Established in Hong Kong in 2014, Social Place (唐宫小聚) has recently launched its first outlet in Singapore at Forum The Shopping Mall. While its contemporary Chinese cuisine is the main drawn, Social Place is also known for its retro-chic interior, where a ping pong table is being set up within the restaurant that serves as both an iconic feature of the brand and a dining table. And you will see, as you make your way around the restaurant, Social Place Singapore brings that chic personality even further by installing a glossy feature wall made out of mahjong tiles.
Sweet & Sour Pork on Ice 4/5
On the menu are classic Chinese dishes with a new-age twist. Be it mains or dim sum, expect them to take on a new personality. Sweet & Sour Pork on Ice ($24.80) is a combination that sounds very odd, but you will be surprised by the end product. The sweet sauce glaze, when in contact with ice, crystallises and keeps the battered pork crisp without turning the inside of the meat cold. The pork was still succulent when I bite into it. The pineapple chunks in the sauce provide the sourness, while melons and blueberries lend some refreshing sweetness. As the ice melted, there wasn't a pool of saucy mess. Instead, the sweet and sour glaze hardened into a coat, and the candied pork just got tastier.
Seafood Crackling Rice Soup 4.5/5
The Seafood Crackling Rice Soup ($24.80) was the most comforting and nourishing rice soup I had till date. Prepared by simmering crab and prawn shells for several hours, the seafood broth is the essence of the dish. The use of Jasmine rice, Orzo pasta and diced scallops provide a range of textures in every bite. But what brings the texture and flavour up a notch is the addition of the crispy rice grains at the end, that sizzle releases flavours into the hot broth.
Wagyu Char Siu 4/5
A luxurious version of Cantonese roast meats, Wagyu Char Siu ($28) replaces pork with beef which was marinated with a soy-based sauce, then grilled, before finishing it off with black pepper. Evenly cooked, each slice of the char siu was mouth-filling, with flavours developing slowly as the fats dissolved readily in my mouth.
Roasted Quail 3.8/5
Roasted Quail ($9.90/quail) is prepared by braising the bird in a proprietary concoction infused with more than ten different spices and herbs. The bird was roasted to a beautiful and enticing golden brown, and those crispy wings are definitely something to be savoured upon slowly. You really don't need any sauce to go along with it as the skin itself is flavourful and the meat somewhat moist as well. If this is your first encounter with a quail, it won't be your last.
Eggs (Ain’t) That Simple 3/5
Social Place teases your mind with Eggs (Ain’t) That Simple 辣子鸡 ($22.80) - A platter of fiery Sichuan chicken served with two portions of chilled mango pudding disguised as ‘yolks’ nestled within eggshells. Besides the appealing presentation, the contrast between the spicy and sweet, hot and cold elements of the dish changes the experience of enjoying a typical dish.
Baby Cabbage in Soya Milk 2.8/5
Baby Cabbage in Soya Milk ($16.80) features young cabbage greens stewed in soya milk. The overall taste is on the sweeter side. Perhaps some minced garlic may be useful to add a punch of flavours.
Cold Foie Gras in Special Fermented Rice Wine 4.5/5
There is also a wide selection of cold dishes to choose from. My favourite, to my surprise, is the Cold Foie Gras in Special Fermented Rice Wine ($16.80). Instead of serving it as a whole, the foie gras became slices of buttery goodness. Like butter being soaked in ice water, the low temperature helped to keep its fats in shape, and the melt-in-your-mouth sensation was accentuated in each slice. The rice wine helps to cut the richness of the foie gras, and its sweetness complements its livery taste.
Shrimps in Chinese Wine 4.2/5
Shrimps in Chinese Wine ($16.80) may seem like any other similar shrimps in wine dishes, but the addition of Sichuan pepper into the Hua Diao wine laced the succulent shrimps with another dimension of aromatic spiciness.
Charcoal Custard Bun 4/5
Visually stunning with strokes of gold brushed against the coal-black skin, the Charcoal Custard Bun ($8.80) here was pillowy and really had that 'bursting' effect as I tore the dough apart! The custard filling had a right balance of sweetness and savouriness, and its consistency was good as well.
Truffle Shiitake Buns 3/5
A more common find would be the Truffle Shiitake Buns ($6.80). The dough was quite fluffy, and I appreciate that the truffle oil wasn't too overwhelming.
Deep-Fried Lobster Glutinous Puffs 3/5
Deep-Fried Lobster Glutinous Puffs ($7.80) are Mangosteen-shaped treats made with glutinous dough, and within is a savoury filling of crab meat which was cooked in lobster broth. Even though the filling was not lobster meat, which many may be in doubt, the crustacean flavour was strong, and the mochi-like exterior was a joy to munch on.
Small Pig Pudding 3/5
We ended our dinner with a cute custard-based Small Pig Pudding ($6.80 per piece) served with coconut milk. What I appreciate about Social Place is that contemporary Chinese cuisine here is not just about using ingredients that are currently in trend, but it is also about changing the entire execution, interacting with all of our senses.
Written and photography by Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food.
Forum The Shopping Mall
583 Orchard Road
Nearest MRT: Orchard (NS Line)
Mon-Sun: 1130am – 230pm, 6pm – 10pm
1) Alight at Orchard MRT station. Take Exit E. Walk towards Wheelock Place via ION. Exit Wheelock Place and turn left towards Liat Tower. Walk down Orchard Road to destination. Journey time about 12 minutes. [Map]