Start the New Year with exciting dining events and restaurant openings like a chef pop-up at Open Door Policy, the launch of Bali restaurant Naughty Nuri’s at Capitol Piazza and an adventurous nose-to-tail experience at Dehesa.
Sweet and sour pork on the rocks
Start planning ahead for Chinese New Year by booking yourself a table at this new 200-seater Cantonese restaurant at Marina Square. Owner and executive chef Fung Chi Keung of Paradise Group does not reinvent the wheel so expect modern dishes that are still very Chinese. Signatures include the traditional Peking duck with five different wraps and dipping sauces ($88 for a whole duck), grouper in lobster soup (price to be advised) and the sweet and sour pork on the rocks ($22), done hor d’oeuvres-style and served on a bed of ice to maintain its crisp texture.
The inimitable Violet Oon sets up her second restaurant at National Gallery and this time, it pays homage to Singapore’s melting pot of cultures. The menu is influenced by a mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay, Eurasian and (of course) Peranakan styles while the space reflects an opulent gentlemen’s club with an Asian slant. Dishes like ngoh hiang ($15), with chicken, prawn, crabmeat and water chestnut filling; fish head curry ($35), ikan goreng chilli ($19) and roti jala with gula Melaka and banana slices ($10) are all elevated and elegant versions of local favorites.
We excitedly wrote about Naughty Nuri’s opening its first outlet at Capitol Piazza in January 2016, and with good reason—their famous barbecued pork ribs, cooked on a smokey charcoal pit and glazed with a special house sauce are finally coming here. Last we heard, the menu will feature both elevated Western and Indonesian plates with the price range of $40-60.
Red Eye Smokehouse
Following the launch of Incognito bar by Chye Seng Huat Hardware, Jalan Besar has yet another hot new joint. Enter Red Eye Smokehouse, which offers all-American, buffet-styled spreads of beef brisket, chopped pork, pork jowl and spicy Sriracha chicken wings with a rotating menu comprising 30 cuts of meat cooked on a smoker for eight to 10 hours.
Also launching its very first Singapore outlet at Plaza Singapura is Seorae Galmaegi, a popular South Korean charcoal barbecue restaurant known for their signature Korean galmaegisal, or pork skirt. The meat is marinated with Korean spices, cooked using the restaurant’s special “circle grilling technique” and served with spicy dipping sauces. Other menu highlights include a selection of prime pork and beef cuts, melted cheese on the grill, traditional Korean stews and patbingsoo (shaved ice dessert).
Lazy Susan at Open Door Policy
Available until end January only, it’s your last chance to check out chef Hann Paclu-Chang’s creative brunch tapas-style plates that come with a (ahem) local spin. There are winners like the bbq jackfruit bum ($12), with braised young jackfruit so tender, its echoes the texture of kong ba pau (pulled pork bun); the fried carat cake ($9), stir-fried with fragrant curry sauce, sweet radish and pickled mustard greens and jalapenos and stinky meets crispy ($22), har cheong gai (fermented shrimp paste) chicken over rice flour waffles and drizzled with spicy-sweet sambal maple syrup. Delish!
Oyster with pomelo, lemon and ginger
For every slick contemporary restaurant set in a shop house, there is almost always a question of whether it’s style over substance. That is not the case for this mod Asian outfit helmed by South Korean head chef Sun Kim. The food is well thought out and nicely presented with an emphasis on a natural, organic theme. Try the wagyu tartare with egg jelly, done bulgogi-style and sprinkled with deep-fried rice krispies; the fresh Irish oyster with a tangy pomelo, lemon and ginger infusion and the johndory and claim with fregula, all part of an eight-course degustation menu (from $128). Pastry chef Tammy Mah also deserves mention—experimental creations like the blood orange cheese cake yields a delicious surprise which you’ll have to try for yourself.
Vatos Urban Tacos
Another popular South Korean franchise has made its way down to our shores with Ko-Tex-Mex tacos chain Vatos launching at South Beach Quarter. Owners Juweon Jonathan Kim, Sid Kim and Kenny Park fuses classic Mexican bites with Southern Californian and Korean twists and the menu features the signature Urban Tacos range like the galbi short rib, chili lime shrimp and braised carnitas, salads, burritos, quesadillas and a selection of burgers. Wash them all down with fun cocktails like frozen margaritas and the makgeolita, which is a mix of tequila and Korean rice wine.
This sexy new bar at the sleepy Scotts 29 enclave specializes in small handcrafted sakes that are usually only brought in once. A collaboration between in-house sake sommeliers John and Makoto and Ki-Sho’s head chef Kazuhiro Hamamoto, the space is intimate and cozy, with plush leather seats made for introspective mulling over—what else—sake. Must-haves include Kakure’s house sake, the Tatenokawa Junmai Daiginjo, Nakadori Ki-‐sho label ($60), a delicate and aromatic brew, and the Fuurosen Junmaiginjo Nakagumi, Namazake Yamahai label ($90), which has a more refined and robust taste. Hungry? Grab bar bites like the Nodoguro ($62), grilled black throat sea perch or the kohada tempura ($34), with gizzard shad in shiso leaves.
Opening this month, bar/social club/rooftop hangout Terra is jazzing up Suntec City’s sky garden and from what we can glean from social media so far, there will definitely be cocktails with botanical-infusions, plenty of Champagne and hearty Latin American-inspired bites. We’ll keep you posted with more to come.
Jean-Philippe (JP) Patruno of Bomba and Una fame is passionate about offal, and it shows in his inventive use of parts that are typically shunned in European fine dining cuisine. It’s all about casual communal dining here, so you’ll most likely be sharing a table with other diners while tucking into gems like the sauteed ducks’ hearts on toast ($10), soaked 24 hours in vinegar to tenderize the meat; the octopus wrapped in a fine layer of lardo ($28), and the Iberico jowls ($28). You also can’t miss the bone marrow ($22 for two), and if you’re game, have a go with the Dehesa platter of cold meats ($25), with pig head, pig ear, fifi pate and dry, cured sausage.