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Sip & Sup

Sip & Sup

Bars with food. Proper food. Not just peanuts.
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.

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This was the final dish we ordered. The Grilled Local Snapper came in the form of a crispy-skinned boneless fillet and was plated with a luscious grilled bone sauce and charred cabbage glossed up in chicken fat. The small heap of caramelised onion tucked under the fish snuck in an interesting sweetness to the overall taste profile too.

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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“Pig’s Head” and “Tagliatelle” must be words of incantation because after reading them in an IG post by @rebelrebelsg, all else ceased to matter as I rushed to secure a reservation at lightspeed.
Created by new Head Chef Deborah Yeo, the Pig’s Head Tagliatelle has delicate ribbons of house-made egg pasta cooked in a lip-smacking sauce of chilli and lime. Tumbled together with the tagliatelle were pieces of pig’s head meat that practically melted in the mouth.
I must agree with what Chef Alan Chan (@malaccamakanking) had commented when @rebelrebelsg posted this dish - it’s got Sisig as its soul. And I am a lifelong fan of that Filipino dish.

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First guests of the evening we were when their doors opened at 5pm on a recent Saturday. The adrenaline to taste the food there pushed me to ask for an early seating which was a good idea as they were fully booked. Not to take anything away from the impressive drinks menu (Rebel Rebel specialises in less conventional, story-full wines), but me thinks word must have gotten around about their new Head Chef.
Formerly of @burntends_sg and more recently, the lead at @theledgebydavepynt in the Maldives, the unflappable Chef Deborah Yeo (@d_bangs) has a reputation that precedes and I was darn excited by the look of the food menu she had created to buddy up with the alcohol.
From the get-go, it was obvious there’s something special because the sourdough, four thick and dark crusty slices slouched up against each other as though too laidback to give a damn, were lit with a tang that enthralled ($6). Lovely like mad eaten with the olive oil and salt-sprinkled butter they were. Until I schmeared on the whipped Pork Fat. Fireworks then filled the sky. What a revelation the rich, creamy-waxy fat was, festooned with sweetness from honey soy and crunch from toasted farro and barley ($6).

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
Hosted by Michel Lu, the Founder of @TheOrientalistSpirits, the event was a ménage à trois that involved @cavemen_sg and @butchersblocksg. How so? Well, one brought the meat and the other, the venue cum culinary talent. No prizes for guessing who did what.
One thing’s for sure, the belles of the ball that night were were the gorgeous bottles of Gunpowder Gin, Origins Vodka and Dragon Whisky by #TheOrientalistSpirits. Designed by Singapore company @ffurious_sg, they drew eyeballs so effortlessly that not displaying them would be a crime. Fortunately, they are also proof of beauty with substance because their contents, in their assorted incarnations of neat and cocktail, left a positive impression on all the media folk present.
We kicked off with a round of the Cosmopolitan, a drink synonymous with the #SexAndTheCity series, concocted with The Orientalist Spirits’ Gunpowder Gin. Handcrafted in small batches, the gin is infused with Asian botanicals of Taiwanese gunpowder tea, Siberian ginseng, Kampot peppercorns, Korean omija berries, Malaysian torch ginger, Japanese shiso flowers and Chinese osmanthus. Proofed with soft Japanese spring water from Kagoshima, Japan, it‘s aromatic and delicious. No doubt why the none-too-sweet cocktail was such a hit it triggered some of us to ask for seconds (@onefatboy, I’m looking at you).
The second cocktail was the platform from which the Origins Vodka shone. I enjoyed its smoothness which in itself is unusual since vodka is not my poison of choice. Perhaps it’s because the same Japanese spring water was used in the making of it, or that Southeast Asian organic longan honey, Tibetan highland barley and nine kinds of premium potatoes make up the ingredients list. No matter, the fact is I thought it was lovely.
The 8-year-old Dragon Whisky, the world’s first all-Asian blended whisky, was served neat for us to appreciate its subtle smokiness and flavour notes of figs, dried fruits and spice. A curated amalgamation of whiskies from the three acclaimed whisky regions of Japan, Taiwan and India, the double-wood-maturation in bourbon and sherry wood created a whisky with a finish that slipped down the throat easily.
To accompany each of the spirits, Chef de Cuisine of Butchers Block - Chef Remy prepared an assortment of dishes. He started us off on housemade breads, platters of 12-month-cured beef and crystal bread, before following up with beef-centric items starring the meat supplied by @cavemen_sg. There was a tartare of aged Wagyu tritip and a tasty bourguignon with buttery-soft cubes of whisky-aged-for-45 -days A5 Wagyu. The main course was a very flavourful Kombu-aged A3 Wagyu Ribeye. Simply grilled medium-rare, it had an awesome mouthfeel that’s soft and yet chewy enough to allow you to appreciate it’s still a piece of meat. Served on the side were a potato mash with Bordier butter, charcoal-grilled carrots and the less commonly found Crosne (Chinese artichoke) cooked in chicken jus. For dessert, Chef Remy sent out fresh-from-the-oven orange-scented madeleines and velvety chocolates shaped like peanuts. They tasted extra scrumptious with the Dragon Whisky.

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H O S T E D
This new bar speaks in a quieter, more modulated tone than its sister bar - Jigger & Pony. She exudes a low-key yet unmissable worldly confidence. In terms of aesthetics, she oozes eyeball-grabbing mid-century Western-meets-Japanese style, mixing handpicked vintage pieces with admirable nonchalance.
Knowing our moods, Live Twice is versatile, offering different seating arrangements to suit. Her cocktails, crafted in the Japanese spirit of shokunin by Group Beverage Director @bartenderaki and female Head Bartender @woofyinying are meant to satisfy the two sides we are known to have: the life we live for ourselves, and the one for our dreams. So there’s a list of the classics (but done with a twist) and another featuring concoctions inspired by fantasy and here’s a fascinating fact, named after geishas.
Although the cocktails are the stars at Live Twice, the compact food menu boasts gems like Wasabi Cheese Terrine (this is fantastic with the “Vesper” cocktail it seems) and Tuna Katsu ($22++). My number one pick though has to be the extremely tasty Ebi & Corn Sando ($22++) shown above. The thick prawn and corn cutlet was outrageously sweet, juicy and crunchy. Definitely the munchie to get when you’re feeling peckish.

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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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LAUNCH DINNER PARTY

The @FatPrinceSg has fattened so to speak, having taken over the space that use to house its sibling - The Ottomani. To celebrate the expansion, a party was thrown and many beautiful people made up the guest list. And then there was me, who accepted the invitation from the GM Mike Pekarsky and Accela the PR agency because I was curious about the food.

As the space is designed for groups to chill out over food and drinks, the menu of modern Middle Eastern dishes are formatted to be shared. Ordering the following would undoubtedly make for an enjoyable dinner:

1. Cured Salmon Crudo - I loved how the unexpected sweetness from the pomegranate molasses and smoked date purée complemented the fish.

2. Roasted Candied Beetroot with preserved lemon, mulled honey, smoked yoghurt and Ottoman spice - A lovely appetiser of the bright and juicy vein.

3. Eggplant Meet Yoghurt - Accompanied by Turkish flatbread and sprinkled with sultana raisins, the dip has a smokiness which is beguiling.

4. Duck Pastilla - All were very impressed by the delicious creation of thin filo pastry filled with shredded confit duck, vegetables and almonds. Served hot, it was plated with a carrot purée and duck jus.

5. Lamb Shoulder - Seasoned in Turkish spices, then braised overnight in the specially-built earth oven fueled by charcoal and lychee wood, the star dish of The Ottomani now calls the Fat Prince home. Lamb-lovers, you should rejoice.

6. Charred Shishito - Even if you are only having drinks, get this pan of mini chilli peppers with anchovy, preserved lemon and walnut to nibble.
7. Couscous with Crunchy Chicken Skin - Clever combo of lemon juice-dressed grains with pieces of deepfried sinfulness.

8. Chocolate Halva - A thick chocolate mousse embellished in spiced pumpkin, cacao nibs and almond tuille layer - decadence in every bite.

H O S T E D
Brined in orange juice and rum, the twice-roasted chicken is sheer joy to eat as it’s so juicy and tender ($15 for a half, $28 for a whole). Spread over it is an appetising spring onion, garlic and ginger relish - it tastes a lot like the kind of dip you get when you order roast meats in Hongkong. Another item on their extensive menu worth getting for sure.

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H O S T E D

I have been here a few times but the most recent visit, an invited tasting by Gastrosense PR agency, has been the most enjoyable for me in terms of food.

For some time, Head Chef ArChan been toying with inspiration from LeVel33 being the world’s highest urban microbrewery. And while it was interesting with a few good dishes before, I feel she has truly hit her stride. The dishes make more of a statement with carefully-honed flavours and precise execution now.

Below are a few of my favourites from that meal:

Chawanmushi - I am a sucker for all things egg, so this super-soft, wobbly and piping hot version with wheat beer dashi and a topping of caviar was sublime.

Fresh Ricotta (shown above) - Pairing the creamy housemade cheese with smoked tomatoes, basil and miga was clever and oh-so-delicious.

Squid Noodles - This is a fine embodiment of Head Chef ArChan’s ContemBrewery cuisine as the clarification process used in beer-making is mimicked to produce the broth that goes over the soft, tender ribbons of squid and lager-pickled enoki mushroom.

The Aged Duck Breast with IPA and Orange Glaze - THE major mind-blower, and it’s not just me but my whole table of fellow diners who feel that way. Its presentation, the incredible taste and texture... we were all SHOOK.

Aged Wagyu Tri-tip - Another beautifully piece of meat that was so juicy and full of flavour. The burnt eggplant and stout jus were spot-on accompaniments

M E D I A T A S T I N G
Opened by the former General Manager of “Ku De Ta Bali” in early September this year, “The Sampan” may be situated in touristy Boat Quay but don’t mistake it as a venue targeting only those from out of town because the menu is really appealing with a wide selection of well-executed small and large plates boasting fresh, bright flavours drawn from all over Asia.
To accompany, they offer unique cocktails with locally-inspired twists that pair nicely with the food.
Pictured above is the “Pork & Chicken Choi Bao”, a carb-free light bite of minced meats with chopped up water chestnut and “lap cheong” cradled in lettuce. It was hands down, one of my favourites from all the dishes we got to try. I found the cool, crisp vegetable‘s refreshing bite to be a great match for the tastily seasoned, juicy protein.
Vegetarians will be pleased to know they do a version with the meat replaced by three kinds of mushrooms sautéed in garlic.

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

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