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Small Plates

Small Plates

Assorted tapas, starters, finger food, gastropub grub and the likes, that I like. These are the ones that fall into the grey area of a standard menu. They also happen to be great as multiple orders for sharing.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

Executive Chef David Tang has been busy creating a slew of new dishes. A native Californian, he’s looked to his formative years on the West Coast of America for inspiration while at the same time, shifted to using more ingredients sourced right here in Singapore. The result - light, fresh yet delightfully moreish creations. Exemplifying this were the small plates we kicked off our meal with. One of which was the Burrata made locally by an Italian, its creaminess cleverly offset by an appetising acidity of green tomatoes, lime juice and fermented chillies.

My parents and I were bowled over by this Red Grouper Claypot Teochew Style. Apart from it being really generous in serving for a small-sized order, the simmering broth was extraordinarily appetising thanks to the addition of several “sng buay” (sour plums). It was also chockfull of thickly-sliced grouper (other types of fish are also available), “tau kee” (dried beancurd skin), “tau hu” (soft beancurd), Chinese cabbage and tomatoes.
Best thing to enjoy this with? A bowl of steaming hot rice. Mmmmmm...

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Being bowled over by an eggplant isn’t something that happens often. But that night, I was. The smoky, soft vegetable was accompanied by hummus, za’atar and caramelised soy to supremely delicious effect. I wanted another the moment I took a bite. Too good.

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New to the menu, this is stunning in every sense of the word. Besides the visual impact, the glossy, juicy beetroot glazed in kampot pepper caramel, and displayed on ultra light, crispy puff pastry, tastes spectacular. It is a brilliant match with the accompanying King Salmon Rillette.

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Chef Alan brought this plate of balls straight from the oven and they smelled insane.
We couldn’t resist gobbing on the Comte Cream like it was going out of fashion before popping the cheese bread balls into our mouths. Slightly hard on the outside, they are softer within, and are tantalisingly delicious.
Warning: It’s very hard to stop once you get started on them. But you must because there are so many other delectable dishes on the menu to try.

It’s official, 2020 is the year I became a lamb-eater. Helping to seal the deal was this rendition of the meat by Chef Jay and his team at Cheek Bistro.
Although it was very slightly gamey (at least to super-sensitive me), I could overlook it as the combined charms of the melt-in-the-mouth fat and fine layer of crackling caramelised glaze (made from lamb jus and balsamic vinegar), were too lip-smackingly tasty.

The Hasselback Potatoes aren’t cheap at $16++ but oh my goodness, are they outstanding!
These potatoes which are scored with precise cuts are fried till golden-brown on the outside, come with a truckload of sour cream and finely-chopped chives. Eating them all together is simply heavenly.
If you love potatoes, you must not miss out on giving this a go.

My friends could not stop gushing over their waffles loaded with chicken liver parfait but the whipped ricotta has been my preferred for a while now. Loved how the light, lemon-scented cheese harmonised with the date jam and pickled mustard seeds. I was quivering with joy at every bite.

What a revelation! All other popcorn in the world probably dream of being this. Enhanced with some smoked miso, it‘s simultaneously sweet, toasty, succulent and crunchy. An absolute dream to eat and a must to order.

Everyone needs to make a beeline for this. It combines aromatics-forward finely-minced prawn with fragrant and crunchy brown butter toast for an enthralling bite. What a joy it was to eat!

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When you tap on the geotag or hashtags related to @cheek.sg, you are bound to see a number of posts with the famous Chicken Liver Parfait Waffle. Its fame is understandable given the spot-on combination of a savoury mousse of meat cream, sweet date jam, crunchy mustard seeds and fragrant, light, crisp freshly-baked batter.
But I ordered the vegetarian version for the first time yesterday and was instantly smittened. Just look at that beauty above. In place of the chicken liver was a fat squiggle of ricotta whipped to fluffiness with a little cream, and finished with lemon zest sauce. It had a swoon-worthy mouthfeel as there’s surprising weight in the puff of whiteness. I thought it was divine in every way.
Do give it a try when you visit.

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Priced between $1.40 and $1.60, these local snacks are as satisfying gastronomically as they are aesthetically.
Made by hand in small batches by the couple who operates this hawker stall in Old Airport Road Food Centre (they work really long days, beginning at 6.30am and ending around 5.30pm), the crispy puffs are an irresistible combination of a deepfried crust formed by layers of thin, flaky pastry, and delicious fillings that, in the case of the savoury options, are wetter than most.
My mum loves their classic curry chicken and potatoes, but I am partial to the sardine myself as it has a refreshing note of lime that vanquishes fishiness. The black pepper chicken is not a commonly found filling which is why it has its fans.
For those with a sweet tooth, you might be interested in giving their crispy yam puff a try.

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Follow me on Instagram (@veronicaphua) for much more content! 😊

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