Delectable international cuisine at Relish.sg private dining
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
After having my fill of lip-smacking Peranakan flavours at Baba Pui Dapur and experimental pan-Asian flavours at Fatt Leong Private Kitchen, I embarked on my third private experience.
This time, I chose Relish.sg - a well-reviewed home dining establishment that’s been featured on multiple news sites and even Channel 8!
Relish is one of the few homes to cater to just 2 diners - many others require a minimum of 4 to 8 pax. So if you’re looking for romantic date night ideas or a dinner with your BFF, this could be the perfect option!
They run their home-dining business full-time, so you can make bookings on both weekdays and weekends. Having been set up more than 5 years ago, Relish is one of the oldest home dining experiences around too.
Admittedly, it was one of the pricier ones I tried at $150 per pax for 8 to 9 dishes. That being said, I honestly felt that I got my money’s worth. What stood out was the hospitality of the hosts, the amazing food, and the ambience and experience.
At the helm of this home kitchen is chef Chris Choo. Now a full-time home-dining chef,
Chris previously worked in the advertising and finance industry. His wife and trusty sidekick is Rose Sivam, a freelance TV producer who helps coordinate and host the home dinners.
Pre-Covid, Chris and Rose used to host dinners for up to 50 pax, and even had fun parties with themes like Bollywood, Spanish or Afrobeats. These even included entertainment like professional belly-dancing lessons as well as live music.
Now with Covid regulations, dinners are kept cosy with a minimum of 8 pax. You can still let them know if it's a special occasion like a birthday, wedding proposal or anniversary, and they'll do their best to accommodate.
Friendly and approachable, Rose was whom I corresponded with when I contacted Relish about the dinner. She curated a ‘Chef Chris' Taste the World’ menu for 2, featuring 2 appetisers, 6 mains and a dessert. Just looking at the menu on WhatsApp made me hungry!
On the day of our dinner, we travelled to their home in Serangoon, and were warmly welcome by Rose.
I was quite surprised at how large their HDB dwelling was (they weren't kidding when they said it could accommodate up to 50 people!). Their dwelling is like a mini “ancient civilizations museum”, filled with relics such as Buddha statues, intricate tapestries and exquisite vases that chef Chris has collected over the years.
Before dinner, chef Chris also gave us a tour of the various artifacts around the home. He’s quite the knowledgeable historian too, educating us on the history of Buddhism and the significance of several of his artifacts.
As for the dinner set-up, it was intimate and definitely romantic, with dim mood lighting and colourful, printed table settings. They even offered us free-flow wine throughout the dinner, as well as Rose’s specially-brewed Moroccan mint tea which I completely devoured.
To whet our appetite, we were each served a bowl of crispy crackers along with two dipping sauces - green mango and tomato & dates.
I found both sauces to be rich and flavourful, and particularly enjoyed the tomato & dates. Cooked with curry leaves and mustard seed in the chef’s claypot, it had a savoury and tangy taste.
Next up was Relish’s pineapple duck, a CNY-inspired dish that’s one of chef Chris' signatures. I was thoroughly impressed by this. The duck was moist and tender, and the mixture of pineapple, shredded carrots and spring onions blended together perfectly. I would say it tasted very much like “comfort food” - not too sweet, salty or oily.
As Chef Chris explains, this dish is tedious to prepare, with the whole process taking around 5 hours in total. He first needs to braise two whole ducks and deep fry them to remove the smell. He then throws away the excess oil, and boils the duck in a master stock of spring onion, Chinese rice wine and rock sugar.
After which, the duck is taken out, stripped and stir-fried with spring onions, pineapple and shredded carrots. Talk about hard work!
The next starter was Japanese pumpkin soup. The soup consists of basil, leek, chickpeas and of course pumpkin from Japan. I typically find pumpkin soup to be filling after a few mouthfuls, but this one wasn't overly dense and featured a semi-sweet flavour.
For our first main, we were served lamb tagine - which originates from Morocco. The lamb is slow-cooked for three hours in a tagine, a conical earthenware pot used to create the namesake dish. As food cooks, steam rises into the cone, condenses, and trickles back into the dish. Thanks to the way it's cooked, the lamb tasted tender and not chewy or overly gamey.
The lamb is also marinated in a delicious blend of spices like raz al hanout (a Moroccan spice mix) and saffron, which gave it an extra kick. To add a slight sweetness to an otherwise savory dish, it was served with a side of mango and tomatoes as well.
Served alongside the lamb tagine was zaalouk, a Moroccan mixture of eggplant, tomatoes, fresh coriander leaves, parsley, sweet paprika and cumin. Being a fan of eggplant dishes, I really dug into this one. It was creamy, smooth and packed with flavour!
Next up was one of my favourites - the Spanish omelette. Cooked with potatoes, olive oil, onions and organic eggs, chef Chris was extremely generous with the recipe as well, giving us tips for perfecting the dish at home.
I must admit that the picture doesn't do it justice , but I found the omelette to be delicious with just the right consistency and smooth, fluffy texture. There was also a generous serving of tomato sauce on top. Well-executed indeed!
Rose then brought out the mango dharll, along with the chicken korma and basmati nasi lemak. The sweet-tasting dharll features shredded green mango, curry leaf, Indian spices and a combination of lentils such as mung dal and channa dal.
A northern Indian dish with origins in the royal Mughal kitchens, Relish’s rendition of chicken korma is marinated in home-made yogurt (using organic milk). After which, it is slowly braised in milk till it becomes tender. And tender it was indeed! My stomach was busting by then, but I really lapped up the rich and buttery gravy. Almonds are also added for texture.
The chicken korma gravy went really well with the basmati nasi lemak too. Chef Chris’ nasi lemak was a standout, with fluffy rice that really boasted that fragrant coconut flavour. I understand why he saved the carbs for last, but was a little sad that I was so full at that point and couldn't eat more rice!
As they say, there’s a separate stomach for dessert! Though only the flourless chocolate cake was on the menu, they gave us each a lavender macaroon and some grapes as well.
The macaroons are made by chef Chris’ cousin Diane, who runs home-based dessert shop Di Baked. Whilst I find some macaroons to be either too sweet or crumbly, this one was just right. The shell was smooth and crispy on the outside, and gloriously soft and chewy inside with caramel filling. I’m definitely checking out Diane’s e-shop for more sweet treats!
Last but not least was chef Chris’s dessert specialty - flourless chocolate cake. I have to confess that I’m not a chocolate cake fan (unless it’s Awfully Chocolate), but chef Chris’ chocolate cake was really impressive! It was moist and not too heavy, with a delightful hint of rum and vanilla. As chef Chris tells us, his recipe includes 100 grams of dark chocolate, Jamaican rum and vanilla essence. Yum!
All-in-all, I really relished (pardon the pun) my home dining experience. The ambience, hospitable hosts and delectable food made my night. Seeing how much effort goes into cooking each dish, I completely understand why the experience is priced the way it is, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a gourmet meal on a special occasion.
Relish.sg is open every day of the week, and you can find out more about them and make a booking via their website.
They also cater their yummy dishes, with an array of cuisine such as French, Spanish, Indian, Southeast Asian and even New Orleans-inspired food.
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