There are new restaurants and cafés opening up pretty much every day in Singapore. And creative chefs are constantly updating and improving their menus. This month, we have BBR by Alain Ducasse, adorable dim sum from Social Place, as well as other delectable dining delights.
At Kin, chef Damian D'Silva shines a spotlight on traditional local recipes that might otherwise fade from view. The menu is split into small plates, large plates, vegetable and rice, sambal and pickles, and finally dessert – and in true zi char tradition, it’s best if you order a bunch of dishes to share among your table.
The Heritage Salsa ($15) is a tart salad from the small plates selection, which combines local fruits and herbs like green mango, pineapple, winged bean and torch ginger to refresh the palate between bites of Gulai ($38), hunks of beef cheek in a spiced coconut gravy, Babi Masak Assam ($38), pork belly and rib in a tangy tamarind gravy and sambal buah keluak ($24) with free-flowing turmeric rice ($4). But the underrated star of the meal is the Chap Chye Masak Rempah Titek ($30), a mildly spiced vegetable stew with an intense seafood broth base.
Consider the dashi. The backbone of Japanese cuisine is usually made from an amalgamation of three ingredients: kombu, shiitake and dried bonito flakes (or other dried fish like anchovies or sardines). It makes sense then, that katsuobushi wholesaler Marusaya has opened this 38-seat restaurant in Bukit Pasoh where dashi simmered with aged bonito is the star. Mai's signature dashi finds its way into most of the dishes on the menu – from the Hokkaido pork cutlet with dashi sauce ($35) to dashi egg custard with your choice of white fish and salmon roe ($14), shrimp ($10) or sea urchin ($18).
Brought to you by the same people behind Kai Garden, Kai Duck is a more casual and affordable eatery on the fifth floor of Ngee Ann City. The bright and welcoming space shines the spotlight on Hong Kong roast meats – Cantonese-style Peking duck in specific. But it’s not just available in its traditional form, the kitchen serves slices of its roast duck with crackers ($4.80), in a mini burger ($4.80), between crispy buns ($4.80) and in a hand roll with salad dressed in sesame sauce ($4.80 per roll). This innovative streak continues in its signature fried rice ($16.80), which is tossed in beetroot, rice crackers, mushrooms, corn, pumpkin and truffle oil and served in a hot stone pot.
This popular bistro first started along Circular Road, serving hearty French food prepared by owner Magdelene Tang. And till today, nothing has really changed – except for the restaurant’s new, buzzy location at Keong Siak Road. Cosy up next to the open kitchen and watch as the chefs plate up simple, unpretentious dishes. Split the whole duckling ($85) that is braised with Nocerella olives till its tender enough to cut through with a spoon, or get the risotto topped with tender sashimi-grade Boston lobster.
Trattoria Pizzeria Logic is a popular Japanese chain of Italian restaurants. It’s a confusing premise, but the menu strives to be as authentic as possible, from wood-fired ovens to bake the pizza to pasta imported from Italy. The pizza dough lies somewhere between a thin and normal crust, and comes topped with various ingredients. Try the signature Pizza Margherita D.O.C ($26) for classic flavours, or sample the Pizza Leona ($22), a spicy Singapore-exclusive creation topped with pineapples. Of course, a selection of pastas, wines, and desserts are also available.
Traditional yum cha gets a modern makeover at Social Place. The Hong Kong-based restaurant has opened its first outlet in Singapore, and with it a selection of playful dishes. Try the inventive sweet and sour pork on ice ($24.80), or bite into adorable dim sum shaped into pigs, swans, and mushrooms.
New Ubin has found a new home, and this time, the famous zi char restaurant is returning to its humble roots of a casual eatery – in an open-air canteen in the remote area of Tampines Crescent. But the spotlight is still on its wok-kissed signatures, like the garlic baked crabs ($48 for 400g). Don’t miss the special Ubin Nasi Lemak ($15) from the New Ubin Test Kitchen, an incubator for the brand to experiment with new recipes.
Marrakech heritage brand, Bacha Coffee opens its first international outlet right here in Singapore at ION Orchard. Hailing from the majestic Dar el Bacha palace, the coffee house takes notes from the palatial grounds vibrant warm hues, black and white chequered tile floors and intricate zellige mosaics that ooze understated elegance. The Singapore café offers four categories of coffee: single origin, fine blended, fine flavoured and carbon dioxide decaffeinated coffee from Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Asia and beyond. You can purchase loose beans (from $11 per 100g) to brew at home or enjoy a pot of coffee (from $9) onsite with a serving of whipped Chantilly cream, steamed milk (or soy milk), raw sugar and cracked vanilla beans with a couple of croissants ($8 for two).
There’s a strong focus on freshness at this popular Mexican food chain from Australia. Guacamole is hand-smashed twice daily, and salsas are blended from scratch with chillies imported from Mexico. They are best enjoyed when stuffed in a burrito (from $8.90) with chicken pollo or beef barbacoa.
Taikoo Lane, a new hotpot restaurant by Chengdu Restaurant provides authentic Sichuan and Cantonese broths to dip your meats and vegetables in. Get the Sichuan spicy broth ($5), made with beef tallow instead of oil for a more robust and potent concoction, or try the special Chengdu green pepper broth ($5) with peppercorn oil and green peppercorns. It serves as a great base for ingredients like lobster noodles ($39.80), spicy marinated beef ($18.80) and sliced chicken with green peppers ($17.80).
The posh Antionette has traded its upscale home at Mandarin Gallery for an accessible location at Millenia Walk. But the interior is just as chic, and the food just as comfy. Freshly baked bread and pastries continue to line the confectionary display. But with its new home comes new offerings as well. Try the okonomiyaki-inspired crepe, Tokyo ($18), with roasted chicken, cheese, seaweed, and bonito flakes, or get the Ondeh Ondeh Kaya Toast ($6), where aromatic kaya and gula Melaka is slathered generously on toasted ciabatta, complete with a thick slab of creamy French butter.
Celebrated chef Alain Ducasse has arrived at the doors of Raffles Hotel’s Bar & Billiards Room, and he brings with him a Mediterranean touch – the menu draws from Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France. Highlights include the Bunuelos de Bacalao ($15), or salt cod fritters, which are light and crispy, and the complimentary olive bread that should be a dish on its own.