The Sampan, which opened in September last year, has made its first menu revamp recently. Helmed by Head Chef Ahmad, the pan-Asian restaurant that sits along Singapore River now has 80% of its original menu transformed, which means even regulars would be in for a new dining experience!
It’s our first visit to The Sampan. If you’d like to know what we think of the offering, read on to find out.
Note: Pictures in this article show tasting portions that may not necessarily be the same size you’ll see when you visit.
The Sampan review: Ambience
The Sampan is located in Boat Quay and looks out to the Singapore River. While we visited during lunch hours and were at the cosy indoor seating at Level 1, we’re familiar enough with the area to know that it’s going to be great sitting outdoors by the river, enjoying the skyline of the city over drinks at night. The restaurant has seating space at Level 2 if you prefer less people-watching and more intimacy with your dining party, as well as a private event area at Level 3 that is great for hosting.
The Sampan review: Food
Head Chef Ahmad is all about transforming local and regional ingredients into unique dishes that takes on a fresh approach to Asian classics. Ingredients are all freshly sourced from independent farmers and fisherme to ensure absolute quality. Boasting an all-Singaporean kitchen and service crew, The Sampan’s representatives told us that they want to share Asian food in ways that everyone can enjoy and to show that there is culinary talent in Singapore that can present amazing local foods.
For appetisers, we recommend the Silken Egg Tofu (S$12), which is served with peanut sauce and vegetable fritters. This vegetarian dish has great texture and flavours that make it a crowd-pleasing dish for sharing.
If you prefer a salad to start off your meal, consider the Silky and Tangy Singapore Salad (S$15), served with cuttlefish and eggs. This zesty salad has a texture that reminds us of yusheng, but its flavour is definitely inspired by the local rojak.
The Beef Cheek Rendang (S$26) is another outstanding dish to try. An interesting take on the traditional beef rendang that usually don’t use the beef cheek, this dish features meat that’s sous vide for eight to ten hours so that it’s extremely tender and has an almost melt-in-your-mouth texture as you bite into it. As a restaurant that is known for its Southeast Asian flavours, you can also be sure that the rendang taste is on point. This dish is served with grilled vegetables and steamed rice cakes (the type you’ll usually find with lontong), which go very well with the rendang gravy.
The Fresh Local Seabass (S$21) is our personal favourite. This is served with an Asian Soya Sauce Glaze and Potato Puree. We understand that the seabass is the catch of the day delivered from local fishermen in Pulau Ubin to the restaurant – no wonder it’s so fresh! There’s a generous serving of sambal sauce on top of the fish that offers a good amount of heat that those who enjoy spice are going to love. The cherry on top is the potato puree, which has an absolutely fluffy texture and pleasantly creamy taste. In fact, we love the potato puree so much, we told the chef that we would order it as an appetiser if it were served alone.
If you love your rice, try the Thai Style Fried Rice (Seafood) (S$18). This has the fragrant taste of tom yum without the extreme heat that tom yum is sometimes known for. What this means is that you get to enjoy the aromatic taste of tom yum without needing to gulp down glasses of water to tame the spice. It’s definitely good news for those who can’t usually handle chili!
And we can’t end our review without talking about desserts. We recommend going for the Pandan Pancakes (S$13), which is served with vanilla ice-cream and palm sugar syrup. Its taste profile reminds us of the traditional ondeh ondeh, but its skin’s texture is more like dadar. The ice-cream gives an interesting East-meets-West take to the dish that we enjoyed a lot. This dish definitely gives us the sweet ending that completed the very enjoyable meal.
The Sampan review: Conclusion
Most of the dishes we tried were delectable and we are impressed that with such level of quality, the prices are actually very reasonable. If you’re going by yourself or with just one companion, and won’t be able to order more dishes for sharing, we’ll recommend that you go for the Thai Style Fried Rice, Fresh Local Seabass or Beef Cheek Rendang, and the Pandan Pancakes. Don’t forget to kick back with some drinks while you’re there too. The night view by the Singapore River is a highlight that you shouldn’t miss.
The Sampan located at 63 Boat Quay, Singapore 049851. It is open weekdays for lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm and dinner from 5.00pm to midnight and Saturdays for dinner from 5.00pm to midnight. Visit their website for more information.