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Restaurant Zen

Singapore restaurant and café reviews

Looking for somewhere great to keep the hunger pangs at bay in Singapore? Check out the latest reviews from our food critics

By Time Out Singapore editors
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Singapore is never short of new restaurant, café and bar openings – but are they any good? At Time Out Singapore, we believe in helping you make the most of your money and your calories. Every week, we try as many new venues as we can in order to present you with anonymous reviews of each by our team of experts. We pay for everything ourselves and make reservations (where possible) under a pseudonym.

Each venue is judged on the quality of the food, level of service, value for money and overall experience. We then assign it a star rating:

★ Poor

★ ★ Promising

★★★ Good

★★★★ Very good

★★★★★ Exceptional 

Simply put, any venue with three stars are more is one that we recommend you check out. Here's the full list of restaurants we've independently reviewed in Singapore.

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Restaurants and Cafés in Singapore

Allium
Photograph: Fabian Loo

Allium

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Hougang

There's a little diner with just 16 seats hidden within the quiet Kensington Square. It’s so low-key that you might just walk past it without taking a second glance. But that means missing out on Allium, a one-month-old restaurant helmed by chef Dillion Ng, the man behind the now-defunct GastroSmiths and The Humble Loaf. His latest venture is an environmentally conscious one: produce comes from sustainable sources, beef is used minimally, and vegetables are plentiful in the brunch menu. “What would you recommend?” We ask the waitstaff. “Everything,” he replies, after taking a moment to consider. He goes on to explain that the adjacent table is occupied by his family. They ordered almost everything on the menu, and their plates have been wiped clean. That sets us up with high expectations when served with the forest mushroom and charred rosemary soup ($14). The base, thinner and runnier than what we’re used to, makes up for its lack of creaminess with body and depth. It’s a hint that the chef’s talent lies in his ability to make simplicity shine. And it’s a theory proven when the highlight of the meal arrives. A humble bowl of congee ($18), is often deemed too plain and unsurprising to command a place on a restaurant menu. But here, it’s a layered production, naturally sweetened by zucchini and chayote squash, and fortified with umami-rich kelp and vegetable stock. A sprinkling of pine nuts, and the accompanying side of lotus root kinpira, suffused with the nutty aroma of sesa

Burn
Photograph: Fabian Loo

Burn

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

The smell of smoke will greet you when you first step into Burn. It is, after all, a wood-fired restaurant, with an open kitchen and firebrick oven that exhales smog, the kind that sticks to your clothes, or the kind that hints at the promise of a delicious, toasty meal – depending on how you look at it.  Your attitude might warm up once the food is served. As long as you remember to skip the small plates. The smoky blue crab ($14) was both confusing and cumbersome to consume with the accompanying bread. Sardines and pesto ($14) might be a better choice. Grilled, rather than deep-fried, it’s a warm, tender treat – only if you can look past the small bits of bones that protrude in every bite.  The reasons (there are multiple) to stay lie in its hearty mains. Smoky lamb cutlets ($28), having spent some time in the oven, have removed all trace of gaminess. Its fatty richness soothed by the cool crunch of the couscous cucumber salad and avocado salsa.  The oven’s transformative power extends beyond the usual proteins of ribeye and tuna as well. Even non-vegetarians will love the grilled pumpkin and feta ($20) and all its tender sweetness. Its paired with roasted zucchini, blistered Padron peppers, and served with creamy burrata to lend a cooling welcome to the dish.   Other flame-kissed toppings can also be found in grain bowls (from $18), between slices of rye or cagel, a special bagel-ciabatta hybrid (from $17), and, our favourite, in modern brunch dishes like the roasted pork

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Zorba
Photograph: Zorba

Zorba

Restaurants Greek Raffles Place

Transport yourself to the coastal Santorini islands with Zorba’s riverfront locale and azure blue-white decor. Settle in with a glass of Mythos ($12), a famous lager from Greece, and peruse the menu rooted in traditional Hellenic cuisine. Hot tip: refrain from ordering the platter of dips ($28) – they make their appearance in the mains anyway. Souvlaki of beef striploin ($28) comes with a clean and bright tzatziki to slash through the meat’s smoky char. The highly recommended octopus ($30) would have been perfect if it hadn’t spent too long on the grill – developing unpleasant blackened bits of bitterness. For a light end to the meal, try the Greek yoghurt ($8) sweetened with honey and garnished with walnuts.

Lombardo's Singapore
Photo: Lombardo's Singapore

Lombardo's Singapore

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Burgers Tanjong Pagar

You might have heard of Lombardo’s when it first opened in Amsterdam. Its debut creation – an opulent, over-the-top $250 burger, with lobster tail, Wagyu beef, foie gras and truffle shavings sandwiched between 25 karat gold-covered buns – caused quite a buzz. You might also know Lombardo’s as one of Amsterdam's top burger joints. It has, over the past nine years, gained some 2,000 five-star reviews on TripAdvisor. And even if you don’t, the Singapore outpost – the brand’s first international franchise – makes sure you do, with declarations of its humble achievement painted on various parts of the wall. It hopes to convince you to part with $25 for just the burger, and nothing else. Granted, Lombardo’s buns are larger than most and almost two-palms-wide. Each fluffy vessel – buttered and toasty on one end and sprinkled with sesame seeds on the other – are a worthy base to deliver the Black Angus beef patties into your mouth. Staying safe is your best bet here. We like the Dutch cheese burger ($22.50), which forms the foundation for many of Lombardo’s permutations. The beef patty, amply seasoned and juicy but lacking a Maillard-approved crust, comes layered with complementary, classic fix-ins: melted English cheddar, sweet red wine onion compote, mini pickles, lettuce, and homemade burger sauce. It’s accessorised to form creations like the beer-braised pork ($29.50), blue cheese ($28) – and our favourite, the greasy goodness of pancetta anda fried egg in the Hangover Burger 

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BBR by Alain Ducasse
Photo: Raffles Singapore

BBR by Alain Ducasse

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Mediterranean City Hall

The doors of Raffles Hotel’s Bar & Billiards Room have welcomed quite a few notable guests over the years. Among the most memorable is a tiger that sought refuge after escaping from a nearby circus. And more than 100 years later, another newsworthy individual is at the restaurant's door: celebrated chef Alain Ducasse.  He is so important that the name of the 122-year-old restaurant is condensed into acronyms to make space for his. It’s undoubtedly a big name – one that’s responsible for 21 Michelin stars across the world, and one that’s fitting enough to take over the expansive 235-seater space. He brings with him a Mediterranean touch – the menu draws from Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France.  Between the spacious interior and tall white columns, getting the attention of the staff from your terrazzo table can be tricky. Thankfully the food doesn’t take long to travel from the open kitchen to us. Of the starters, we like the Bunuelos de Bacalao ($15), or salt cod fritters the most. Light, crispy batter gives way to a soft, creamy filling that comes studded with generous chunks of fish.  On the other hand, the signature Pulpo a la Gallega ($28) fails to excite with mushy octopus and no bite. Also, skip the Margherita pizza ($15). Despite its thin crust and vibrant basil flavour, you can get better (and cheaper) renditions elsewhere. Fill up on the complimentary olive bread instead.  Resist finishing all of it and save some for your mains. The Cataplana de Marisco ($60) is a

Beurre

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Outram

Butter plays an essential role in every kitchen – served cold with bread, cooked in a curry, baked in a cake or simply melted down till golden amber, lending a rich, toasted flavour to anything it touches. At Beurre, butter is so important, the restaurant is named after it. Which is surprising, then, that the ingredient doesn’t feature as prominently as we’d expect on the menu. For a place that is “driven by a love for butter”, the creamy spread is strangely hidden from the spotlight. We struggle to understand its relationship with the dairy product. The love is vague – clandestine even. It sneaks onto your plate – in some dishes more obvious than others. The offerings in which butter is the most conspicuous – because it’s stated explicitly on the menu – are also the least exciting. The escargot ($18) is easily forgettable, drowned in an overpowering pool of brown butter and truffle mousse. The Wagyu chuck ($28) comes with a similar brown butter truffle mousseline, braised onions, and a lotus chip. While the beef comes perfectly cooked, albeit a little tough, the nutty profile you’d expect from the sauce is once again lost to the pungent truffle. Surprisingly, it is in dishes where butter sneaks in – and is left out of the menu description – that leave the biggest impression. The French omelette ($18) is pillowy soft, and comes studded with crab cooked in a lobster bisque. It is simple, elegant, and flavoured deeply by the crustacean. There is also the pork ($24), served w

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Cloudstreet

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

Rishi Naleendra is a prodigy among chefs. As the son of a restauranteur-turned-caterer, he grew up in Colombo around food, waking up in the early hours of the morning to watch his dad cook. It was a tough life, and one that he didn’t want for himself. He moved to Melbourne to study architecture but the electricity of the city’s restaurant scene drew him back to the kitchen. He cut his teeth in establishments across Australia – from the modern Taxi Kitchen to the acclaimed Tetsuya’s in Sydney – before landing in Singapore in 2014. He opened Cheek by Jowl in 2016. A year later, he became the first Sri Lankan-born chef to earn a Michelin star for his restaurant. And three years later, he shut it down. Stepping inside Cloudstreet, you immediately understand why Cheek by Jowl, despite all its success, wasn’t enough. Cloudstreet is the purest expression of who Rishi is – his composition, complexities and contradictions. It’s deeply personal, with pieces of him littered throughout the bigger and bolder space: his paintings of women in the nude line the walkway to the powder room; chandelier from the former restaurant is now draped in fabric softens the rays passing through the skylight; and the glossy emerald tiles that serve as the backdrop to the open kitchen should trigger some association with the old Cheek. The food is Rishi on a plate, remixed in his own special way. It takes you on a journey of the different cultures and influences, breaking away from the modern-Australian

Open Farm Community

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Global Tanglin

Dempsey's verdant setting is perfect for any 'gram, and Open Farm Community features a wide outdoor space for you to take your perfect shot. With an edible garden filled with herbs and vegetable produce, as well as lawn bowling spaces and table tennis tables, you can't go wrong. The restaurant interior is equally photo-worthy, with French windows and patterned tile walls. The focus at Open Farm Community is in sourcing local ingredients that are grown sustainably and ethically. Many of its vegetable dishes like the zucchini drenched in hazelnut, mint and lemon ($16) come from Quan Fa organic farm, while seafood like the Barramundi ($36) is fished from the waters off Pulau Ubin.

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BurgerLabo

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Burgers Bukit Merah

We're declaring 2019 the year of the burger. Not only has New York institution Shake Shack landed on our shores, these past six months have seen more burger places try to break through the saturated (fat) market. There are even whispers that Five Guys might make its Singapore debut too. Who can blame them? Like everyone else, Singaporeans love a good burger. And where there’s demand, there’s supply. But while the patty and bun offerings we have are good, it’s hard to declare any as the absolute best. Over at Gillman Barracks, Ken Loon of Naked Finn fame has transformed bar Nekkid to BurgerLabo. We rush in on a rainy day, with the wind and the rain beating heavily against the greenhouse-like shack’s hardy clear plastic sheets. Seeking comfort in the compact menu – which offers three types of burgers, two rolls and plates of protein – we order almost everything. The Basic Burger ($23) – affectionately known as BB – is Ken’s pride and joy. Now in its 12th iteration since he started making burgers in 2015, the 170g patty is a proprietary blend of grass-fed Angus beef neck, Aomori ribeye, Toriyama A4 wagyu tenderloin and Sendai A5 wagyu brisket. The firm bun slathered in bone marrow butter goes hand in hand with the caramelised patty that’s as intensely flavoured as an aged steak. The simple trimmings of organic tomato, locally farmed lettuce and American cheese don’t compete for attention. although you can add pickled and caramelised onions ($2) and a fried egg ($3) if you don’

Chuan Hung

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Chinese Raffles Place

Sichuan cuisine is experiencing a moment in Singapore. And with more restaurants and hawker stalls opening up, it’s not just a trend but a weekly ritual for some. Enter Chuan Hung, a small noodle shop tucked away from the busy stretch of Telok Ayer Street, ready to feed the spice-seeking CBD crowd. It counts Birds of a Feather and the new 51 Soho just around the corner as sister concepts and shares kitchen space with the latter. The noodle shack is decked out in bamboo poles, rattan chairs, hanging pendant lightbulbs and noodles drying out in the open – all adding to its cosy, hole-in-the-wall ambience. The environment is an upgrade from the cramped stores you find minutes away in Chinatown, where you sit facing soup-stained walls made even more apparent under harsh LED lights. But does the food live up to the joints around People’s Park Complex? Not quite. We order the top three noodle dishes on the menu – there are eight varieties in total – namely, the signature braised beef ($12.50), braised chicken, mushroom and bamboo shoot ($12.50) and Australian ox tongue with vine pepper ($14.50). Of the three, we like the Australian ox tongue the best – mainly because it comes in a peppery soup made with green chillies and Sichuan peppercorns that leave a tingling sensation on the lips. The subtlety of the soup allows for other components of the dish to shine through: the gaminess of the thinly sliced beef tongue, the sweetness of the mashed peas and the salinity of the seaweed,

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Burger Joint

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Chinatown

It’s shaping up to be the year of The International Franchise® for the local dining scene. New York’s simply named Burger Joint is another one in the convoy rolling in from overseas, and it’s here to try its luck with Singaporeans’ love for patty and bun. On the back alley of Gemmill Lane, shift through the metal doors next to the neon burger sign, run your fingers down the red velvet curtained passageway, and enter the joint. Split into burger kitchen and craft beer bar, the space feels like an underground bunker, clad in graffiti-covered swirly timber. ‘It’s almost creepy how much this one looks like the original in New York,’ an expat friend tells us in shock horror. The menu of hamburgers ($17.10), cheeseburgers ($17.80), bacon burgers ($19.10) and bacon cheeseburgers ($19.80) is scrawled on torn-off sheets of packing cardboard tacked to the wall, as are instructions on how to order right – 'or else you go to the end of the line!' it menaces in bubble calligraphy. (Another scribble below de-claws the threat: ‘I’ve never seen anyone return to the back of the line, so chill!’) Choose a burger, its doneness and trimmings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup, mayo and mustard. We’re never fans of paying extra for fries, but the crispy shoestrings ($5.50), salted just so, are a must. Local franchisees Nicholas and Benedicte Heaney have piled on the effort to replicate the NYC experience here, hiring a staff butcher to break down and grind Nebraska-raised beef da

Restaurant review: Kafe Utu
Photograph: Kafe Utu

Kafe Utu

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants South African Chinatown

It seems as though Keong Saik welcomes a trendy new restaurant every month. Some, like Kok Sen and Burnt Ends, have stood the test of time, but countless nameless others lie forgotten. Over on the quieter stretch of Jiak Chuan Road lies a new contender and it's armed itself with a novel concept, Instagrammable nooks and food, killer coffee and just about everything it takes for a café to succeed these days. Settle into a banquette on the first floor, where beautiful portraits of African women stare into your soul and the long espresso bar or climb up to the second floor to unwind on large leather couches that are the focal point of this living room-like space. No detail goes unnoticed at Kafe Utu. Not the hand-carved mirrors and doors that lead out to its outdoor event space, not the custom-made glassware and ceramic coffee cups etched with its logo and definitely not the food, which is a mix of African cuisine as well as brunch favourites with enough of a twist to keep things fresh.  It comes as no surprise that its owner, Kurt Wagner, spent his childhood living in Liberia, South Sudan and Kenya. His love for the continent and its people, art and flavours shines through in this space that stands for “humanity” in Kiswahili. Kafe Utu is a faultless example of a third place you’d want to spend all day at. Order a coffee – its selection goes beyond the usual black and white. The Bidibado ($7) is a mocha rimmed with peanut butter and pink peppercorns that’s neither too sweet n

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Restaurant Zén

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Swedish Outram

“What does $450 taste like?” – A common question I get asked about dining at Zén. After all, with articles pitting it as the most expensive restaurants in Singapore, it’s hard to look beyond the eye-watering price tag of a meal at chef Björn Frantzén first international outpost.  This is what I tell them. It tastes like snacks that have been perfected in the kitchen of Sweden’s first three-Michelin-starred restaurant. A thin tartlet holds beer-poached king crab topped with wild trout roe, a one-bite råraka with its crispy potato shell houses crème fraiche and delicate beads of vendace roe, and an intoxicating onion velouté foam hides a sweet blend of liquorice and chopped almonds. It tastes like uncommon ingredients you’d be hardpressed anywhere else in Singapore. Beautifully cooked marron interjected with puffed Koshihikari rice, Yukimuro snow-aged wagyu covered with ramson, pickled baby pine cones flown in from Russia and the most incredibly balanced dessert of sea buckthorn sorbet served paired with oolong mousse and match meringue. It tastes like the pure decadence of foie gras on rye and shaved over a semifreddo, exclusive Zén prestige caviar on a bed of venison tartare, chawanmushi with all the trimmings of uni, ikura and grilled unagi. And if that's not enough, there are slivers of white truffles that blanket a pristine piece of monkfish and a flurry of périgord black truffle black truffles atop its “grande tradition” French toast, which has been on Frantzén’s menu si

Rizu

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese Tanjong Pagar

ENTER THE DARK, sexy space where black and white faces on plates line grey walls and a table for two leaves your knees brushing up against your dining partner’s – ideal for dates, not so much for business meetings. But when you’re paying $158 for eight courses and $208 for 11-courses, maybe it’s better if you’re charging the meal to a company account. First impressions are everything and the starter of cauliflower purée with caviar and uni – while extravagant – fails to excite. Next, we have a salad of five kinds of tomatoes (three from Japan, two from France, we’re told) with dull minced king crab meat. The portions are small, so we can’t help but scratch our heads and wonder, “what exactly am I paying for?”. Almost as if to answer, we’re served a head on a platter. A lobster head that’s still twitching, to be exact. Its sweet and crunchy flesh is served alongside pristine slices of halibut, seabream and tuna, but the fishiness of the mackerel lets down the otherwise decent plate. That’s how we feel about most of the other dishes too. The satisfying lobster bisque is light on cream and heavy on flavour, but the small chunks of overcooked lobster leave much to be desired. The A4 Sendai wagyu served with sesame sauce, peas and Brussels sprouts would have been superb if the beef had an even sear. And too much wasabi overwhelmed the nigiri. With small tweaks, head chef Noboru Shimohigashi could elevate Rizu to the level of his former kitchens, Michelin-starred Ryuzu in Tokyo

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Esora

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese River Valley

The first half of the year looked bleak for Singapore’s fine dining scene with the closure of big names like Restaurant André and Joël Robuchon. But now that we’re at the tail end of 2018, things are finally looking up. From the launch of Zen, the brainchild of Bjorn Frantzen of three-Michelin-starred Frantzen in Sweden to new fine-casual concepts like Basque Kitchen by the former head chef of Iggy’s Aitor Jeronimo Orive, a restaurant renaissance is upon us. Leading the revolution is Esora. The Lo & Behold Group’s first Japanese establishment is a treat for the senses. Even at night, the space looks washed in natural light streaming in from its cloud-like washi paper dressed skylight. It casts a warm glow on velvety smooth yellow cedar wood counter where the magic happens. There, chef-owner Shigeru Koizumi prepares kappo-style cuisine with utmost precision. Bringing together his experience cooking at three-Michelin-starred Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo and Singapore’s very own two-Michelin-starred Odette, he welds modern cooking techniques with an obsession over produce to create the perfect dining experience.  The menu changes almost every week, following the micro-seasonality of ingredients, so you never really know what you’re going to get. The only choice you get to make is if you want the five-course lunch menu ($128), seven-course ($218) or nine-course ($278) dinner menu, or the more premium and customisable chef’s menu ($348) and if you’d like to pair your meal with alc

Skai

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Grills City Hall

Perched on the 70th floor of the Swissotel the Stamford, Skai overlooks the civic district down from the Padang to Marina Bay. It replaces Equinox, the tired restaurant with its gaudy carpeted floors and velvet armchairs even the electric city skyline can’t pump life into anymore. The revamped space takes a literal leaf from the modern Japanese design book with green foliage and maple accents adorning the otherwise minimalistic but homey 130-seater venue. Take notes, ‘cos Skai is the penthouse living room of your dreams. Settle into a tall barstool or cosy up to your date on one of Skai’s many sofas. Amp up the romance with a series of sharing plates. The heirloom tomatoes ($22) are a safe favourite paired with creamy burrata and a capsicum gazpacho that retains its raw, bitter edge to balance out the sweet black olive crumble. Between the two tartares – the chopped Angus beef ($28) and the yellowfin tuna ($24) – go for the latter. The tuna is simply dressed with soy, ginger, lime and togarashi but the pops of ikura, braised daikon and apple add so much dimension to the dish. Even before you scoop it up with the sesame cracker. Plus, why have the beef tartare when Skai has an incredible range of meat on the menu? Executive chef Paul Hallett is an expert butcher and self-professed lover of steak, so it’s no surprise to see 10 types of rare beef on offer. The Saga Wagyu tenderloin ($170) is a knockout. The marbled slab cuts like butter and the smokiness it adopts from the gri

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Papi's Tacos
Karan Gurnani

Papi's Tacos

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Mexican City Hall

This no-frills taqueria gets the vibe right. The tiny space is plastered with hand-painted vintage Spanish movie posters and you have to jostle and squeeze between yourneighbours at the open show kitchen decked out in green, white and red – the colours of the Mexican flag. There, chef Mauricio Espinoza, the big daddy of Papi’s Tacos, dishes up plates reminiscent of his hometown of Tlaxcala, a small state east of Mexico City. Because no Mexican restaurant is complete without guacamole, we start with an order The Holy Trinity ($11) of chips, guac and pico de gallo. While lime in guacamoleis a contentious issue – purists like Diana Kennedy, author of The Art Of Mexican Cooking, forbid it – we think a splash of acidity is needed, especially to help brighten the lackluster avocados we get around these parts. The pico de gallo is equally bland, so we end up having the free-flow chips with Papi’s housemade hot sauces instead. In words no man wants to hear, Papi’s burritos lack length and girth. We give the burrito de asada ($16) a shot, but the combination of steak, rice, beans, cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream tastes rancid and isn’t worth finishing. The mushroom quesadilla ($12) fares better but it’s hard not to love a toasted tortilla stuffed chock-full of cheese and mushrooms. As for Papi’s tacos, there are six palm-sized options to choose from. The tacos al pastor ($11 for two/$16 for three) is served on a crispy homemade corn tortilla topped with spit-roasted pork, red

Restaurant Ibid

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Singaporean Raffles Place

Woo Wai Leong could have been a lawyer. But he chose not to. He could have cashed in on his MasterChef Asia fame when he won the competition. But he chose not to. He could have opened a restaurant when investors came knocking. But he chose not to. It’s our choices that define us – and we think Woo’s say a lot about the man behind Restaurant Ibid. The autodidact chef has a lot to prove. It’s been three years since he took the MasterChef crown but the pressure to live up to expectations has not subsided. He’s taken the criticisms and the doubts in his stride, biding his time, honing his craft, assembling a talented team he can count on and making sure the restaurant is in it for the long haul. Having finally sampled his food, we can say that his slow and steady approach has paid off. Restaurant Ibid’s story first starts with its name. Anyone familiar with writing a thesis would recognise the word ibid, which means in the same source. It’s meant to highlight Leong’s roots as a Singaporean Chinese man and his Nanyang identity – a phrase borrowed from the realm of art where Singaporean painters like Liu Kang and Georgette Chen blended Western and Eastern painting traditions to create something uniquely their own. It’s part of a spiel that’s given to us ad verbatim as we dine, and while we appreciate the philosophy of the cuisine, the overall execution of dishes matters more than the story, as colourful as it may be. Thankfully, the food isn’t as contrived as the lecture. Priced

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Mui Kee Congee

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Chinese Orchard

Let's cut to the chase, Mui Kee Congee is not worth the hour-long wait. Think of all the adjectives used to describe a good bowl of porridge: silky, thick and comforting... Instead, it’s lumpy, thin and disappointing. Not at all what we'd expect from a Hong Kong institution that’s been around since 1979. The 50-seater packs diners chock-a-block, adding to the whole sharing tables at a dai pai dong in Mong Kok feel. Except it’s not a street stall – it’s Les Amis’ latest venture. There’s a wall lined with porcelain fish swimming towards the kitchen, a counter covered in mahjong tiles and blonde wood shelves housing those iconic bowls emblazoned with a blue fish. With fish being such an obvious theme, it’s no wonder the parrot fish belly congee ($11.80) is a bestseller. But the porridge is bland and the consistency is more watery compared to other Cantonese porridge joints around the block. The threadfin belly premium congee ($18) Mui Kee Congee fares better. Smoky wok hei is imparted to the congee by firing up the threadfin with Chinese wine in a wok before it’s added to the porridge, which has already been cooking for five hours. Just be sure to mind the small bones. The real stars of the show are Mui Kee’s claypot dishes that are only available during dinner. The frog legs with ginger and spring onion ($22) are coated in a light and sweet sauce instead of the usual dark gravy, allowing the frog’s delicate meat to shine. The beef brisket ($18) is spoon tender with luxurious

Panamericana
Photo: Panamericana

Panamericana

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants American Sentosa

Located within Sentosa Golf Club, Panamericana rewards you sumptuously for taking the extra effort to leave the mainland – be it by monorail, car or foot. First, there’s the unbeatable view. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a glimpse of the sea, but it’s best to dine al fresco. Grab a seat out on the verandah, or head down to the manicured lawn – both overlook glittering vistas of the South China Sea and palm trees that sway in the cool breeze. Then, there’s the food. Panamericana’s colourful menu pulls from the 14 different countries found along the Pan-American Highway. Embark on a culinary adventure as you sink your teeth into Argentinian empanadas ($10 for two), a hearty tostada ($16), or lamb ($55) and other meats charred on the asador.  As the night settles, match the orange and blush hues of the sunset with an equally brilliant Aperol spritz ($20), or have a Panamericana Pilsner ($15) brewed locally by Trouble Brewing. The well-stocked bar also has an affordable Happy Hour promotion that runs every Friday, where house-pour bubbly, wine, beer, and selected cocktails go for $5 at 5pm, and increase by a dollar every hour till 9pm.  Time Out Singapore in partnership with Panamericana – Original review by Charlene Fang on May 2 2018 Let's get one thing out of the way, it’s a schelp to get to Panamericana. For some, it may feel like a journey across the 50,000km Pan-American highway – but really it’s just Sentosa. With its light-filled interiors and unbeatable view of t

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Caffe Fernet

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Italian Raffles Place

Easy, breezy, beautiful, Caffe Fernet is what every girl aspires to be. It’s gorgeous from the inside out – the shiny long bar beckons with warm tones of brown, brick red and gold, and the restaurant portion offers views of glistening Marina Bay. But it’s just trading on its good looks at the moment. Happy hour from 5pm to 7.30pm is the best time to visit. There are frosés at $12, spritzes for $13 and specialty cocktails going at $15 – a real steal for those looking for a sundowner poised against an unbeatable backdrop. But the watermelon frosé is more ice-blended juice than rosé. Stick to the classic negroni and King Cole Old Fashioned – stiff with a long finish, they're there to slowly savour while the sun disappears behind the observation deck. It wouldn’t be bar group Jigger and Pony's concept without an exhaustive list of craft cocktails. Give the restaurant’s name, you’d expect the Fernet and Coke ($21) to be a signature but the blend of Fernet Branca amaro, Coke reduction, lime and prosecco falls flat, quite literally. The prosecco doesn’t have the same bubbly zing as regular Coca-Cola and there’s not enough lime to lift the herbaceous intensity of the Fernet. The Summer Strolls ($22), is a refreshing tipple inspired by a walk in Andalusia, Spain that also works for the stifling heat of Singapore. Fashioned from jasmine-infused Tanqueray gin, Tío Pepe Fino sherry and Cointreau, the sweet and citrusy drink maintains its light floral perfume thanks to the orange blosso

Blue Label Pizza and Wine

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Pizza Tanjong Pagar

Blue Label calls itself “the best pizza in Singapore”, which should clue you in on a couple of things. One, it’s supremely cocky about its pies. Two, it’s loud in a way that makes your eyes roll. And three, it’s almost insufferable in how cool it thinks it is. But you’ll still put yourself through it, just cause. Set up by American chef Travis Masiero, the brains behind Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chop House, Blue Label follows that same NYC to SG formula for success. Follow the flickering “pizza and wine” neon sign and you’ll find the restaurant in B28’s old digs. Instead of chill jazz tunes, the space reverberates with Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC and people screaming over each other trying to get a word in. Start with the Chicago-style spinach and artichoke dip ($21), arguably the best thing on the menu. Served with corn chips and roasted salsa, the warm dip is rich and gooey but not too cloying. Plus, there’s veggie in there so it’s healthy, right? For pizza, there’s the J-Dog ($32) an upgrade on the meat lovers packed with pork sausage, bacon, pepperoni and a tinge of spice from finely cubed jalapeños. It’s basic, but gets the job done. The golden crust spotted with black blisters has a biscuit-like crunch and stands up to the pizza’s grease without getting droopy in the middle. Then there’s The Travis Supreme ($31) – if you’ve ever wondered what a McDonald’s cheeseburger pizza would taste like, here’s your answer. The sesame coated dough is topped with cheddar-bacon melt, “spec

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SEAR

1 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Raffles Place

Unlike its rooftop competitors, Sear bears neither the view nor the food that does justice to its 45th-floor perch in the Singapore Land Tower. The panorama of the city is blocked by a waist-high parapet that reveals only a sliver of building tops and sky – so you’d think the food must be worth the elevator ride. Sadly, no. A seafood platter for two, a 300-gram platter of three steaks, duck fat-fried wedges and a side of creamed spinach were ‘more than enough’ for our party of three, advised our server. The rumble of our stomachs after proved this false. Mercifully, the platter ($68/ two-$238/five or six) comes with enough meaty prawns, king crab legs, raw oysters and scallop ceviche for three appetiser portions, although there was nothing – not even napkins – to clean our hands with. Like a true steakhouse, Sear fires a list of pedigreed beef like Canadian Western Countries Cross Angus ($66/180g- 78/250g), grain-fed and dry-aged Wakanui from New Zealand ($55- $88), Australian Jacks Creek 450- day grain-fed wagyu ($70-$282) and certified Kobe ($340/250g) in a Spanish-imported charcoal oven. The latter is also served, baller-style, with 300g of Sturia Vintage Caviar ($6,000). More affordable is the tasting of Wakanui, Jacks Creek and certified Kobe ($149), though if you’re unlucky as we were, you’ll get a cut with more fat than meat. The steaks – apparently 100 grams each – are tender, but not supple enough for the butter cutters our waiters insisted are steak knives. The

Uya Singapore

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese Orchard

It’s been more than a year since chef Teppei Yamashita opened Singapore’s first casual live freshwater eel restaurant, Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant. Since then, the joint has won a Michelin Bib Gourmand award and unveiled a second outlet at Duo Galleria. We’re surprised that no one has tried to replicate its success – but, finally, there’s a new contender on the scene. Uya Singapore, like Man Man, offers rice bowls crowned with eels slaughtered and grilled on-site. But the question on everybody’s mind is: how does it compare? While the sight of live eels flopping around in their tanks and the pungent smell of burning charcoal are the first things that hit you when you enter Man Man, there’s none of that at Uya. The tateba in which the eels are kept is partially hidden from view and the restaurant is so well ventilated. The clean, contemporary design of Uya’s dining hall is also a welcomed change from Man Man’s small space crammed with tables. There’s also a semi-private dining area, private rooms to the side of the restaurant and perhaps its best edge – Uya takes reservations so you won't have to waste time in the queue. Sight and smell aside, we’re really here for the taste. We order the signature Hitsumabushi ($35/$48), a rice bowl served with chopped chunks of fleshy unagi served with a side of condiments like spring onions, seaweed and fresh wasabi, dashi and miso soup. You’re meant to eat it four ways: first plain, then with condiments, next with the bonito, kombu

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Merci Marcel

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants French Tiong Bahru

We're all guilty of it. Mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, double tapping perfectly-styled #foodporn pics and putting the restaurant on our list of places to try, just because it looks good. It’s a strategy that brings in the crowd – so it’s understandable why the team behind Merci Marcel, which also runs Ô Comptoir and Ô Batignolles, has made this new French eatery as photogenic as possible. Potted plants line the rattan bar and there’s garden space out back that’s drenched in sunlight. It’s a beautiful place to kick back and while the afternoon away – as long as you don’t come with high expectations for the food. In the day, expect ’grammable brunch requisites such as eggs benedict ($21) and French toast ($17) alongside more uncommon imports like marinated crab tartine ($18) and ravioles de royans ($18). The Benedict sees eggs served atop a slice of bread and layered between crispy Bayonne ham and grease-soaked grilled portobello mushrooms, resulting in a soggy and unctuous spoonful that even the hollandaise can’t mask. The French toast fails to excite with its plain and dry slices of brioche, stewed berries and not enough honey while the marinated crab tartine reminds us of kani mayo sushi you’d find at the supermarket – except with barely any crab and more mayo. The ravioles de royans is thankfully a saving grace. The pasta stuffed with Comté cheese is brought in from France and cooked in a rich cream sauce before pretty rosettes of Tête de Moine cheese are shaved o

Wakanui

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants New Zealand Marina Bay

Wakanui is not a Japanese restaurant. Don’t let the fact that it has a Japanese sounding name, Japanese chefs in its open kitchen or wagyu on its menu fool you – this steakhouse is New Zealand at its roots and proud. Yes, there are some Japanese influences littered throughout the sleekly designed space of macho green and red – the décor’s done by the same man behind Wakanui’s first branch in Tokyo, after all – but the restaurant’s focus is on ingredients brought in from New Zealand, from the Kikorangi blue cheese in the Caesar salad to the restaurant’s crowning glory: dry-aged Ocean Beef from the plains of Canterbury in New Zealand’s South Island. Instead of starting your meal with bread and butter, order the succulent spring lamb chop ($8), which is simply seasoned with Christmas Island salt, Australian pink pepper and coriander powder before it’s grilled over binchotan. The waiter encourages us to eat with our hands, so we gnaw shamelessly at the tender meat that isn’t gamey at all thanks to the maturation process. It’s proof that Wakanui has the ageing procedure down to a science and the meats that follow only further emphasise its expertise. The Wakanui Selection Board ($268) is the best way to taste everything it has to offer – you get the 21-day dry-aged bone-in ribeye, Canterbury grass-fed fillet and spring lamb, all good to share between three to four people. We’re not usually fans of grass-fed or wet-aged steaks, but the Canterbury fillet has us pleasantly surprised

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Blackwattle

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Australian Tanjong Pagar

Pass under the strange UFO-looking chandelier that casts a dim glow over the chic-yet- unpolished restaurant and sink deep into one of its dark green leather banquettes – it might be hard to ever get up as Blackwattle is one of those places you wouldn’t mind spending the whole evening at. It serves modern Australian cuisine but before you start dreaming of vegemite spheres or deconstructed lamingtons, stop right there. Instead, think of an amalgamation of different flavours from immigrant settlers and indigenous produce. Some dishes might taste quite Asian, others Mediterranean, but it’s all tied together in a neat Aussie package delivered by chef Clayton Wells and his team in Singapore. Take for example the Fremantle octopus ($36) that’s served on a bed of ink and fennel purée that’s drizzled with a mildly spicy XO sauce. Lest you think the XO is there as a ploy to win over finicky local diners, Wells maintains that it’s one of his favourite sauces to work with and has long been on the menu at Automata, his award-winning restaurant in Sydney. The combination works. The XO sauce amplifies the smokiness of the octopus and the purée spiked with red vinegar provides a punch of acidity to brighten up the dish. Everything that hits the table is different to anything we’ve ever seen yet thoroughly enjoyable. The steamed red bass ($52) that’s served with lardo, roasted lettuce and green sauce plays with texture, juxtaposing the soft fish against the crunchy lettuce and pickled onio

Ramen Nagi

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese City Hall

Ramen Nagi has come a long way since its hole-in- the-wall days. Back then, the team invented a different ramen every day for a year to gain customer attention. The gamble paid off when they won the ultra-otaku 2012 Tokyo Ramen of the Year award by the eponymous magazine. They’ve since expanded to more than 50 outlets around Asia, landing at Suntec City with a cheery, colourfully decked out 60-seater behind the Tower 2 taxi stand. But it also seems like the Singapore outpost has also come a long way since the Tokyo heyday, because the broths are shockingly one-dimensional. Instead of the legendary Niboshi ramen that’s distilled from dried sardines, we get four tonkotsu-based flavours: The original Butao King ($13.90), Red King ($15.90), Black King ($15.90) and Green King ($15.90). Mind you, every bowl lands at the table with tantalising aromas. But as the aromas fade, the flaws emerge – everything is too sweet. The meats are teriyaki-esque saccharine, Black King is dark from blackened garlic and squid ink, but tastes only of the latter, and there’s nary a hint of spice in Red King although it’s advertised as the fieriest. Green King promises fresh basil, olive oil and grated parmesan but the herbs overwhelm and Butao King is so rich and cloying we cannot bear to have a second spoonful. It’s a shame because the fixings are on-point: perfectly springy noodles; yakibuta and chashu that are lean yet tender and truly molten-centred ramen eggs ($2 each). But then again, every oth

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Butcher Boy

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Chinatown

Another day, another hip new opening on Keong Saik. The comings and goings of the street are no strangers to Andrew Walsh, the chef-owner of Cure, a restaurant on the road that offers modern European tasting menus. His new concept, Butcher Boy – just a few doors down – couldn’t be more different, though. The casual joint oozes laidback charm with a slight edge, much like a Tinder date who turns up with rolled shirt sleeves and a devilish grin. This butcher boy isn’t the kind of man who’s too eager to impress, preferring to let his personality do the talking. In this case, that’s the job of the food and drinks – a mix of Asian-inspired small plates and tipples paired with slabs of grilled meat. Wink wink. The menu is inspired by Walsh’s travels around Asia, so expect dishes like Korean steak tartare ($24), fried squid with curry sauce ($20) and buns served with chilli crab dip ($18). And while the portions are small for the price tag, nothing disappoints. Mix the tartare with spicy onion kimchi and spoon it over a crisp endive for a tantalising mix of flavours. Those looking for something sweet, spicy and salty will like the crispy baby squid served with a spicy squid ink curry sauce, finished with burned corn. But the real winners are the panko-crusted golden buns, crunchy on the outside and dense on the inside. These are perfect for dipping into the chilli crab sauce. For a place called Butcher Boy, we have high hopes for the meats on our visit. While the Josper charcoal o

Restaurant Gaig

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Spanish Tanjong Pagar

With a history dating back 150 years, Restaurant Gaig is a stalwart of Catalan cooking. Its well-loved family recipes have earned it a Michelin star in Barcelona and now it's brought Catalonian fare to our shores. The small space feels like home. Simply decorated with pieces that look like they were picked up from a flea market in La Rambla, Gaig makes subtle nods to its heritage without screaming "you are in a Spanish restaurant – order paella and dance the flamenco".  That's not to say you can't. You'll find the likes of pluma ibérica and mushroom paella ($28.20) and lobster paella ($78.80) on the menu, but opt for the more uncommon squid ink fideua ($29.50) instead. Prepared the same way as paella, except with spaghetti instead of rice, the fideua is a mix of vegetables and roasted garlic that explode in your mouth as you bite down on the charred pasta tossed in squid ink.  Gaig's signature suckling pig ravioli with truffle sauce ($32.80) shouldn't be missed either. A thin and delicate layer of pasta encases shreds of tender pork and the whole thing is bathed in a decadent truffle cream sauce that will have you rolling your head back in delight.

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TONO Cevicheria
Photo: daphotographer

TONO Cevicheria

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Peruvian Rochor

It takes two to tango, so Peruvian native Daniel Chavez, co-owner and chef of OLA Cocina del Mar, has teamed up with Lima-trained chef Mario Malvaez to open Singapore’s first authentic Peruvian restaurant. Slang for ‘party’ in Peru, TONO is characterised by lively salsa music and a maracas-wielding fish mascot. There’s nothing dull about the food at TONO, either. Everything that hits the table is fresh, punchy and delicious – from its signature ceviche to the more traditional Peruvian dishes with names we can barely pronounce. There are four types of ceviche on the menu: Clasico ($25), Mixto ($25), Tono ($28) and Nikkei ($24), but go for the Tono. It’s served with thick chunks of trevally and deep fried baby calamari tossed in tiger’s milk, a mix of local limes, onions, chilli paste and fish sauce. We’ll be happy enough with a plate of this and a never-ending supply of bread, which arrives straight from the oven drizzled with chilli oil. But because we’re greedy, we also get the escabeche causas ($22), a Peruvian take on a chicken potato salad and the chicken anticuchos ($22) to share. And it’s a good thing too, because the causas is too rich on its own – with almost half the mixture dolloped with mayo, we could barely taste the hint of aji panca (a dried, smoky chilli) peeping through. The anticuchos fairs better, with its juicy skewers of grilled marinated chicken in a savoury chalaquita sauce that’s also great to mop up with any leftover bread. Save room for mains, beca

Nouri

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

We're calling it: Nouri is the best new restaurant of 2017. Never mind that we’re only slightly past the first half of the year, chef-owner Ivan Brehm already has us hooked on what he dubs as ‘crossroads cooking’ – food that takes inspiration from around the world, draws parallels between cultures, and creates an understanding that all of us are fundamentally the same. The idea is to connect people over a meal, as evidenced by the handsome marble counter that runs through half the restaurant. It’s not only a place to break bread with your neighbour, it’s also where Brehm and his team whip up your soulful meal – almost as if you’re having a dinner party in someone’s home. But don’t expect the former executive chef of The Kitchen at Bacchanalia to be dishing out rustic home cooking. The flavour combinations are inventive yet oddly familiar, and the technique is flawless. Case in point: the acarajé and vatapá is a nod to Brehm’s Brazilian heritage, except that the dish also recalls Indian, Thai and Singaporean influences. Part of the seven-course chef tasting menu ($170), the fried pinto bean falafel is served in an intense two-toned sauce with salted prawn vatapá in the middle of the plate, and a turmeric and coconut curry on the outer rim, which reminds us of laksa. Another standout is Nouri’s take on Sichuan hotpot: maitake mushroom, black trumpet purée, and shitake mushrooms in a broth extracted through steam juicing. Drizzled with Sichuan oil and crushed peppercorns, eac

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Amò

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Raffles Place

When a man meets your eye with a big pizza pie, that’s amore – especially if that man is chef Beppe De Vito and the pizza’s from his new restaurant, Amò. Part of the ilLido Group, the eatery is sophisticated yet casual, with dim lights that draw all attention to the open kitchen where De Vito and his pizza chef Federico Schiraldi toss dough through the air before it’s baked in a wood-fired oven that’s made in Italy, of course. Schiraldi’s pizzas are light and doughy, with a crisp and slightly charred base. But if you’re looking for variety, you’re not going to find it here – there are only eight pizzas on the menu. I opt for one with creamy stracciatella buffalo cheese, prosciutto, rocket, and fig vincotto ($29), which is an Italian vinegar similar to balsamic but a touch stickier and sweeter. The combination doesn’t disappoint, with each ingredient working in harmony to elevate the dish beyond what you’d get from the delivery guy. There’s also a pie with mushrooms, truffle, mascarpone and a generous shaving of pecorino from Tuscany ($32). Leave your diet at the door if you plan on ordering this – one slice won’t be enough. The spaghettoni with Boston lobster and tarragon ($78) is another showstopper. The dish serves two to three, making Amò just as ideal for lovers on a date as big groups looking for an authentic Italian family-style dining experience. The spaghettoni is tossed in a rich seafood bisque-esque sauce that, unfortunately, doesn’t quite stick to the pasta – the

Summerlong

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Raffles Place

In the expat haven of Robertson Quay, where boozy weeknights tumble into lazy weekends, a restaurant built on ‘chill beachside vibes’ seems obligatory. And with this Mediterranean-leaning small plates joint from the folks behind Neon Pigeon, the neighbourhood finally gets what it deserves – never mind that it’s miles from sea. The decor checks off all the boxes you’d expect: it’s open-air, sunlight-drenched and with enough rattan, bamboo, and burlap to be mistaken for a BritishIndia outlet. Located on the banks of the Singapore River, the space is designed for whiling away hours in. Which, given the well-executed dishes, won’t be a problem. Ordering the char-grilled octopus ($19) is a no-brainer. Summerlong’s version is smoky, slick with honey, and paired with thick parsnip chips that resemble the seafood in both appearance and sweetness. The black cod ($25) is another standout: perfectly pan-fried, with fried capers and Tuscan kale that add crunch to the dish. Not all the seafood works, though. A petite bowl of steamed mussels ($21), swimming in a spicy broth alongside crumbles of lamb sausage, is too clumsy to justify its price tag. And that, unfortunately, sums up Summerlong. Here’s a solid, easygoing restaurant whose dishes are good, but not spectacular enough to warrant a return visit. 

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The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanglin

With his three-Michelin-starred namesake in New York and countless other F&B concepts around the world, Jean-Georges Vongerichten is no stranger to wooing diners with his culinary panache and stunning restaurant interiors. His latest venture, The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar, is no different. Barely a month after opening, the restaurant in COMO Dempsey is packed – you’ll need to make a reservation. Still, the dining room is invitingly intimate, decked out with small marble tables and tall white wicker chairs that create the illusion of privacy.  The simple two-page menu shows off some of Vongerichten’s signatures, such as a black truffle and Fontina cheese pizza ($26), and a cheeseburger with Brie and black truffle mayonnaise ($24), at surprisingly accessible prices. While the food isn’t groundbreaking, it’s still solidly executed fare with a pinch of childhood nostalgia. The rigatoni with meatballs ($22) instantly transports me to salad days wolfing down spaghetti and meatballs in front of the TV, while the fried calamari ($16) is a light, grease-free version of the bar snack, served here with frothy yuzu dip.  The French chef is known for imbuing Asian flavours into his dishes, swapping out buttery sauces for more delicate dressings. Case in point: the spicy herbal coconut broth – reminiscent of a mild Thai green curry – he serves with roasted cod ($30). Still, unless the kitchen goes easier on the salt shaker, I wouldn’t order this dish again.  The drinks menu is more ext

The Masses

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Rochor

With its trendy neon signs that exhort diners to ‘stay colourful’, The Masses seems like yet another easily dismissed place that appeals to the millennial, café-hopping crowd. But the menu tells another story – one of ambition. Opened by Dylan Ong, co-founder of Saveur, this restaurant borrows the same core principle of the former: providing diners with good food at affordable prices. This time, however, he’s on his own.  Let’s start with the hits. The Egg ($9) is a chawanmushi-like dish topped with ikura, tobiko and potato chips. Spoon it all together and you’ll end up with an explosion of tastes and textures. I also like the Australian Fremantle octopus tentacle ($14.90) that’s perfectly tender, with a charred exterior from the binchotan grill. Paired with gochujang sauce and pickled lotus root, the dish is complex and well balanced. Fans of Saveur might find the duck leg confit ($12.90) familiar, but Ong does things differently here, serving it with a croquette, candied orange and foie gras sauce. It doesn’t quite work. The dense croquette gets mushy fast after soaking up the sauce, which is itself too heavy to pair with the salty duck. Instead, I recommend sticking to the honey garlic miso chicken breast ($13.90) that I’d typically overlook. Don’t let its plainness fool you – the breast is tender, juicy and flavoured by its accompaniments of sweet celeriac purée and sautéed kale. 

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Dojo

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Fusion Orchard

Malaysian by nationality and known back home as Ninja Joe, Dojo operates on the premise of serving only pork in its burgers in our neighbour to the north. Evidenced by its first venture overseas, Dojo’s limited menu clearly works. That’s not the only thing that works, too – the burgers, all renamed here with fighty names like Sumo, Ninja and Big Boss, may prove to the beef-or-it’s-a-sandwich camp that pigs can be equally at home between pillowy buns. The Sumo ($9) is a contrasting tang of mild pickles and crunchy, fried pork belly slices, and the Kaiju ($8) is a comforting meld of creamy mushroom, melted cheese and pork. Dojo’s Asian flavour persuasions are exemplified in the Hadoken ($8), whose slobbery chilli con carne piques the tongue with rempah-like spice. Most of the burgers come with a minced pork patty as juicy as fullycooked pork will allow – which is actually pretty damn juicy at Dojo – alongside crunchy golden-brown fries and a drink (additional $3.90). Great value for its smack-in-the-city location. Unfortunately, Dojo going the full hog means this isn’t a restaurant for everyone. But for those that can, this burger shack’s piggy thesis is certainly a compelling one.

Teppanyaki Hamburg Nihonbashi Keisuke Bettei

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

Chef Keisuke Takeda hits it out the park again with his latest mouthful of a concept, Teppanyaki Hamburg Nihonbashi Keisuke Bettei. As with most of his other restaurants, this one is located in his favourite ’hood – Tanjong Pagar – and the menu is brief. There are only two options: the Keisuke prime beef hamburg steak set ($18.80) and the triple cheese prime hamburg steak set ($20.80).  That said, variety isn’t lacking here. Each set grants you unlimited access to the salad bar, whose 20 items includes an addictive pasta salad tossed with tuna and capsicum that I had three servings of, Momotaro tomatoes so fresh I’d believe it if I was told they were plucked from a farm in Hokkaido yesterday, and simmered sweet potato with lemon that can double-up as dessert. And just like any good hotel breakfast buffet, there’s a dedicated chef who whips up eggs in seven styles, from sunny side up to tamago. As for the hamburg sets, the beef patty is served on a hotplate with a bed of beansprouts, silken tofu, beancurd skin, ebi fry, Niigata rice and miso soup. Don’t expect it to taste like a beef patty you’ll find in an American-style stack, though. The ones here are minced in-house to a finer consistency so that you’re easily able to cut it with your chopsticks. Unfortunately, this also means that the patty loses bite and is a little too mushy for my liking. Diners can’t choose the doneness of the patties, either – they come well-done by default, drying out the beef. Thankfully, the ha

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28Wilkie

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Rochor

28WilKie quietly opened late last year, flying under everyone’s radar. It’s only through word of mouth that I found out that there’s a new caviar bar in town. But instead of pairing caviar with its usual mates of vodka and Russian cuisine, 28Wilkie deals in fine wine, Shangri-La craft beer and Italian-Japanese fusion food. While 28Wilkie feels very much like a fine dining restaurant with its elegant interior and white tablecloths, I can’t shake the feeling that it hasn’t decided what kind of restaurant it wants to be. There are café-style truffle fries ($16) and devilled eggs ($16) on the menu alongside more refined dishes like onion confit risotto with unagi ($28) in the primi section and crisp-skinned red snapper with green pea purée ($32) in the secondi. But despite their creativity, the fusion dishes lack the complexity that’s needed to marry East and West. Even more confusing is the caviar bar concept: 28Wilkie only brings in only five types of roe, ranging from the affordable Siberian sturgeon ($130/tin) to the prized Kaluga sturgeon ($400/tin). Yet for a caviarfocused restaurant, the black pearls only make cameos in two dishes: the Hokkaido scallops ($32) and egg with potato mousse ($28). Neither allows the diner to really take in the flavours – you’re better off forking out for the full tin. 

Crackerjack

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

Crackerjack is not your average local cocktail bar. It isn’t hidden behind cloaks of curtains, doesn’t have an ampersand in its name, and you don’t need a damn password to get in. Instead, the all-day restaurant and bar is drenched in natural light, and long tables encourage communal dining. There’s even a shuffleboard table on one end of the space. But best of all are the bartenders: they’re as casual and unpretentious as the dude in your local pouring you a pint of lager. Except they aren’t. They’re there to shake up solid drinks that don’t try too hard to be different. The 20 or so cocktails ($16-$20) come from the minds of Peter Chua and Zachary de Git; the former worked at 28 HongKong Street while the latter’s known for his time behind Tippling Club’s bar. Split into no-nonsense categories such as ‘Shaken’ and ‘Stirred’, the drinks menu is beautifully concise. Because everything we sip on, as the name of one LEGO Movie-inspired tipple proclaims, is awesome. I begin what would eventually spiral into a long night with a mezcal Negroni. It’s one of the best I’ve had in the city, alternatingly bitter and sweet with the brightness of orange punching through. The Ballgame is more complex, with rye, cinnamon bitters and caramel corn thrown somewhere in the mix, and served with a short glass of beer. Follow a sip from one with a glug from the other and the contrasting notes will hit home runs on your palate. The food isn’t to be outdone, either. Crackerjack takes inspiration

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Ippoh Tempura

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanglin

Last year saw plenty of tempura joints pop up around the island, each selling its own take on tendon. But at Ippoh Tempura Bar, the stakes are raised – each fried golden morsel is treated with absolute devotion. Or so I’m told. The price points confirm it: lunch starts at $60 and goes up to a whopping $100, while dinner’s an even more extravagant affair, priced between $120 and $200.  But is it worth it? Simply put, nope. And it’s largely the fault of the batter. Instead of being light and crisp, the batter forms an oily coat on the palate and is soggy at points – certainly not hitting the expectations raised by Ippoh’s claim of being Osaka’s oldest premium tempura restaurant, with culinary traditions dating back to 1850.  As with most high-end Japanese spots, the emphasis is on the quality of ingredients. Everything is imported from Japan, down to the limes used to squeeze over the seafood. The meal starts with two shrimp, one wrapped in shiso leaf and the other without, that are perfectly cooked, sweet and juicy. Similarly, the squid, kisu fish and anago are delicate and soft, like biting into crispy pillows of varying tastes and textures.  But the vegetables that follow are a disappointment. The sweet potato is powdery, the asparagus tasteless and the mushroom too oily. The biggest let-down, however, is the tempura seaweed with uni, caviar and wasabi – it had the texture of stale keropok. Even the decadent toppings fail to salvage the situation. 

PIM PAM by FOC

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Spanish Orchard

If Hong Kong street’s FOC is the insouciant hipster of the family, consider PIM PAM the friendlier, more eager-to-please sibling. The latest off-shoot of the CBD restaurant seats hundreds, is right on Orchard Road and swaps the buzzy open kitchen vibe of the flagship for a fast-casual, all-day dining format. But that doesn’t mean the food suffers.  The self-styled ‘gastro-bodega’ takes the modern Catalan slant of the original and condenses it down to dishes that are more familiar (and affordable) to the local palate – read: less tweezer-tweaked food and more hearty plates for sharing. The Iberico pork presa ($30) is a thing of beauty. A sliced slab of meaty heaven, cooked pink and served with black garlic purée, is robust and punches hard with gamey porcine flavours. But a special of beef shortrib ($28) is too stodgy, one-note and gelatinous. Of course, there’s tapas. The croquetas ($2-$2.50) – take your pick from jamon, mushroom, crab, and spinach and pine nuts – curiously arrive as spheres, and you won’t stop at just one. Save room for the pork and cuttlefish meatballs ($12), too. They’re luscious, smothered in an earthy gravy and downright delicious. There’s a section of the menu carved out just for sandwiches ($10-$18), but the housemade loaves leave a lot to be desired – a cracking crust and insides that don’t have the texture of sponge cake among them.  With Dario Knox as the mastermind behind the bottled cocktails on the menu, expectations are high. Yet while my Sh

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Candlenut

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanglin

To me, Peranakan cuisine is the epitome of comfort food. But what happens when cuisine commonly associated with home kitchens is elevated to the point where even Michelin inspectors start taking note? Does it lose its rustic charm? For Candlenut, I say no. And while chef-owner Malcolm Lee does innovate with some dishes, it’s in the cooking of the classics where he shines.  The restaurant’s new COMO Dempsey space departs from the stark decor of its previous digs in Dorsett Residences. Large straw lanterns hang from the ceiling, weaved baskets deck the floors and vintage pieces like an ice kachang machine finish the look. It’s befitting of a Michelin-starred spot while remaining warm and inviting. Dining here is a communal affair. Opt for Lee’s signature ‘ahmakase’ menu ($65/ lunch, $88/dinner) or order from the new à la carte menu. I start with kueh pie tee ($20) stuffed with hamachi tartare, pickled shallot and laksa leaf pesto. Pop the whole piece in your mouth and you’ll find that there’s nothing to write home about. For curry, I order both the buah keluak ($22) of braised local chicken and wagyu beef brisket rendang ($28). Lee’s buah keluak is almost all nut – so while the chicken is fork-tender, it’s a shame that it didn’t fully absorb the flavours of the intense sauce. As for the rendang, I wish Lee used good ol’ beef instead of unctuous wagyu. The serunding-rich rendang punches hard with flavour, but the fattiness means it gets too jelat after a few bites. These are d

The Coconut Club

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

What Wanton did to wonton mee, The Coconut Club is doing to nasi lemak: taking the hawker staple up a notch and serving it in air-conditioned, design-savvy digs in the CBD. But wait, you’ll probably ask, why should I pay $12.80 for a plate of nasi lemak when I can tapow one for three bucks from the nearby Amoy Food Centre? When it tastes as good as the one your grandma used to make, hey – that’s reason enough. And as someone of Malay descent who grew up on the dish, I’ve to confess The Coconut Club’s take on it is legit. It’s not done in the ‘Chinese’ style – which is essentially cai fan with an assortment of fried snacks heaped onto your rice – and neither does it resemble those pyramids of banana leaves, within which an anorexic ikan kuning is all the protein you’ll get. No, The Coconut Club’s version is the kind that a relative will slave over for a home-cooked feast. So expect less a mind-blowing twist on the classic than a straight-up, yet almost faultless, example of it. Which means the nasi lemak comes with all the trimmings: a fried egg, ikan bilis, peanuts, cucumber, fried chicken and, of course, sambal. The restaurant sources coconuts from a single plantation in Sabak Bernam, Malaysia, to use in its dishes, although the rice, as fragrant as it is, could do with more lemak. The chicken thigh is coated in a turmeric-, lemongrass- and cumin-heavy rempah before hitting the fryer, and is way juicier and more tender than the ones at your kopitiam stall. The sambal isn’t

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Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese Chinatown

Head to the back of The Working Capitol during lunch or dinner and you’ll find a curious queue snaking ‘eeling’ through the middle of the small park. Despite arriving 5 minutes before the door opens, there are already 30 people in line ahead of us. We watch as a party of two argue with the waitress, wanting to get a seat while waiting for their friends. But the restaurant can’t afford that – even two single diners are forced to share a table. Forty minutes go by before we finally reach the door, the scent of burning charcoal mixed with the sea fuelling our anticipation. Three tanks packed with live eels greet you once you step in. Thanks to chef Teppei Yamashita’s Japanese network, he’s able to get them straight from Mikawa Isshiki region, a place famous for producing the highest quality freshwater eels. If you’re lucky enough to get a seat at the counter, you’ll have a full view of chefs killing, gutting and grilling behind the glass panel. It’s almost like a scene from a horror movie. Innards line the chopping board, raw eels that have been skewered await their turn on the grill and an overzealous man fans the flames with one hand while dipping the eels in tare sauce with the other. With enthusiasm like that running the kitchen, the food comes quickly once we're seated. The hitsumabushi ($26.80) is an unagi don that can enjoyed in three different ways. First, try it plain; second, sprinkle over some spring onions, seaweed and freshly grated wasabi; and third, pour dashi o

Burnt Ends

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants European Chinatown

Yes, it’s another casual diner from local powerhouse Loh Lik Peng – this time he’s working with World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 finisher André Chiang. It’s a strange collaboration given the concept: as you might expect from the name, everything here is grilled and cooked by fire – it’s almost the antithesis of the bedecked progressive cuisine Chiang is known for. Not that we’re complaining. There’s something incredibly honest about a solid slab of meat coaxed over open flames into a lovely charred outer while remaining tender and juicy on the inside. At Burnt Ends, this a thought that executive chef David Pynt brings to life pretty effectively with the help of two well-insulated cement-walled ovens (be sure to look above it every once in a while – fire tends to escape in a tempered rage from a spout) and a series of impressive grills raised and lowered by an industrial-looking winch and pulley system designed by Pynt. You have to admire the effort. Besides providing brand new flavours to our already myriad culinary scene, there’s something theatrical about watching the chef scoop out white hot coals from the 700-degree oven to heat the grills, and the making of your food by his team right in front of your eyes. The ventilation here, by the way, is unrivalled. Despite being sat by the ovens, the air is clear and room temperature remained at a comfortable 20ish degrees. The menu is split into snacks, appetisers and meat offerings – all designed with minimal frills to be sh

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Fat Prince

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Middle Eastern Tanjong Pagar

Let Fat Prince show you a whole new world of Middle Eastern flavours, shining, shimmering and splendid. Designed to reflect Istanbul’s opulent café culture – think velvet navy chairs, wooden rafters lined with gold and Arabic mosaic embedded in the walls – it’s grand without being gaudy. Chef Hunter J Moyes, who competed in Season 2 of Chopped Canada, leads the kitchen to produce modern Middle Eastern food with a focus on kebabs. There are currently six types on the menu, including baharat honey chicken, smoked kasar cheese and spicy beef Adana ($16/two, $24/three). Each kebab is palm-sized but packed with as much filling as it can possibly hold. Order the spicy Adalar prawn kebab, whose sweet pear salad base mellows out the heat of the marinated shellfish. Topped with a sour and slightly bitter pickled chayote (a type of gourd), the taco-resembling dish hits all the taste profiles in one mouthful. Equally impressive are the small plates and salads. The Fat Prince hummus ($12) is a smooth blend of chickpeas, duck fat, garlic and lemon, and sprinkled with a mix of fragrant spices. Spread it over crispy bread chips and it’s filling enough to be a meal on its own. Similarly, the Turkish kisir ($14) is a mix of bulgur wheat and roasted vegetables tossed in herbs and pepper paste. The hearty salad will satisfy people in the CBD looking to eat clean but can’t quite give up on grains just yet. Wash it all down with a pistachio latte ($7) or, for the adventurous, orange chilli moc

Janice Wong Singapore

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants City Hall

Like a kid in a candy store, I step into Janice Wong Singapore eager to stuff myself silly with sweets. It’s all over the decor: rainbow-coloured chocolates line the walls, rows of ice cream stack in corners, and mochi, bonbons and other kaleidoscopic confections line the counters. Even the tabletops are made from swirls of chocolate, sealed in resin and glass. But at this new flagship of the city’s renowned dessert dame, savouries get their day in the sun, too.  The savoury side of the menu takes a leaf from modern Chinese cuisine. Dim sum and noodles are all made in-house, using different types of flour that range from high-gluten to gluten-free cornmeal. The Hot Explosion XLB, or xiao long bao, comes in four flavours: whisky pork, truffle cheese chicken, foie gras pork cherry, and shrimp ebi kombu ($15/four pieces, $21/six pieces). They sound innovative yet don’t justify their hefty price tags, even if each long comes with four amazing sauces, like a housemade XO one. They’re simply not refined enough: their skins either stick to the wax paper and break, or tear at a slight tug from chopsticks. The noodles, thankfully, fare better. Handmade with low-gluten flour, the scallop somen ($22) has the delicate consistency of mee sua and balances out the other, stronger flavours in the bowl: salted egg yolk sauce, fish roe, sakura ebi, and a generous portion of scallops. The Crispy Charcoal Nest ($22) has noodles similar to sheng mien in texture and is drenched in hot collagen s

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Shinji by Kanesaka (Carlton Hotel)

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants City Hall

There's a sense of hushed reverence that befalls anyone stepping into Shinji – you're about to worship at the altar of one of Singapore's best sushi bars, after all. Slide open the shoji door and be greeted by three chefs standing behind the counter. With one chef preparing a meal for only three to five people at a time, you're guaranteed an intimate dining experience. Even if you're intimidated at first, give it a few minutes and you'll start to feel at home when the friendly itamae enquires if you have any preferences. The trio is all smiles throughout, explaining each dish as they lay piece after piece of sushi on the plate in front of you. Lunch starts from $75 for nine pieces and includes stellar slices of chutoro, otoro and anago over lightly vinegared rice with a firm bite. And dinner begins at $220 for 15 nigiri pieces, a maki roll and soup. If you want the ever-coveted morsel of uni, you'll need to order the 12-piece set ($125) and beyond ($180 or $250). Alternatively, shell out an additional $50 for a small serving of Shinji's signature rice bowl, made by mixing uni and rice and topped with ikura, negitoro and a dollop of fresh wasabi. Even though it costs more than half the price of the nine-piece set, the creamy uni rice, sweet and salty pops of ikura and the velvety soft tuna are well worth the price tag – if only to say that you've at least tried it once. Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals.

Greg’s Seafood Shack

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants City Hall

There was a time when seafood broil restaurants were popping up every month. But that was so 2014. Which makes it a little strange that Greg’s Seafood Shack only opened its doors now, in Grand Park City Hall, no less. While the name evokes an image of a wooden hut in a shanty town, Greg’s doesn’t look too shabby. With an industrial-bare design and warm pendant lights, the indoor section of the restaurant is small yet comfortable. If you’re easily bothered by the smell of stale oil – the restaurant suffers from poor ventilation – have your meal outside instead. You’ll be that much closer to the dart board, foosball set-up and pool table to entertain yourself with before the meal arrives. Instead of haphazardly pouring everything on the table, Greg’s serves its broils in claypot bowls to keep things warmer, longer. The Saint Gregory’s Place Seafood Broil ($28/500g, $52/1kg) comes teeming with tiger prawns, little neck clams, blue-lipped mussels, snow crab legs and a slipper lobster served in one of its six sauces. Now, with such low prices, I don’t expect killer seafood. And true enough, the mussels are dry with specks of shell embedded in the meat. But besides that, the rest of the bowl is plump and juicy, infused with the heady aroma of my choice of butter garlic sauce. And then the seductive words ‘lobster roll’ ($40) call out to me. Before I get my order in, though, the waiter smirks and points out that the dish uses frozen lobster chunks. That’s no good. So the Maine lo

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Salted and Hung

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants City Hall

Here at Time Out Singapore, we love our meat. Grilled, roasted, fried, stewed – whatever the method, if it once lived and bled, we’re on it like fat on wagyu. So when this Unlisted Collection restaurant cropped up as the ‘sequel’, so to speak, of the erstwhile 5th Quarter, its name alone made us salivate. Because you can’t salt and hang a salad, can you? Curing, smoking and fermenting are front and centre of this Drew Nocente-led kitchen. That much is clear as soon as you step into the long shophouse space, see the little piggies on the walls and pass a dry cabinet in which all manner of salami and steaks hang, their hues ranging from deep mahogany to pale pink. There’s even kangaroo loin, a nod to Nocente’s Aussie roots, lurking in there. So of course it’s the charcuterie, all made in-house, that we order right off the bat. The chef’s selection ($28) comes with five types of cold cuts, and opens the palate in anticipation of the rest of the meal. The pancetta and a type of prosciutto – it’s deboned before being cured – are pure and clean, while the red wine salami acts as a robust counterpoint. The funkiness and gelatinous texture of the headcheese, however, are not for everyone. Like most meats on the menu, the pork jowl ($18) is treated before hitting the pan. It’s cured for 24 hours, then cooked sous vide for about 2 hours and finished on the grill. The meat is sublime: super tender with a layer of fat that disintegrates once we pop it into our gobs. But the dish itsel

Shoukouwa Sushi Restaurant

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Raffles Place

There comes a point in fine sushi dining, usually about $150 in, at which the minutae of the meal – its craft, ingredients, flavours and textures – are lost on the average, Itacho-going diner. So when we say this eight-seater sushi bar (a separate private room seats six) in the One Fullerton enclave of high-end restaurants is pretty good, we mean it. But, likewise, when we say it isn’t worth its asking price, we mean it, too. A lunch at Shoukouwa starts at $150 for a 12-course nigiri sprint, bookended by an appetiser and a dessert. Dinner is more of a marathon: there are only two options – one $320 and the other $480 (gulp) – but they include cooked dishes, sashimi and 14 pieces of nigiri. The $320 set includes two sashimi courses or cooked dishes, while the $480 includes five of the same. Each lunch and dinner set also comes with miso soup and tamago. And as is the fashion for a restaurant of this calibre, everything’s omakase. With the most expensive meal clocking in at about the price of a return flight to Tokyo, you’d expect blow-your-mind levels of sushi, wrought from the wizened fingers of a shokuhin who picked up the art from a sixth-generation Sushi Buddha. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the case. Yes, chef Masahiro Suzuki who prepared our lunch has 13 years of experience in the game. But when the sushi struggles to cross the first, most important hurdle, we leave the hinoki-toned bar wanting more. We’re talking, of course, about the rice. It’s the fundamental ele

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Full of Luck Club
Photo: Liu Hongde

Full of Luck Club

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Chinese Queenstown

How do you like your dim sum? If you prefer somewhere loud, boisterous and authentic, look elsewhere. This modern Cantonese restaurant, opened by the folks behind Li Bai, offers that brashness only in its decor – think chinois chic plucked from the mind of Dick Lee’s hipster cousin – with none of the good food that you’d get from a down-and-dirty joint. A meal at Full of Luck Club is a novel experience let down by execution. And the steep prices certainly don’t help – ‘$7 for har gao?!’ one couple beside us exclaims in Cantonese (it’s actually $7.20). The dishes aren’t worth the pretty penny. The dim sum is thoroughly average: the radish cake with XO sauce ($6.80) is cold and sticky, and the fatty and unctuous steamed char siew bao ($5.40/three) isn’t half as good as Tim Ho Wan’s. At least the fancy baos ($6) – like a braised pork belly one with pickled lotus root – are complex and moreish. And then, the mains. Our truffle beef hor fun ($20) reeks with a chemical pong (whither thou, wok hei?), and our smoked duck claypot rice ($14) is straight-up bland. The sweet mint and lime cod, however, is crispy and succulent enough to have rescued the meal – except you’re paying $24 for four morsels of fish. We really like how fresh this restaurant and its ideas to modernise Cantonese fare are. Unfortunately, it needs much more than luck to make it work. Time Out reviews anonymously and pays for all meals.   

Angela May Food Chapters

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Orchard

Angela May Food Chapters is the kick-off of Deliciae Hospitality Management's attempt at breaking into the Orchard Road market after a heyday in Duxton. To do this, the group has tipped American-Thai TV host and Le Cordon Bleu Sydney alum Angela May to breathe her green and herby vision into a perch above the sidewalks of Robinsons at The Heeren.  In this corner spot sectioned off from high street fashion, the space never quite harnesses the breezy, sun-washed urban farm potential of its wide windows. Instead, Deliciae’s chosen to pack tables close together in an echoey room, next to macaron-shaped coffee tables, mini-armchairs for bags too dainty to touch the ground, and two futuristic hydroponic pods that wear vibrant stalks of kale, sage and rosemary. Interestingly, the restaurant switches on a special set of lights to ensure they continue to thrive overnight.  The all-day à la carte menu is flash fiction with a cagey plot – not to mention confusing. Do we order apps-mains-dessert, or will we be full just getting a salad? The answer to the latter is no. The bowl of cold green scallion noodles ($18) is a pantry-raid dish with limp shiitake slices and pickled cucumbers – the flavours never once meet in a happy place. The recommended sugar snap pea salad ($22) is a grassy and bland forkful, while the smoky Josper-fired prawns ($26) don’t match a mouth-drying bowl of jicama, sesame dressing and baby radishes. The green revolution in restaurants has taken us to new levels of

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Ginza Kushi Katsu

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese Orchard

It sounds easy enough: you get a good piece of beef, cover it with breadcrumbs, and deep fry it ’til the crust reaches a golden brown. Yup, the Japanese invention sounds pretty unusual, but Ginza Kushi Katsu proudly stands by its first-in-Singapore claim of bringing the crisp-jacketed, red-in-the-middle cuts made popular by restaurants like Gyukatsu Motomura and Gyukatsu Okada in Tokyo to a spot here with basic pine-toned interiors.  The main reason for stepping into the fast-casual restaurant, unfortunately, leaves us feeling a little moo-dy. The featureless, un-mottled Australian beef fillet ($24.80/90g set, $34.80/180g set) fails to punch through the pong of vegetable oil cooked into the crumbly crust, and we're forced to plonk the grey half of the steak on a sizzling grill to keep things appetising. Having a steak with chopsticks calls for a tender-to-the-teeth cut, but we're left unglamorously pulling at sinewy meat here – maybe plan your dates somewhere else. The rest of the menu covers the whole gamut of Japanese fare, with three types of ramen broths and seasonings ($18.80 with a side dish), fragrant hamburg steaks ($18.80/set), baked salmon ($18.80) and pork sukiyaki ($18.80) cooked in a foil wrapper, and a healthy option of pork and vegetables served in dim sum baskets ($16.80/set). If you do find yourself ducking in after ditching the Din Tai Fung queue, aim your fingers instead at the breaded kushiyaki sticks on the iPad ordering system. Skewered and not-too-oi

Miss Lok

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Chinese Raffles Place

Oh boy, we haven't ventured down this corner of Havelock since our awkward Club Momo days – have we given our ages away now? – but Magazine Road now boasts 'Singapore's hottest hot pot'. Miss Lok, she's called, is a grungy gal with metal pipes for bones and punny phrases like 'Love you dip dip' scrawled, in neon, like lipstick on chipped brick walls.  Step inside, though, and you'll find her personality's as stale as a Tinder conversation gone cold. Sure, she looks good, but the air is dead with whisper levels of saxophone music that make you feel almost hesitant speaking after knocking back a few bottles of the Asian beers ($12-$18/bottle, $45-$60/bucket of five), sake ($16-$22/glass, $35-$75/bottle) or wine ($14-$16/glass, $60-$75/bottle) on offer.  Still, we're here because we've heard she's brought the Malaysian roadside supper staple to a new, hip and sanitised format. Jars holding up colour-coded sticks of standards like quails eggs, vegetables, and fish paste ($1-$4) in many shapes parade lazily on a sushi conveyor belt steps away from the entrance, but at prices many times more expensive than their counterparts north of the Causeway. Of course, you're paying for the atmosphere and the extensive sauce bar, which stocks more than the usual garlic and soya suspects – there are peanut butter and prickly nam phriks on hand to accent the dippers.  The other part of the lok-lok equation, the soup, comes with eight flavours ($8 each) that simmer over induction burners on e

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Saint Pierre
Photo: Edmond Ho

Saint Pierre

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants French Raffles Place

Three years ago, Saint Pierre took the pomp of its brand of fine dining down to maxi dress levels of chill by making the move to Quayside Isle. It seemed fitting at the time, when young upstarts were flourishing plates with foraged herbs in approachable dining rooms and egalitarian prices.  Fast-forward to the present, and Saint Pierre is in the news again for swimming against the tide and ditching the island life for a narrow room facing the glitter of the Marina Basin. The restaurant brands this as an 'evolution of a soul' – chef-owner Emmanuel Stroobant's soul, to be exact. The man has returned to his haute cuisine grooming bred from his Belgian beginnings, Australian adventures and move to Malaysia, before sashaying to Singapore in 1999.  Fancy eating Saint Pierre-style is played out in a long room on the second floor of One Fullerton, where tables of twos and threes get shimmery vistas of the Bay. Bigger groups of six can book a private room, or settle into one of the nooks carved out at the back of the echoey space.  Meals are served in seasonal tasting menus: the six-course omnivorous Earth ($158) and vegetarian Nature ($148), and the ten-course Grand Earth ($188) and Grand Nature ($178). Lunch with the full works is priced between $85 (four courses) and $100 (four courses with cheese), and a tasting menu ($85/four courses) for kids – each dish highlights one of the four tastes – has also been carved out by Stroobant, a father of two.  Amuse bouche is a quartet of

Shashlik

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Russian Orchard

When, in the middle of last year, Shashlik threatened to close its doors after 30 years in the business, headlines were made. Would those beef shashlik skewers and other Russian-by-way-of-Hainanese cuisine disappear from our lives? Thankfully, the restaurant got bailed out by Alan and Derrick Tan, sons of the restaurant's long-serving, late captain, Tan Niap Hin. And they seem to be taking it in the right direction. The restaurant’s layout has mostly been left untouched. The tavern-like wall panels have been filled in and taken down to a matte blue-grey, and seats distilled into clean, modern lines. With present dining trends enamoured by heritage and provenance, prefacing the menu with Shashlik's story breathes fresh life into its old favourites. 'Uncle Tan’s recommendations' – the parlance for 'chef’s choices' – speaks to you like an old trusted pal. And just like that, this handsome grandpa is tuned into the cues of Modern Restaurant Design 2016. We’re embraced in a warm hug with the mild, chap chye-harking borscht ($7), and mildly amused by the endearingly simple plate of lumpfish caviar heaped generously on jaggedly cut boiled eggs ($16). Even the limp, sticky bread rolls come with the requisite Lurpak butter. Qualifying the food as 'Russian with a Hainanese touch' allays any expectation that the food bears any resemblance to what Muscovites chow down at dinnertime. Our rib-eye steak ($30/220g, $38/300g) arrives perfectly medium-rare on a sizzling hotplate, and we’ll h

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The Wagon

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

Taking the lessons its owners AP Company International Singapore picked up dishing out unctuous collagen-rich broths at the local outposts of Tsukada Nojo, The Wagon is a French-Japanese casual that revolves around one gimmick: its namesake food trolley. Still, its credentials look legit. Head chef Makoto Deguchi trades the one-Michelin-starred SOLA in Paris for this airy concrete and metal-themed restaurant, and the bubbly barman Leo 'Chewy' Chue comes from 28HKS*. Quite like dim sum institutions, most of The Wagon's sharing options are rolled out periodically on a trolley tricked out in tones of blackened metal. Except, the service is thankfully more smiley and the waiters are happy to decipher the array of slabs, jellies and orbs teetered on tartines, packed in jars and tucked into bowls.  One tip The Wagon should have picked up from the Hong Kongers, though: find a way to keep the food at the right temperature. Our first sweaty and rapidly cooling jar of chawanmushi ($18) tastes nothing of the ba kut teh it takes reference from, and a tumble of mayo- and citrus-marinated salmon cubes on a slab of dense and rubbery bread ($8) would have been better a few degrees off fridge-cold. A sweet carrot mousse with fuzzy turmeric orange tongues of uni ($8/10g) spooned on to order – served in a hollowed-out sea urchin shell – is the star of our appetisers, but because we really only like the spiny creature's nether glands.   The Hokkaido beef items on the menu are better bets. Not

JINzakaya

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Rochor

JINzakaya is the Les Amis Group's newest pocket-friendly concept that’s the playful yang to the zen Sushi Jin just next door. Unlike the dingy-fun izakayas you might be accustomed to in Japanese metropolises, the off-the-city-centre location begets a pretty dead after-work atmosphere – come back on weekends, its website emphasises, for more fun-filled times. The mural of vintage posters and irrationally happy throwback Japanese TV ads try their Yatta! best to help things along in the meantime.  A row of bar seats facing the buzzing open kitchen is ideal for solo and couple dining, but bigger groups will just have to watch the chefs from an inn-like dining room. With the atmosphere visibly off, the purported 'fun dining' advertised is left to the food, but JINzakaya's reasonably priced snacks, sticks, salads and noodle bowls keep to the script. Still, the execution surpasses a lot of its competition. A serving of charcoal-fired squid ($15) is grilled to tender, smoky perfection – the INKA-stoking Spanish should take notes. Those exposed coals also cook Aussie wagyu beef ($9) that bites clean and juicy. Minced chicken tsukune yakitori ($3.50) is lacking a little in seasoning, while the two ruffled oysters wrapped cleverly with bacon ($5.50) and then skewered are addictive. After knocking back a Japanese draft beer ($13-$15) or a few cups of sake ($89-$119) – which the servers are pretty clueless about – you'll want to dig into a warm bowl of soup. The house signature JIN tori

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Angeleno

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Chinatown

In this heyday for fusion cuisine, fewer restaurants are content to simply rock the classics. Angeleno, the newest extension of Luke's Travis Masiero Restaurant Group, on the other hand, is more than happy to embrace a cuisine that conjures memories of comforting Italian-American plates. Signatures like the veal parmigiana and meatballs slathered in 4-hour-stewed organic tomato sauce reads more like a loud and boisterous New York joint than the veggie-worshipping cuisine of Los Angeles. Rather, it’s the philosophy of chef-owner David Almany, a protégé of Mario Batali who helped set up the Mozzas at MBS, that matters. He brings together the farm-to-table ethic of his Californian upbringing and the warming simplicity of Italian-American fare. Almany's savouries and pastry chef Ariana Flores' plates hit all the right notes. A ball of milky mozzarella ($34) is carefully pulled bar-side by the chefs, and we find ourselves gasping after a steaming plate of tomato sauce-draped meatballs on fluffy heirloom polenta ($22) and warming minced meat ragu over al dente ruffles of tagliatelle ($28). Main course is where the bill tips into special occasion territory. Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find a breaded slab of Dutch milk-fed veal chop ($75) as hefty as the one here, topped with nostalgic quantities of red sauce and stringy smoked mozzarella. The grilled USDA Prime New York strip ($65) is less successful, emerging from the kitchen at a dry medium doneness with horseradish gremola

Dehesa

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Raffles Place

After the closure of The Prive Group's Wolf, hardcore carnivores have found themselves hungry for a kitchen daring enough to offer hearts, brains and livers to devour. Enter Dehesa, the North Canal Road restaurant by former UNA head chef Jean-Philippe Patruno. 'Dehesa' refers to the grassland habitats of Iberian hogs, but you won't find yourself grazing on tapas portions at this restaurant. You’re more likely to pull and tear at the saucy off-cuts and innards, which Patruno expertly strips of aggressive funk.  Duck hearts on toast ($13), soused in a rich, sticky and sweet sauce on bread, is no gamier than a rare steak. Nubs of lamb sweetbreads atop a sloppy pile of translucent potato crisps, mash and gravy ($25) have a texture somewhere between fat and meat, and a flavour much less wild than the more commonly eaten cuts of lamb.  It isn't until we get to the dense wedges of ox hearts ($17) – with a herbal tang not dissimilar to a Chinese medicine concoction – that it begins to feel overwhelming. But it's promptly taken off the bill when we so much as enquire about the way it's cooked.  But for palates unaccustomed to offal, Dehesa's done very well in championing the glory of cast-aside insides. Find evidence of this in the crispy pig's head ($28) – it's topped by a ravioli, which you're meant to slice open to drench the egg yolk and mushroom paste filling over the pulled pork-resembling meat. Even though you're supposed to order your own dishes rather than poke at a commu

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Vatos Urban Tacos

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants City Hall

Alongside the rush of brave independent concepts opening over the last few years, it seems as though local diners have munched full circle back to franchise restaurants. If the ’90s and early naughts were marked by long waits around Swensen’s, Jack's Place and Seoul Garden, 2015 and 2016 are seeing hot holiday pilgrimages set up church in Singapore.  Driving a part of this resurgence is Vatos Urban Tacos, the first international outpost of the Seoul Ko-Mex chain, brought to Singapore via club kids Massive Collective. The brainchild of Korean-Americans Sid Kim, Jonathan Juweon Kim and Kenny Park brings together tasty ganjang- and ssamjang-marinated meats with messy Mexican fare – it even served as a diplomatic stop on John Kerry’s tour to the South Korean capital. And that Kim has decamped here to align this outlet with his seven back home is surely an encouraging sign. A quick glance through Vatos' menu and you begin to see where some Seoul-emulating restaurants in Singapore borrow their kimchi-bending inspirations. It's hardly groundbreaking alchemy: tacos are usually a simple balance of inexpensive cuts, veg and citrus. But even then, Vatos excels. The shells here are less rugged cornmeal circles and more smooth, springy wraps that resemble gujeolpan or popiah skins. Any quibble on their merits is quashed at first bite. Clean-chewing beef galbi short rib ($12/two, $17/three) is an exploding flavour piñata of heat, sharp onion pickles and garlicky meat. Baja-style battere

National Kitchen by Violet Oon

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants City Hall

If there's one good thing that rose above the noise of SG50 pride, it’s that our local chefs found themselves suddenly bang on trend. So it comes as no surprise that the National Gallery Singapore puts homegrown cuisine on the same pedestal as fancy Western ones. Violet Oon's new restaurant is testament to that.  Oon, doyenne of Peranakan cuisine and former journalist, combines her two loves in a restaurant at the Gallery's City Hall Wing with an archive of photos on the wall that chronicle Singapore’s food history. Overall, National Kitchen doesn't deviate in look and feel to her recently revamped Bukit Timah restaurant, where stiff-upper-lip fixings and furnishings meld seamlessly with Peranakan flourishes.  As for the cooking, that same archival frame of mind carries through in the menu. In addition to the rempah-rich Nyonya plates Oon has built her name on, an effort has been made to bring back the dishes slowly eroding from our cultural memory. Like a trio of steamed black lentil idly cakes ($7), soured to hark of thosai, served on wooden boards with a fiery lentil sambar and plummy tomato chutney. Or the mochi-like, hand-kneaded Hakka abacus beads ($17) – biting into them fills the palate with the umami of stringy black fungus, minced pork and shiitake mushrooms. And the stew of fish head curry ($42) takes the recipe back to its mildly spicy, tomato-rich Kerala roots.  With the exception of the tame curry, the food has hardly been dumbed down for tourists. The lovely

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Portico Prime

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanglin

The warning by the World Health Organization that red meat is likely to cause cancer could go one of two ways: a stampede towards a veggie-based cuisine, or a snub by steak-loving Singaporeans.  On a monsoon-drenched Sunday afternoon, the sleepy quiet at Dempsey Village’s steakhouse Portico Prime might, though you'd hope not, be a sign of the times. From the kitchen, Nixon Low, the executive chef at the first Portico on Alexandra Road, keeps the menu small and carnivorous. And ‘small’ seems to be the word du jour at Portico Prime. The idea of delicate portions seems oxymoronic in a steakhouse, but two wedges of gone-in-a-single-bite bread and an equally trifling swirl of umami-rich seaweed butter are a worrying portent.  Similarly, a ravishingly beautiful salad of heirloom tomato chunks ($24) is petite but, to its credit, packs a punch beyond its weight category – crisp wedges of red and jade-green fruit nuzzle tanned shards of jamon Serrano, purple flowers, quinoa sprinklings, and a golden scoop of frozen honey melon. Mains include fish and chips, barramundi, chicken and pork chops, but why eat any of that in a steakhouse? That said, the steak offerings are – here’s that word again – small with just three cuts: a Rangers Valley Angus tenderloin ($104/200g), an ambiguously named ‘UK native breed striploin’ ($56/200g) that tasted of wild grass but which was otherwise unmemorable, and a standout thin slab of Tochigi wagyu rib-eye A4 ($116/200g) that was meaty-rich, sweet, f

Odette

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants City Hall

With the fluid pace at which chefs in this town flutter between restaurants, few manage to snag headlines when they find a new job. Yet Julien Royer's departure from JAAN for his own joint venture with The Lo and Behold Group has been followed at every turn. Needless to say, of the nine F&B establishments opening with the National Gallery Singapore, Odette has psyched local diners up the most. Those willing to wait up to two weeks for one of the 32 seats here won't find themselves disappointed. (Pro tip: gather at least six diners and you can book a private dining room in less the time.) Taking the registration room of the former Supreme Court is an ethereally austere space where the marvel is in the details. Artist Dawn Ng's cut-out motifs float like butterflies over the centre of the dining room, and glass sliding doors frame Royer and his team, turning out plates governed by his Essential Cuisine philosophy to fine dining.  Described as honest food with a steep respect for ingredients cultivated from his farming family in France, Royer’s cuisine prides itself on keeping up with the provenance of its produce. And it’s clear that Royer is one of the few chefs who manage to measure up to the lofty introductions they pen into their menus. Throughout our meal, the heartfelt quality displayed in his ode to his grandmother – after whom the restaurant is named – is fervently palpable. The meal kicks into gear promptly after we're seated: a trio of snacks is followed by a Comte,

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Yan

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Chinese City Hall

There’s a new chef in the kitchens of Yan, but the same comforting flavours of Cantonese cuisine remains. The seafood-focused menu reflects the head chef Ng Sen Tio’s love for the ingredient. It starts with the fried minced duck meat and cuttlefish paste in egg pancake ($14) – a rare, heritage dish that he first learned in the 1970s. As you move on to the mains, seafood takes center stage, or pot, in Yan’s case. Lobsters and clams are used to flavour porridge ($18/ 100g) in one of Yan’s signature dishes, while scallops and prawns are mixed into a paste with chicken and beancurd to go with a nourishing golden pumpkin broth ($18).  – Original review by Natasha Hong on November 16 2015 Plush Chinese you won’t write home about The onslaught of modern restaurants with their mashed-up cuisines means it’s tough for a traditional Chinese joint to stand out. So Yan is counting on its National Gallery location and a Cantonese chef veteran with 20 years of experience, Chan Kung Lai, as its draws.  This Park Hotel Group venture is part of a duplex below rooftop bar Smoke and Mirrors. Vibrant orange, pink and red threads string some privacy between intimate booths, red tassels hang off sleek grey dining chairs, and cherry blossoms texture plates on white-clothed tables. The decor still evokes connotations of a plush Chinese restaurant, as do the dishes, which are firmly rooted in Cantonese flavour.  Like most establishments of its genre, the book-like menu can be intimidating to nav

Meta

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Korean Outram

In Keong Saik, where diners can shut their eyes, walk blindly through any open doorway and be fed well, competition is tough. Which raises the question: is its newest player, Meta, up to snuff?  Yes, it appears so. The strapping head chef, with K-Pop good looks on show from the open kitchen, is Sun Kim, who trained at Tetsuya Sydney and Waku Ghin. The shophouse room is a classy, contemporary space where the best seats look into the kitchen (avoid the two seats closest to the unbearably hot lamps) and a row of tables-for-two hugs the opposite flank. And never mind that the soundtrack is saxophone-cheese – the hyphenated cuisine is the right kind of marriage between French presentation and Asian flavour.  An actual meal here is where reality unravels the hype. The cooking is at its best when the flavour balance is tipped towards Asia. Pear kimchi, worked into nubs of raw wagyu and gel-textured egg yolks ($25), offers a genius interpretation of steak tartare. With its bite of ginger, the dish of New Zealand John Dory, clams and fregola ($26) steer the palate to memories of Teochew fish porridges. And the starter carpaccio of thinly sliced scallops ($18) benefits from a zingy ponzu seasoning. Funnily enough, the one truly Korean-leaning dish on the menu, a scallion, seaweed and sea snail-studded pancake ($18), is the plainest of the lot.  Ordered on their own, each tiny assembly of elements look pretty meagre. The nine-course degustation menu ($125) makes more sense, except it

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Takeda Shoten

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

There’s no shortage of Japanese dining in Tanjong Pagar, and the yoko chou – 'eating district' in Japanese – now has a new sake-drinking spot.  The sake menu is lean, and the busy kitchen hands don’t do justice for the exclusive bottles like the Dassai Junmaidaigin Jyo 50 ($17.80/shot, $22.80/160ml, $94.80/720ml) that Keisuke 'Ramen King' Takeda sometimes hand-carries into town. We're told how to order with the help of the 'sake meter' next to each bottle on the menu – negative numbers tell you how sweet, and positive digits how dry – then arbitrarily pointed to the Kamoshibito Kuhei Ji Jumaidaigin Jyo ($19.80/shot, $26.80/160ml, $108/720ml), because the 'zero' rating straddles dry and sweet. The sake-unacquainted will have better luck sticking to familiar stuff. Japanese beers such as Asahi ($9.80-$11.80) and Sapporo ($9.80) are available by the bottle, alongside cheap Tokyo-style sour shochu cocktails ($8.80) in flavours like Calpis and green tea. Japanese whisky ($6.80-$34.80/shot, $138-$188/ bottle) here includes familiar labels like Hibiki 12, Taketsuru 21 and the hyped-up Yamazaki 18.  The snacks at Takeda Shoten easily double up as meals. The chef’s signature creativity shows up in unique oden options like tender beef cheek ($4) and pork belly ($4), molten ramen eggs ($3) and melting nubs of beef tendon ($4). The broth itself is reminiscent of a homely Chinese pork bone soup.  His other spins include misoflavoured grilled cream cheese ($9.80), which harks of Takeda

Aura

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Italian City Hall

There's something about having dinner at a museum that raises your expectations. You imagine stubbornly traditional food, plated like works of art and whisked from the kitchen by bowtied waiters as Vivaldi swells around them. Not quite for Aura. The latest restaurant from Beppe de Vito is hardly as stuffy – although a stern word should be issued to its interior designer, whose idea of 'museum restaurant' seems to be plucked from the 'Nouveau Riche for Dummies' manual. No, it's all about the food here. Like de Vito's Osteria Art, Aura finds its niche in the rustic, stick-to-the-ribs fare of his Italian roots. But unlike that CBD restaurant, this one’s bold enough to tinker - just a little - with tradition. A trio of Hokkaido scallops with porcini ($38) appear as though they sit on a puttanesca sauce - it turns out to be puréed beetroot, sweet, moreish and, as a nod to its lookalike, lifted by capers. The bivalves are plump, juicy and with just the right amount of raw in the middle. This was the most complex dish we ordered. It was also the best. The pasta here is separated into two categories: homemade and 'artisanal', the latter of which our server sheepishly admits is bought. So we opted for one of the former, a pappardelle with oxtail and mushrooms ($26). This is comfort on a plate – tender, gelatinous meat tangoing with the al dente sheets. Who needs ladles of sauce when the oxtail dissolves on the tongue? Not all are hits, though. The recommended crispy frog legs ($25

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Spago

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Californian Marina Bay

It's perhaps a tribute to Singapore's growing status as a global dining destination that celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has opened a second restaurant on our shores, after his CUT steakhouse at Marina Bay Sands. Spago started in 1982 as Puck's first foray into the restaurant game, and has grown to four locations in the US. Singapore is the first international outpost for the brand, and to drive the modern Cali-fusion point of view of the brand at its new Sands SkyPark location, Puck and Co are not holding back. For one, they've transplanted a breezy Cali-cool aesthetic up onto the Sands' surfboard, outfitting the long, many-roomed space to look like a bungalow. Inside, the carpets, dimmed lighting, palettes of woody browns and tablecloth-draped dining tables almost conjure the glamour of old-school fine dining, if not for the soundtrack of pop-rock tunes. Flanking the two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows are views of the half-dressed infinity pool-going flock and our ship-studded southern shores. With that in mind, Spago is still very much the rare treat you only consider for special nights out. Thankfully, you get what you pay for: reliably good, well-executed and sizable dishes enhanced by top-notch service. Ingredients like the sturdy leaves of red furl mustard, and baby golden and red beets used in Puck’s signature beet salad ($26) are said to be picked out at farmers' markets by Spago Beverly Hills' purchasing chefs, before being flown direct to this island. The profo

Esquina

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Spanish Chinatown

You know all about Esquina, the co-venture between hotelier Loh Lik Peng and restaurateur Jason Atherton. Since it kick-started the finer-than-casual small plates cuisine in 2011, it's been one of those reliably booked-out restaurants. After the departure of Andrew Walsh, the restaurant's sparking excitement again with a new head chef at the helm. The local bar-hopping set will recognise Carlos Montobbio as the man behind the fancy snacks at the Fairmont Singapore's Anti:dote bar. Barcelona-born, and with experience in Michelin-decorated kitchens like El Celler de Can Roca and Zuberoa in Spain, the 28-year-old excelled at piling invention and technique on the finger food at Anti:dote, but has his potential better realised in Esquina's open kitchen. His dishes still cradle Esquina's signature Mediterranean warmth, though Japanese cuisine's strong hold on Montobbio shows up on the occasional plate. Spanish nigiri ($6) is a fruity tuna-like strip of roasted bell pepper draped over velvety potatoes and salted cod. Tender bites of raw scallop ($22), plated alongside radish discs and apples, get a lift from ponzu sauce.  Sea life dominates the Snacks and Sea sections of the menu – and it’s Montobbio's strong suit. Slender, bony sardines are enriched with salty grilled zucchini, then brightened with a blast of cold from roasted bell pepper sorbet ($16), while a thick tentacle of Spanish octopus is cooked to chewy perfection with burnt onions and earthy Jerusalem artichokes ($28).

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Bacchanalia

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Raffles Place

As we’re in a thick of a restaurant boom in Singapore, there’s truly no shortage of places for a special night out. Bacchanalia is one of those treats. It’s hard to tell that this brightly lit, wood-dominant restaurant on HongKong Street bears any relation (beyond its name) to the restaurant-lounge-bar at its original Freemason House location. The Fat Duck’s ex-development chef, Ivan Brehm, still calls the shots, and the food still bears the same New Nordic sensibilities as it places locally sourced ingredients in stylish flourishes on the plates. This space is in favour of setting a stage for the food of Brehm, his second, Mark Ebbels, and their team. This is the astute, long-awaited decision craved by those who’ve put up with the incongruence of its former setting: dark and heavy with velvet, fat armchairs and regal pomp. The restaurant-only shophouse breaks down the wall between kitchen and dining room. On entry, diners are plonked right in the centre of a busy open kitchen pass and a side service counter before they’re shown to a table deeper in the unit – or, if you’re lucky (and have booked well ahead), a chef’s table right up close to the action. If you’ve eaten at Bacchanalia, you’ll be happy to learn that cutting-edge techniques and intriguing dish dissertations are very much in the kitchen team’s wheelhouse, and is now served up here in five- ($125) and seven-course ($165) doses. Alternatively, come for a three-course lunch ($45). Bacchanalia excels in paying ve

Grain Traders

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Raffles Place

Finding wholesome food in the CBD isn’t difficult at all, but Grain Traders is holding on to a winning ticket built on tasty veggies, premium meats and a wealth of grain options. The high-ceilinged space bears the good looks of a sun-kissed Aussie café and Mexico-style washed pastels, cleverly worked into a chilled-out respite. Dominating the room is a coffee stand, set up in partnership with Papa Palheta, that delivers cakes ($4-$5.50) and caffeine in espresso drinks ($4-$5.50), cold brews ($7-$7.50) and hand-poured doses ($6). Grain Trader’s mission, however, is no better evidenced in the salad and meat bar at the far end of the space. Every day, chef Gisela Golding, who comes to Singapore by way of Venezuela and Cambodia, dispatches a bounty of multi-cuisine options. But Grain Traders is not a spot you must muster a diet’s discipline to visit. The pick-and- mix bowls ($16) allow clean permutations with a base of salad greens, bulgur wheat or quinoa, roasted chicken, and vibrant grilled and roasted vegetables. Even if you’re planning to go big on calories with grilled striploin or slow-roasted pork, white Japanese rice, fried garlic and shallots, bean salad, and coconut curry sauce, the smiling counter staff are happy to oblige. ‘Wholesome’ is a better word to describe the feeling of chowing down on the big bowls packed with well-cooked protein, seriously yummy vegetables and zesty vinaigrettes. Those not as adventurous to assemble their own can choose from one of six H

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