Home dining review: Pan-Asian flavours at Fatt Leong Private Kitchen
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
After enjoying my home dining experience at Baba Pui Dapur (and stuffing myself silly), I decided to explore other private dining ventures in Singapore to see how they stack up against local restaurants.
The next one on my list was Fatt Leong Private Kitchen - a recommendation by Chef Eugene of Baba Pui. It is helmed by chef Justin Leong, who was previously behind Tordu - a communal, omakase-style dining concept located at Duxton Hill.
Fatt Leong is one of the newest private dining establishments around. After the closure of Tordu, chef Justin opened up his private kitchen in late February this year, and has been serving 4 to 6 guests in his home at McNair Road.
A six-course menu is priced at $88 per pax, whilst a seven-course menu will set you back $118. He also serves 2 to 3 people at a cost of $108 for six-courses and $138 for seven-courses. Given the costs associated with cooking and sourcing ingredients, at least 4 diners are preferred though.
When I texted chef Justin to ask about his private dining, I was pleased to find that he was one of the more friendly and forthcoming home-dining chefs. He replied quickly to my queries, and was receptive when I told him about my friends’ food allergies and preferences.
Describing his food as Pan-Asian, his menu is ever-changing and dependent on his suppliers and the market.
Below is the curated menu he sent us before our dinner, which included Hainanese chicken rice soup, fried cod fish, crayfish and roast lamb rack.
In case you were wondering what other dishes he has served in the past, his previous sample menu included starters like salmon belly both and grilled portobello, as well as mains like Sri Lankan crab pasta, seared picanha and Argentina ribeye.
As I made my way over to his flat at McNair Road, I noticed how many of the homes along his stretch were very old. In contrast, chef Justin’s house is a modern, clean and welcoming abode, with sleek, minimalist table settings.
Also on display and for sale were jewellery pieces by his partner Eileen, who owns accessories store The SaladShop (no, it’s not the salad place) and helps him out in the kitchen.
The first appetiser (or rather lip-smacker, as he calls it) was frozen blueberry slush-ee, a very interesting choice to start a meal with. It’s served in a shot glass, with a strong blueberry taste. I feel this would have gone better at the end of the meal or between courses though, as it seems more like a refreshing dessert or palate cleanser rather than something to whet your appetite.
Next up was the Hainanese ‘chicken rice’ soup. This isn’t your average chicken rice soup, which usually isn’t that flavourful by itself. In contrast, chef Justin’s rendition of chicken rice soup has a rich and tasty broth.
The tedious cooking process involves steps like roasting the chicken first to bring out its flavour, letting it boil for around 3 hours then sieving it. The soup is thickened till gelatinous in nature. The total process takes around 4 to 5 hours, with animal oil used instead of vegetable oil.
The dish is served without chicken, but with chicken rice shaped into a ball. The chicken rice soup was hearty and delicious, but I did find the chicken rice itself a little disappointing and lacking that distinctive chicken flavour. The rice was not quite as fluffy as I would have liked it to be too. It‘s meant to be dunked in the soup rather than eaten on its own though.
That being said, the accompanying ginger compote was really tasty and added a kick to the rice. Two types of ginger are used: Thai and Laotian.
The next dish served was beetroot & anchovies tartare with toast. Honestly, I was a little ambivalent when I saw this on the menu, given how beetroot isn’t exactly my favourite ingredient.
I was pleasantly surprised by what chef Justin did with the dish though. The beetroot tartare was served with a runny yolk in the centre, and I found the mixture to be really savoury and appetising, especially when paired with the crunchy bread. In fact, this was the dish I ate the most of.
The addition of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg really helped mask the earthiness of the beetroot, and the accompanying yuzu sauce gave it a nice touch too. As chef Justin explains, the beet is pickled for at least three days. He also uses kampung eggs, which are richer in flavour as compared to other types.
Next up was the fried cod fish served on a bed of green seaweed. I found the cod flesh to be soft and tender. However the skin could have been crispier - my dining party found it a tad soggy. Chef Justin also mentioned how some diners found that it tasted like fish fingers, but we couldn't quite taste the similarity.
The next menu item was sautéed crayfish with noir vinegar potato noodles. Sweet sauce is used to marinate and cook the vinegar noodles. The noodles feature a flavour combination of sweet and salty. I liked that they weren't too starchy, but otherwise found them to be rather average. It may be a matter of personal preference though - I’m not really a fan of vinegar as an ingredient or condiment.
Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the crayfish it came with. It was well-marinated, being fresh, tender and packed with flavour. And most importantly, not “fishy” in taste. I did wish for an extra serving or two though, it was gone within a mouthful!
After that, we were served a palate cleanser titled 'red currents' on the menu. This was honestly rather underwhelming, as it was only a plate of tiny red berries for the 5 of us. The portion was more than pictured as we had taken some, but you get the drift. My dining party felt that it would have been better to give each of us a serving, since it is after all a menu item.
Fortunately, the roasted lamb rack that came after was a very generous and substantial potion - I counted around 7 to 8 pieces of lamb. The Aussie lamb was marinated with ghee and served with salad, plums and sour poached pear.
The cut was medium rare( just the way I like it), and I found the lamb to be quite impressive. It was tender, juicy and yet light at the same time - not overly fatty. I dislike gamey foods, and this was probably one of the least gamey lambs I’ve tasted. The sour poached pear provided a pleasant, fruity contrast as well, balancing the richness of the lamb. No question - this was definitely the chef’s best dish.
We ended the night with a dessert I’ve never tried before - banana & bacon crème. This dish comprised of frozen bananas with salt, maple syrup, almond milk and bacon bits. It was certainly an interesting dish, though I felt it wasn’t as rich as I would have liked it to be. Banana ice cream would have suited my palate better, but kudos to the chef for being willing to experiment.
As chef Justin tells us, his private dining is all about experimentation. He prefers to explore different flavours rather than cooking the same thing over and over again, and each visit will have you trying something very different.
Whilst the ever-changing menu model is appealing, I do think it would be great to have some signature dishes which guests can choose from and recommend to their friends. For example, the roasted lamb rack, hainanese chicken soup and beetroot & anchovies tartare.
There were a couple of misses on the menu, like the cod fish, chicken rice itself and the red currents palate cleanser.
I did, however, like how friendly and conversational the chef and his partner were. Chef Justin is clearly passionate about his cooking, explaining the process behind each dish and even teaching us how we can make our own beetroot at home! He also gave us plenty of recommendations for great restaurants and eateries around the island.
Chef Justin does this full-time and his home dining runs on a daily basis, starting from 7pm. We booked a slot about 2 weeks in advance.
You can find out more about Fatt Leong Private Kitchen and contact Chef Justin on his Facebook Page.