Tapas Hopping

As a dining concept, wine and tapas has caught on in a big way and many tapas bars have opened their doors in the last six months. “Tapas,” though, is no longer confined to Spanish snacks, and is now loosely used to refer to snacks and small eats of any variety. In September last year, The Moomba opened a tapas bar on its upper level, and since then Keyaki Bar, La Viva and Meze have joined the fold.
The Moomba @ Level 2
52 Circular Rd., 6438-0141.
Everyone knows The Moomba, which has been serving quality Australian cuisine in Singapore for several years now. Fewer, however, know of The Moomba @ Level 2, the wine and tapas bar located on (no prize for guessing) the second floor of the restaurant. While this establishment lacks an imaginative name, it dishes up pretty creative cuisine in line with what’s served downstairs. Try Chef Leonard Oh’s goose rilette ($15), tea smoked chicken with mustard ($10), flame torched Wagyu rib eye ($37) and a substantial cheese board ($12). Special requests for food are also entertained—and the chef is open to unusual suggestions.
As for the wine, it too is good. Over 180 labels are on offer, mostly from boutique Australian wineries and mostly exclusive to this wine bar. A large selection is available by the glass, in the very affordable price range of $9-14. Seating only 30, this is a cozy wine bar suitable for small groups who want to congregate after work for a drink and a chat. It can feel a little squished, but after a few glasses of nice wine, you might not notice.
Keyaki Bar
G/F, Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Blvd., 6826-8330.
Tapas takes on a twist at this swanky bar. Specializing in sake and shochu, Keyaki Bar also presents a cute international menu of snacks (from $7). At the Japanese end of the spectrum are items like grilled duck with asparagus and yellow mustard, or roasted octopus balls, while Western options include prawn ragout with melted cheese on toast and seared tuna with olive salsa on potato pancakes.
But the real stars here are the drinks. The good folks behind this bar have concocted the lethal “saketini” ($25 per glass)—a combo of sake and martini, as its name implies. Available in lychee, peach, melon, orange and other flavors, this drink is touted as a “ladies” cocktail, and we presume that means it is elegant and not that it is mild. Purists might prefer straight sake and shochu, served in varying strengths and, for sake, temperatures. After a few down here, head up to Pan Pacific’s well established Keyaki restaurant for a real Japanese feast.
Meze—Asian Tapas Bar
2/F, Grand Tower, Meritus Mandarin, 333 Orchard Rd., 6737-4411.
Opened in December last year, Meze is part of Meritus Mandarin’s much talked about revamp that included two of its restaurants, Chatterbox and Pine Court. As the name of this bar suggests, it serves Asian snacks such as crispy seafood “pencils” ($4) and shrimp and parsley sand dollars ($6). Although it calls itself a tapas bar, it is quick to emphasize that it offers so much more than just small eats and drinks. Bartenders concoct flamboyant, brightly colored cocktails presented in fancy glasses with frilly garnishes, and whole look and feel of the place is more clubby than laid back. DJs spinning funky tunes add to the atmosphere, as do live bands. It seems as though this place is trying to be everything all at once—let’s hope it pulls it off.
La Viva
#01-12/14/14 CHIJMES, 30 Victoria St., 6339-4290.
At La Viva, traditional Spanish tapas is served with a wide variety of sangria (from $12 per glass), some of which are quite inventive. To suit our muggy climate, a tropical fruit sangria has been concocted comprising lychee, pineapple and mint in Chardonnay and brandy. Also fresh and fruity is the peach sangria, with peach slices floating in peach flavored Chardonnay and brandy. Just peachy! For something stronger, try sangria with Pimm’s, sparkling white wine (cava), orange juice and cucumber, or champagne with cranberry juice and brandy soaked cranberries.
To line your stomach, there are brushcettas ($6-8), Mediterranea salads ($10-13), gazpacho ($7), as well as more substantial fare such as Spanish omelettes ($8), beef stew ($12) and paella ($22). Sangria makes its way into the food menu too: There’s sangria-marinated choriza ($12) and pears poached in sangria ($7) for a heady finish to your meal.