surprisingly – and I mean that in the best way – good modern offerings at this new(ish) restaurant in the bustling enclave that is keong saik road. I used modern because I am lax to use fusion – which often has negative connotation – this place serves up what I think is a very contemporary style of food: it straddles both eastern and weatern flavors perfectly well, and meshes elements and techniques to a cohesive and (if done right) enjoyable result.
n.b. if you know a less rambling way to descibe that manner of cooking, I’d be well-pleased to hear it.
competitively priced, enjoyable food with some standouts, a lovely restaurant and kitchen theatrics on show, this is my thursday recommendation for friday (or any day) date night.
we were on a gander through keong saik friday night when we decided to pop in and try our luck – the first to arrive on the tail of someone’s canceled reservation, so we scored a seat at the counter. it’s a lovely space – intimate and exclusive. there’s also something infinitely pleasing about watching your food being prepared before you.
we started with the truffled quail eggs – really just soft-centred boiled eggs sprinkled with tiny truffle shavings and salt: alright, though nothing particularly alluring. the sea urchin atop cauliflower mousse was quite tasty – rich, soft uni atop the mousse, with tiny pearl-type seaweed for contrasting texture. not bad at all – though I expected something a little more wow.
the salmon roe atop crispy fish skin was more in line with what I expected from this place – the chinese appetiser of fish skin smeared with a rich emulsion and topped with salmon roe (ikura is one of my favourite things). the best way to eat this is to smear the eggs evenly atop the surface, so you get a bit of salty fishiness in each bite – pretty delicious.
the mains here are expertly executed – and really delicious. it has a lot to do with that large oven (and grill ) they operate – the food comes full of that delicious smoky flavor, perfectly cooked and tender inside, but with a delicious maillard-ed crust outside. take the fish collar – I forget the species – a large white with a blackened crust, cooked flaky and tender, juicy inside and well-seasoned; and well-complemented by the crunchy mixed seaweed.
the onglet was similarly impressive – marbled beef in a dark jus, topped with sliced bits of marrow. that marrow was meltingly soft and heart-stoppingly (perhaps literally) rich; and you don’t get to specify the doneness of the beef here, but it’s no matter – it came pink and tender and beefy. no complains at all. the meat is also sold by weight – we got 200g between us.
I have to give a shoutout to the salad-making sous chef here – he tosses up some incredibly satisfying greens. simply dressed, but with a good mix of crunch and flavour and seasonining, the partner finished up most without any prodding. that’s some skill.
and we finished with dessert, of course – though already stuffed at this point. it was a good decision – we took the recommendation of the warm apple: sweet, dark pieces of cooked fruit below a scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with nuts. so comforting and delicious – a bit like grandma’s dessert grown up.
I expect the menu to have changed when you visit – which is the beauty (and shortcoming) of a rotating-menu establishment, so this likely serves as an indication of cooking ability, more than anything else. the food was of a consistently high standard (which might or might not be attributed to its pedigree), and it was well pleasing (especially for a restaurant that serves modern cuisine) that portions were fair and satisfying and prices actually reasonable.
well-recommended, and a star amongst the new establishements. reminds me a little of the market grill – though this place is a little more sophisticated.
p.s. they serve a suckling pig! up for advance order, and someone must have, because I saw the pig (not metaphorical) at the back. I think it’s worth an order, because they hack it up and throw it on that impressive grill before serving – which must make for some deliciously charred skin and meltingly soft meat.
p.p.s. the partner was rather taken with this beer (ordered on recommendation) – it looks all hipsterish, but even I rather liked it – and that almost never happens.
20 Teck Lim Road (right around the corner from Hotel 1929)
tel +65 6224 3933
$$$: three starters + two mains + one dessert and a beer = one-forty