Food

These Unforgettable Foie Gras Xiao Long Bao and Lobster Noodles Are Available for a Limited Time

Celebrated chef Justin Quek is in the Philippines to introduce us to Franco-Asian cuisine.
IMAGE Courtesy of Solaire
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There are many reasons to get excited about Chef Justin Quek’s temporary menu for Red Lantern. His curated menu has things like foie gras, xiao long bao, ceviche, scallop, and lobster—sometimes combined together. The fact that it’s only available until September 8 makes it all the more seductive to serious foodies. Then, there’s the chef himself, perhaps the most compelling excuse to brave a trip to Solaire’s premier Chinese restaurant for a one-of-a-kind meal.

Photo by Courtesy of Solaire.
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Quek is a sailor turned chef who once traded a reasonable SG$1,000 seaman salary for long, hot days in the kitchen where the pay was negligible. But the decision proved to be a winning gamble: As a pioneer of Franco-Chinese cuisine, he is one of the most influential chefs not just in Singapore but in all of Asia.

Photo by Courtesy of Solaire.
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Pepper Lobster

Photo by Courtesy of Solaire.

It’s his first time in the Philippines, however. He and his team have shipped over liters of lobster stock and pounds of ginger flower—among many other unique ingredients—to present their brand of culinary crossover to Filipinos.

Lobster Hokkien Mee 

Photo by Courtesy of Solaire.
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Fishhead Curry

Photo by Courtesy of Solaire.

Quek, who runs JustIN Flavours of Asia and Chinoiserie in Marina Bay Sands, succeeds in merging Asian and European influences by complementing their flavors. Foie gras doesn’t overwhelm his xiao long bao and the chef doesn’t just toss in a few chunks of expensive shellfish in his noodles to be relevant. He’s all about developing flavor: adding new depth to his dim sum, making lobster stock with 200 lobster heads for a week in order to create a profoundly delicious slippery sauce for his noodles. His lobster noodles give you pure unadulterated lobster flavor without the actual crustacean. Its complementary homemade sambal gives it a deliciously fiery kick. For the Philippines, he even tosses in a touch of calamansi, another extra layer of goodness.

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 Chino Steak

Photo by Courtesy of Solaire.

He uses front legs for his pork trotter dish (an intricate crepinette where pig’s foot and mushroom is wrapped in caul fat, like a fanciful present with a chunk of foie gras for a bow) because they deliver more rewarding results.

 

Scallop Har Gow

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Photo by Courtesy of Solaire.

Instead of soup, he has pure mushroom cappuccino, frothy and light, served with a delicious stick of brioche lathered with his own hazelnut spread. The Hokkaido scallops are dressed in ginger flower, light but aromatic. It’s what truly separates the great chefs from all the other ones, this feeling for all the aspects of the dish. There’s focus on texture and smell just as much as flavor.

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Chocolate Sensation and Chocolate Gula Java Ice Cream

Photo by Courtesy of Solaire.

 

Apart from special appearances all week in Red Lantern’s a la carte menu, Quek’s signature dishes will be appearing first in an intimate wine dinner on September 4 as well as a grand dim sum buffet on September 7 and 8. Lucky Noodles, Solaire’s grab-and-go casual Chinese joint, will also be offering some of his specialties.

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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