Best restaurants Singapore: Clifford Pier
When it comes to luxury, it’s definitely in the eye of the beholder, but one of the yardsticks in bustling Singapore is definitely space.
And so we found ourselves walking through the impressive foyer of the Fullerton Bay Hotel towards Clifford Pier (pictured above). This room, actually on a pier, was refurbished to open in May 2014 as a fine dining restaurant with an emphasis on Asian classics. It’s an oasis of calm – the polished floors, the exposed rafters, the deep, comfy chairs. There was no-one tinkling the ivories of the grand piano at the far end of the room this particular lunchtime but that would have definitely added to the feel of old colonial Singapore.
The pier itself was built in 1933, as the landing jetty for ships and immigrants. In its early days, hawkers sailed their sampans to meet the ships, offering a range of local ‘comfort food’ dishes to the weary travellers. In more recent times the car park next to the pier was transformed into a hawker centre at night – in the 1950s. All told, there’s a significant foodie heritage on offer.
We were invited by the Fullerton Bay Hotel to try their modern take on comfort foods at lunch. Settling in to a large table at the far end of the restaurant, the startling Marina Bay Sands was across the water behind us, but barely noticed as a profusion of dishes were brought to the table, ably chosen by one of the hotel’s resident foodies, Pearly.
Telling us all about the history of the building and the hotel, Pearly recommended we sip some Teh Tarik throughout our meal. This was a ‘pulled’ black tea with sweetened condensed milk. It was quite refreshing and apparently very popular throughout Malaysia.
But we were there to eat. First up was Pier Rojak with ‘Hae Ko’ – a tropical fruit salad tossed with sweet prawn paste, ginger flower, bean curd, barbecued cuttlefish and crunchy peanuts. Again, very refreshing and a good primer for the palate.
We then moved to pork belly buns. This was iberico pork belly braised in a sweet soy sauce, served with chilli and coriander on steamed buns. Finger lickin’ good.
Next up was fried carrot cake. We’ve had many variations of this over the years, but Pearly explained this was the ‘dark’ version, wok fried in a sweet and spicy sauce with prawns and spring onions. Tasty.
The dishes came thick and fast and our table was laden with delights. There was a small departure from the Asian theme with a lobster roll. This was another luxurious touch; butter poached half lobster was chopped and mixed with a light mayonnaise and chives and pressed into a soft brioche bun. Absolutely delicious. Greedy Girl marvelled it’s possibly the first time in her dining history where French fries have been served and she’s not had room to nibble on even just one.
But there was just too much else to choose from. Gluttonous husband was delighted to see Haianese chicken rice. We’d often talked about having this again in Singapore; eating it once in a food court in Orchard Road (possibly not the greatest venue) and being somewhat in the dark as to what the fuss was all about. This was beautifully moist with three excellent accompaniments – minced ginger, black vinegar and chilli.
Next was an incredibly well balanced laksa. Greedy Girl doesn’t often have laksa given her low tolerance for coconut milk but this was very smooth and quite luxe – with prawns, bean curd and a quail egg with rice vermicelli noodles, topped with bean sprouts for extra crunch.
It was time for some ‘signature’ dishes – two styles of ‘rickshaw’ noodles, hokkien yellow noodles with pork broth and traditional condiments, and dry noodles with simmered pork belly and soft boiled egg.
We appreciated the lightness of the broth in the Hokkien noodles and it was a great contrast with the heavier dry noodle dish which, for western palates, would also fall under the heading of comfort food, being reminiscent of a carbonara. Delish.
Seriously starting to struggle, we opted not to have any desserts. The sweet tea being a nice foil. This was a delightful spoil; the range of food here is excellent and both the service and surrounds were very special. Instead of ordering a la carte, you can also avail yourself of buffet options. The restaurant is also noted for an afternoon tea service which Greedy Girl will be definitely trying on her next visit.
The Foodie World dined as guests of the Fullerton Bay Hotel.
80 Collyer Quay, Singapore