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Fusion Flavours

Fusion Flavours

Sometimes, combining cuisines or food that don't usually belong together, can lead to delicious results.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

I love this modern take on the Korean bibimbap.
The hearty salad is built around a large piece of smoky bincho-grilled salmon that’s done so beautifully the flesh falls smoothly away in thick moist flakes. It is planted on a mound of flavourful hijiki seaweed rice and is surrounded on all sides by as many Korean “banchan” (assorted pickled/marinated vegetables) as Jon Snow was by White Walkers (ok, that may be an exaggeration 😆). Anyway, the bold punch of savoury-sweet “gochujang” sauce, sesame seeds and chilli guarantees this is as far from meek and mild as a salad can possibly get.
If you are in the MBS area and fancy escaping for a solo or quick lunch at the breezy and relaxed Bar & Lounge area of @spagosingapore, I think this is a pretty darn perfect choice.

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I was under the impression that Roketto Izakaya, Willin Low’s latest concept, was tucked in a corner of his existing establishment Relish, but nope, it is actually what the whole of Relish becomes (yes, with twinkling fairy lights and all) when the sun sets. So basically, Willin has two concepts in his space at Fraser’s Tower. I also just learned there’s a private entrance now as well. So do turn left when you get off the escalator on level two, go through the auto doors and head out the glass door at your ten o’clock. It will take you through a rooftop garden, directly to Relish/Roketto.
The place was quite quiet when my friend Annette and I arrived around 6pm on a Wednesday but was full at 8pm when we left. Once we settled our drinks—there’s a good selection of sakes, draft beers and sours but I had a strawberry milkshake (don’t laugh) and Annette, a Yuzu Soda—the menu-perusing began. Despite being tempted to order many of Willin’s Mod Sin creations, we sensibly shared the following...

From the Individual Bites:

1. Fish Collagen Broth ($5) - I liked this creamy, dairy-free soup a lot. Another bowl would not have gone amiss.
2. Mala Prawn Donut ($6.50/$7.50) - We both adored this! Seconds were required.
3. Black Pepper Crab Donut ($6.50++) - Richer than I expected as it has a creamy filling.
4. Bak Chor Mee Negitoro ($15) - Appetising mix of raw minced tuna and glass noodles.

As for the bigger Sharing Plates, we chose:

1. Aburaage Rojak Salad ($15) - Shiokness! We liked the twist of the “hae go” appearing as an ice-cream. It complemented the Tiger prawns, crisp Japanese “tau pok”, fresh pineapples, jicama and mango really nicely.
2. Har Jeong Tin Gai ($12) - Our server was adamant we order this. Glad we listened to her. The shrimp paste battered and fried frog legs were highly addictive, more so with the young ginger kosho.
3. Krapow Prata Pizza ($13.80) - Every bite of the flaky crust loaded with fragrant, spicy minced chicken, cheese, chilli and Thai basil had us cooing with pleasure.
4. Sarawak Curry Chicken Shepherd’s Pie ($15.80) - This began life as a staff meal but was so tasty Willin decided to add it to Roketto’s menu.

For dessert, we shared the Wild Rocket Strawberry Cheesecake ($9.20), one of Chef @willcookwilleat’s long-time signatures, and the Fresh Pineapple Sorbet ($7.80). I preferred the former personally but the latter with touches of chilli padi and soy sauce salt, would be ideal for those hankering after something more refreshing and exotic.

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Chef Ming Kiat is gifted in unshackling the DNA of traditional flavours and harnessing it, along with the “feeling”, to create shockingly sublime dishes that leave you staring at them in awe as you eat. The current menu (it changes monthly) has some of the most imaginative and delicious tasting Mod Sin (Modern Singaporean) creations that have ever landed on my palate. With each (details listed below), I was astounded, dazzled and ultimately, satisfied to no end. Here is the complete list:

1. Insanely good opener of seared local squid, in a laksa leaf pesto, enlivened with pickled green apple and a kerabu (Asian salad) of wing bean, mint and red onions.

2. Chockfull of Hokkaido scallop and fish maw, the chawanmushi was steamed in a stock of dried seafood and Jinghua ham, and topped with a very umami housemade X.O sauce. Extremely flavourful and a favourite of many.

3. Highly imaginative course of Ebi Katsu (crunchy prawn and fish patty) in a pool of Chef Ming’s tartare sauce which was concocted from fish chowder, turmeric leaf, laksa leaves, coriander and belimbing.

4. The herbal duck and Japanese mushrooms hot pot is a great example of minimal waste done to really tasty results. While the bones were brewed with Chinese medicinal herbs, the thighs were made into meatballs and the body meat, sliced and poached.

5. One of my favourites was the dish derived from Indonesian Soto soup featuring local grouper. Roast chicken stock was reduced to a “bumbu” (spice paste) and enriched with butter to become a velvety-smooth and terrifically aromatic gravy. Served with it, a smoked fish bergedil that was good on its own but better soaked in the gravy.

6. Chef Ming’s version of his mum’s Popiah Porridge is pure comfort food. The taste was sweet and savoury due to the simmering of turnip, carrots, cabbage, “hae bee” (dried shrimp) and Japanese rice in a potent prawn stock.

7. Peranakan meets Italian in the form of fresh egg noodles with buah keluak oxtail ragout. Adding sambal belachan and fresh lime juice brought the rich earthy flavours of the ragout to another level.

8. Nothing is straightforward with this team. For a palate cleanser, Chef Shin Yin made us a sorbet of cold-pressed star fruit juice and served it on Japanese muscat grapes and pomelo from Ipoh.

9. Baked a la minute, the piping hot orange sugee cake came with a scoop of spiced ice-cream that’s made in-house with cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. I doubt there could be a more perfect ending to this amazing meal.

H O S T E D
I’m not kidding when I say my friend Dex and I were blown away by the Superior Prawn Mee Pok ($19++) here. It is a mouthwatering creation that is unlike any other prawn noodles I’ve had. The thin strands of silky “mee pok” are cooked al dente in a lusciously rich gravy-broth made from prawn heads. There is a whole bunch of ingredients in it: tiger prawns, pork, half an egg and sakura ebi. What I love most though is the small chewy pieces of “lap cheong” or preserved Chinese sausage. They use the type that’s imported from Hongkong, so the Chinese wine-fragrant meat adds a delicate sweetness that is intoxicatingly good with the savoury profile of the dish.

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We were told by our server that the new “Seabass Pasta” happens to be very popular, especially with the kids. It’s apparent why this is so once we started eating it.
The dish featured a large piece of the fish which was very fresh, alongside a decent serving of tagliatelle cooked in a really tasty nori cream sauce. Somehow the umami-ness of the seaweed balanced out the cream so it never veered into “jelak-dom”. The topping of crunchy tobikko and the crisp acidity of pickled radish also helped.

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H O S T E D
If you’ve dined at Ken Loon‘s passion project @magicsquare.sg before, you may find the curry leaf cream sauce accompanying the pan-roasted Kuhlbarra Barramundi ($24.90) familiar. Yup, it is one and the same and is still as dizzyingly aromatic and mouthwateringly good as
when Chef Desmond Shen (@dzzfizz) served it back then. Here, you get to enjoy a generous serving of it with a nice large piece of crispy-skinned fish.

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Woke up with an insatiable need for my favourite prawn noodles. So off I went to Da Dong and chose the dry version with prawns and liver ($8) and because of my foodie friend Caecilia’s recommendation, I indulged to the max with an additional order of their big prawn soup ($15) too. The prawns were extremely fresh, meaty and sweet, and the broth was opaque with an almost creamy umami-ness.
My cholesterol level may have gone through the roof but my face beamed with joy.

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Good things must share!
From 22nd April to 4th May, you can enjoy this 1-for-1 deal with #BurppleBeyond at “Meatsmith Little India”.
How awesome is this - a mouthwatering combo of crackling-skinned suckling pig and aromatic nasi biryani. The usual price of this main course is $48++ so that’s pretty amazing value right there.
Being brined and smoked on site before it goes on the tandoor grill has the meat of the suckling pig superbly juicy and tender. It pairs really deliciously with the fluffy, flavourful rice.
This promotion presents the perfect opportunity to gather a few good friends for some serious feasting, don’t you agree? Do note you’ll need to hustle though because this #BurppleBeyond 1-for-1 deal is only available for 2 weeks.

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Quite possibly the most “un-pizza” pizza I have come across.
The crust is so thin it is practically a biscuit and on top of its small surface are pieces of creamy uni and some wispy ribbons of bonito flakes.
It’s definitely a novel creation but in terms of taste, it faired well with us.

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This was a big hit with us when we dined there last Friday night.
The brazenly crunchy crackling skin of this Porchetta, a classic Italian dish of stuffed pork belly roll, was terribly addictive. Head Chef Jay Lee’s use of sweet potato (this must be his touch of Japanese) for the stuffing was clever indeed. It was a good match for the moist and juicy pork.

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I must say, I like the food at “Restaurant Ibid” more now. Overall, it is less sweet which suits my pro-savoury palate and there are quite a few gutsy, playful and delicious creations on the new Tasting Menu that I found really impressive.
One of which is the Stuffed Chicken Wing with Foie Gras, an item included only in the bigger 9-course menu.
Fantastically crunchy on the outside and sooooo juicy and richly-flavoured by the foie gras within, the engorged chicken wing is offset brilliantly by the acid and heat of the special sauce concocted from Chinese black vinegar and “Marzo Heat”, a brand of hot sauce by Owner-chef Woo Wai Leong’s friend Jim Marzo, amongst other ingredients.

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The snap and crackle of the spicy anchovy crumbs turned the low-key quiet of the coiled squid ink fusilli into a full-blown party-in-the-mouth. Credit for the intense flavours in this must also be shared with the lumps of crab meat and the uni that seemed to have melted to become one with the sauce.
If you are sharing the pastas here, and I recommend you do, ask for this Nero Fusilli to be served last as it has a stronger taste profile and you will want to properly savour the lighter tasting ones first.

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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