First things first: The Susan referenced here isn’t someone’s slothful auntie, but the revolving tray you often find in the middle of round tables at Chinese restaurants. Because that’s what this concept is about – a rotating schedule of invited chefs and their Singapore interpretations of food doing pop-up stints at restaurants belonging to the Spa Esprit Group.
By no means is anything about it lazy, though. How it works is this: Spa Esprit founder Cynthia Chua talent-scouts chefs on her trips overseas, then invites them over to take part in the Lazy Susan programme.
Upon arrival in Singapore, each chef is taken on a whirlwind tour of the country’s dining scene, then has just over a week to come up with a completely new menu of Singapore-infused grub with his own stamp on it.
Under his supervision, this menu then “travels” to the various outlets within the group for a limited period.
Sounds hectic? It is. Lazy Susan’s first guest chef Haan Palcu-Chang, who arrived late last month and will stay till mid January, says his crash course in Singapore food took place over just two days. During that time, the former head chef of hip Paris eateries Le Mary Celeste and Hero was plied with all manner of dishes, from carrot cake to har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken).
All we’d get if that happened to us is major food coma, but here’s the incredible thing: This crazy way of working doesn’t show in Palcu-Chang’s Lazy Susan menu, almost all of which comes beautifully together as if the Canadian had been living in Singapore for years and mulling over the menu for months.
There are cheese “mantous” - actually pillows of fried halloumi cheese - in lipsmackingly addictive chilli crab sauce ($14); and a delightful Wing Bean Toast ($12) made with Tiong Bahru Bakery sourdough bread and topped with fresh mozzarella plus Palcu-Chang’s zingy homemade XO sauce.
There’s a BBQ Jackfruit Bun ($12) that, to be honest, sounds awful on paper but turns out to have the texture and flavour of tender pulled pork. And a gorgeous fluffy Cornfield Cake dessert ($8) served with creamed corn that’s been blessed with a simple but surprising twist: A showering of sea salt.
If you only have room for one dish though (poor you), make it the awesome Stinky Meets Crispy ($22), a potent combo of har cheong gai on a golden rice flour waffle drenched in sambal maple syrup and crowned with a fried egg. The chicken is juicy, the waffle crispy-chewy and the sambal maple so divine, you’ll want to bottle Palcu-Chang’s genius to take home (or at least the syrup).
This is the yummiest and most fun food that’s come out of the Spa Esprit Group’s kitchens in a while, so book yourself a table before this Lazy Susan spins away.
Lazy Susan is at House at Dempsey from Thursday to Sunday until 27 December, and will move to Open Door Policy daily from 5 to 24 January. Book your table here!
For more on lifestyle, head here. Or check out other food stories at See Tokyo Through Chef Narisawa’s Eyes or These Food Delivery Services Are Better Than A Boyfriend.