2020 is looking scrumptious with these new joints! Jot them down in your little black book of places to eat – you know you want to.
This month is all about V-day dinners and, as you might have guessed, a deluge of amazing restaurants that made it to our list of Hot New Tables. We’ve got a Greek restaurant and a promising steakhouse, plus Bjorn Shen’s new project is open for business! Go forth and make that reservation.
Bjorn Shen is no stranger to the local F&B scene. Who can forget his terrific fried chicken joint Bird Bird (now defunct) or his almost 10 years strong Artichoke, which delivers superb, unpredictable Middle Eastern food? Never one to sit still, he has added a new tasty project to his ranks. Taking up a cosy space in the latter, this four-seater spot is called Small’s – how apt.
“It’ll be an experience that people will need to book ahead in groups of four; strictly four, no more, no less. I’ll be running it three nights a week and cooking up an eight-course menu – three snacks, four pizzas and a dessert,” he says. And with him in the kitchen, you don’t need all the details to anticipate having a tasty time. Just know that the pizzas will be baked Neapolitan-style, putting a spotlight on the flavours and textures of the crust, as opposed to other pizzerias that focus on the toppings. Want to take a bite? Bookings will be released on the 24th of every month, so mark your calendars.
Small’s, 161 Middle Road, Singapore 188978
Ever since the grand dame of Singapore, Raffles Hotel, reopened late last year after restoration works, it has been rolling out new establishments one after another. We’re betting they’ll soon be iconic, like the just-revamped Raffles Courtyard, which has attracted crowds ever since it opened its doors to discerning drinkers in 1991. And after spending an evening at Butcher’s Block, we’re firm believers that this meat-centric restaurant will soon be a worthy contender amongst steak joints.
Taking up the space formerly occupied by Long Bar Steakhouse, the location works as an almost poetic ode to its predecessor. It’s dimly lit and exudes romance with cobalt blue hues, dark wood panelling and brass accents, along with a glass cooler that showcases fine cuts of meat. Oh, and it only opens in the evening (6pm-10pm), heightening the romance factor.
On to the food! We started with a plate of cured beef, guindilla peppers and slices of bread ($25/$35). Make sure you squeeze in a bite of the pepper with the cured beef and bread to get a tart zing. Your mind (and palate) will be blown. Up next, the Lebanese-style pizza ($35). It’s topped with organic lamb – oh, and all the meats served here are sustainable and so are 40% of the wines – and pomegranate molasses, which adds a tinge of sweetness to the savoury dish.
But the highlight of the night has to be the cote de boeuf (ribeye steak) and club steak (sirloin steak) ($118). The former has a marbling score of 7, and while we savoured the medium-cooked steak, we relished in the fatty bits that melt in your mouth instantaneously, probing us to take another bite. After the luxurious ribeye, the lean club steak didn’t quite make the cut, though who can blame us? The meats come paired with a trio of vegetables: Carrots with a generous drizzle of tahini dressing, barbecued artichoke ($14), and grilled radicchio ($14). We certainly enjoyed the crunchy, charred radicchio; it was bursting with character and flavours contributed by the delish XO sauce coating.
In every restaurant, there’s that one star dessert that diners shouldn’t miss out on, and in this case, it’s the chocolate tart. Served with passion fruit sorbet, the frosty fruit plays down the bitterness from the dark chocolate. Totally polarising but delightful. If you’re looking for something truly different, book the three-metre Oak Table for a chance to try exquisite cuts of meat that are off the menu. Think of it as a meat omakase!
Butcher’s Block, #02-02 to #02-07, Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188719
Zorba The Greek Taverna
Founded by 1-Group, which brought us Yin, Monti and 1-V:U, Zorba is a new riverside Greek restaurant in Clarke Quay. With a convivial atmosphere (it helps that the Singapore River acts a picturesque backdrop), dishes here are perfect for big groups. While the cuisine is known for being healthy and light, our visit proved that there’s more to Greek food than just vegetables and yoghurt.
We started with the dips platter ($28): In the centre sits a ramekin of olives surrounded by colourful dips, the best of which are hummus and tzatziki. Looking for something familiar? The creamy moussaka ($22), which is essentially a Greek-style lasagna, will please even the fussiest of eaters. It features thin layers of zucchini, eggplant, potato and minced beef, and comes topped with a bechamel sauce.
As the dinner progresses, your food will move towards hearty dishes, but we don’t foresee any complaining. Cheese lovers will love the spanakopita, a Greek pie that’s stuffed with cheese and spinach, then encased in crispy, flaky phyllo dough. We would have gone for a second slice but we had to pace ourselves for what was about to arrive next.
Straight from the kitchen came a plate brimming with grilled meats. The mixed grill platter ($88) has everything: Lamb chops, pork gyro meat, lamb kebab, chicken souvlaki and bifteki (a beef patty stuffed with cheese). The crispy pork goes well with the tzatziki dip (yes, we kept the dips for the mains), while the ratio of cheese to meat in the bifteki is nicely balanced. However, the chicken souvlaki didn’t stand out for us as it was a little dry.
After devouring half the platter, we found a base of fries and salad. We were nursing a food coma, to say the least, but the show had to go on. Lamb is typically a tricky meat to cook, but the fork-tender lamb kleftiko ($36) is done right here. For seafood, you can dive into a plate of grilled sea bream ($32), grilled octopus ($30) or jumbo-sized prawns ($28) drenched in spicy tomato sauce. Lazy to peel the prawn shells off? Just eat the entire crustacean, but don’t forget to slather it in sauce first for a flavourful bite. We ended our Greek feast with baklava ($12), of course. The walnut and pistachio add a nice crunch and the honey lends a mild sweetness to the dessert.
Zorba The Greek Taverna, #01-02, Clarke Quay, 3A River Valley Road, Singapore 179024
Hailing from Hong Kong, this OTT Chinese restaurant has recently joined the dining scene in MBS. Priding itself on serving premium ingredients and age-old recipes, it offers innovative dishes that are a little closer to home such as the sugar-coated Peking duck bun ($10/3 pieces), crispy prawns with salted egg yolk and oatmeal ($38), and the classic black pepper crab ($15/100g). Drinks-wise, you’ll be downing tipples concocted with an Asian influence such as the Hanami ($24), which sees yuzu and chrysanthemum in the mix, and Harbour Dawn ($24), which uses butter-washed vanilla rum, coconut and pandan.
Mott32, B1-42-44, Galleria Level The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner
One of Singapore’s most premier bakeries takes on a new avatar at its shopping mall locations in Raffles City and Funan. Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner brings you an all-day breakfast menu, dishing out a surprising number of vegetarian and vegan options in the mix.
Chef Paul Albert flaunts his skills and knowledge honed from Michelin-starred establishments in France and Rio, including Rio’s top sourdough bakery, The Slow Bake. Almost everything from the menu is made from scratch, keeping waste to a minimum by using ingredients close to home – he even uses some local ice mint from the rooftop garden upstairs. We were pleasantly surprised by the Chayote Kimchi and Mung Bean Salad ($18), ‘cos who would have thought a simple toss-up of mung beans and local snake beans could taste so good? And the addition of spicy kimchi made using local chayote and turnip gives it a good kick.
If you’re feeling peckish, go for the Hot Chicken Salad and Caramelised Pumpkin ($20). Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of its name. One might quip that it’s just chicken salad but it’s more than that – slow-cooked chicken is marinated with ingredients like lemongrass, turmeric and cinnamon. Finally, it’s basted with house-made brown butter. The caramelised pumpkins are just as good, cutting like butter off our fork with a caramelised, toasty flavour. Oh, and that yoghurt wasabi sauce? Bliss.
If you’re craving for waffles, try the savoury 100% Sourdough Waffle ($23) made with a mix of traditional Belgium-style batter and the star of the show, a 158-year-old starter all the way from Rio. It’s a tad too tangy on its own but have it with crispy bacon, paprika-infused maple syrup and honeyed ricotta, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner, #04-22-25, Funan, 107 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179105; #B1-11, Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103
– Review by Nicole Nithiyah
Located inside Bee’s Island Drinkery along Telok Ayer, this is one speakeasy you should check out. It’s a reimagination of The Silk Road’s culinary journey, from Southern Italy to Western China, with a nod to the Southeast Asian flavours that we’re all familiar with. There’s also a slant towards the flavours of Kazakhstan, as a result of executive chef Dannel Krishnan and co-founder Shawn Kishore’s exciting trip to the country.
Select from three tasting menus, an a la carte menu or a communal menu if you book the private dining room. We were offered the 17-course tasting menu (The Odyssey of Fire at $148) which alarmed us at first but to our surprise, did not send us off with a food coma.
Highlights include the Nomads Nan with Hunter-Gatherer’s butter, a fluffy Kazakhstan-style bread with seasonal butter (we had foie gras and uni) and seaweed butter; the koji cured scallops served with charred spiced corn and crispy lentil crackers; and Squid Laghman, a noodle dish that uses grilled squid noodles instead, because carbs. Finally, there’s the hearty Beshbarmak, a decent chunk of tender wagyu beef cheek served with a spiced broth and crispy potato sheets.
But honestly, the clincher has to be the stories chef Dannel and Shawn shared with us along the way that gave the whole experience a nice, personal touch.
The Nomads, 70 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 048458
– Review by Nicole Nithiyah
Journey through a multitude of Asian cuisines at Spice Brasserie. Taking the food up a delicious notch, this newly revamped buffet gives you the best of Asian street food from around the world. Start with the Asian salad bar where there’s more than just raw leaves to choose from; here, you’ll find ingredients like kimchi, shrimp floss, crispy soya beans and more, all ready to be tossed in dressings like mala or Chinese peanut butter.
Satiating pit stops include the tandoor section, with the must-try squid ink naan. We dipped pieces of it into a creamy, hearty bowl of butter chicken and before long, we’d inhaled a whole plate of flatbread. Right by the naan, roasted sweet potatoes are another street food staple that’s done just right.
Meat lovers will love the selection at the charcoal grill, with the signature black char siew that features a caramelised exterior, best eaten with a slice of juicy grilled pineapple. The combination may sound odd to you, but give it a go and your tastebuds will tell you otherwise.
Another dish cooked over flaming charcoal, the warm and comforting broken rice claypot porridge boasts a rich briny broth and generous amounts of seafood like white clams and oysters. Speaking of seafood, there’s also fresh sashimi on ice and local favourite chilli crab with mantou, which had us going back for a second helping.
By now, you’ll likely be stuffed but don’t leave without some sweets! The teppanyaki ice cream offers daily specials like pina colada or matcha flavours served with customisable toppings such as marshmallow or chocolate sprinkles. Also save some stomach space for Nyonya kuehs, durian pengat, cempedak cake and the chocolate-covered rum ball.
Spice Brasserie, ParkRoyal on Kitchener Road, 181 Kitchener Road, Singapore 208533
Lunch at $34 per pax from Mon to Fri, $50 per pax for Sat and Sun; dinner at $42 per pax from Mon to Thurs, $60 per pax from Fri to Sun
-Review by Amelia Ang
Coming into 2020 with a new look and refreshed menus, this French bistro is a sweet spot at Duo Galleria for lunch hangouts and evening drinks at its alfresco terrace. It’s still very much focused on classic French flavours, with highlights such as the pan-seared sea bass ($32), cheese and charcuterie boards (from $25), scallops carpaccio ($24) and the traditional Oeufs Meurette from Burgundy ($24, featuring poached eggs with pearl onions and sourdough bread). Plus, an entire section of the line-up is dedicated to duck, so you can try the eatery’s rendition of duck confit ($32) or go for the salad with cured duck gizzards and cured duck breast tossed in a zesty vinaigrette ($24).
If you’re popping by for weekend brunch, we’d recommend checking out the crepe station, followed by orders of French omelette and beef burgers. But don’t let your culinary journey through France stop there; browse through the cosy retail section on your way out and bring home all the cheese, wines, tinned sardines, Bordier butter (yum!), artisanal kombucha and jams you want.
So France, #01-51/56, Duo Galleria, 7 Fraser Street, Singapore 189356
Hot new tables: January 2020
Black Marble by Otto
Chef Otto Weibel needs no introduction, with over five decades of experience in the culinary industry. Needless to say, we were stoked to check out his newest venture. His first restaurant, Otto’s Deli Fresh, has been rebranded to Black Marble by Otto and the space has gotten a facelift as well. The 55-seater restaurant is drenched in a monochrome palette of black and grey with brick accents on the walls.
Specialising in grilled food, chef Otto’s philosophy is to “keep it simple with perfection”. That’s lovingly reflected in the dishes, especially since all the sauces are made from scratch and the beef is dry-aged in-house. Take the dry-aged Angus ribeye, for example: Served medium rare, it’s so good on its own that you don’t need any sauce to go with it. Another worthy contender has to be the grilled lamb rack. No gamey taste whatsoever, and it pairs nicely with the chimichurri sauce for a refreshing flavour. Seafoodies can dig into the fresh ocean platter, which features Boston lobster tail, Tasmanian mussels, tiger prawn, octopus and salmon trout or saffron risotto, which is topped with sweet lobster chunks and scallops.
Black Marble by Otto, #02-01, Raffles Holland V Mall, 118 Holland Avenue, Singapore 278997
Taiwan Food Festival: Ningxia Night Market
From now till 9 February, foodies can head over to Sentosa to have a taste of Taiwan’s famous Ningxia Night Market, aka the “stomach of Taipei”. This pop-up, which spans from Siloso Point to Siloso Beach, will feature over 30 vendors and expect popular street food like flaming beef cubes, egg-bombed scallion pancake, Taiwanese sausage with glutinous rice and more!
Taiwan Food Festival featuring Ningxia Night Market, Siloso Point, Sentosa, Singapore 099598
Le Petit Chef at Grand Hyatt Singapore
Those who missed out on this immersive dining experience last year will be glad to know that Le Petit Chef is continuing its run till 31 June 2020! At this two-hour culinary experience like no other, you will travel the Silk Road without leaving your seat. From the Middle East and all the way to China, you’ll be treated to a feast that pays tribute to each of the locales with music, captivating visuals and delectable dishes. The menu includes a trove of oceanic delights on seashells as the “chef” makes his way to the Middle East by boat; and when you arrive in India, a plate of naan bread, butter chicken and raita await. The hotel’s executive sous chef Steffan Heerdt and his team have also crafted an exclusive plant-based menu for vegan diners!
Le Petit Chef at Grand Hyatt Singapore, Mezza9, Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road, Singapore 228211
BTM Mussels & Bar
New to Duxton Hill, BTM Mussels & Bar specialises in Belgian’s national dish: Moules-frites aka mussels and fries. And after sampling what it has to offer, we’re convinced that this spot will be as popular as its neighbouring steak counterpart, L’Entrecote.
During our visit, we tried four different flavours of moules-frites: Marinières, ardennaise, thailandaises and au roquefort. Marinières is a classic flavour cooked with white wine, butter, parsley and onion for a light and flavourful broth. For something tangy, the au roquefort fits the bill with a mixture of blue cheese and cream, which helps to mellow the acidity. As much as we loved the European flavours, we were huge fans of the inventive, Asian-inspired thailandaises. Made using lime leaves, chilli, lemongrass and coconut, the tasty broth halted our minds at a crossroads for a split second before we eagerly dived in for a second spoonful. And of course, once you’re done with the rustic beauties, sop up the broth with crispy fries.
Joining us at the table was the owner of restaurant group Déliciae Hospitality Management (DHM), Olivier Bendel, and boy, was our dinner eventful. Each dish was paired with a riveting anecdote or fun fact about everything under the sun, from when he first arrived in Singapore to the proper way of preparing mussels and how he has developed over 250 mussels recipes to date. So look out for new flavours popping up on the menu from time to time.
While mussels may be the star of the menu, don’t overlook crowd-pleasers like Le Croq-Truffle, a truffle-loaded croque monsieur that is the perfect blend of salty and cheesy; bitterballen, a dutch beef meatball that is crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside; and the escargot tartes flambées, a French-style pizza that had us dreaming about the light and flaky crust for days.
BTM Mussels & Bar, 5 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089591
Don’t let the name throw you off; it’s pronounced as “one view”. And what a great view it boasts, from its perch up high on The Outpost Hotel, the city’s first adult-exclusive property in Sentosa. Housing a chill day club and a smart-casual Asian restaurant, the space beckons you with spectacular sights of the Singapore Straits, which makes it an ideal spot to watch the sun go down on another day. If you’re all about luxe beach partying, take a dip in the infinity pool or lounge on sunbeds with a cocktail in hand and a beat backdrop of groovy house, soul and nu-disco. In the mood for something heartier than bar bites? Hit up the 60-seater restaurant for sharing plates whipped up in the open kitchen. The communal menu is divided into “Terra” (land) and “Aqua” (sea) dishes, with highlights such as the Korean-inspired glazed beef oyster blade steak, Josper-grilled octopus with gochujang emulsion and lion’s head Asian hamburg. To sample a little bit of everything, we’d recommend you try the tasting menu for five to seven courses of unique, flavourful creations.
1-V:U, L7, The Outpost Hotel, 10 Artillery Avenue, Sentosa, Singapore 099951
Experts in the local F&B scene predicted that one of the food trends in 2020 would be sustainable dining, and the newly-sprouted Allium confirms that – what perfect timing too, since it’s Veganuary. It’s not a full-on vegan restaurant, but plant-based dishes like fenugreek white wine curry, pine nut and root vegetable congee, and black truffle braised beancurd steal the limelight. Meat eaters can still get their fill, although beefy dishes take up no more than one-twentieth of the menu. Wash it all down with the curated selection of wines.
Allium, #01-11, Kensington Square, 2 Jln Lokam, Singapore 537846