Salt Grill Opens; Takumi Tokyo’s Fugu; Lolla’s Secret Suppers

Working at a publication messes with your head. It creates a warped sense of time as we’re always working in advance. Take Christmas for instance, it’s still weeks away but us media folk have already attended and partaken in more festive meals than I’d care to count (not that I’m complaining). But thanks to my overly ambitious brother, we went back to our tradition of celebrating thanksgiving at home this year (American, not Canadian). He’s also just turned a year older, so we’ve been visiting restaurants galore. Happy birthday Dam! We hit up Otto Ristorante (#01-02 Red Dot Traffic Building, 28 Maxwell Rd., 6227-6819) to catch their white Alba truffle topped dishes, while the beloved ingredient is still in season. I’m happy to report that the pastas are still as delicious as I remember.
Salt grill by Luke Mangan (55/F ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, 6592-5118) finally threw open its doors last week, with the man himself in attendance. This modern Australian establishment showcases chef Mangan’s signatures including Sydney crab omelet with miso mustard broth ($29), king fish sashimi with ginger shallot dressing ($37) and liquorice parfait ($16).
For those of you who like living a little dangerously, how about eating some potentially lethal tora fugu (tiger blowfish). Takumi Tokyo’s (2/F Marina at Keppel Bay, 2 Keppel Bay Vista, 6271-7414) master chef Nakatsuka will be in town to prepare this delicacy for a special seven-course winter kaiseki menu ($230) on Dec 3-4. Brace yourself for what some believe to be the most toxic of all blowfish, presented as thin-sliced sashimi, charcoal grilled with sweet chestnuts or deep fried with miso paste.
I was lucky enough to attend one of lolla’s secret suppers awhile ago, and it was an amazingly refreshing experience (which is no easy thing for a jaded journo to admit). While the concept of guerilla dining isn’t a new one, it’s certainly still a novelty here. On that occasion, I enjoyed some tandoori foie with pineapple salsa, five-spiced duck with fresh apples and beef rendang ribs. My new found friends and I capped off the evening with a private performance by a local all-female duo and some lemongrass and pandan “moonshine.” Just between us, a little birdy told me that the next one pops up on Dec 4. So try your luck and email [email protected] for a spot. Just go with an open mind and you’re bound to have a ball. But remember folks, tell no one.
One of the dining trends I’ve noticed that seems to really be taking flight with the restaurateurs is Spanish establishments. So it came as no surprise to me when I found out about yet another. Bilbao Restaurant & Gastrobar (#02-12 TripleOne Somerset, 111 Somerset Rd., 9115-1970), slated for a mid-Dec opening, will include a retail store, restaurant and tapas bar.