Enter The Dragon Chamber for tasty, traditional fare
While some are indifferent about being allowed back into restaurants, some places do work better when you dine in.
The Dragon Chamber is one.
It opened in 2017 to much fanfare, with many drawn to the gimmicky hidden door entrance.
I was sceptical about that feature because if the food is good, why do you need a gimmick?
I made my first visit before the recent round of restrictions kicked in.
The disguise was so good that I missed the restaurant and ended up a sweaty mess walking up and down Circular Road.
It looks like a regular coffee shop, until you notice the stalls are fake. The door to the actual restaurant is a fridge.
Once in, it is like going into a deep chamber, before it opens into a conventional dining hall.
Luckily, The Dragon Chamber is not all gimmick, and the food is surprisingly traditional.
The presentation may be modern, but most dishes have flavours you will find familiar and take comfort in.
And the new items on the menu taste old, in the best of ways.
The pao fan is The Dragon Chamber's attempt to be trendy.
The Seafood Pao Fan in Prawn Broth ($55) is a luxe version with lobster tail, scallops, sakura shrimps, and black and white crispy rice in homemade prawn broth.
Pao fan is not foolproof. I have tasted many underwhelming versions but this is a good one. It is bursting with umami and loaded with fresh ingredients.
A classic on the menu is the Wagyu Truffle Beef Hor Fun (from $32).
The flat noodles and the crispy deep fried hor fun strips are complemented by the US wagyu short rib and a poached egg.
Truffle gravy, poured by the server, is an unnecessary attempt at flourish because the sauce is delicious and aromatic. Combined, it is a dangerously addictive dish.
The Double Boiled Almond Mushroom, Sea Whelk & Conpoy Soup ($16) is so traditional, it almost seems out of place here, but it is one of the menu's best new additions.
It is as one would expect expertly done quality soup to taste, and it is light going in. Before you know it, your stomach is warmed and full.
I recommend you order this.
Also excellent is the Assorted Beef Claypot ($40).
It is a pot of mixed parts - beef tendon, oxtail, tongue and cheek - cooked in a soulful fermented bean curd and oyster sauce. You will want lots of rice with this.
One of the prettiest dishes is the Tofu Duo in Pumpkin Gravy ($24), but it was the one I liked the least.
This plate of egg spinach tofu and charcoal-infused tofu, served with roasted pumpkin and pumpkin gravy, tastes nothing like it looks.
I found it bland and ordinary, and probably not worth the price tag.
You can find a similar version at many zi char stalls islandwide.
There are more wins than fails with The Dragon Chamber's new menu, and with a whole new list of cocktails to go with it top.
If you have yet to enter that secret door, now is a good time to do it.
The Dragon Chamber
2 Circular Road, Tel: 6950-0015
Opens Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 10.30pm