The Place If you have been a fan of Chef Alvin Leung of Hong Kong Three Michelin-Starred Bo Innovation, you will be excited to know that Chef Alvin has opened his first Singapore restaurant Forbidden Duck at in the heart of CBD at Marina Bay Financial Centre, taking over the space of now-defunct Crystal Jade Prestige. The concept of Forbidden Duck is a contemporary Cantonese restaurant, where the name forbidden is in reference to Forbidden City in Beijing where people are reminded of Peking Duck.
Located at level 2 of Marina Bay Link Mall Ground Plaza, the only way to access the restaurant is via the private lift from level 1. If you have difficulty finding the lift, it is located between the outdoor walkway of the Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1 and Tower 3. Exiting the lift, turn to your left where Forbidden Duck is, with Hong Kong’s Michelin-Starred Qi – House of Sichuan located on the right. The space at Forbidden Ducks takes on a contemporary oriental look, with two private rooms.
The Food The spotlight here is on the duck dishes, without a doubt. There are two styles of roasted duck served at Forbidden Duck, the Signature Slow Roasted Duck and Peking Roast Duck.
We started with the Spanish Iberico Pork Char Siu (S$30), which is served in thick chunks of fatty slices glistened with sweet sauce. The taste is quite sweet for me, and I thought that it can do better with more char on the outside.
On to the ducks, the Signature Slow Roasted Duck (S$88) is slow-cooked for over 4 hours, giving an even, pink hue of the dark meat. Prepared with no additional seasoning, you can choose to have it with the butterfly-shaped steamed buns flavoured with calamansi, along with condiments such as hoi sin sauce with calamansi, garlic and sugar.
We understand from Chef Alvin that he chooses to use bun instead of the usual wrap as the bun absorbs the flavours of the duck meat and jus better. The duck meat is very tender and flavourful, and I enjoy it simply with a tinge of sugar. The highlight was the touch of calamansi in the hoi sin sauce, enhancing the overall flavours of the dish.
The other interesting duck dishes I tried are the Duck in Two Ways – Laksa Style (S$18) duck and Mongolian Style (S$18) duck. Wrapped with cabbage, the laksa style duck is inspired by one of Chef Alvin’s favourite Singapore dishes, where the small cubes of duck meat is topped with green powder made from laska leaves. The flavour does remind me of our local laksa dish, though it is not spicy at all. This is a dish unique to the Singapore’s branch.
Conversely, the Mongolian Style (S$18) duck is inspired from Mongolian cumin lamb.
The Sweet and Sour Pork with Lychee, Rose and Hawthorn (S$23) is akin to the local ‘zichar’ dish I am familiar with, except that the rose and lychee elements here make the dish more refined somehow. The floral rose and fruity bits of the lychee are well balanced with the sweetness of the pork.
For something luxe on the menu, the Lobster and Vermicelli with Black Truffle Har Mi XO (S$88) sounds like a winner even before trying it. I like the fresh and succulent lobster meat, as well as vermicelli which absorbs all the jus of the meat flavours with hints of truffle.
The Golden Cereal Prawns (S$30) is a good prawn dish to share, though the fun fact is that this is also chef’s interesting rendition of Singapore’s version of cereal prawns. The prawn is lightly coated with salted egg yolk sauce, though the accompanying cereals do little to elevate the prawn dish. We still prefer our local take of Cereal Prawns.
If you only have space for one dish, the Seafood Rice in Aromatic Duck Soup (serve 2-4 people, S$32) is my recommendation. Crispy rice is added to the rich broth prepared with duck bones, along with fine slices of duck meat within. I really love this dish, so comforting and delicious. Make very sure you order this while at Forbidden Duck.
For desserts, I had an egg tart like never before. The Giant Egg Tart (S$6 for 2) here does not come in the typical round or oval shape, which is much taller in height. The surprise comes when you slice it through into half, where the whiff of yuzu will strike you. It is somewhat like a yuzu flavoured egg tart. A unique creation, though I feel that the yuzu element can be toned down a little.
Other dishes we tried include the Sizzling Garoupa and Pork Liver in Casserole (S$40) and the Stewed USDA Short Rib with Bean Curd in Chu Hou Sauce (S$34).
Rants The service was not perfect for the dinner, and being a new restaurant, this will take a short while before the staff gets settled in.
Will I Return Again? Personally, I’m excited by the prospect of Forbidden Duck making a presence in Singapore’s culinary scene, which will make it an even more competitive one where all diners will benefit in the long run. There are some stellar dishes like the slow roasted duck meat and the aromatic duck soup for me, which are enough reasons for me to head back. The price point for majority of the dishes are wallet-friendly too.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
Marina Boulevard, #02-02, Marina Bay Link Mall
Tel: +65 65098767
Daily: 11am to 3pm; 6pm to 10pm
Ranted by The Ranter