Mr Ethan Leslie Leong, known for pioneering mixology in Singapore with his renowned establishment Maison Ikkoku launches a brand new establishment SLING! This contemporary concept was birthed to revive the internationally recognised Singapore Sling for a new generation and to celebrate the very best of fresh regional produce showcased in this menu with 100% natural ingredients made from scratch. Only sunflower and olive oil is used with No MSG, No preservatives, artificial flavouring and colouring. Mr Leong also introduces an all-natural craft cocktail menu that showcases different renditions on the classic “Singapore Sling”.
The new and improved level-one space of Maison Ikkoku has been converted into SLING whilst retaining its art gallery featuring Singapore-Inspired paintings. Walking into this revamped space, it felt extremely cosy with a few tables before the bar area clearly designed to cater to a smaller number of diners per seating. When the server presented a sophisticated red menu embossed with gold words and the simplicity of the table set up, I knew that this dining experience would be something special.
The Singapore Sling is a gin-based sling cocktail from Singapore. This long drink was developed sometime before 1915 by a Hainanese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. I started the evening with a rendition of the all-natural craft cocktail - Coco SLING($28), inspired by coconut trees around Singapore in 1958 Kampung dates served in a roasted coconut and young coconut foam.
All the food should be eaten as sharing plates and these exquisite recipes are from Mr Leong’s childhood including some directly inspired from his grandmother’s cookbook updated with modern cooking techniques. Here are some of the dishes below!
For starters I decided to try out a traditional freshly made spring roll most commonly known as Popiah. Here at SLING, diners will get to roll it themselves on the table a mini DIY session with a choice of (Vegetarian $36, Sweet Pork $39, Crispy Prawn $49). It is presented in a Peranakan “tingkat” which is a traditional take-away container that comes with 4 homemade popiah skins, 100% plant based stewed turnips, carrots, lettuce, tofu, long bean, eggs, shallots, bean sprouts, roasted sesame with a special chilli and hoisin sauce. If you are experiencing this dish for the very first time, do not fret as the lovely servers will kindly explain to you how to roll up these tasty parcels not to mention a DIY card to explain the whole process. Everything was fresh and absolutely delightful, a nostalgic dish that brought me back to my early childhood days where my mum and her friends would have frequent DIY Popiah parties.
We all love a good Rendang that has been cooked on the stove for hours. At SLING, only the best produce is used for this dish showcasing Wagyu beef slow cooked in a rich coconut curry and mixed spices ($45). The process of making this coconut milk is squeezed in the kitchen which allows the true flavour of the dish to shine. This Rendang has a good balance of spices and the tender meat that melts in your mouth
Ikan Asam ($32) directly translated as ’sour fish', is not what you envision your typical Asam dish to be. Using Salmon that is first poached then grilled to perfection in Sour Umami Asam, tomato, onions, accompanied on a bed of chickpeas. I must say that this was one of the main dishes that really stood out for me, completely unexpected yet understated. It is simple, but the flavour profile is complex and it takes a good cook to balance all those flavours. A very well executed dish.
Next up is the Babi Hitam($39), Kurobuta Black Pork braised for 72 hours in local spices and Black Vinegar. The moment you cut into the meat, it breaks off easily. The umami flavour comes through with the apparent black vinegar, elevated with galangal and candlenut that is used as spices to make this dish complete.
These were the side dishes I had to accompany my main meal Nasi Biru($3) white pearl rice with blue pea flower and lemongrass. Kampung Sayur ($19), a village style stir-fried seasonal vegetables with local anchovies. The kitchen served four- angled beans that evening. It has a little bite to the vegetable, how it is meant to be cooked.
The night ended with a modern rendition of Kueh Dadar ($16), a freshly made french-style pandan crepe served with gula Malacca and young coconut foam / espuma. The homemade Gula Malacca syrup is freshly poured on the table when served.
I ended the meal with another cocktail, the Original Sling($26) a recipe using cherry herring, benedictine D.O.M, London Dry Gin, Cointreau, Fresh Grenadine, Fresh Pineapple and lemon foam.
After a wholesome meal feeling extremely satisfied, I sat down with Mr Leong himself for a quick chat about the F&B industry in Singapore and how difficult it is now to produce wholesome meals without compromising taste, as majority of establishments use MSG, artificial flavours with fairly cheap ingredients. Some may find this menu too simplistic and “ordinary" for this price point, but it is the original passed-down recipes and the quality of ingredients combined with the labour of love that is extremely technical and difficult to deliver in this modern age. Every dish and drink that you taste at SLING has a historic value with a story to tell. “If people genuinely love my food and concept for what it is meant to be, they will come back for the experience”. - Mr Ethan Leslie Leong. I have to agree with that statement, and the passion that continues to drive him is extremely commendable, taking a risk and putting his heart on a plate showing what he believes as true Singaporean cuisine. The only way to find out if you appreciate this new establishment is to head on over with some family or friends for a meal!