Food Review: Seroja At Duo Galleria, Bugis | Malay Archipelago Fine-Dining Cuisine By Ex-Head Chef Of Meta
The Place One of the most highly anticipated new restaurants at the end of last year, I finally got down to Seroja restaurant located at Duo Galleria in Bugis recently. The name Seroja means lotus flower in Malay language and is also the street name of Chef Owner Kevin Wong’s family home in Klang, Malaysia. The space of Seroja is elegant and minimalist, where the layout is a mix of a long counter seating and intimate table settings for larger groups. Prior to Seroja, Chef Kevin was the Head Chef of Meta Restaurant Singapore.
The concept of Seroja is quite interesting as it explores the flavours of the Malay Archipelago where you can expect ingredients used in this region, as well as dishes inspired from the region as well.
The Food There are only set menus where there is the Kuntum Menu for lunch is at S$218++ per person available on Friday & Saturday; and the Nusantara Menu for dinner at S$268++ per person available from Tuesdays to Saturdays.
I settled for the Nusantara Menu for dinner and my meal started with a welcome drink Toddy, a traditional welcome drink in Malaysia. Think of it as a coconut wine drink!
Next up is a series of a trio of snacks:
Tiram I Beef Tartare / Gingertorch
A crispy snack to start where you get a base of potato tart along with a ball of beef tartare and oyster cream.
Conch I Onion / Fermented Shrimp Vinaigrette
This is Seroja’s version of kueh pie tee, where I love the delicious fermented prawns here in a crispy shell texture.
Obsiblue Prawn I Sambal Hitam / Leek Floss
My least favourite snack where the flavour of the leek floss is quite overpowering such that it masked the other flavours which is a pity.
Wild Buri | Jicama / Coastal Seaweed
A ceviche-like hamachi fish topped with crisp jicama, this is a refreshing first course to kickstart the meal proper.
This is a Terengganu style of bread where it is steamed and deep-fried. The texture is soft and pillowy, along with a slightly crispy golden-brown layer. It does not come with any butter, and that is because the bread itself is already quite buttery on its own. Easily one of the best bread courses I had recently.
Hand Dived Scallop I Kesum/Podi
The best part of this scallop course for me is the laksa broth, where the scallop spots a buttery flavour. Save some of the delicious laksa broth for the Roti Paung which taste even better after it is dipped in the broth.
Line Caught Spanish Mackerel I Gulai Ketam / Sambal Petai
The fish spots a crispy texture and rest atop a sauce prepared with flower crab curry and coconut milk. Served along with sambal petai by the side, my favourite element here is the rich and flavourful sauce.
Herb Noodles I Tropical Herbs / Selangor Mud crab
A dish inspired from Nasi Ulam, I was surprised to spot dark green noodles here which is prepared from betel leave juice extract. A rather light and refreshing course, there is also a tinge of chilli padi, pomelo and cucumber.
Jasmine Tea Duck Broth
Right before the main course, you get a strong fragrance of the jasmine tea at the onset, though after a sip of the broth, it was the duck broth taste which dominated the palate.
Beef Percik I Traders Rice / Lauk Pauk
The main course of my meal is beef served with a series of side dishes including salad and sambal. I love the heirloom rice which has been aged for two years, and it goes really well with the sambal sauce.
The best way to enjoy this course is to mix the tender beef meat with the rice and sambal and have it altogether.
Chempedak I Aloe Vera / Sea Coconut
The first part of dessert is this chempedak in shaved iced with lychee, sprinkled with plum powder. Refreshing taste and it is like a palate cleanser for me.
Malayan Meringue I Buckwheat / Egg Yolk
Johorean Goat Milk Ice I Vanilla / Grape Vinegar
Borneo Raw Sugar Bahulu
Baked in a brass gold pan, this traditional Malay pastry dessert is fragrant and spots a soft, pillowy texture.
70% Single Origin Chemor Dark Chocolate
I brought this back home as it is nicely packed. You get a rich and slightly bitter chocolate made from the north region of Ipoh, Malaysia.
Rants While Seroja truly excel in the kitchen, the dining experience here unfortunately fell short. Unless you go for some beverage pairing, the sommelier will be sneaking up to your table throughout the meal imploring you to order a glass of something. Not missing out any opportunity, was reminded of this even as I was escorted to the gents mid-way thru the meal. This was made worst when the service crew whispered their explanation of each course in a hurried manner, and their insincere “How’s the food?” query, before clearing your plates up without listening to your response. There is a bright spark amongst the service team though, a Singaporean whom managed to hone his skills managing restaurants during his time working in the US.
Will I Return Again? Seroja is an interesting take on Malayan cuisine presented in fine-dining style, and I do not recall a similar dining concept in Singapore which makes it quite a unique concept. Every course hit the right notes and it does get me thinking that we do have many amazing types of ingredients in the Southeast Asia region, which could be elevated in a positive way when it is well-executed. Is Seroja worth a Michelin Star? The food is, and if the service is stepped up to be more polished, I bet it would be. As a first step, let’s not make it an issue for diners for not ordering beverage pairing.
Taste bud: 4.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
7 Fraser Street
01-30/31/32/33 Duo Galleria
Tel: +65 8522 2926
Fridays and Saturdays: 12pm to 2:30pm
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 6pm to 11pm (Last seating at 8:30pm)
Ranted by The Ranter