Thursday, January 20, 2011

Le Chasseur: Talk of the town

Le Chasseur. What an interesting name for a Chinese Cze Char style restaurant in Singapore. The word is French for The Hunter. And it came about because the owner and chef Andy Lim used to run a restaurant of the same name in Mauritius.

This restaurant...I am tempted to call it small, as the atmosphere is congenial and Andy comes out to talk and give running commentaries on his food...but it is hardly small. It occupies 2 whole shophouses just across the road from The Central.

We asked Andy to make his recommendation, and this was the menu...first up, though it takes a full 20 minutes or so to prepare is te claypot chicken rice.

claypot chicken rice

Andy insists on starting from scratch, with the rice cooked in the pot with the ingredients, so as to achieve full infusion of flavours. And also to char a nice, thick, burnt layer at the bottom of the pot...giving a beautiful smoky flavour. The chicken was very tender..and de-boned. This is a pet peeve...many times for me, a claypot of chicken rice is spoilt by having to weed out the chicken bones. And the home made, tangy, tart, pungent, hot chilli sauce complements it very well. A real winner. And for this dish alone Le Chasseur is worth the visit.

claypot chicken rice

Andy uses Pakistani Basmati rice to make the claypot rice. This is very fragrant, long grained basmati. And very fluffy when cooked, and much more able to absorb flavours than regular Thai jasmine rice. This is the first commercial establishment I have come across which elects to use this much more expensive rice in its claypot. We do use basmati at home for claypots, chicken rice, nasi lemak and when we cook curries. Nice touch.

We also tried the deep fried ter ka...pork knuckles, or what Andy describes in his menu as deep fried pata.

deep fried pork knuckle, filipino style lechon baboy

The style of deep frying the knuckle and the sauce is described by Andy as Filipino style. But this is a much more elegant dish than the lechon baboy in Manila. Though deep fried, the knuckle remains remarkably dry and un-greasy...both in appearance and in the mouth. The skin is a dry crispy crunch. The meat is also fried till almost crispy. The dark brooding sauce provides a bit of acid to heighten the meat and diffuse the richness. Very good. My lunch colleagues proclaim this as superb, and better than the one done by Siang Hee. For me, I feel the taste of the Siang Hee deep fried pork knuckle is better, but also more greasy. Too close to call which I prefer.

Another signature of Le Chasseur is the prawns

barbequed prawns

The prawns are a live prawns...from a supplier who delivers only 1kg a day to Le Chasseur. Interesting...why such small quantities for a restaurant, especially for its signature dish? I am not sure as Andy did not really answer directly, but hinted that the prawns is very special. The prawns are live, and boiled in sea water till medium-rare. Then brushed with oil and grilled. The grilling produces a charred bits of the shell, and legs, and the wonderful smokey aroma which permeates. The prawns itself are very fresh...afterall they were live. And the method of eating, as Andy explains is to open the head like so...

sea barbecued prawn with head peeled open

Suck out the fat under the head. Deshell and proceed to eat the flesh. No sauce is provided for the prawns, the taste is superb. Sweet, crunchy, with a hint of the sea and smokey aromas.

We did have two vegetable dishes...the eggplant and the sambal long beans...but I felt they were good, but not specatacular.

Focussing on the spectacular, we also tried a small portion of the vinegar pork leg...ter ka chor.

pork leg braised in black chinese vinegar

A favourite of many...though not of mine. I prefer the richly braised pork knuckle. But a mandatory dish for ladies who have just given birth during the confinement month, this is a traditional dish. For me, its good, but I find the tart-ness of the acid in the vinegar to be a tad overpowing. But for Ray and Janet who are fans of this style of pork knuckle, this was a great dish. Ray rated this 9.5/10, and Janet rated it 9/10. High praise indeed.

For desserts, we tried the house special black fungus:

black fungus, boiled as a dessert

I found this to be quite good. The fungus was thick, and crunchy. And the soup was nicely balanced sweetness.

But the tau suan was excellent:

tau suan split peas in dessert

The peas used were beautiful. Nice, halfs. The peas are cooked just right...the consistency is not too hard, not too soft. The thick sweet sauce smothered the peas. One of the best tau suans I have had in a very long time.

The restaurant was getting quite busy on a Friday lunchtime, when were almost finished with our meal at about 1pm...we arrived at 12 noon, and it was nice and quiet. Andy recommends reservations for weekends, when it can get rather crowded.

Excellent food, reasonable prices. Definitely worthy of multiple re-visits.


Le Chasseur
31, New Bridge Road (opp Central)
Singapore 059393
11am to 11pm daily
63377677
91440322
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