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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

(T R E A T)
There are some chefs whose food once you’ve tasted, is clear they have a fantastic palate and you just know are capable of even more exciting things. In my opinion, such is the case with Head Chef @kurt.sombrero at Meatsmith Little India.
I have always found his menu for the Campbell Lane outlet of Meatsmith, peppered with Indian-inspired twists (a homage to its location), creative and well-tuned in flavour balance. With the launch of the new dining concept - Meatsmith Little India Level 2, he now has another avenue to flex his culinary muscles (while still running the kitchen for the restaurant downstairs and the takeaway menu - phew!).
The multi-course Tasting Menu he’s devised for Level 2 is explorative, refined, and undoubtedly worthy of attention ($85++ per pax). To complement, Senior Bartender Kelvin Chow (@ch0wwww) has engineered a special cocktail pairing menu at $65++ per pax.
Our dinner commenced with vibrant small bites of a coriander cream-dressed Potato “Pani Puri”, an artfully balanced Biryani rice and cured Hamachi Sushi, “Fish & Chips” made with purple potato chips, smoked creme fraiche and cured hamachi, as well as a collection of colourful bites on skewers. These included a pan-seared Amaebi wreathed in pickled fennel, its head deepfried to a crunch, Tandoor oven-baked Leek with Foie Gras, and a cabbage-wrapped Chicken Medallion “lollipop”. Kelvin’s first cocktail to go with these was a light concoction of distilled lemongrass and tea with a hint of honey.
Chef Kurt presented the next course himself, a stunner of Carabinero prawn with cauliflower purée, seaweed salad tossed in oils from curry and prawn shells, and for a finishing touch, curried smoked granita - easily one of the strongest dishes in the menu. Lightly fermented Mango with apricot, barley and fresh coconut went into its accompanying cocktail.
Then came an irresistible grilled squid in thick, aromatic curry shielded by wavy Pappadum “shells”. To enjoy this dish, the “shells” were broken and swiped through the curry. The matching drink was my favourite of the night, an alchemised liquid of fermented green apple and fat-washed burnt cream.
Crispy grilled pork cheeks, pickled beetroots, chives and chilli aioli on grilled potato buns (made in-house at Burnt Ends Bakery by @tart_tatin and her team) made up the next course. This delectable mix was matched by a cocktail of fat-washed red and green apples, and distilled macadamia. General Manager @thomaskoh83 told me it’s his personal favourite.
From the three main course options, I picked the Butter Chicken Deluxe, and was suitably delighted by Chef Kurt’s contemporary take on the classic Indian dish showcasing smoked butter and cream, on to which he shaved black truffle. @huatkaliao opted for the Tandoori Cube Roll (this requires a $15 top-up) and loved every bite of the smoky, tender and richly-flavoured meat. I stole some of it and was equally enamoured. A fab choice for red meat lovers. We were presented with the Pork Belly Chop with Sauerkraut Kombucha to try too and it was good, but my heart really belonged to the other two. It’s good to see all the mains come with housemade Roti as they‘re perfect for mopping up curries and sauces.
My hubby had done a wine-pairing instead of cocktails, and he was very pleased with the pours. So pleased that at the end of the night, he decided to purchase a couple of the wines from @burntends.cellars.sg.
Of course Chef Kurt wasn’t about to do a simple dessert for his inaugural Level 2 Tasting Menu. Hence, what appeared was a scrumptiously complex offering of smoked yoghurt ice-cream, ginger ale-compressed apple, sugarcane meringue mousse with kaffir lime and orange zest, and a shockingly fragrant butter and cumin bread smoked till dry and crumbly. A Coffee Negroni was its sparring partner.
Lastly, on a bed of edible “Gunpowder” spices and Milo were these nibbles to send us rolling off into the night: a fluffy coconut caramel sponge with coconut caramel purée, chocolate ganache and sour plum jelly.

Thank you again for springing a surprise on us and taking care of the bill, Thomas 🙏🙏😄. I’m sure you know we would have happily paid for it.

1 Like

(T R E A T)
There are some chefs whose food once you’ve tasted, is clear they have a fantastic palate and you just know are capable of even more exciting things. In my opinion, such is the case with Head Chef @kurt.sombrero at Meatsmith Little India.
I have always found his menu for the Campbell Lane outlet of Meatsmith, peppered with Indian-inspired twists (a homage to its location), creative and well-tuned in flavour balance. With the launch of the new dining concept - Meatsmith Little India Level 2, he now has another avenue to flex his culinary muscles (while still running the kitchen for the restaurant downstairs and the takeaway menu - phew!).
The multi-course Tasting Menu he’s devised for Level 2 is explorative, refined, and undoubtedly worthy of attention ($85++ per pax). To complement, Senior Bartender Kelvin Chow (@ch0wwww) has engineered a special cocktail pairing menu at $65++ per pax.
Our dinner commenced with vibrant small bites of a coriander cream-dressed Potato “Pani Puri”, an artfully balanced Biryani rice and cured Hamachi Sushi, “Fish & Chips” made with purple potato chips, smoked creme fraiche and cured hamachi, as well as a collection of colourful bites on skewers. These included a pan-seared Amaebi wreathed in pickled fennel, its head deepfried to a crunch, Tandoor oven-baked Leek with Foie Gras, and a cabbage-wrapped Chicken Medallion “lollipop”. Kelvin’s first cocktail to go with these was a light concoction of distilled lemongrass and tea with a hint of honey.
Chef Kurt presented the next course himself, a stunner of Carabinero prawn with cauliflower purée, seaweed salad tossed in oils from curry and prawn shells, and for a finishing touch, curried smoked granita - easily one of the strongest dishes in the menu. Lightly fermented Mango with apricot, barley and fresh coconut went into its accompanying cocktail.
Then came an irresistible grilled squid in thick, aromatic curry shielded by wavy Pappadum “shells”. To enjoy this dish, the “shells” were broken and swiped through the curry. The matching drink was my favourite of the night, an alchemised liquid of fermented green apple and fat-washed burnt cream.
Crispy grilled pork cheeks, pickled beetroots, chives and chilli aioli on grilled potato buns (made in-house at Burnt Ends Bakery by @tart_tatin and her team) made up the next course. This delectable mix was matched by a cocktail of fat-washed red and green apples, and distilled macadamia. General Manager @thomaskoh83 told me it’s his personal favourite.
From the three main course options, I picked the Butter Chicken Deluxe, and was suitably delighted by Chef Kurt’s contemporary take on the classic Indian dish showcasing smoked butter and cream, on to which he shaved black truffle. @huatkaliao opted for the Tandoori Cube Roll (this requires a $15 top-up) and loved every bite of the smoky, tender and richly-flavoured meat. I stole some of it and was equally enamoured. A fab choice for red meat lovers. We were presented with the Pork Belly Chop with Sauerkraut Kombucha to try too and it was good, but my heart really belonged to the other two. It’s good to see all the mains come with housemade Roti as they‘re perfect for mopping up curries and sauces.
My hubby had done a wine-pairing instead of cocktails, and he was very pleased with the pours. So pleased that at the end of the night, he decided to purchase a couple of the wines from @burntends.cellars.sg.
Of course Chef Kurt wasn’t about to do a simple dessert for his inaugural Level 2 Tasting Menu. Hence, what appeared was a scrumptiously complex offering of smoked yoghurt ice-cream, ginger ale-compressed apple, sugarcane meringue mousse with kaffir lime and orange zest, and a shockingly fragrant butter and cumin bread smoked till dry and crumbly. A Coffee Negroni was its sparring partner.
Lastly, on a bed of edible “Gunpowder” spices and Milo were these nibbles to send us rolling off into the night: a fluffy coconut caramel sponge with coconut caramel purée, chocolate ganache and sour plum jelly.

Thank you again for springing a surprise on us and taking care of the bill, Thomas 🙏🙏😄. I’m sure you know we would have happily paid for it.

4 Likes

( T R E A T )
What may seem like a small shift is seismic at its soul. Born and bred in France, Executive @ChefDavidThien officially joined the @cornerhousesg earlier this year, taking over from true-blue Singaporean Chef Jason Tan who helped this iconic establishment secure a MICHELIN Star (the latter is due to open his own fine dining place soon).
To definitively put his own stamp on Corner House’s new menu, Chef David drew on his French heritage and life journey which includes the last twelve years spent working with Chefs of MICHELIN-starred restaurants in Singapore. I was very impressed by his French-Asian food, especially in terms of how he frames many familiar ingredients in ways quite novel to me. Just to be clear, I had made reservations to visit as a regular customer but at the end of the meal, was told my bill “was taken care of”, so thank you again Chef David for the surprise.
With housemade sourdough, squid ink-marbled “you tiao” (dough fritters) and curry brioche rubbing shoulders, the bread basket paved the way for the rest of the meal. The French-Asian theme was signed, stamped and delivered with the accompanying unsalted Bordier butter and an ingenious #Belachan butter.
Our lovely server presented every course well but I was glad she also left a card with additional information. Written in Chef’s own words, they provided extra context which made me appreciate his creations even more. And that’s how I learned of the rationale behind the exquisite snacks named “Spirit Of Singapore” which comprised of a pappadum cradling Sri Lankan crab, vadouvan spices and dhal aioli, a lettuce cup with Grass-fed Beef Tartare dressed in Thai herbs and a French-Malaysia/Singapore brioche sandwich featuring comte cheese and a strata of “otah” made with Obsiblue prawns, local mackerel.
Also, the reason why Chef David chose to elevate the humble Achards (pickled vegetables) into a stunning appetiser with Japanese hamachi, burrata and a granita made from the bracingly tart and spicy pickling juice.
The charming backstory to his “P’tit L’ail” was revealed on another card. An immensely tasty dish which seemed to be one with the verdant surroundings, it featured chives broth with “wok hei”-perfumed rice noodles, scallops and Carabinero prawns.
If it wasn’t for the explanation, Chef’s take on the carb course could have left me perplexed. I doubt beansprouts have ever played such a major part in a MICHELIN Star restaurant but in that petite bowl, it shone with the company of Hokkaido uni, uni sauce, Parmesan and lemon.
Learning the reason for “Wagyu 2-Ways” brought forth a chuckle. And I must say, both of Chef David’s Japanese-influenced beef dishes sparked great joy in me. While the first, a contemporary take on Sukiyaki boasted silky A4 Wagyu and morel mushrooms, the second, a Wagyu Tartare Ochazuke with toasted furikake, was the gastronomic equivalent of a cuddle.
Rounding off lunch was a palate cleanser where herbaceous fruitiness ruled and dessert was the popular Mont Blanc, tackled through deconstruct with gently sweet Azuki red beans replacing the classic chestnut. But surprises lay in store. I shan’t spoil it for you as you ought to experience it yourself.
The meal ended with petit fours so gorgeous I felt a twinge of guilt eating them but of course I did. And they were fabulous.

Chef David will launch a Chef’s Tasting Menu soon enough but for now, lunch is available in 3 / 5 / 7-course Omakase-style options ($78 / $148 / $218) while dinner is offered in 5 / 7 courses ($168 / $218). For a point of reference, I had picked the 5-course.

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If it’s been a while since you’ve ventured into the CBD for a meal, I reckon now’s the perfect time as it’s actually very pleasant in the evenings without the office crowds (most are still WFH). That’s why I’d suggested Roketto Izakaya by Willin Low to Annette for our overdue catch-up.
I desperately wanted everything on his Modern Singaporean (Mod Sin) menu. All of the food looked so good! But since there was just the two of us, it wasn’t humanly possible. Tried our best though, kicking off with the insanely crunchy Har Jeong Pork Keropok dipped in aromatic mayo ($8.90). It must be some kind of an unwritten rule that anyone who walks in has to order this because as the evening progressed, I noticed it kept appearing on every table.
We each had a serving of the Scallop “Her Kiao” Glass Noodles to ourselves - honestly, it’s too delicious to share. Initially, when I read that it contains peanut butter, my eyebrows rose in skepticism. They fell immediately after my first bite - wow... it works beautifully with the spicy marmite sauce. And the scallops in the springy fish paste skin were excellent ($9.80). A must-order.
Trust Willin a.k.a. the “Godfather of Mod Sin” to come up with a Prata Pizza topped with Miso Spring Onions and Three Cheeses ($13.80). I was rolling my eyes in pleasure while inhaling the fragrant, flaky-crispy thing.
His “atas” take on Chinese-style Satay was also a delight. It featured grilled Iberico Secreto pork topped with a Javanese satay sauce and finished with pineapple shallot salsa ($10.80 for 2 heftier-than-average sticks).
There’s a very good reason why Roketto’s “Orh Luak” Oyster Omelette Spaghettini ($20) kept popping up on so many people’s IG Stories throughout the Circuit Breaker - IT’S DAMN TASTY LAH! I implore you to do yourself a favour and try this ASAP. But take note, the “hae bee hiam” sambal pulls no punches.
I wolfed down the Asian Tofu and Mesclun Salad with sesame dressing. Yes, it ain’t roketto science (haha, see what I did there? 😆) but I liked the simple yet flavourful mix.

If you are into all things Mod Sin, here’s an exciting piece of news. @nutmegandclove is doing a Cocktail Pop-Up at Roketto Izakaya from 1st to 31st July (it started yesterday). So don’t procrastinate if you love the sound of Singapore-inspired cocktails to pair. Swiftly secure a booking for maximum Mod Sin mayhem by calling:

6904 5458

OR WhatsApp-ing:

8189 6417.

5 Likes

T R E A T
Available Wednesdays to Sundays, @artichoke_sg has a Deli Dinner for takeaway. As the set menu for 2 pax ($80) changes every week, you can’t sit around on your asses if you want to get your paws on it.
I had the privilege of a sneak eat last Sunday of this week’s Vietnamese-inspired version when the bossman himself dropped off a very generous meal at my home - thanks so much again for that @bjornshen.
Although the main act of the Deli Dinner is the monster of a modified Banh Mi (it’s apportioned into 2 x 300gms heavyweights for the Set), I found the rest of the items real attention-grabbers too.
Take the Chicken Broth for instance, the only thing that needed heating up. It was extremely tasty, especially with the beansprouts, onions, herbs and enoki mushrooms (by the way, these should only be chucked in moments before you commence slurping).
The Potato Salad was a side so bold from fish sauce caramel, fresh basil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, it threatened to steal the thunder from everything else. It’s easily one of the more exciting potato salads I’ve ever had.
With shredded cabbage, carrots, pickles, firm tofu and peanuts tumbled together, the Vietnamese Coleslaw was vibrant in colour but that wasn’t why it made an impression. Leave it to a sliced chilli-filled “nuoc cham” to create the splash (quite literally).
Be prepared to unhinge your jaw for Bjorn’s larger-than-life cold-pressed Vietnamese sandwich. But remember, DO NOT REMOVE the plastic wrap around it. I made that mistake and it was like trying to get toothpaste back in the tube 😂 The wrap is to keep all the stuff packed in there, IN THERE. And there’s a lot of stuff. We’re talking lemongrass-grilled pork, bologna, housemade pickles, fresh herbs, vegetables and more. Except for coriander. Coriander gets its own ride.
One of the sweets I received was a box of pretty, gold-dusted Donuts topped with pineapple and jackfruit. It was nice but the Chocolate Pudding was the dessert that made me sit up and go wow. I‘ve never been into chocolate-and-banana combos but Pastry Chef Nancy had me happily eating my words (and her coconut cream-covered intensely chocolate-y dessert with bananas and peanuts).
The drink included in the Set was a pleasant and not overpowering Lychee and Lemongrass Cooler.

To order, go to:
www.bjornshen.com

You may want to also take note a new Deli Dinner menu drops every Monday at noon.

Shortly before the Circuit Breaker was implemented, I had a most wonderful brunch at @allium.sg. So when Chef-owner Dillon and his wife Chef Lulu launched their Takeaway Menu, I was eager to try it. The reason I was particularly drawn to the dishes in this menu (sorry, today’s the last day for it and they’ve already sold out), was the abundance of aromatics featured in them. And I do love my aromatics.

Here’s what I ordered and thoroughly enjoyed:

1. Empress Chicken "Ayam Ungkep" - Extremely fragrant roasted boneless chicken rubbed with turmeric & fennel, and topped with bunga kantan and shallot sambal, it is a feast for the eyes and a thrill on the palate.

2. Kurobuta Pork Cheek Curry - The meat was braised till melt-in-the-mouth in a mild curry redolent in an unusual but appealing blend of peppercorn, cardamon, clove & shaoxing wine curry. So glad it came with Homemade Fried Buns to mop up every bit of that tasty gravy.

3. Kale Ulam Salad - If everyone can make kale taste this delicious, I would eat it much more often. Dressed with herbs and spices from a traditional nasi ulam recipe, as well as mushroom garum and calamansi juice, the locally-grown kale from @susteniragriculture was a revelation.

4. Signature Nasi Liwet - Made from stewing Koshihikari rice with bits of fried salted threadfin, petai (my fave!) and alliums, the result was a fragrant, fluffy, flavourful, multi-textural carb dish that’s wonderful enough to be enjoyed on its own.

Chef Dillon was also kind enough to include these two dishes appearing in next week’s menu:

1. Squid and Quail’s Egg in Sambal - The perfectly cooked squid (even grandparents would have no problem enjoying it), and the sambal in which it was gently braised, along with the mini eggs, was a lip-smacking roasted chilli and tumeric leaf blend that’s not too spicy at all. Shiokness.

2. Tuscan Kale Gulai - Featuring another produce from @susteniragriculture, the dark leaves were stewed in Gulai - a fragrant, more-liquid-than-paste style of curry found at Nasi Padang stalls. This was concocted from salted fish, galangal and juices from ayam ungkep. And it was DA BOMB!!

I suggest you keep your eyes peeled for news on the next Takeaway Menu by following @allium.sg on Instagram because from what I can see, they sell out fast.

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T R E A T
T’was a wonderful surprise when I was told by @theenglishhousesingapore that they would like to treat me and my family to lunch. I just had to let them know what I would like from their new Takeaway Menu, which I did in a jiffy. The food was delivered on time and it traveled well, arriving in prime condition thanks to the attention paid by Head Chef Andrew Bennett and his team.

Here is what I picked:

1. “The English Rump and Foie Gras Burger” ($25) - A fine specimen of the loaded-style burger, it came with a massive portion of fries. A little assembly was required as the melted cheese and crispy bacon-topped juicy patty (made with beef and foie gras), came wrapped in foil. The iceberg lettuce which was also packed separately, remained delightfully cool and crisp even after I stacked everything together between the lightly toasted soft buns and took a bite. What a great idea to send the burger this way as it helped it to taste extra fresh and delicious.

2. “Confit Crisp Duck Leg with Japanese Egg Fried Rice” ($32) - Never thought these two could be a combo let alone a winning one. The confit duck was seasoned and cooked on point, and I found the best way to enjoy the dish was to shred the duck up and mix the tender, moist meat with the super eggy fried rice.

3. “Braised Shortrib of Angus Beef with Singapore Spiced Noodles” ($40) - I had enjoyed this a lot when I dined in previously, so I was very pleased to see it in the Takeaway Menu. Although the noodles were a tad dry compared to when I had the dish in the restaurant, the huge hunk of meat was every bit as melt-in-the-mouth as I remember.

4. “Mr. White’s Tiramisu” - Dessert was a hefty scoop of their popular mascarpone and 70% cacao creation. Loved how rich, creamy and intense in coffee and chocolate it turned out to be.

To place an order, please visit:

www.theenglishhouse.com/TAKEOUT/

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H O S T E D
I’ve been a huge fan of Chef Damian D’Silva’s cooking for years and have followed him from restaurant to restaurant. It had taken a while for me to dine at @restaurantkin.sg though (he heads the kitchen there now) because for months, I‘d been under the impression that only members of the Straits Clan could do so. I was wrong - oops (FYI: About half of the tables in the restaurant are set aside for non-members). Regardless, the key thing here is that my forlorn pining finally came to an end last Friday, with a banging feast to boot!
After we toasted with the welcome “Gibette”, a traditional Eurasian celebratory concoction of ginger, aged rum, honey, lime & aromatics, a bowl of Nasi Ulam arrived. An authentic rendition of this herb rice is nigh impossible to find nowadays so we treasured every bite. Served at room temperature as an appetiser, it exuded a beautiful fragrance, the result of chiffonaded herbs. Chef Damian also shared that the dish originated as a test by Peranakan matriarchs for prospective daughters-in-law.
Next was a platter of appetisers comprising of Chi Pow Kai (paper-wrapped chicken that’s juicy and tasty), Hakka Fried Pork and two Asian salads - the herbaceous Daun Pegaga and the brighter Heritage Salsa.
We then progressed to the large dishes which numbered enough to almost cover our entire table. Meant to be eaten with either plain rice or Nasi Kuning - a tasty, albeit slightly oily “kunyit” (turmeric) flavoured yellow rice, they consisted of:

- Braised Babi Assam: A pork rib and pork belly dish cooked with “tau cheo” (preserved soya beans), tamarind, Chinese mustard and “kiam chye”. Chef Damian’s is an unusually wet version, so it is ideal for those looking to splash their rice with a non-spicy “zhup” (gravy).
- “Selar”: The big fish, stuffed with a chilli and “buah keras” (candlenut) rempah and fried till crispy, brought back happy memories for me as my late grandmother use to prepare “selar” the same way for my brothers and I during our growing-up years.
- Ayam Lemak Chilli Padi: I really enjoyed its aromatic, spicy and coconut-rich gravy. What’s more, the chicken was properly “serap” (well-saturated) in the gravy, a vital point some places seem to overlook.
- Sambal Brinjal and Prawns: The slightly sweet and spicy dried chilli sambal used in the frying was so appetising and I could’ve eaten it on its own.
- Chap Chye: chef Damian revealed that he added “rempah titek” to the classic recipe to get the stewed mix of vegetables and beancurd ablaze with spiciness. Ingenious.
- Beef Gulai: The braised meat was unbelievably tender and the sauce, only mildly spicy. Those who can’t handle too much chilli can relish this with no issues.
- Dou Miao: The succulent vegetable was stirfried with garlic for a straightforward yet satisfying fix of greens.
- Kedongdong Salad: We were surprised with this off-the-menu salad too was a genuine saliva-trigger. Its intense sourness was a perfect foil for all the richness.

Even though nearly every dish was an innate flavourbomb, resisting the siren call of the housemade condiments, namely the Sambal Belado, Sambal Hijau and fiery-hot Sambal Belachan, was futile.
Finally, it was time for desserts. Let me just say, Chef Damian’s creations are so overwhelmingly good, eating them was an almost religious experience for me. I loved the Kedongdong and Coconut Sorbet which managed to taste simultaneously familiar and novel, but when I dug into the #SugeeCake, #KuehKosui and Kueh Bengkah, a sense of euphoria welled up so strongly I thought I was going to burst into tears.
In not so many words, Restaurant Kin is a MUST GO.

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H O S T E D
24 floors is enough to make you forget you are in Singapore’a premium shopping district. That’s what I realised when I visited “il Cielo” (it means “the sky” in Italian) last week. This peaceful al fresco restaurant is hidden away on the rooftop of the Hilton Hotel and is a perfect spot for a date night or when you just want to have a quiet dinner with a friend. The recently renovated space which includes a private dining room, is situated right next to the pool that, thanks to clever lighting, is transformed into a glowing purplish-blue body of water that resembles installation art more than it does a recreational facility.
The kitchen is led by Japanese Chef de Cuisine Yohhei Sasaki who was born and raised in Tokyo. What differentiates him is his unique position of having made Italy his home for many years due to him working at a few Two and Three MICHELIN Starred restaurants over there (fun fact: he speaks Italian better than he does English). Little wonder he holiday-ed in Tuscany last year, and subsequently returned inspired to create special “Desgustazione Menus” (Tasting Menus) priced at $138++ per pax. However, partaking in his food is not limited to those because you can also choose from an a la carte menu or a Seasonal one (4 / 5 / 7-course: $138 / $158 / $188++).
When we dined there last week, the aim was to try a wider variety so we each got a different Tasting Menu to share. There’s one that uses Italian ingredients while the other focuses on ingredients from Japan. Here are my favourites from both menus:

1. Small bites: I adored the Bocconcini cheese with Parma ham and tomato puff, as well as the macaron with homemade foie gras terrine and 12 years balsamic vinegar.

2. Insalata alla Cacciatore: Constructed around a heart of a marinated butter lettuce are European organic chicken mousse, chicken jus sauce, dehydrated tomato powder, olive powder and mushroom mayo. This warm salad is the kind of creation that makes you stop and stare after your first bite because its deliciousness exceeds expectations.

3. Capellini Burro e Timo: Cooked in a rich buttery sauce with huge chunks of fresh lobster and finished with shaved truffle, it is an immensely enjoyable pasta. The fine al dente strands are made in classical Italian fashion on the premises.

4. Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare: Another astounding pasta but done Japanese style. For this, Chef Sasaki uses a Ramen-making machine to produce the eggless strands (it seems this technique accentuates the semolina element). Served warm with Hokkaido uni, bottarga and yuzu, it has a lighter taste profile than the Capellini but is extremely satisfying in its own way.

5. Costina di Manzo “Miyazaki Wagyu A4”: One of the choices for the meat course in the Tasting Menu using Japanese ingredients, this boasts a piece of beautifully caramelised short rib that yields easily to a fork as it has been braised for 36 hours. The richness is cleverly combated by sautéed saffron risotto, lemon gel and an Italian parsley sauce.

6. La Sfera: A signature of Chef Sasaki, this dessert from the Japanese Tasting Menu is a refreshing Yuzu Sphere magically filled with ricotta cheese espuma, lemon sorbet and acacia honey gel. Tap firmly to break it and make sure to scoop a bit of everything for the ideal experience.

As you can tell from the above, both Tasting Menus include some really strong courses. I would say though that the pastas are the most outstanding of them, and are must-tries. Good thing is they are available a la carte as well.

I recommend doing the wine pairing (total cost of that with the Tasting Menu is $188++), or at least, having a glass with your food because “il Cielo” stocks some very lovely Italian Wines. Thanks to restaurant manager Sarah, I had the pleasure of sipping on a superb Chianti Riserva 2013.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G

I am calling it: 2020 is going to be the Year of the Pizza in Singapore. How can it not with @bjornshen’s @smalls_sg ready to welcome the public from 1st February and the insanely popular private dining @CasaNostraSg strongly rumoured to be opening a restaurant in the coming months? Let’s also not forget the stalwarts of #Neapolitanstyle #pizzas on our little red dot like @cichetirestaurant @lukasingapore and @trattoriaoperetta, who are still slinging out genuinely tasty stuff.

But allow me to direct your attention back to the ballsy Smalls Pizza Bar.

It’s tiny. So tiny it fits 4 customers and Bjorn. That night at our tasting, after my foodie friends and I had shoehorned ourselves into place, he started by sharing the inspiration behind Smalls. It seems everything on the Omakase menu ($125++ per pax) was inspired by his experiences at various pizza eateries while growing up in the ‘80s and early 90’s. Which was why a parade of playful takes on classics-from-that-era landed first. Think spicy, juicy Hot Chicken Butts (yums!), delish meatless Meatballs “Alfredo” with maitake, a refreshing Heirloom Tomato Salad with kelp, and an Oyster Cream with Trout Roe - perfect to swish slices of his first pizza, a garlic bread-inspired Pizza Aglio Olio, in. Naked save for garlic oil, this was the ideal vehicle to show off the Neapolitan crust he’d been slaving over since Smalls was but a spark in his noggin.

Aged for three days and boasting a higher-than-average hydration level of 70%, his baked crust was a wonderful thing of airy crunch and soft chewiness. Whatever it was topped with: squid ink sauce, baby zucchini, smoked octopus, cow’s milk mozzarella, pecorino, basil, olive oil for Pizza Black, or heirloom tomatoes, sautéed Sunset clams, pecorino and sea asparagus on Pizza Vongole; or filled with, as in the case of the Pizza alla Banh Mi which I’ve done a separate post about since I was smittened from first bite, MASSIVE tastiness reigned. He even did a version of the Stuffed Crust which I thought was a lot of fun.

There were two desserts at our sneak preview and I must admit, although the finale of Neapolitan Cookie (a piping hot molten chocolate chip cookie topped with strawberry compote and vanilla ice-cream) was perfectly fine, it was the first, a sweetish burrata and tomato that resonated more with me.

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A bunch of us met for Boxing Day dinner. I knew all of them separately but most did not know each other at all. However, I’d had an inkling the group dynamics would work. Sure enough, it turned out to be so much fun! 😄
We began our night at the Mandarin Gallery branch of Blue Label Pizza with some really tasty food, and ended the night rolling out of “CUT By Wolfgang Puck” (but that’s a whole other story and post 😆).
Head Chef Boon Teow revved our engines with the basket of corn chips he sent over. It came with two addictive dips: a Chicago-style spinach and artichoke, and a smoky roasted salsa.
We then moved on to the food I picked for us and the first to arrive were the Chicken Wings. Of course I had to get the ones coated in Buffalo Sauce as well as the Honey-garlic-sriracha. Both variants were accompanied by the same blue cheese ranch dip which boosted the yumminess level further. Funnily enough, when it came to their favourite wings, it was split by gender with the ladies voting for the tangier, spicy Buffalo and the guys, the Honey-garlic-sriracha.
We then came to the main event and the six of us put away three pizzas in total. What makes Blue Label Pizza’s so special is Chef Boon Teow’s crispy-crunchy crust coupled with unconventional toppings that are decidedly bold in taste profile.
We had the “J-Dog” ($37++ - this was my favourite of the lot with pork sausage, bacon, pepperoni, jalapeño, chilli and red sauce strewn across the base), the “Umami Bomb” ($29++ - a funky mix of shiitake mushroom, spinach, lemon, anchovy, goat's cheese on cornmeal crust) and “Summer In San Sebastián” ($36++ - a pizza with chorizo ragu, hokkaido octopus, espelette chili to be eaten with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and aioli - also really good).
When we were settling our bill, a plate of warm cookies was set down by the lovely Jay who’d been waiting on us all night, “compliments of the chef”, she said. They turned out to be fabulous - oozing plenty of hot gooey chocolate when we broke them apart.

5 Likes

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!

2 Likes

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

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