In this month's edition of Hot New Tables: Meta, Kai Garden, Aloha Poke, Kite, National Kitchen by Violet Oon and more
Happy 2016 once again, foodie folks! Was going on a diet not on your New Year’s Resolution list? Good. Because with this buzzing wave of restaurants popping up in the culinary scene to welcome the next 365 days of happy feasting, you’re gonna wanna save some space in your belly. From French-Asian fusion to Thai fried chicken, unorthodox Cantonese to Hawaiian raw fish salad, we kick start the year with these fresh-faced food haunts.
Yet another reason why the Keong Saik neighbourhood is such a haven for foodies! Recently opened is this resto that whips up French cuisine with an Asian twist, helmed by Head Chef, Sun Kim, who’s earned his stripes in Waku Ghin and Tetsuya’s in Sydney. The highlights on this menu? Titillate those taste buds with a wagyu beef tartare served with pear kimchi, egg jelly and rice, or savour Hokkaido scallops with endive, miso and squid ink crackers. But for a real treat, try the slow-cooked grass-fed beef short rib topped off with parsnip and oyster mushroom.
Meta, 9 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089117, p. 6513 0898. Open Mon-Sat 5.30pm-12am, closed Sun.
If you didn’t know any better, you would’ve mistaken this new Ann Siang fixture for some Thai mamak shop (blame the tacky signage). But step inside this ‘Palace of Thai Chicken’, and you’d serendipitously discover that it’s actually the new brainchild of Artichoke Chef, Bjorn Shen. And if the flamboyant, vibrant décor doesn’t overwhelm you, the selection of fried chicken specialties sure will. Get finger-licking into Chef Bjorn’s gai tod (Southern-Thai fried chicken served with caramelised chilli jam), or the gai yang (an Isaan-style smoky BBQ chicken dished out with chilli tamarind sauce). Or if you’d rather reassure yourself that you’re still being ‘healthy’, the som tum taad is one papaya salad that will pacify those qualms…at least ’til you get to the fried chicken skins.
Bird Bird, 18 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069698, p. 6635 2536. Open Tue-Fri 6.30pm-9.45pm, Sat-Sun 11.30am-2.45pm, closed Mon.
And we thought we’d seen everything when Chef Fung Chi Keung put his technicolour spin on xiao long baos at Paradise Dynasty. Now no longer part of the Paradise Group and the owner of his new Cantonese restaurant at Marina Square, Chef Fung has tossed in a kaleidoscopic twist yet again – this time, on peking duck. Expect five different wraps (pumpkin, charcoal, spinach, beetroot and traditional) and five dipping sauces (sesame, black pepper, prawn and crab, mixed and traditional), snazzing up the flavours that come with this crispy, succulent delicacy. Other must-tries include grouper in lobster soup (an evenly-steamed fillet served in an umami-rich broth), sweet and sour pork ‘on the rocks’ (the traditional dish is served on an ‘ice mountain’, that accentuates the tangy tastes), and the squid ink-infused charcoal pork bun (crispy on the outside, meaty and soupy on the inside). A good pick for Chinese New Year, if you ask us!
Kai Garden, #03-128A/B Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039594, p. 6250 4826. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am-3.30pm and 6pm-11pm, Sat 11am-4pm, closed Sun.
Vegetarians, you might wanna sit this one out. Carnivores, on the other hand, prove how much you love your meat by munching down on everything…and we mean everything. Newly established by Chef-Owner, Jean-Philippe Patruno, Dehesa (meaning “grasslands” in Spain, home of the Iberico pig) prides itself on serving audacious alternative cuts. Hungry for some Iberico jowls? How about some ox hearts with pesto or pig ears with terrine? And if you’re adventurous, why not top it off with a crispy pig head served with egg yolk and capers? Certainly not for the squeamish.
Dehesa, 12 North Canal Road, Singapore 048825, p. 6221 7790. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-11pm, closed Sun.
Aside from chilling like a sloth and soaking in some beachy sunshine whenever we make visits to Bali, getting our hands dirty with Naughty Nuri’s Warung’s smoky BBQ pork ribs in Ubud is usually stuffed into our to-do list. So obviously, we were stoked when we heard that the Indonesian franchise was swooping down all the way here, bringing with it its signature specialties of fall-off-the-bone meat and glug-worthy martinis. Prices are slightly more expensive here at the SG chain, but better than booking a flight all the way to Bali, right?
Naughty Nuri’s Singapore, #01-84 Capitol Piazza, Singapore 178884, p. 6384 7955.
The Korean wave continues to expand its influence here, and we’re not just talking about K-pop! The craze for grilled pork skirt meat – otherwise known as galmaegisal – has finally reached our shores with the arrival of this Korean charcoal BBQ joint. Marinated with Korean spices and cooked with a special ‘circle grilling’ technique, the juicy cut found between the ribs and belly of the pig has a melt-in-your-mouth wagyu texture that we can never pass up on. To fully enhance the meat, dip it in the onion and spicy sauces, and relish it together with silky eggs and garlic for an extra kick. You won’t regret it!
Seorae Galmaegi, #02-01 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road, Singapore 238839, p. 6238 8429. Open daily 11am-10pm.
As the name would suggest, The South Beach’s All Day Hotel Dining (ADHD) restaurant provides a myriad of whimsical design features and quirky art that’ll keep your attention meandering from your food. Like the rest of the hotel, ADHD bears the design hallmarks of famed French designer Philippe Starck. But don’t let the vibrant visuals distract you too much from the food. ADHD’s kitchen serves up a fine a selection of local and international dishes that include the quintessentially Asian fried rice and the signature truffled oxtail – the latter prepared with a breaded crust that perfectly complements the soft shredded meat within.
ADHD. 30 Beach Road, Singapore 189763. p. 6818 1888. Open Mon-Fri 6.30am-10.30am, 12pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 6.30am-11am, 12pm-11pm.
International comfort food with a modern twist is this bar restaurant’s charter. Multi-ethnic roots and years of experience have given Head Chef, Dannel Krishnan, the edge he needs in putting together Kite’s menu of revisited classics. Offerings like Ubin sea bass with lotus root, sunflower seeds and sprouts and somen served with lap cheong oil and prawns are sure to comfort diners with a taste for the less ordinary. Have a hankering for something sweet? Indulge in Kite’s take on the classic American s’more served with hazelnut praline and brown butter marshmallows. If you’re up for some tipples to enhance your dinner and dessert, Bar Manager Samuel Sim, will set you up with a selection of exquisite cocktails that feature local and Asian twists.
Kite, 53 Craig Road, Singapore 089691. p. 9729 7988. Open Tue-Fri 12pm-2.30pm 6pm-12am, Sat-Sun 6pm-12am.
While Hawaiian sun, sand and surf might be an ocean away, traditional Hawaiian fare makes its way to the CBD at Aloha Poké. Founded by two Singaporean couples that were bitten by the Poké bug while vacationing in Hawaii, this casual, colourful eatery specialises in the traditional Hawaiian raw fish salad. Here you’ll get to design your own tasty bowl by picking your choice of house-marinated poke (Ahi tuna, salmon and vegetarian), two complimentary add-ons and one superfood from its comprehensive selection. Want to beat the lunchtime rush? Aloha Poké allows you to order via email a day in advance.
Aloha Poke, 92 Amoy Street, Singapore 069911. p. 6221 6165. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm 5.30pm-late.
This collaboration between founder Elliot Decker and restaurateur Min Chan sees authentic Texan cuisine come to Singapore, strangely, by way of Bali. The casual restaurant seats diners on large picnic-like benches, perfect for sharing the massive slabs of beef brisket, ribs and pulled pork. Complement your carnivorous chow-down sesh with a selection of equally-American side dishes like mac & cheese and brisket beans. While the restaurant’s cast of meats cooked low and slow take centrestage, beer connoisseurs can wash down their sticky barbecued meats with a selection of crafty brews that include Red Hook, Shiner Bock and Brooklyn Lager.
Decker Barbecue, 60 Robertson Quay, #01-17, The Quayside. Open Tue-Sun, 6pm-11pm. Closed on Mon.
Fat Saigon Boy
Newcomers to the Vietnamese food scene, Fat Saigon Boy, will hook you up with steaming bowls of beef, charred chicken and the vegetarian fried mushroom pho. Fans of Vietnamese cuisine will find all their favourites here, but might be surprised to discover the restaurant’s Australian roots when they chance upon bottles of Cooper’s Ale on the menu. The restaurant, helmed by Cang Lai who hails from Melbourne, shows off its Australian influences with a selection of brioche sliders and desserts like Vietnamese tiramisu with nutted praline and coffee créme.
Fat Saigon Boy, 14 Ann Siang Road, Singapore 069694. p. 6221 6784. Open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm 6pm-10pm. Closed on Sun.
Vatos Urban Tacos
The idea of a Korean-Mexican restaurant might raise eyebrows, but this Seoul-born taco chain has more than proved its staying power in Korea. Its first foray onto Singaporean shores sees the taco chain land at The South Beach. Casual, modern and painfully hip, diners at Vatos can expect raw brick walls and industrial chic décor. The menu features all the Mexican standards you’d expect, with a Korean twist. We’re talking kimchi quesadillas, kimchi carnitas fries and Galbi short rib tacos served with a ssamjang aioli sauce. And if you think all they do is revel in the novelty of tossing kimchi on burritos, straight-up Mexican classics like carne asada tacos, fajita burritos and tamales will prove you wrong.
Vatos Urban Tacos, 36 Beach Road, Singapore 189677. Open Sun-Thu 11.30am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11.30am-12am.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon
Is there anyone better than renowned food connoisseur Violet Oon to helm the Singapore’s national kitchen, if there was actually an official one? We think not – and the family couldn’t have chosen a better name for their second restaurant at the Gallery. The new digs is decidedly more posh than its comfy-chic Bukit Timah establishment, complete with black marbled surfaces, gold accents, framed Peranakan tiles, and edible herb foliage with scents of curry leaves and turmeric to whet your appetite. Of course, the menu is Singaporean through-and-through, with Indian, Hainanese and Eurasian flavours in its all-day breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner plates.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon, #02-01 National Gallery Singapore (City Hall Wing), Singapore 178957, p. 9834 9935.