When the sun sets, the area along the Singapore River comes to life amid a myriad of color (it’s really very pretty). As bumboats ferrying tourists go past, you can tuck into a good meal of premium ‘zi char’ dishes at one of the restaurants along the river. VLV Singapore now offers riverside dining options and my friend, M, was so impressed she said this is the “Rolls-Royce of zi char”! Save for the fighter planes going past every 5 minutes or so (in the rehearsal leading up to the National Day Parade), it was the perfect spot for the couples and the friends like us to enjoy a delicious dinner under the gorgeous canopies.
What’s the difference between VLV’s version of ‘zi char’ and regular ‘zi char’, you might ask? Well, let’s start with the appetizer: Crispy Bull Frog with Ginger. Besides gorgeous plating, this dish is a truly creative one. The thin and long ‘crisps’ are actually ginger slices. It’s ginger like you’ve never tasted it before. It’s uber-crispy so people wearing dentures or braces might have trouble with it. The rest of us simply love it as it’s crispier than potato chips! And while not as meaty as chicken wings, the pieces of bull frog are well-seasoned. This dish is a feast for the eyes even as it satisfies your tastebuds.
Then there’s the Crackling Pork Belly paired with salted fish. (One of my pals is a BIG fan of salted fish) The pork belly is very thinly sliced and slightly on the salty side, so I think it’s great eaten with white rice. Where’s my rice? 😀
The Ginger Scallion XO Noodles also come with a very generous serving of pork lard. Needless to say, it’s a good noodle dish but seniors might want to leave the lard for others instead.
The Stir-fried Sambal Prawn with Petai dish is pretty spicy, so once again, I’m missing the rice. (We didn’t have rice that day as we already had noodles) I don’t eat petai, despite its many health benefits, so I felt like it was a bit of a waste for us to leave all that petai behind. But prawns are definitely one of my favs.
The star of the meal had to be the Chairman’s Crab, which featured a steamed Sri Lankan crab with bonito egg white. If you look closely, you’ll see the ikura (salmon roe), which adds that salty flavor to the dish and also is a joy to eat as it gives a little ‘pop’ in your mouth before releasing all its goodness. Yum! 😀
We flipped the shell right side up solely for photo-taking purposes 😀
And one other dish I think everyone will enjoy is the Congee with Flower Clam and Prawn. This seafood porridge has the sweetness from the various ingredients within and it’s cooked to perfection, without the lumps in porridge which I really don’t like. Just give me this porridge dish and some pepper, and I’ll be very happy. 😀
My pal made this bold comment: “After eating this zi char, how to eat any other zi char?” Indeed, we will remember the crab and porridge fondly, hopefully not in the middle of the night. But judging from the meals we’ve had at VLV, I believe the chef will continue pushing the boundaries so the next time we pop by again, we’ll be in for yet another culinary surprise from him. 🙂
I think any tourist who stumbles upon this restaurant while touring the Clarke Quay area will certainly find it to be a gem, just like we did. There’s music to enjoy while you dine as video clips are projected onto the wall (the side of a neighboring shophouse). To complement the meal, order some beer or wine so you can enjoy this atas zi char to the max. I’ll be sure to order the osmanthus jelly next time too – totally forgot about it – as it would be the perfect finish to any meal at VLV. We had ice cream across the river instead, as there’s this little Japanese dessert shop called Tsujiri that I’ve never visited before. 🙂 I might do a review in a bit.
~ Go Try The Zi Char At VLV ~
Reservations: +65 6661 0197
3A River Valley Road #01-02 Singapore 179020 (*within walking distance from Clarke Quay MRT station)
*All pictures courtesy of Hearted Moments Photography.