The Wine & Gourmet Friends

The hype: The newest entrant in the upscale Chinatown area was started by friends who simply wanted to create a space for people to come together and have a good meal. Hence wine tapas bistro The Wine & Gourmet Friends was born, with a focus on communal dining and quality international wines at affordable prices.

The vibe: Hidden in the corner of a shophouse on Bukit Pasoh Road, the cosy bistro seats 56, and a stellar walk-in wine cellar that would do a tipsy Carrie Bradshaw proud. An instant casual oasis on an otherwise intimidating street.

The food: Think Asian and Western tapas great for sharing. It’s finely plated food featuring familiar homey flavours—like Chef Wilson’s Prawn & Seafood Bite ($12) inspired by his mother’s homemade hei zou, or traditional deep-fried prawn roll. Fried to a crisp, they come with a side of addictive homemade acar.

The Foie Gras Lotus Leaf Rice ($18) is also a must, with a generous helping of foie gras and use of short grain rice in place of glutinous, so you get the layered flavours without the off-putting starch. For easy sharing (or indulgent hogging), get the Roast Pork Belly ($24), which near perfects the Australian Bangalore sweet pork with a thick layer of crackling skin.

If you’re down for a spot of lamb, the Lamb Trio ($30) is a mix of tender, non-odorous lamb done three ways—minced kofta, lamb rendang, and rosemary grilled lamb rack—that pairs well with the bistro’s reds. Don’t forget dessert; the Goreng Pisang ($12) innovatively twists the local street snack with banana kueh, banana leather (dehydrated banana) and rich homemade dark chocolate ice cream.

The drinks: Why wine, of course. The wine cellar holds over 300 styles of wine from more than 80 Old World and New World wine producers. Opt for a glass of red/white/rose/sparkling/sweet at just $6, though it’s certainly more fun to grab a bottle from the cellar to go decadently with your meal. Bottle prices range from $25 for a standard red (try the Breton Lorinon Crianza Doca Rioja from Spain, a medium-bodied red with hints of toasted oak; $35) up to over $1,888 for an over-the-top baller white; so there’ll always be something for every occasion. And despite the low prices, you still get a five-star experience with aerated decanting service offered.

Why you’ll be back: You’ll be hard-pressed to find another easy hangout with great wines at rock-bottom prices, plus nosh that’s on par, in the area. That, and Wine & Gourmet Friends offers a fun Sunday BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) deal, where you can bring in your own food from 12-9pm as long as you order a bottle of wine (minimum one bottle per four guests).