Pangium: Singapore’s New Mod-Peranakan Eatery

Forgotten flavors and ingredients are championed at this intimate fine-diner in the UNESCO-listed Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Pangium’s take on ikan chuan chuan, a Peranakan classic. (Photo: CR Tan)

Twelve years after opening Candlenut — which was first awarded a Michelin star in 2016 — acclaimed Singaporean chef Malcolm Lee has once again teamed up with the COMO Group to open a sophomore restaurant in his home city. Lee’s latest venture is Pangium, the just-launched dining venue at the eight-hectare Gallop Extension of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Accommodating up to 28 guests, Pangium is located inside The Orangery, where the reception, main dining room, and a private room sit above the downstairs kitchen. Patrons can soak up 180-degree views of the surrounding greenery through floor-to-ceiling windows. Named for the pangium edule tree that sprouts from the buah keluak seed — Lee’s favorite ingredient — the intimate restaurant serves “contemporary Straits cuisine” that is “rooted in the ethos of discovery and creativity.” It taps into growing nostalgia for the flavors familiar to older generations of Singaporeans but reimagines them through a 21st-century lens.

The eight-course tasting menu at Pangium will change twice a year. Meals begin with a series of snacks followed by bread, a dumpling, a soup and a seafood dish, culminating in a signature nasi ulam (mixed herb rice) course — an evolving showcase of lesser-known vegetables and herbs accompanied by an array of side dishes exploring forgotten recipes and flavors.

The restaurant sits within the Gallop Extension of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

For example, the chefs have translated tempoyak — usually a whole patin (shark catfish) cooked in a fermented durian curry — into sambal tempoyak. Mao Shan Wang durian flesh is fermented with sea salt for four days at room temperature for the dish, and the fruit’s intense flavor is balanced by the texture and heat of fried fish and chili. Other highlights include buah keluak sambal with oxtail and serunding daging (beef floss with roasted coconut); pickled rose apple, lotus root, star fruit, and guava; and hand-minced duck satay that’s wrapped in caul fat before being glazed with kicap manis (palm sugar–laced soy sauce) and grilled over charcoal. This is served with a bowl of sayur lodeh prepared using Japanese vegetables and an ikan bilis sambal.

Dessert takes the form of a spread of bite-sized kueh and sweets. Look out for sagun kelapa, a traditional sorbet-like snack consisting of roasted grated coconut, glutinous rice, and sugar and salt. Rarely found today in Singapore, it harks back to the childhoods of Lee’s mother and aunt. Also featured is ondeh ondeh made with Japanese kabocha squash; freshly rolled and cooked right before serving, each ball has been filled with liquid gula Melaka (palm sugar). A traditional tapioca cake with browned, crispy sides, kueh bingka is reinterpreted as a canele, while Valrhona chocolate, buah keluak, and chili are combined to create Lee’s own buah keluak bon bon. The curated wine list at Pangium has been organized according to taste profiles, and spotlights a diverse selection of classics as well as niche varieties from lesser-known winegrowing regions.

While Lee will spend most of his time at Pangium at the launch phase, the kitchen is otherwise helmed by 31-year-old chef Brian Chan; he briefly trained at San Francisco’s French fine-dining institution La Folie before joining Lee as a trainee six years ago. Brian’s wife Ham Hyeseon, who was recruited from Seoul’s Michelin-starred Jungsik restaurant, leads the pastry program at Pangium.

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Pangium’s chef-owner Malcolm Lee. (Photo: CR Tan)

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