Restaurant Gems

Restaurant Gems

My choice of standout dishes that are above typical cafe fare. They range from semi-formal to almost fine dining.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

I always try to order my favourite Amela Tomato Soup as my starter. It comes with housemade crusty bread and whipped tomato butter. When these three elements unite, I can’t help but swoon. A must-try in my opinion.

(Invited Tasting)
The folks behind the popular Miznon have opened a new restaurant.
Situated at 120 Amoy Street, @northmiznonsg is the first of Chef @eyaltomato’s NORTH full service restaurant concept in Asia, after launching it in Vienna and New York.
Prices here are understandably steeper than at fast casual #MiznonSg because this place specialises in highlighting the flavours of Israeli cuisine and using as much market-fresh produce and ingredients as possible in their menu of small and large plates. They also try to make whatever they can from scratch.
I was told Chef Eyal has been visiting our local wet markets every morning since the restaurant opened last Saturday. This approach is why you can expect about a third or more of NORTH Miznon’s food menu to change daily, depending on what is available. After he leaves Singapore, Chef @orhakmimi will take charge of this.
Clearly designed for sharing, the menu lists many seasonal vegetables, and larger fish and meat items. The style of cooking across the board is unfussy but unabashedly flavourful, with the innate goodness of each carefully-picked quality ingredient dialed up to the max. Some credit must be given to the Atlantic sea salt which the team isn’t coy about sprinkling. I love it! But I can foresee a few who will disagree.
Anyway, here is what was served to @fat_fuku and I during the tasting:

1. Focaccia - Although there isn’t a pita in sight at #NORTHMiznon, there’s free-flow focaccia! Topped with fresh tomatoes, green chillies and onions, the olive oil-splashed baked dough is light, chewy and 100% addictive. Served with crème fraîche and olive oil, it’s divided with the same kind of cleaver used by butchers and fishmongers in Singapore’s wet market because Chef Eyal was inspired after his visits there.

2. Seafood Platter ($68++) - I enjoyed this a lot. The crabs, prawns and baby squid were fresh and cooked perfectly, having been roasted in a simple lemon butter sauce. Tip: Wipe the focaccia in the sauce at the bottom of the pan - ultra shiokness awaits.

3. Naked Heirloom Tomatoes - You might baulk at the $19++ price tag of this but I believe they are worth every cent. Extremely juicy and sweet, they’re lashed with Greek olive oil and a generous amount of Atlantic sea salt.

4. Sirloin Roast Beef Carpaccio ($47++) - Literally draped on a real rock, the slices of A Grade pink meat were silky, very tender and tasty. Again, I love that they didn’t play coy with the salt.

5. Burning Yellow Potato ($21++) - Hailing from Germany, the tuber was split and filled to overflowing with sour cream and chopped salad for a lovely contrast.

6. Giant Octopus Carpaccio ($47++) - Also served draped over a rock, the flavour and texture of the seafood were unerring. Dressing was minimal and rightly so because the octopus was doing just fine on its own.

7. Wild Grouper ($15++ for 100gms)- One of my favourites from the meal, the cross-section cut of the large fish was roasted with Mediterranean vegetables in olive oil and wine. I really enjoyed the moist flesh of the fish and the uncomplicated deliciousness of the dish. Serious fish-lovers might want to consider having one to themselves.

8. Fennel Bulb ($17++) - Vegetarians can look forward to having a hard time deciding what to order at @northmiznonsg but this particular item should not be missed as it’s really juicy and wonderfully sweet.

9. Dessert Platter - The two of us shared a Malabi (milk pudding in a rose syrup with pistachios), a slice of Naked Chocolate Cake, a square of “Ants Nest” Cake with a Queen Hojar glaze (our unanimous fave) and a wedge of freshly baked Blood Plums Tarte.

To pair with the food, they can rustle up a cocktail or pour a glass of wine, including a few labels from Israel.
The vibe at NORTH Miznon is similar to Miznon - relaxed, fun and lively. Even without any music in the background, I could feel the place crackle with energy from the guests and team last night.

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Besides ordering all our favourites from our first visit–the Black Bean Mascarpone with Oven-baked Sourdough Chips ($16) and the Domi Carpaccio ($24) just to name a few–we made sure to try new items on our second visit to Anju.
The Yuk Hoe or Beef Tartare ($28) which I’d had my eye on previously, was one of them. Deliciously seasoned, the chopped beef which had a really satisfying mouthfeel and chew, needed to be mixed thoroughly with the charred bits of kale and quail’s egg yolk. The meat exuded a lovely fragrance and was even more enjoyable paired with the refreshing ribbons of sweet Korean pear. No surprise my god-daughter voted this one of her favourites of the night as she is a fan of good beef tartare.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
@regentsingapore will launch “Chef’s Playground” on 21st April 2021. It’s a creative space for all their chefs (from the Italian chefs at Basilico to the pastry chef for Tea Lounge and Dolcetto), to get creative in the kitchen.
Coming up first will be a Gold-leafed Truffle Ricotta Burnt Cheesecake topped with shavings of Norcia black truffles. The cake itself is incredibly creamy as ricotta seirass, a fresh cow’s milk curd from Piedmont, is used along with cream cheese. Since Italians have a flair for the dramatic, a knob of fresh truffle and a jar of Basilico’s coveted truffle honey (this is insane - I love it!) are also included for further lavishing to your heart’s content.
At 9pm on 21st April 2021, 30 of this Gold-leafed Truffle Ricotta Burnt Cheesecake Sets will be available for purchase online via @regentsingapore’s link-in-bio. So do mark your calendars to standby for this indulgent deliciousness.
To get first dibs on Regent Singapore’s chefs’ upcoming off-the-menu creations, please follow the hotel’s account as that will be where each exclusive release will be announced.

Noticeably unique is the complimentary bread Bedrock starts you off with - an extremely soft and puffy pita-like pocket. Made fresh on the spot, it reaches you steaming hot, and when spread with the accompanying salted butter and creamy whole cloves of roasted garlic, hits you dead centre in the swoon-trigger button.

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A few days ago, when my trusted foodie friend @szeliang888 praised the Fish & Chips he had for lunch at Cheek Bistro, I immediately made a mental note to give it a try. He’s right. It is really very good.
I found it fascinating to hear from
Head Chef Jay (@losinghairdiaries) that they use Snapper and brine the fish in order to get a firmer texture and more flavour. He also mentioned that Suntory draught beer is the key ingredient to get the batter light yet crunchy.
To be frank, this has been one of the rare few Fish & Chips I‘ve ever eaten that did not require me to spam it with extra sauces or condiments. The accompanying housemade tartare sauce (it contains in-house fermented green chilli!) and side of green peas (this is as far removed from the classic style of English mushy peas as creatively possible) proved to be sufficiently formidable in tastiness.

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Making an appearance for the first time today at Spago Bar & Lounge on the 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands is this Wagyu Tongue Tacos.

And what an interesting Mexican-Indian hybrid it is.

Inspired by staff meals cooked by the Indian members of their international kitchen team, this features made-from-scratch tortillas and very tender cubes of Wagyu tongue cooked in masala spices, and then smoked with cloves and ghee. Fresh avocado, airy-light, crunchy pork crackling puffs and a side of creamy raita (yes, you read right, it’s the team’s take on the Indian yogurt with chopped onions and cucumber) amp things up further, elevating this exotic and very tasty taco to greater textural heights.

We were besotted from first bite!

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H O S T E D

Having dined there several times before, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar is a place I know very well. So when Gastrosense PR agency invited me for a media tasting of their seasonal lunch set menu, I readily agreed as I’ve always enjoyed the food, ambience and service there.

A few items from the wide selection of appetisers, mains and desserts were picked for us to try, starting with a very appetising Hamachi Salad. What made this substantial starter of thickly-cut, lightly-cured fish with avocado, mixed seeds and lettuce stand out for me was the dressing. It’s far from typical as it featured a warmed grapeseed oil poured over chipotle, Korean chilli powder, ground cumin, ground fennel and anatto seeds.

I was delighted to find my favourite Samosas offered as a choice of appetiser. Crispy of skin and generously filled with moist, tasty minced chicken (it’s a mix of thigh and breast), they came with a cool cilantro yogurt dip.

If you like soups, do give the Butternut Squash Minestrone a try as it is more complex than the ones out there due to a mellow heat from fresh chili. The sourdough croutons, sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with salt before being dropped in, were a nice touch.

I have never, ever dined at this restaurant and not ordered the Calamari with foamy Yuzu Dip. Loved how light and crunchy the coating was like always.

For the mains, we tried a seafood, two kinds of meat and a pasta.

The Sea Trout - a sesame seed-encrusted fillet plated with blanched spinach, sautéed potatoes, passionfruit purée and black olive oil that came away in nice, large flakes, was light and lovely.

Between the Veal Milanese with sweet potato, dried cranberry and arugula and the Borrowdale Free Range Pork, I preferred the latter as it had a heftier bite and was accompanied by tasty stewed peppers. But the former is ideal for those of you who enjoy your meat with a bright salad.

The vegetarian Fresh Tagliatelle with Pistachio Pesto and Roasted Brussels is something I‘d order again anytime. It had great depth of flavour and a subtle kick from Thai green chillies.

We got to try all four desserts and even though the classic Salted Caramel Ice-cream Sundae delivered in every way, I was distracted by the newer creations. My fave was the Chestnut Panna Cotta with Mandarin Coulis - it’s something different and truly scrumptious. The Cinnamon Apple Cake with Macadamia Nut Crumble rivalled it but call me old-fashioned, I would prefer vanilla ice-cream instead of the green apple sorbet. The Strawberry Sundae with Kaffir Lime Meringue really wow-ed me as well, especially the ice-cream bit.

Priced at $38++ and $42++ for 2 and 3 courses respectively, with top-ups required for certain dishes, the new Weekday Lunch Set is yet another reason to visit the beautiful Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar more often.

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H O S T E D

Because of Chef-turned-Restaurateur Marco Pierre White who hosted us for lunch a few weeks ago at his iconic restaurant, I got to indulge not only in English classics but dishes that were inspired by certain flavours he has enjoyed in Singapore. Prepared by Head Chef Andrew Bennett and his team, I found the dishes of the latter undeniably delicious due to interesting twists.

The Quail Scotch Eggs ($5++ a piece) we began our meal with, are a mini version of the original. Wrapped in perfectly-seasoned housemade sausage meat and with the yolk still runny within, each was a joy to munch.

The moment I spotted Pressed Calf’s Tongue ($22++) on the menu, I couldn’t not have it. And was pleased as punch to learn the tender meat was every bit as good as I’d hoped.

The “Honey Roast Pork Belly Marco Polo”, one of the locally-inspired creations, thoroughly charmed me. Set against a backdrop of tasty dark sauce, the pork belly chunks melted in the mouth so beautifully while the airy-light pork skin crackers and silky “hor fun” noodles provided great textural contrast. It is available in two portion options of $42++ and $77++.

But the dish that had me sit up and go wow was the supremely appetising “Braised Short Rib with Singapore Spicy Tendon Sauce” ($40++). Head Chef Andrew revealed there’s chilli padi and soya sauce in there which explains the mouthwatering burn and obvious Asian flavour facet.

To accompany the meat, there was an assortment of sides that included buttered garden peas, beef fat chips, creamed spinach with horseradish and fresh pomme frites that saw our lunch companion Ghillie James, become quickly addicted to. And no wonder, the number of steps taken to make each piece of that delectable French fry is crazy, based on what Chef Andrew told us.

For dessert (each priced
at $16++), I chose the “Champagne-poached Strawberries with Vanilla Panna Cotta” and in a blink of an eye, made it history. Yums.

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Even though I had quite a lot of pasta the night before, I still nursed a craving for more. So for my main course, I zeroed in on the “Fresh Tagliatelle with Clams, Chilli and Parsley”.
Besides being really Instagrammable, I found the dish beguilingly tasty. The flavour profile of the perfectly al dente pasta struck me as being light and fresh at first, especially with those soft-cooked sweet tomatoes, but the heat from tiny chillies crept in like stealthy ninjas, creating an even more mouthwatering bowl of pasta.

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If you like or want to try freshly-shucked oysters dressed in bold flavours, the new offerings at Tanuki Raw Orchard Central could be right up your alley. Take your pick of toppings from their fragrant truffle soya sauce with chives and shio kombu, rich mentaiko mayo, pops of ikura and the housemade chinmi-chilli (a zingy green chilli) for $6 a piece.
Purists, you haven’t been forgotten - there is the always option to savour your oysters naked.

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During the lunch with our friends from Hongkong, Executive Sous Chef Bryan was kind enough to send us this special-of-the-day to try.

Pan-seared carefully so it’s only slightly cooked inside, the plump and juicy Hokkaido Scallops came in an appetising blend of Chinese-style black bean sauce, chilli, red capsicum, ginger and soya sauce. With crisp “bok choy” and silky-soft mash filling out the dish, the scallops qualified as a light meal in itself.

Through being served this, I learned that on top of their regular menu, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar offers an ever-changing selection of items every day. So be sure to ask about them when you visit. You’ll never know what deliciousness Executive Chef Lisa and her team have up their sleeves.

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