The Social Place, a well established Hong Kong restaurant since 2014 has finally opened its first outlet in Singapore at The Forum Shopping Mall, Orchard Road. The restaurant’s team of expert chefs have put together a modern spin on dim sum and traditional Chinese dishes. They take pride in offering customers food that tastes divine and plated with finesse.
Enter the dining hall and you will be taken aback by the beautiful interior design reminiscent of old Hong Kong – a theme of blue-grey and gold fixtures, marble-topped tables, as well as the vintage pattern flooring decorated with mahjong tiles on the wall. These elements give off an atmosphere of tradition and modernity.
This vibrant and cosy setting is certainly inviting and private dining rooms are also available for a more intimate setting among family and friends. The good people behind Tang Palace China Holdings Ltd, Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant Ltd and Gaia Culinary Concepts are the companies that have collaborated in a joint venture to bring Singapore an experience that is unique and unforgettable. Here are some of the highlights and signature dishes that we tasted.
You simply can’t go wrong with their signature Shrimps in Chinese Wine ($16.80). The steamed prawns were marinated with Hua Diao, a premium fish sauce and Sichuan peppers. This is one of my favourite appetisers!
If you are looking for a vegetarian dish, try the Iced Okra ($6.80). This simple, yet refreshing dish is prepared by blanching the okra in simmering water, then shocking the vegetable in an ice bath to retain its bite. Right before serving, it is topped with finely chopped garlic that has been fried quickly in butter to cut the spiciness of the raw garlic. It is then seasoned with a signature blend of sesame oil and a dash of soy sauce.
This Cold Foie Gras in Special Fermented Rice Wine ($16.80) is a dish that you will either appreciate or give a miss. For me, it had the right balance of flavours and textures that really opens up your palate.
Next we tried some of the Social Place's original dim sum creations. The Truffle Shitake Buns ($6.80 for 3 pieces) are presented exactly as a mushroom, which I believe takes some serious skill. It is filled with a mix of truffle and mushroom. It was a little dense for me but still it was very tasty.
These buns painted with gold brush strokes are the Charcoal Custard Buns ($8.80 for 3 pieces). There is a warm savoury sweet custard filling in the center which is absolutely delicious so be careful when biting into this bun.
One of the most creative dim sum pieces I’ve seen are these Deep Fried Lobster Glutinous Puffs ($7.80 for 3 pieces). These come in a mangosteen shape presented in a wooden tall basket that gives it a grandeur feeling. It has a savoury filling of crab meat, slowly cooked in a lobster broth. It does have a unique taste, a little on the salty side and is quite filling even after the first piece.
Next, we moved on to some of the restaurant’s main contemporary signatures.
The Wagyu Char Siew ($28.00) a rendition of Cantonese barbecued meats. It features beef that has been marinated in soy sauce, seasoned with black pepper and grilled to perfection. This dish is cooked very well and the meat just melts in your mouth!
One of my all time favourite Chinese dishes is sweet and sour pork, and the Social Place's version ($24.80) just levelled up this dish. It is served with crushed and cubed ice that keeps the battered pork crisp, and is topped with mini melon spheres. This inventive creation offers textural contrast and a playful mix of hot and cold, along with sweet and sour.
We moved on to the Roasted Quail ($9.90), which has been marinated with ten different herbs and spices. It is crispy on the outside and the meat is tender, cooked to perfection. In Hong Kong, this is known to be a delicacy and to be able to cook it well can be tricky at time as it is such a small bird. This was an absolute winner.
The Seafood Crackling Rice Soup ($24.80) is a lavish option with its umami-rich seafood broth; prepared by simmering crab and prawn shells for several hours. It contains diced scallops, al dente cooked jasmine rice and orzo pasta. You get a little sizzle when you add the piping hot broth to the crispy rice grains, It was really tasty.
The next dish is another quirky and interesting dish. The Eggs (Ain’t) That Simple ($22.80) comprises of Sichuan chicken served on a platter that’s stir fried with chilies, peppers, garlic and cashews. If you are looking for something spicy then this is the go-to dish! The element of surprise is the mango pudding "egg yolk" nestled within the egg shell. This was unexpectedly delicious and cools down the Sichuan spice.
If you are looking for a vegetarian dish, the Baby Cabbage in Soya Milk ($16.80) features young cabbage greens stewed in soya milk with a little ‘wok hey’. It is light and flavourful, something good to pair with meaty dishes.
We ended the night with a Small Pig Pudding ($6.80 per piece), which a pig shaped custard pudding. Yet another quirky dish and a great dessert to end the night.
Overall, we had a fantastic time at this new Hong Kong establishment, and I was pleased to find out these solid dishes come at affordable prices! This is a great place to dine, relax and unwind with a group of family and friends, especially if you want to take them somewhere a little different from the norm. The Social Place takes pride in their food, quality and presentation of dishes. Head over to try out their brand new menu with a contemporary twist.