After a somewhat bad experience at Ding Dong at its old premises on Ann Siang Hill a year ago, I never went back to the modern Southeast Asian restaurant until they relocated to Amoy Street recently. This time around, the experience was a mostly impressive one, from its oriental-themed funland interiors to Head Chef’s Jet Lo’s take on familiar flavours, as well as Group Bar Manager Joe Schofield’s (you’ll find him at Tippling Club) brand new cocktail menu.
Diving straight into the cold plates section of the menu, the Hamachi Sashimi ($18) set a great tone for the rest of the meal. The tart green mango gave the fresh fish on betel leaf a lovely zing, though we’ll welcome a chili relish with more of a spicy kick. While the delicate Hokkaido Scallop Tartare ($19) was overwhelmed by the sweetness of the waffle baskets it sat on, the Homemade Rice Noodle Roll ($17) encasing a moreish pork sausage and accompanied with a fresh bean sprout salad fared us well.
If we had a favourite part of the menu at Ding Dong, it would definitely be the small plates. The Thai Basil Quail ($19) with crispy garlic is like chicken, but better – ‘nuff said. One dish that everyone at my table clamouring for more was the 5 Spice Lamb Tongue ($17). Crispy on the outside, it melts in your mouth the minute you bite into each flavoursome cube, which is enhanced by a delicious black pepper sauce. The pickled cucumber gives your palate a welcome respite in between each morsel.
Duck liver, kimchi, Homemade Banana Bread ($25) – who’d have thought that this unusual combination works? Testament to chef Jet’s creativity, the buttery, savoury duck lever melds seamlessly with the sweet, moist banana bread – and the kimchi (which perhaps need to be a tad more sour) adds crunch with every mouthful.
However, if you love dishes that are best consumed with loads of rice, you’ll enjoy the Spiced Braised Iberico Pork ($26) more than I did. Noticeably heartier than the small plates, we have to concede that once the poached egg is mixed in, the flavourful gravy takes on a more viscous texture that’s not unpleasant. The tenderness of the pork is complemented by sweet bits of jackfruit tempura.
I preferred the Chargrill Ocean Trout ($24) with spiced quinoa and green mango salad. Marinated with the holy trinity of oyster sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce, the fish – with a texture and mouthfeel in between cod and salmon – was grilled to perfection.
Be sure to leave some space for dessert, ‘cause the deconstructed Caramelised Pineapple Tart ($19) with tonka bean ice cream is nothing short of yummy. Cooked with gula Melaka, coconut cream, and Szechuan pepper, this could give your favorite pineapple tarts a run for its money, especially with coconut rum pearls and tonka bean ice cream served on the side.
Throughout the meal, we were indulging in various new concoctions from the cocktail menu. The frozen Ding Dong Daiquiri ($18, white rum, cherry eau de vie, raspberry, lychee, lime) was surprisingly strong, while the Hawker ($20, gin, hawberry, Japanese cucumber, amaro montenegro, lemon, egg white) came with a nostalgic roll of haw flakes – the quintessential Singaporean child’s snack in the 90s.
Those who enjoy a more citrusy drink can opt for the vodka-based Astroboy ($20). While the green tea umeshu is rather subtle, the swipe of matcha powder adds a slight earthiness to the tipple.
Ding Dong is located at 115 Amoy Street #01-02, Singapore 069935, p. +65 6557 0189. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-3pm, 6pm-12am. Closed Sun.
Top Image: Thai Basil Quail with Crispy Garlic