We Sri Lankans eat Chinese food till MSG bubbles out of our ears. And we love chilli and coconut. Put these together and you have Singaporean food. Recently, to my particular joy, two Singaporean places opened up. Prima Taste I've reviewed here and didn't like much. This review is of the second one, Long Feng at Trans Asia, which after being purchased by a conglomerated colonial cold cut company (Keells!), changed from a Chinese restaurant into a Singaporean one.
As you enter Long Feng, you are greeted effusively. As if they worry that, for us Sri Lankans, a leap from Chinese to Singaporean is just not something that is comprehensible or accessible. As if they hope to compensate by overservicing us till we no longer care what kind of food we're eating.
That effusiveness goes on throughout the meal as two, sometimes three waiters fall over themselves to bring us water, menus, wine lists and, finally, the food. The food is propelled out of the kitchen by a foreign-sounding yelling, something like a combination of Chef! from the BBC and a kung fu movie. We asked the waitstaff and found out that the Singaporean chef does not like his food to be kept waiting.
And the chef would be right. Food this good should be fed directly into my stomach through a tube. We started with the laksa lemak, as Singaporean as a ban on chewing gum, spicy, coconutty, eggy and not too fishy. A goldilocks of a soup. This was followed by the sambal fried rice which we had with lamb in a clay pot and a cuttlefish dish, the name of which escapes my memory but is remembered (fondly) by my belly. The fried rice's spicing was very balanced, allowing me to taste not only the major themes of soya sauce and egg but also the herbs (lemongrass? coriander?).
We also usually sit in the outside bit overlooking the Beira terrace which is very romantic and (these days at least) non smelly. The pricing is very reasonable as we've never exceeded LKR 800-1000 per head for the food nett (Tip: Portion sizes are big - a "small" feeds three people). We have visited the restaurant 4 times since it opened, with a mixture of relatives and friends in tow, and each time the response has been pretty good.
The cautious, boring world of Colombo five star dining is something that we have known of for a while - no risks are taken and no new cuisines are served unless 4 other hotels have done it already. Trans Asia must be commended for taking a step into relatively risky ground and for doing it so well.Restaurant Name: Long Feng
Address: Trans Asia Hotel, 115, Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha, Colombo 02
Phone: (add 011 from a mobile) 2 491949 ext.1949