The stars aligned on my recent visit to Singapore, and I was able to catch up with several of my closest friends there, over an excellent dinner at the newly opened “Dragon Chamber“, just off Boat Quay.
The Dragon Chamber is a “speakeasy restaurant” that is to say, it is hidden behind a fairly non descript looking Kopitiam, with guests announcing their presence to the cashier on the left hand side of the stall (by the roast meats) and then entering through a door concealed by the drinks fridge. So far, so fun. Yes I know “speakeasies” have been done to death but I’m all for a little theatre, and it was fun to enter the Dragon Chamber with the added touch of drama & a sense of discovery.
Once inside, the dimly lit restaurant is decorated with rotating lights to highlight the Neon graffiti on the walls, which changes colours every few minutes, the kitchen visible to diners through large glass walls which we were seated next to.
We decided to order a few appetisers whilst we looked at the rest of the menu, choosing to start with Mala Fries (SGD $8) and Cheeseburger Eggrolls (SGD $14.) Sadly our third choice of appetiser, the Rural Style Fried Frogs Legs (SGD $12) wasn’t available so instead we ordered a small portion of the Firecracker Chicken & Maple Fritters (SGD $16 for 1-2 pax) from the main course section, as that seemed like it would work well as an appetiser/drinking snack too.
The Mala Fries were essentially thick, steak cut fries that had been coated in Mala seasoning; a spicy, numbing spice blend that is made with Sichuan peppercorns, douban (fermented soy and broad bean paste) dried chilli, cloves, garlic, cinnamon, star anise and fennel amongst others, a speciality of Chongqing and Sichuan cuisines.
Whilst the Mala Fries were nice to nibble on with our drinks, I was a little disappointed that they didn’t pack the numbing, spicy punch I had been expecting. Maybe it’s because I have been eating a lot of Mala recently but I felt that the fries could have benefitted from a thicker coating of the Mala sauce to dial up the flavour further.
The Cheeseburger Eggrolls were great fun, and even my friends who had turned their nose up at the idea of the combination of the two were impressed. The burger filling was nicely seasoned and well cooked, with gooey American “burger” cheese lining the egg roll wrapping and they were very satisfying little bites indeed.
The undoubted highlight of the appetisers however, was the Firecracker Chicken & Maple Fritters; deep fried diced chicken with chopped dried chillis, cashew nuts, Sichuan peppercorns, chives and crunchy deep fried “you tiao” fritters that had been generously coated in maple syrup. The combination of sweet, spicy, and crunchy was absolutely spot on, and although I generally don’t eat chicken, this was one of the highlights of the evening.
We had heard great things about their signature Wayu Truffle Beef Hor Fun (SGD $68 for 2-3 pax) so it was a given that we were going to order this alongside a few other dishes that somehow kept increasing in number as we turned the menu pages 😉
The Hor Fun noodles are served both boiled and fried, with thinly sliced A4 Kagoshima Wagyu Beef, an onsen egg, and a creamy truffle sauce. The dish is presented to the table with the waiter pouring the truffle sauce over the dish and then mixing it all together, which allows for the noodles to stay nice and crispy, as well as adding a touch of theatre to the already decadent dish.
We were impressed with the Wagyu beef, it had a good marbling and was oh-so tender. A great contrast to the creamy truffle sauce and egg, and the crunch of the fried noodles. Believe the hype & be sure to try it when you go to Dragon Chamber!
The Mushu Pork (SGD $16 1-2pax) was similarly good, although perhaps less of a WOW dish than the beef. They use beautifully tender and flavourful asian black pork which is sliced finely and stir-fried with black fungus, shiitake & beech mushrooms, Taiwanese bamboo shoots and zucchini.
As we had quite a lot of rich, heavy dishes, we decide to keep the seafood order simple and went for the Hong Kong style Pomfret (SGD $30 for 1-2pax) which was a deboned, steamed pomfret topped with a fermented soy bean and garlic sauce and served with a side of moreish fried fish bones .
I may have got carried away on the sides front, It was to hard to choose between the 3 Egg Crispy Fried Tofu (SGD $22 for 1-2 pax) Chop Suey Vegetables (SGD $20 for 1-2 pax) and the Hunan Style Spicy Aubergine (SGD $15 for 1-2 pax) and well, you can’t have a meal without rice so we added in a couple of portions of the XO Crab Fried Rice (SGD $22 for 1-2 pax) as well.
They make their 3 egg crispy tofu with a blend of duck, chicken and century egg, which added a great depth of flavour to the tofu, which paired perfectly with the salted egg yolk sauce. Whilst I didn’t try much of it, my friends loved the spicy Hunan aubergine; the aubergine had a great texture as it had been steamed, then fried and was topped with a generous amount of chilli & puffed rice for extra crunch.
Mixed vegetables can often seem like a bit of an afterthought, but the chop suey vegetables were a nice combo of lotus root, kai lan, kale & bok choy with both enoki mushrooms & black and white fungus, but the highlight for me was the smoky wok hei of the crab fried rice with the spicy, umami packed scallop XO sauce.
And last but not least, how could we eat at a restaurant that lists D*** Soup (SGD $30 for 1-2 pax) on the menu and not try it?! As it turned out the soup was a traditional aromatic double boiled Chinese herbal soup, with a crocodile and pork broth dotted with small chunks of pork, and a disturbingly gelatinous piece of crocodile penis. Now I have eaten crocodile before but this was definitely more confronting than I had been expecting (the difference in having an Aussie preparation versus a Chinese preparation I guess!) and I managed only a teeny nibble of the croc whilst my friend J, conscious of the benefits of all that protein and collagen happily finished what we couldn’t.
In case it isn’t clear from my photos, I should point out that the portions are extremely generous and we had a TON of food, thankfully the staff were happy to pack up the leftovers (admittedly mostly rice, but I’ve been in Asia way too long to think that one portion of rice is enough for 7 people!) for us to Ta Pao (takeaway) so we could sneak in dessert.
I Have to admit that I was sad we didn’t have enough room to try a few desserts, as there were several that caught my eye, like the Red Bean Pancakes with Salted Caramel Ice-cream (SGD $16 for 2-3 pax) and the Mango Pudding with Coconut Sorbet (SGD $8) but if you only have room for one dessert as we did, then the only decision can be the Fried Durian (SGD $12) with popping candy.
The durian worked incredibly well as a fritter, with a crunchy batter on the outside and a rich, creamy durian centre. Ordering one between 7 meant there was enough for a small spoonful each, I would definitely go back for a larger portion next time!
With 4 half bottles of Sake, our bill came to $575 SGD ($424 USD) which I thought was more than reasonable for the 7 of us – you could have ordered several fewer dishes and still had a decent sized meal The large format menu meant that Dragon Chamber was perfect for groups like ours. Whilst we drank sake, they have a decently priced cocktail menu, and a nice selection of beer so I would definitely consider returning with a friend for cocktails and a couple of snacks as well as part of a larger group again as I think their strength is in the wonderful menu variety & in being able to order so many different things.
The Dragon Chamber
2 Circular Road
Tel: +65 6805 8181
Kopitiam: 10am to 11pm
Bar & Restaurant: 12pmto 2.30pm & 5pm to 12am
Last Order for Food: 10.30pm & Last Order for Drinks: 11.30pm