12 days of christmas: lee… (2019)

– On the recommendation of a friend during a three-day layover in Singapore, I had the pleasure of eating at Candlenut.  That was the summer of 2016, just before the Michelin Guide arrived in Singapore, where it would award chef Malcolm Lee and his Peranakan cooking a worthy star later that year. Lee brought his […]


On the recommendation of a friend during a three-day layover in Singapore, I had the pleasure of eating at Candlenut.  That was the summer of 2016, just before the Michelin Guide arrived in Singapore, where it would award chef Malcolm Lee and his Peranakan cooking a worthy star later that year.

Lee brought his Sino-Malay cuisine to The Restaurant at Meadowood on the tenth night of The Twelve Days of Christmas, where he cooked with hosting chef Christopher Kostow.

I am no expert on Peranakan cooking.  And although the home cooking of Singaporean aunties at church potlucks introduced me to this flavorful branch of Chinese cuisine, with its exotic spices and comforting gravies, I wasn’t aware of its origins, or that it had a name.

The Malay peninsula is a melting pot of cultures and ingredients – the husky spices of India; the fragrant herbs and shrimp paste of Southeast Asia; the meatiness of Indonesia, and the fiery chilis and soothing coconut milk of the tropics all hung on the backbone of Chinese cooking. The confluence is unique, and its results beguiling.

There are satays and curries, both of which appeared on Lee’s side of the menu.  Lamb satays and kueh pie tee cups of Lee’s yeye’s (grandfather’s) curry were served as canapés, as well as a version of Lee’s mother’s curry, which appeared as kueh bakar berlauk, a savory custard cake.

The main courses were a parade of comfort, from a yellow coconut curry of Dungeness crab, to saucey beef rendang served with rice dyed blue with pea flowers.

One of the many highlights for me was a steaming bowl of fish maw soup, with prawn and chicken. The smell of the broth in the kitchen, as it simmered, really did a number on me – whiffs of my childhood.  It did not disappoint at the table.

Another highlight was Christopher Kostow’s squab pithivier, which he sliced and plated with a rich, black truffle X.O. sauce.  That was tasty.

The meal ended with some of my favorite desserts of this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas.  The Restaurant at Meadowood presented a carousel of citrus desserts, including a fragrant custard with olive oil.

Lee served a dark and moody ice cream of buah keluak – a poisonous fruit that is detoxified through fermentation – with chocolate.  I had a version of this dessert at Candlenut.  And, perhaps my favorite part of the entire meal, were the cubes of kueh salat that capped off the meal – sweet, sticky rice paved with a layer of coconut milk and pandan custard. It was paired with an immensely floral and fragrant tea (a special mix made for Candlenut), which, like the rice in both the rendang and kueh salat, was tinted blue with pea flowers.  I raved about it so much, that Lee’s girlfriend kindly gifted me an extra packet of the tea.

This is the menu from Day 10 of the Twelve Days of Christmas with guest chef Malcolm Lee (click here for all of the photos from this dinner):


Kueh Pie Tee
Yeye’s curry.

Nika Salad Roll
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

Kueh Bakar Berlauk
Mum’s curry.

Charcoal Lamb Satay

1st Course
Caviar, Sunchoke
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

2nd Course
Fish Maw Soup
Prawn, chicken.

3rd Course
Dungeness Crab
Turmeric, coconut curry.

4th Course
Black Cod
Chuan chuan spinach.

5th Course
Squab Pithivier
Truffle X.O.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

6th Course
Beef Rendang
Blue pea flower rice.

7th Course
Olio Nuovo
Local citrus.
(The Restaurant at Meadowood)

8th Course
Buah Keluak Ice Cream

9th Course
Kueh Salat

Wine pairings.

Pichler, Riesling, 2016

Domaine Maurice Schoech, Pinot Gris, Grand Cru Mambourg, 2015

Le Clarté de Haute Brion, 2012

Frog’s Leap, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2017

Dirty & Rowdy, Mouvedre, Evangelho Vineyard, 2018

Philip Togni Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2005

Day 10: Malcolm Lee

Below are links to my posts and photos from all Twelve Days of Christmas dinners I have attended. Each chef is listed with the restaurant with which they were cooking at the time they participated in the event (some have moved on to other projects and restaurants).


Scott Anderson (Elements; Princeton, New Jersey)
John & Karen Shields (Formerly of Townhouse; Chilhowie, Virginia)
Phillip Foss (EL Ideas; Chicago, Illinois)
Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski (State Bird Provisions; San Francisco, California)
Jason Franey (Canlis Restaurant; Seattle, Washinton)
Matthias Merges (Yusho; Chicago, Illinois)
Mori Onodera (Formerly of Mori Sushi; Los Angeles, California)
James Syhabout (Commis; Oakland, California)
Nick Anderer (Maialino; New York, New York)
David Toutain (Agapé Substance; Paris, France)
Josh Habiger & Erik Anderson (The Catbird Seat; Nashville Tennessee)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Andy Ricker (Pok Pok, Portland, Oregon & New York, New York)
Rodolfo Guzman (Boragó; Santiago, Chile)
Carlo Mirarchi (Blanca and Roberta’s; Brooklyn, New York)
Tim Cushman (O Ya; Boston, Massachusetts)
Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner; Raleigh, North Carolina)
David Chang (Momofuku; New York, New York)
Matthew Accarrino (SPQR; San Francisco, California)
Mark Ladner & Brooks Headley (Del Posto; New York, New York)
Rasmus Kofoed (Geranium; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Nicolaus Balla & Cortney Burns (Bar Tartine; San Francisco, California)
David Kinch (Manresa; Los Gatos, California)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Matthew Orlando (Amass; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Frank Castranovo & Frank Falcinelli (Frankies 457, Prime Meats; New York, New York)
Kobe Desramaults (In de Wulf; Dranouter, Belgium)
Alexandre Gauthier (La Grenouillère; La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France)
Blaine Wetzel (Willows Inn; Lummi Island, Washington)
Joshua McFadden (Ava Gene’s; Portland, Oregon)
Virgilio Martinez (Central; Lima, Peru)
Grant Achatz (Alinea; Chicago, Illinois)
Corey Lee (Benu; San Francisco, California)
Esben Holmboe Bang (Maaemo; Oslo, Norway)
Ignacio Mattos (Estela; New York, New York)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, NoMad; New York, New York)
Nenad Mlinarevic (Focus; Vitznau, Switzerland)
Christian Puglisi (relæ; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil; Mexico City, Mexico)
Joshua Skenes (Saison; San Francisco, California)
Matthew Wilkinson (Pope Joan; Melbourne, Australia)
Kim Floresca and Daniel Ryan ([One]; Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
Isaac McHale (The Clove Club; London, The United Kingdom)
Kyle Connaughton (Single Thread; Healdsburg, California)
Atsushi Tanaka (A.T. Restaurant; Paris, France)
Justin Yu (Oxheart; Houston, Texas)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Mark Lundgaard Nielsen (Kong Hans Kælder; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Manish Mehrotra (Indian Accents; New Dehli, India; New York, New York; London, U.K.)
Jeremiah Stone & Fabián von Hauske Valtierra (Contra & Wildair; New York, New York)
Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon & Tallula’s; Santa Monica, California)
Ben Sukle (birch & Oberlin; Providence, Rhode Island)
Sean Brock (McCrady’s, McCrady’s Tavern, Husk, & Minero; Charleston, South Carolina)
Yoshiaki Takazawa (Takazawa; Tokyo, Japan)
Thomas Keller (The French Laundry; Yountville, California)
Eric Werner (Hartwood; Tulum, Mexico)
Jock Zonfrillo (Orana; Adelaide, Australia)
Alexandre Couillon (La Marine; Noirmoutier, France)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Jose Enrique (Jose Enrique; San Juan, Puerto Rico)
David Pynt (Burnt Ends; Singapore)
Jessica Largey (Simone; Los Angeles, California)
James Lowe (Lyle’s; London, The United Kingdom)
Kamilla Seidler (formerly of Gustu in La Paz, Bolivia; Copenhagen, Denmark)
Byung-jin Kim (Gaon; Seoul, South Korea)
Wojciech Modest Amaro (Atelier Amaro; Warsaw, Poland)
Justin Cogley (Auberine; Carmel, California) & Trevor Moran (Nashville, Tennessee)
Michael Tusk (Cotogna and Quince; San Francisco, California)
Ana Ros (Hiša Franko; Kobarid, Slovenia)
Sota Atsumi (Maison, opening in 2019; Paris, France)
Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood; St. Helena, California)


Gabriela Camara (Contramar; Mexico City, Mexico/Cala; San Francisco, California)
John and Karen Shields (Smyth, and The Loyalist; Chicago, Illinois)
Daniel Calvert (Belon; Hong Kong)
José Avillez (Belcanto; Lisbon, Portugal)
Junghyun Park (atomix and atoboy; New York, New York)
Jeremy Chan (Ikoyi; London, The United Kingdom)
Nicolai Nørregaard (kadeau; Bornholm and Copenhagen, Denmark)
Brady Williams (Canlis; Seattle, Washington)
Jeremy Charles (Raymonds; St. John’s, Newfoundland; Canada)
Malcolm Lee (Candlenut; Singapore)

Malcolm Lee and Christopher Kostow

Photos: Malcolm Lee, Christopher Kostow, and Daniel Kim plating; dungeness crab course; Rya Sohn plating kueh pie tee; kueh salat; satays on the grill; “Olio Nuovo” with local citruses; Buah Keluak ice cream with chocolate; wine pairings; Lee with the team at The Restaurant at Meadowood; Lee with Kostow.

Categories 12 days 2019 restaurant

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