It’s been a full 24 years since Magdalene Tang first opened the doors to Mag’s Wine Kitchen. “That’s two cycles of the Chinese zodiac calendar”, she reminds us. And just in time, too, to ring in a grand re-opening. Ironically enough, the veteran restaurant leaves its Circular Road residence to explore Keong Saik‘s greener pastures. After all, the young district has been wrought with many a new opening in the last year, some even clinching a seat in Asia’s Top 50.
Heading in, we’re met with the hustle and bustle of pre-service prep as Head Chef Ryan Tok and his team busy themselves with the mise en place – which wouldn’t be special if not for the fact that it all happens up front of the establishment. The walk-through kitchen concept, warm interiors, and relaxed hospitality are by Mag’s wilful design to make the guest experience as homespun as a family affair.
The lady of the hour sweeps in just as we arrive, and already we’re regaled with her captivating life stories (and liberal amounts of wine). There’s no carefully-curated tasting menu here. Mag simply tells us to “choose what you want” before whisking herself away to the kitchen.
The self-taught ex-banker may seem battle-worn from the new opening, but the twinkle in her eyes betray her devil-may-care attitude. Before long, she returns with a plate of juicy Bouchon Mussels – an off-menu seasonal treat . Such impromptu creations are the norm to regulars, who often trust Mag enough to whip up something off the wall.
Luckily for us normies, there’s still the signature Whole Duckling (S$85++) that feeds six big appetites (or eight little ones). If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind, this play on the traditional French roasted duck is it. Braised Teochew style for three hours, the duckling retains its moisture for a fall-apart texture, and is served with meaty Spanish Noceralla olives. But keep in mind at specials like the duckling and the famous Roast Suckling Pig (S$278++ for 4-5kg) require three days advance notice.
If you’re strapped for time other options for sharing include red meats like the hearty Australian Black Angus Prime Rib (S$148++ for 1kg). There’s a great selection of wines to choose from, too, from Bordeaux Second Wines to Super Tuscans from Italy. House pours also go at S$15++ per glass and S$65++ per bottle.
But we leave room for Mag’s Boston Lobster Risotto (S$44++), which was an absolute killer. Deliberately cooked to a softer consistency than traditional risotto, there’re influences of Asian cooking involved in the almost congee-like texture. White wine and Parmesan cheese add an edge to balance out the cognac-flambéed, oven-roasted lobster and sage-infused butter. And the whole affair is served medium rare, because to not show off sashimi-grade lobster would be a waste.
For dessert, Mag goes simple with a homemade Chocolate (S$14++) fondant with vanilla ice cream, and Yuzu (S$12++) curd with sweet meringue and summer berries. Not the most avant-garde creations to say the least, but if it ain’t broke, we see no need to fix it. We think it sums up dinner at Mag’s perfectly: easy-going, elegant, and chock-full of charm.
Mag’s Wine Kitchen is located at 55 Keong Saik Rd, #01-06, Singapore 089158, p. +65 6438 3836. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm, 5pm – 10pm, Sat 5pm – 10pm.