There’s nothing new about restaurants serving hawker food in hotels. But The Clifford Pier, a 208-seater at its 81-year-old eponymous building, elevates the humble fare to a lavish experience.

What was once a disembarkation point for seafarers has been revamped by renowned Hong Kong architect-designer Andre Fu into a 26,000 sq ft contemporary restaurant dotted with references to its history. This site was previously occupied by Chinese diner One On The Bund.

Fu was also the mastermind of the interiors of The Fullerton Bay Hotel’s public spaces and other dining spots – The Landing Point, the Clifford restaurant and Lantern rooftop bar.

During the day, natural light floods the expansive eatery. At night, grand Edwardian lighting casts a warm glow on its pristine white space and wide arches. Red lamp posts at the terrace recall the historical andmark’s other name, Red Lamp Pier, for the navigational aids that hung at the end of the pier. Furnished with custom-made plush couches and flanked by potted palm trees, the restaurant is redolent of the colonial era of elegance similar to that enveloping Raffles Hotel.

We love that chef de cuisine Ken Zheng has placed a slice of his family history, in the form of rickshaw noodles, on the menu. Once a Singaporean staple and sold by his grandfather, it’s fast disappearing. The dry rendition turns out to be the best item on offer. It uses handmade noodles produced in-house, coupled with a recipe by Zheng’s father who was also a noodle-stall hawker. Topped with sweet-spicy sauce, pork-belly cubes and a poached egg, the dish is a joy to slurp up.

Unfortunately, the traditional soupy version with yellow Hokkien mee in a clear pork broth with blanched vegetables was disappointing, as it was bland.

The kambing  soup is an umami bomb that rivals those made by some of the best hawkers.
The kambing soup is an umami bomb that rivals those made by some of the best hawkers.

The hearty kambing soup, a flavoursome broth with tender mutton chunks, is infused with spices like cinnamon and star anise and awakens taste buds with a strong hit of garlic, ginger and onions.

For the best experience, we recommend a relaxing evening of drinks and light bites. The kumquat mojito – which also has calamansi, kaffir lime and brown sugar – pairs deliciously with the fresh herby tang of its Vietnamese spring rolls.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel.