Hot new table alert! This new contemporary Central Asian dining concept is peppered with an exciting blend of flavours and nuggets of trivia from the Silk Road.
We thought we’d already sunk our teeth into the Silk Road when we recently embarked on an immersive journey with a certain tiny chef some time back. But we were in for yet another treat at The Nomads. Located right along the bustling Telok Ayer Street, inside Bee’s Island Drinkery, this speakeasy-style restaurant reimagines the Silk Road journey from Southern Italy to Western China, with nuances of familiar Southeast Asian flavours.
As we stepped in, we were floored by the interior and attention to detail at this petite 20-seater restaurant. You’re greeted by a wall of porcelain vessels, an ancient Chinese chess board sits majestically at the side of the shared table, and all the cutlery looks like it was shipped straight from Western China. There’s also a secret room (more on this later)…
Park yourself in the middle of the stylish omakase-style dining area where you can enjoy smells from the custom binchotan grill, and watch in awe as the chefs put final touches to your dishes.
Another crucial part of the menu is the addition of Kazakhstan flavours, a result of executive chef Dannel Krishnan and co-founder Shawn Kishore’s exciting trip to the country. “We were fortunate enough to have tasted some incredible food and experienced wonderful hospitality. It is our wish that our guests enjoy the same,” shares Chef Dannel, who also spent time in the kitchen there.
Select from three tasting menus (by reservation only), an a la carte menu or a communal menu if you book the private dining room. We tried the 17-course tasting menu (The Odyssey of Fire at $148), which startled 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 seaweed butter, served in a hollowed-out bone; the koji cured scallops with charred spiced corn and crispy lentil crackers; and Squid Laghman, a noodle dish that uses grilled squid noodles instead, because carbs.
The hearty Beshbarmak (the national dish of Kazakhstan), has a decent chunk of tender wagyu beef cheek served with a spiced broth reminiscent of bak kut teh and crispy potato sheets, while the meaty Hungarian sturgeon, a type of fish that’s particularly known to produce caviar, is also offered here. Trivia: Word has it that The Nomads is one of the only two restos in Singapore to serve this seafood.
Twelve dishes in and we gave our stomachs a break with a refreshing palate cleanser. We were then ushered to a tiny room with a shelf of knick-knacks and treasures gathered from Shawn and the team’s travels. Behind the rack sits a fab private dining area where 10 guests can enjoy a customised communal menu (a minimum spend of $2,500 is required per seating).
Off to dessert! Not a sweet tooth? You’ll appreciate that these treats are on the savoury side. Being traditionalists, we were craving for something sugary at the end, but the final two courses served up an interesting blend of flavours. Tuck into the Almaty, a tart of smoked apple ribbons with tiny dollops of gorgonzola cheese and cinnamon yoghurt, along with refreshing celery sorbet. Finally, things are kept light with Medovik (a Russian honey cake), paired with sour cream ganache, blood orange and rose crystals with yoghurt sorbet.
Exciting menu and uber-cool interior aside, 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; Lunch: 11.30am-2.30pm; Dinner: 6pm-9.30pm