May 2015

Long Chim

THE LOOK & VIBE: So, when we walk into the cavernous Long Chim, there’s David, with hair slightly dishevelled, at the noodle station. Later, he fries up a wokful like a seasoned char kway teow hawker. No glamorous pretensions, this one. The 153-seater has the trappings of a designer food court in Bangkok, though way sexier. It’s anchored by a long open kitchen where you can watch the chefs bustle about a wood-fired oven, charcoal grill, and even a fridge for drying squid. There are several sitting areas, including the dimly lit main dining room with wooden accents and intricate shophouse tiles. There’s also a glitzy bar for cocktails. Skip the middling drinks and save room for the food. 

Long Chim
Long Chim
05 May 2015

Long Chim

THE FOOD: Aromatic Beef Skewer, $15
The four lonely sticks may look sad, but this is no ordinary satay. Richly spiced wagyu skirt elicits squirts of fat and char with every bite. Our only complaint: it’s over-salted.

Long Chim
Long Chim
05 May 2015

Long Chim

THE FOOD: Prin’s Noodles with Sriracha, Pork & Prawns, $22
This is what char kway teow aspires to be. The rice noodles have an ethereal, softly sticky chewiness to them. Stir-fried with oyster and Worcestershire sauce to a shiny, smoky tangle, and served with a lip-smacking sauce of Sriracha chilli and tamarind. Criminally good. However, a friend tells us that when she ordered this, a chef rustled it up — only to have David unceremoniously take over the wok and cook a new batch instead. Hopefully, the standard of the food remains consistent when he returns to Bangkok.

THE FOOD: Green Curry of Beef with Roti, $22
Forget the usual anaemic, coconut cream-drenched Thai green curry. This is the amped-up version where the ratio of spice to coconut is probably 80/20. The tender slivers of wagyu are secondary to the thick, robust gravy desperate to be mopped up with fluffy house-made roti prata. Superior to curries served even in Thai-owned eateries here.

VERDICT: Stinging Thai flavours on steroids in a grungy-glam setting. So delicious we don’t mind the hotel coffee house prices for the smallish portions.
 

Adrift
Adrift
05 May 2015

Adrift

HOTEL LOBBY TOWER 2, MARINA BAY SANDS, S018956. TEL: 6688-5657. OPEN DAILY. NOON – 2.30PM & 5.30PM TILL LATE. LAST ORDERS 2.30PM & MIDNIGHT. WWW.MARINABAYSANDS.COM/ADRIFT

While Long Chim is unabashedly Thai, Adrift is… Californian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, and then some. It’s the suave LA restaurateur David Myers' idea of a “food culture mash-up”.

The gorgeous wood and copper restaurant is filled with cool-looking people. (Though not as cool as the folks we saw years ago at his restaurant Comme Ça in Hollywood. Hello, Carson Daly.) Adrift’s handsome bar is lovely to hang out at, and with a decent cocktail, too. Try the punchy Scotch-based, ginger-spiked Penicillin ($23). The food, however, spread across a sprawling menu of small plates, is hit-or-miss. Give ‘confusion fusion’ dishes like the Maine Lobster with jarringly sugary Mochi ($33) a miss.

Adrift
Adrift
05 May 2015

Adrift

THE FOOD: King Crab Pimento Grilled Cheese, $35 (Pictured above)
Now, this is a grilled cheese sandwich. Butter-brushed toast dripping with gooey cheddar, chopped pimento pepper and sweet crabmeat. But for $35, we expect more than three petite finger sandwiches — this ain’t high tea.

THE FOOD: Crispy Baby Potatoes, Seaweed, Parmesan, $13
Crackly-skinned umami bombs simmered in dashi, then deep-fried, and tossed with seaweed butter and parmesan. A revelation in spuds.

VERDICT: Some plates are more fun than the others. Be prepared to spend more than what you budgeted for.
 

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