Nestled among Duxton Hill stalwarts with the likes of Sabio, La Maison Fatien and Tippling Club nearby, Dibs neither lists a chef superstar amongst its ranks nor boasts a white tablecloth and fine wine experience characteristic of its locale, yet charms with its earnest service and familiar flavours.
Set up by a group of local friends whose passion is evident given the personal front-of-house experience, the culinary heart of the casual bistro-style joint is Leong Khai Git, a chef who’s previously cut his teeth locally at Gaia Ristorante & Bar, and in the Asian-led restaurant perch at Quest in the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi.
The menu of sharing plates is appealing, listing Asian elements executed with Western skill in combinations that are largely successful. A starter of Japanese snapper maidai tai ceviche and vermicelli is sauced with a palatetickling marinade of lime, onions, chilli and crunchy soy beans ($19), and Dibs works to induce a happy death by indulgence with its 15-cm-long bones packed with veal marrow, made Asian with touches of teriyaki and bonito. The pillowy loaf to accompany it, made by AM/ FM bakers for Dibs, threatened to take away tummy space from the mains, but it was a worthy sacrifice to make.
Though not recommended by our server (the good-looking one who looks like Bruno Mars) is their take on chicken rice ($22), with thin discs of torched rice cakes cooked Japanese style and topped with pickled cucumbers and a roulade of steamed chicken. The execution is spot on, yielding incredibly juicy bites of meat that would put most chicken rice cooks to shame. Meanwhile, the talked-up plate of braised short rib glazed with Bovril ($29) needed a little more coaxing in the oven, and our serving of three crab cakes plonked on a rich lobster bisque could have done with a touch more seasoning under its crunchy batter.
Even if you’ve gotten your fill of the fine cuisine from its more posh neighbours, Dibs is still worth a stop for a post-dinner digestif and snack. Its drinks plinth, while limited, offers a decent selection of flavoured umeshus ($8), bottled sake ($36-$76) and wines ($48- $99), that’ll give you a good excuse to order a bowl or two of their musttry bar grub, especially the incredibly plump cockles ($7), cooked in a most sup-able broth of garlic and bacon dashi, and house smoked jerky ($11) packed with amazing umami bite.
Dibs, warts and all, are clearly doing things from the heart, from their amiable to genuine service, the chilled-out alternative rock soundtrack and friendly cuisine. We’ll call dibs on it – let’s hope it lasts on Duxton.
51 Duxton Road
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 12p-3pm, 6pm-12am, Sat 6pm-12am|
|Do you own this business?|