Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Before my trip to Singapore I asked a few friends what would be THE restaurant to visit if I got only one night free to eat - and they all pointed me to Seroja, the new restaurant which got its first Michelin star (plus a Green star) this summer. 

The place was literally steps away from the hotel I was staying on the ground floor of a commercial building. I am super impressed with the decor - natural tone with minimalist design bringing the sense of luxury without being condescending; the open layout made this 2700 square foot venue more spacious than the number suggests, with the open kitchen being the centerpiece with the long counter table which can seat up to a dozen plus a few tables for larger groups. 

I was greeted by Long the General Manager at the door and later by Andrew their head chef as I settled in my seat at the counter close to the kitchen. The two young co-founders (along with Chef Kevin who was away at the time of my visit) shared with me the philosophy and concept of integrating local cuisine (mostly Malaysian and some in the extended Southeast Asian region) with contemporary cooking techniques and styles. 

The restaurant opens for dinner with tasting menu only except for Fridays and Saturdays when they also serve lunch with an abbreviated version. On the night I went more than dozen courses were served including the add-on option with the "Nusantara Menu", which is an ancient term roughly describing the modern days Southeast Asian regions.  

The traditional welcome drink of Toddy was poured before the seafood-themed appetizer course presented in 3 acts. Tiram, or oyster, was mixed with beef tartare and served with oyster leaf infused mousse on top in a tartlet with gingertorch petal as garnish - it's loaded with sea umami flavor. The conch pie tee was mixed with fermented shrimp dressing with a slight kick of spiciness balanced by the mildly sweet onion jam with julienned Kohlrabi/Kabu on top, served in the traditional crispy pastry shell. Lastly it was another tartlet with BBQ obsiblue prawn served cold with a hint of smokiness with the rich sambal hitam and leek floss.

From the sea we "moved" inland with the next course of "Tropical Landscape", described as "a tribute to the bountiful harvest around the tropical region". Essentially it was a salad course served with peanut and tamarind vinaigrette dressing, with details of every components listed with their origins on a note. I enjoyed the crunchy texture of the vegetables plus the jellyfish (from the coastal town of Sekinchan) with the sweet-acidic sauce tossed in. 

Roti Paung is Malaysian's answer to the traditional Parker House Rolls, with the same butter richness but a slightly sweeter and crispier crust, baked fresh and delivered to the table steaming hot. Great on its own, but even greater for dipping into the sauce of the later courses (remind me of the deep-fried man-tou that was usually served with chili crabs). With the scallop course being served next with the rojak-inspired sauce with laksa leaf, I ended up chowing down two of those by myself just so I could wipe clean all the sauce with its rich and aromatic flavor. 

By now it’s only half-way through the meal. Next was the stuffed chicken wing which was the supplementary course. The whole deep-fried wing was stuffed with sticky rice with bits of water chestnut mixed in and with a nice kick from the vinegared chili sauce. The fatty kinmedai fillet was seared skin-down and scale on for the crispy top, and served with the citrusy sambal Petai with barbecued surf clams and Gulai Ketam sauce underneath. Once again, a salivating sauce that brought this dish to the next level with all the complex flavor. A small bowl of the herb-infused noodles with mud crab also served like a palate cleanser with its refreshing flavor. 

Jasmine tea duck broth was ceremoniously brought in inside a fancy Malaysian “kendi air” pot and poured into a small cup to serve. The tea leaf smell hit first followed by the rich duck flavor in a consommé-like soup. Duck was served as the main course served with a number of condiments on the same dishes and a few other mini-courses on the side. After that it was three courses of desserts, including the perfectly done raw sugar Bahulu (like a Madeleine but with a deeper flavor because of Borneo raw cane sugar being used) and a slab of single origin chemor dark chocolate bar that I could bring home with. 

I did regret not going for the whole wine pairing experience but ended up only with a couple of glasses with the recommendation of the somm. I started off with one from Portugal, with the bottle of white light and refreshing with hint of minerals and mild acidity. The Pago Ayles 3 de Tres Mil from Spain with the blend of Garnache, Cab and Merlot was rich and full-bodied with some spices that worked very well with the richer courses, especially the duck. 

I can attest Seroja is certainly one restaurant that should be on everyone’s dining radar when they come to Singapore. The team certainly nailed it bringing Southeast Asian flavor and cooking to the table and made this an unique experience for any visitor. 

More photos here:

When? July 18 2023
Where? Seroja, 7 Fraser Street 01-30/31/32/33 Duo Galleria, Singapore
Menu Highlights? BBQ Duck Percik/Traders Rice/Lauk Pauk
2020 Niepoort Tiara Branco, Douro, Portugal
2016 Bodaga Pago Ayles 3 de Tres Mil, Carinena, Spain 

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