Poh Ling Yeow first graced our screens on MasterChef Australia back in 2009, going on to open Jam Face in Adelaide and co-host cult TV show Snackmasters — and that’s just a snippet of what she’s been up to. Now, Ling Yeow is doing something a little different — spearheading a restaurant experience in collaboration with The Singleton and QT Melbourne. But it’s not your average sit-down meal.

Hospitality speaks to the cook about fusing theatrics with food, pairing Plus Two cocktails with signature bites delivered to guests on a sushi train and the global inspiration behind her sweet and savoury menu.

Food served on a conveyor belt is nothing new, and who doesn’t appreciate innovation teamed with instant gratification? While trains were once the domain of casual eateries, they have gone on to enter the realm of fine but approachable dining, which is what The Singleton’s Delicious Discoveries experience is all about.

The scotch whisky brand selected Poh Ling Yeow to bring its culinary vision to life at QT Melbourne, with the cook describing the partnership as a natural fit. “I haven’t had my café for several years and being able to feed people in such a beautiful setting and collaborate with two brands I really love was a no-brainer,” she says.

It also presented an opportunity for Ling Yeow to jump into the restaurant game and design a menu with the same freedom she’d have if she was going solo — within the realms of working with the train, of course.

“Obviously, you have to think about things such as temperature, the size and the fact it’s travelling on a conveyor belt, so there were a few logical aspects to consider,” she says. “But apart from that, I was left to do my own thing which was awesome. It’s about people choosing dishes with different textures, temperatures and cultural influences. It’s how I like to cook, which is eclectically.”

The crux of Delicious Discoveries revolves around Ling Yeow-designed dishes that have been created to complement The Singleton’s Plus Two cocktails. The drinks see an equal mix of whisky, a sparkling mixer and a still mixer. Take the Tropical, which combines The Singleton 12 Year Old with guava juice and grapefruit soda or the Mediterranean with 12 Year Old, apricot nectar and lemon tonic.

Guests can also mastermind their own creations by picking mixers and giving them to QT Melbourne bartenders to whip up. It’s “a winning formula that works with all sorts of ingredients from the sweet to the nutty to the bitter, delivering a cocktail that has maximum flavour with minimum fuss,” says Katie Nagar, national brand ambassador for The Singleton. “The flavour pairings [are] only enhanced through the rich and deep flavours of Poh’s cooking.”

And that they are. Ling Yeow’s menu comprises eight dishes split into savoury and sweet, with a paired cocktail listed under each. “When it’s just a small bite, it encourages people to be more adventurous,” says the cook. “There are French fries with bagna cauda, which is a Northern Italian anchovy and cream sauce, and a fried
chicken bao with kimchi which is a nod to Korea.”

Ling Yeow has also made chawanmushi with shiitake and fish scalding sauce — an exercise in technique and refinement. “It’s also done in Chinese [cooking] and I’m really looking forward to people tasting it because a lot haven’t had it before. It has such an interesting, beautiful texture and is subtle in its flavour. There should be no bubbles in it like a good crème caramel and it should be barely set.”

The final savoury option is cool and spicy Szechuanese eggplant, which is best enjoyed with the Palmer cocktail that combines 12 Year Old with lemon iced tea and lemon squash. “The dish is fried silken eggplant with a numbing miso-flavoured sauce,” says the cook.

Ling Yeow is known for her pastry creations, and the sweet side of the menu showcases her affinity for tweaking classic flavour profiles. Strawberries and aged balsamic contrast against each other in a dish with mascarpone yoghurt, roasted almonds and basil in a nod to the foundational Italian dessert, while chocolate is
the focal point of the cook’s version of a mess.

“It has salted caramel, chocolate custard, chocolate biscuits and salted caramel,” says Ling Yeow. “There’s also a miso apple caramel turnover and a pandan coconut sago shot, which is something I grew up eating.”

Delicious Discoveries will run until May from Thursday to Sunday, with guests invited to pop in for an afternoon or make an evening out of it at QT. “It’s accessible and there is yummy food and cheeky cocktails,” says Ling Yeow. “You can’t really go wrong.”