Mother of two young boys, Marilyn Lum is director of Lum Wen Kay Holdings, an investment company that manages F&B, hospitality and education assets. She also serves as vice-president of Singapore Island Country Club’s main committee and chairman of its F&B committee.
As someone who clearly enjoys a good meal over great company and fantastic wine, we invited her to join us for lunch at Chinoiserie by celebrity chef Justin Quek, which is located at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
For lunch, we opt for the seasonal menu and we begin with the Chef Platter, comprising smoked mackerel parfait with caviar, scallop cerviche with black truffles, uni with shrimp dumplings, and an oyster drizzled with ginger flower dressing. “This is so prettily plated that I don’t want to eat it!” She gushes. “The mix of flavours meld nicely without one overpowering the other.”
The main dish is a medley of seafood — sea bream, Hokkaido scallops and langoustine — in clam and herb fondue, with edible flowers, daikon and a dollop of pureed potatoes. “The different flavours complement one another and I like the unexpected addition of the daikon, and that the scallops are juicy and not overcooked,” says Marilyn, who later sops up the delicious fondue with her bread.
Rounding off the beautiful meal with a hearty finish are the seasonal white asparagus cooked with Spanish ham in a beurre blanc sauce and Justin’s signature lobster Hokkien noodles with generous helpings of pork lard. “I love white asparagus and the sauce is, again, perfect for soaking up its goodness with bread. The noodles are delicious, but the portion is too large for me!” Marilyn says with a laugh, adding that she sees “a Western influence in every dish, from the presentation to the pairing of sauces”.
Our wine pairing with the crustacean, fish and dim sum is a refreshing Weingut Schloss Vollrads Riesling 2017 from Rheingau, Germany. This particular bottle was specially created with Justin Quek’s initials “JQ” on the label.
What is the boldest dish you’ve ever tasted?
The tagliolini with butter and white truffles over at Nello in New York is off the menu and typically costs just under US$300 a plate! It is basically a fresh bowl of egg pasta in a simple butter-based sauce with shavings of white truffle. The dish represents everything that I find exciting about food, culture and business. To have the audacity to charge such a premium, while using such a simplistic approach to showcase one of the finest ingredients available, is just bold, and shows absolute confidence of skill.
And your favourite wine?
Giuseppe Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Riserva 1990.
Any food item(s) you always travel with?
I prefer an authentic experience and to enjoy the cuisine the way the locals have it. Favourite haunts and types of cuisine? Restoran Oversea in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I really enjoy their interpretation of contemporary Chinese cuisine. What do you consider comfort food? Definitely home cooked dishes. My mother is an excellent cook, her dishes of steamed minced pork with salted fish and delicious black vinegar pig trotter always bring me comfort. Do you have friends or family who are real foodies or wine connoisseurs — any food places they rave about? Well, several of my friends have raved about the attention to detail, the creative pairing of ingredients and stunning decor of the Japanese Kappo fine dining restaurant Esora by Chef Shigeru Koizumi.
We’d love if you can recommend some restaurants that we absolutely must try.
Restaurant Bing Sheng in Guangzhou, China for their authentic, reasonably priced Cantonese menu. Breakfast in Sarabeth, New York, USA. This epitomises to me what a breakfast in New York is all about, from the decor to the convivial atmosphere and delicious food. Just a great place to nurse a hangover and to recharge for the day ahead.
What healthy food do you snack on?
Raw cashew nuts and cold pressed coconut water.
Restaurants that are a hit with your family of boys?
Panamericana over at Sentosa Golf Club Singapore. Apart from the stunning view and roomy colonial chic decor of the restaurant, it is one of the few places in Singapore where you can get food cooked in a huge open-fire grill (asador) next to the table. My two sons are meat eaters and very picky, so to find a venue that grills great tasting meats and a kid-friendly environment is a plus point for me.
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