Opened in July 2017, Folklore specialises in Singaporean heritage cuisine, presenting a menu of dishes that reflect the culinary traditions from Singapore’s five major ethnic groups: Chinese, Indian, Malay, Peranakan and Eurasian.
At the helm of Folklore is chef Damian D’Silva, who is of Eurasian and Peranakan descent. The restaurant’s concept is to offer guests a “special experience of being a guest at chef Damian’s family dinners around the table, with the joys of enjoying food as a shared gift to all peoples and cultures.”
Where is it?
Folklore is on Level 2 of Destination Singapore Beach Road, a midscale hotel property of the Asian hospitality company Park Hotel Group. It’s a short five-minute walk from Nicoll Highway MRT Station, and one stop from shopping and entertainment outlets Suntec City and Millenia Walk.
The restaurant sits right next to the hotel lobby. It features an open space that looks like a kitchen, though is actually a buffet counter where the breakfast items are laid out for in-house guests during the breakfast service. The decor also shows Singaporean characteristics, with different kinds of vintage tiffin carriers, pots and other kitchenware placed in the large cabinet hanging above the open space.
This is not a huge venue, however. Folklore has a seating capacity of 100 people – 80 seats indoors and 20 outdoors – and unfortunately there are no private dining areas for small groups.
We tried quite a few signature dishes from both the à la carte menu and the Eurasian Christmas menu, as we were visiting during the Christmas season. Most dishes were served at almost the same time in sharing plates, so there didn’t seem to be a strictly organised sequence of dishes. Like in other Southeast Asian regions, the flavours are relatively heavier and spicier than what you’d find elsewhere in Asia, though some of them can be served non-spicy.
One of the highlights was the White Debal (S$42/US$31) from the Christmas menu – a dish comprising chicken and housemade achar cooked in rempah, vinegar, and mustard seed. The housemade achar is actually spicy pickled mixed vegetables comprising carrots, cucumber, garlic, whole shallots, and whole chilies, while rempah is a spice paste commonly used in dishes in Malaysia and Singapore.
The White Debal is chef Damian’s family rendition of the popular Eurasian spicy stew – Curry Devil, traditionally made with an amalgamation of the leftover meats from the Christmas feast and served on Boxing Day. It was deemed the hottest dish by most of the people I was dining with who are not used to piquant dishes. But as a lover for spicy food, I found it fairly easy to handle and really appetising. The chicken was rather tender.
Singgang (S$22/US$16.3) is another Eurasian dish, made of de-boned wolf herring cooked in a non-spicy paste. The spice paste is prepared using fresh chilies, bruised lemongrass, galangal and turmeric, with coconut milk added later. At first, I couldn’t tell it was made of fish from its yellow-coloured appearance, and it looked like scrambled eggs to some extent but with a darker colour. It tasted like otah-otah, a kind of grilled fish cake popular in Southeast Asia.
For rice, we had Sambal Buah Keluak Fried Rice (S$28/US$20.7) topped with a fried egg. It’s a signature dish created by D’Silva in 2001, and can be served spicy and non-spicy – we had the non-spicy version. The fried rice features buah keluak – the seeds from the Pangium edule, a tree indigenous to Southeast Asia – and minced pork, with sambal paste made using chilies, shallots, candlenuts, shrimp paste and bruised lemongrass. The mixture of the egg yolk running from the top further enhanced the flavour, while the four-angled beans added some crunchy texture.
We also had some desserts at the end of the meal – Sugee from the Christmas menu and Kueh Kosui. Sugee (S$10/US$7.4 for three slices, and S$54/US$39.9 for a 1kg whole cake) is a traditional Eurasian soft cake made with semolina flour, butter, almond and eggs. Brandy is also added, but I didn’t realise that there was alcohol at the beginning as the brandy had dissipated and its sweetness had already been infused into the cake.
The other is Kueh Kosui (S$8/US$5.9), a steamed tapioca kueh (cake) with gula melaka – a type of palm sugar – topped with grated coconut. The brown cake itself was like a jelly or gummy candy, and it tasted soft and glutinous. The grated coconut that wrapped the cakes looked like tiny snow flakes, creating a winter Christmas atmosphere in the tropical Singapore.
In Folklore, different kinds of drinks are offered, including wine, beer, cocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks. My companions had the calamansi juice. Calamansi is a citrus fruit, a variety of lime commonly found in Southeast Asia. It’s a refreshing drink that tastes tart and fragrant, which pairs well with many local dishes.
For those looking for a feast of Singaporean heritage dishes, Folklore is a must-go. It’s worth noting that chef Damian revamps the à la carte menu from time to time. The latest menu revamp was just launched in August 2018 with a 70-80 per cent update. He also introduces short-term promotional menus during major festivals, similar to the Eurasian Christmas Special menu during our visit. So next time you visit Folklore, you may be able to try new dishes.
However, due to the limited space in the restaurant and a lack of private dining areas, it was a bit noisy when we, a group of eight people, had dinner on a busy Thursday night during peak hours. It’s not that easy to hold a conversation – for me sitting at one end of the long table, it was a bit difficult to hear what the others were talking about at the other end.
Lunch: 12:00 – 2:30 p.m. (Last order 2:15 p.m.)
Dinner: 6:00 – 9:30 p.m. (Last order 9:15 p.m.)
Level 2, Destination Singapore Beach Road, 700 Beach Road, 199598, Singapore
+65 6679 2900 / +65 9021 9700