Monday to Friday: 1130 to 0000hrs
Saturday: 1700 to 0000hrs
Another hearty dining session in the company of wonderful people, with a common love for mention worthy food on the island. This round was initiated by Little Tiny Sun (while she’s touring the land of the rising sun) & coordinated by Msginginly (our very own Chope-aholic). And we’re blessed with the company of folks from Purple Taste, Ivan Teh Running man and Chubby Botak Koala.
Located within minutes walking distance from Raffles Place or Clarke Quay MRT stations. On foot, one can enjoy the breeze along the Singapore River, while The Parliament House sits opposite. The Sampan is nestled at the heart, of 1 of the many conservation precincts that hold a lot of fond historic memories – all the more special because 2019 is our bicentennial year since our founding in 1819, as part of the renowned Straits Settlement.
The conserved & refurbished stretch of river banks & go-downs along the river, lined with gazebos, has a pleasant nostalgic feel, against the modern sky scrapers in the back drop, picturesque akin to a postcard come alive.
The Singapore F1 Night Race is just round the corner, if you need to kill time between practice & qualifiers, to enjoy neo-classic flavors of the Archipelago, The Sampan is within walking distance from Gate 4 (via North Bridge Road) or Gate 5 (via Cavenagh Bridge) of the Marina Bay Circuit.
At The Sampan, outdoors seating accommodates ±30pax (±20 at gazebo, ±10 at the tall boys) comfortably, more, if some would stand. And there’s indoor dining with air conditioning in front of bar, with more seats in the upper floors. It is recommended to make advanced reservations for assured seating.
The scene & setting is nice for a good sip, do check out their list of beverages, as well as their selection of reds, whites, champagnes & sparkling. And apart from regular menus, they’ve also got kid’s menu too!
Happy Hour Mocktails & Cocktails with Bar Snacks while we waited for full attendance… Chalong Bay, Frozen Margarita, Calamansi Lemonade, Mango Chili Smash. The mixes were pretty decent and appropriate for chill out under the gazebos.
Vegetarian Fritters – shredded vegetables battered & deep fried tempura, except they’re bite sized portion, tasty with a sweetness of the combined vegetables.
Emping Belinjo – served with a devilish green chili spicy hot dip. The mellow bitter aftertaste is something that’s somewhat acquired.
Pani Puri – this hollow crepe globes are stuffed with tiny bits of masala filling that gives it character & taste.
Calamari with Wasabi Mayo – crispy fluffy battered squid strips that are already good on their own, the wasabi mayo dip gives it a little more punch.
There’s only so few of us, and there’s so many dishes on the menu to try, so we decided to pick a small variety and anticipate to be wowed
Crispy Beef Thai Salad – it’s somewhat different from what you’d get in the streets of Thailand, a little conservative on the lime & spice. But I’m certain would be quite a hit for the local & expat palates.
Indonesian Mee Goreng (Seafood) – this force (wok hei) is strong in this one! I’m impressed with their creativity in using the meepok (Chinese tagliatelle), and the balance of savory blends that allows the prawns & squid to hold their own torch. Absolutely must try!
Kampung Bali Fried Rice (Beef) – this too has a good dose of wok hei, the rice grains are bouncy & do not clump, and that’s the true character of fried rice. Pepperish hues in every bite, with a mild garlic fragrance lingering in the aftertaste. Worth a try!
Cantonese Barbecued Duck, Roasted Seasonal Vegetables – this exceeded my expectations, as I had in mind that it was to be a canto style roast. Lo & behold, the meat is juicy tender like a confit, meat falls cleanly off the bone, finished off with roasted crispy skin. The roasted vegetables gives the dish some natural sweetness. Lovely!
Beef Cheek Rendang, Grilled Vegetables, Steamed Rice Cake – this is unanimously the darling of the lot. The beef cheeks are juicy tender, the steamed rice is not quite the typical ketupat, and the rendang sauce is impressive. We actually requested for a little more, just for sips.
Fresh Local Seabass, Asian Soya Sauce Glaze, Potato Puree – delivered several times a week, direct from the kelong, nothing gets fresher than this. The seabass is tender & moist on the inside, skin grilled to a crisp on the outside, savory with a nice bounce in the bite. I think I will revisit just for this.
Charred Chicken, Mango Sambal, Steamed Rice Cake – this too was something that surprised my palates. Just like the duck earlier, the meat is juicy tender on the inside and the skin is nicely intact reminds me of a confit. Lightly charred on the outside, and coated with a good dose of tangy sambal & caramelized onions. The steamed rice is apt for neutralizing the heat.
P.S. Strongly recommended to queue the charred chicken last, as you will need time for palate recovery from the heat.
To cap the evening, desserts to seal & satiate the palates
Pandan Pancakes, Vanilla Ice Cream, Palm Sugar Syrup – visually enticing, the pandan fragrance is evidently present, while the texture reminds me of the classic Apam Berkuah. Topped with palm sugar syrup & accompanied with a scoop of vanilla ice cream
Local Coconut Pudding, Coffee Tuille, Charred Bread Ice Cream – essentially is kaya pudding served in a cocktail glass. Topped with coffee tuille & charred bread ice cream. We polished the glass clean.
Off the menu surprise from the Dessert Chef – this is a muahchee loaded brownie, served with banana ice scream. The earthy taste of dark chocolate is just heavenly. I reckon this deserves a spot as a mainstay on the menu.
All in all, the experience at The Sampan was good. The service rendered is very personable, and the classic dishes rolled out & presented in ways never attempted before, is impressive. In terms of price & placement, I think is just about right. In fact, some of the dishes are good bang for buck.
Worth a visit if you haven’t already done so, and I’ve a good feeling that you’ll be revisiting for more good stuff.
Pictures taken using LG V30+