Though it’s part of NUSS (The Graduate Club), I’m glad that The Dunearn is open to the public since I’m not a graduate of NUS and to be denied entry just cuz I was from the other “rival” university would be pretty mortifying *gasp* (just kidding, I’m sure they won’t do that haha)
Anyway, I was very happy to receive an invitation to sample The Dunearn’s ala carte menu cuz I’ve been wanting to drop by for a meal ever since reading Harris’s review on the restaurant. The cuisine is defined as “modern contemporary fusion“, and in the email sent to me, it was mentioned that the award-winning chef, Alan Koh, has worked in Les Amis and Marriot Hotel before. I’m a fan of Les Amis so this sounds promising
The restaurant itself is small, so do make a reservation first. You wouldn’t want to be turned away at the door after coming all the way to the Botanic Gardens. To an eastie like me, the location is not exactly the most convenient and accessible place around. But hey, “have food, will travel”, aye?
The menu is extensive and there’s quite a few choices for appetisers, soups, mains and desserts. Since it’s my first time there, I played it safe and went for the signature dishes.
Even before the salmon carpaccio ($12.80++) was placed on the table, I could catch the heady scent of the truffle salsa. I’ve had lots of carpaccio before but I believe that this is the first time I see a salmon carpaccio on a restaurant’s menu. This is quite good, very clean and simple.
When I was served the tuna tempera roulade ($16.80++) next, the tai-tai seated at the table next to mine smiled and congratulated me on making the right choice. And she’s right! The chef enlivened the boring tuna up by wrapping it in seaweed, searing it perfectly, and pairing it with a duo of wasabi mayo and teriyaki salsa.
I guess I was expecting some sort of stuffing in the fish from the description of “seared roulade of salmon” ($28++) on the menu but this was basically salmon with ginger broth and fish flakes, and though I requested for it to be medium done, it definitely came out well done. This was the only dish that I didn’t enjoy~
The second main course of oven baked Chilean cod ($33.80++) was so much better! I love how crispy the skin was and while I’m almost positive that the fish used was of the frozen variety (I may be wrong though), the fish was still soft and flaky enough.
By this time, I noticed that the chef likes to infuse Asian flavours into each dish, a move I applaud. In this case, it’s blue ginger in a red wine sauce and the side of al dente almond and raisin rice ball.
I was feeling nicely stuffed by this time but oh, desserts beckoned!
First, I had the coconut custard with black glutinous rice ($10++) topped with rose espuma and coconut ice cream. Top marks to how fragrant, smooth, and markedly coconut-y this was! And the awesome coconut sponge cakes on the side were clearly more than an afterthought by the chef *kudos*
Only gripe is that the there’s too much espuma (half the glass!) and not enough custard. And frankly speaking, I could do without the espuma, which was too heavy and creamy.
Then came the second dessert which I absolutely LOVE. It’s a very me dessert: red bean custard with coconut sago broth and soya milk ice cream ($10++), yums. The texture is great, from the smooth custard to the toothy beans, and overall, it’s so refreshing and light that I bet I could finish another one right away!
In short, I love the desserts here, like the starters, and don’t particularly care for the mains. Nevertheless, I think The Dunearn offers great bang for your buck as the portions are generous, prices are reasonable and presentations are excellent. It’s like going to a fine dining restaurant but paying half the price! If that’s not good value for money, I don’t know what is.
Many thanks to Ikram for the kind invitation! I had a lovely lunch
1F Cluny Road
Bukit Timah Guild House (NUSS Graduate Club)
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