Cé La Vi has brought in an executive chef who knows what he’s doing. While not all of his creations hit the spot, there’s an intent and an understanding of the way food works behind his productions that make for some really pleasurable experiences
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Reinvention can be difficult. Unfortunately, perhaps, Singapore’s cooler people associate Cé La Vi with cocktails and the club culture, and in trying to expand away from that like an ebbing eddy in a whirlpool of preconceived ideas and expectations, the brains trust behind the venture is getting serious about food. There’s a new chef and a new menu, and we’re now being encouraged to view the establishment with a view as a one-step centre for all your entertainment needs—cocktails, food and ‘happening tunes’ to get down with.
Cé La Vi would have us believe that once a punter ascends to the 57th floor at Marina Bay Sands, then they won’t need to be anywhere else for the duration. It’s not as though it hasn’t been done before—the world is full of places that encourage you to come early for a drink; tuck into some decent food, and then dance the night away. Few, however, can claim any degree of ultimate success, because there’s a beauty in specialisation and it’s difficult to be all things to all people at all times and in all circumstances.
This may be about to change, because Cé La Vi is doing well, and deserves its success, having put a great deal of thought (and money, we suspect) into creating a venue that you’ll be delighted to be in and won’t want to leave—catering as it does to everything you need.
1. Excellent cocktails from a mischievously creative mixologist (take a bow, Hans)—check. 2. Cool vibes from DJs in the house, on the floor and then up in a semi-private space—check. 3. Very good food that defies expectations in a place where you wouldn’t expect it—check and check again.
Cé La Vi is spinning it, and has brought in an executive chef who knows what he’s doing, and while flirting with the tired trope of ‘fusion’ cuisine, seems to have a little bit more creativity in his locker. Maksym Chukanov is a serious young man, and a star in the making, and while not all of his current creations hit the spot, there’s an intent and an understanding of the way food works behind his productions that make for some really pleasurable experiences.
The Thai Baby Corn (chipotle adobo, puffed quinoa) is stupidly moreish—like a really good book; impossible to put down—while the pickled wasabi accompanying the (standard) Tempura Zucchini Flower is a surprisingly successful touch.
Hokkaido scallops and green apples is not a revelation as a dish, but Chukanov executes it well enough, and the Beef Tenderloin Tartare is such an interesting take on a well-known and beloved dish. The attendant smoked wagyu fat emulsion may sound like overkill, but it’s bold and it actually works.
Leave space for the Patagonia Argentinian Red Prawn because the seafood is cooked to perfection—suggestive of how fresh produce is being and shall be treated in Cé La Vi’s new culinary adventure. The accompanying tom yum sauce needs a little refinement (it’s very salty), and the shichimi (togarashi) adds little to the arrangement. It’s actually a waste of time. The same cannot be said of the Avocado and Gem Lettuce Salad (Okinawa spinach, pumpkin seed oil) which is clean, tight and refreshing.
There are a lot of standard ingredients currently on the menu, but this is understandable. Chef has been made well aware of his clientele, and what they might expect and what they may not countenance. Despite this, Chukanov is bringing his personality and culinary philosophy into play, and we suspect that this is just the beginning and that there are great things to come.
Cé La Vi is making a bold statement. It’s taking a stab at giving guests everything they might need for an entire evening’s entertainment, and realises that the food angle may have been back-burnered in the past. This is no longer the case. Good food is now a major consideration, and with a little fine tuning, may well prove to be a jewel in the tiara.
Cé La Vi
1 Bayfront Avenue Marina Bay Sands
Hotel, Tower 3
Tel: +65 6508 2188