visually appealing and tasty fusion tapas-type eating at this hideaway of a restaurant in little india.
I’ve heard a lot about this place – how the chefs returned from culinary studies to set up this tiny new-age restaurant serving japanese-influenced fusionish – and let’s be straight, the food is pretty good, and the space both cozy and modern-scandi (which really just means it’s gorgeous).
I came here on an invite to a dinner party that booked the place out, first up – and there was something rather shiny in this meal which makes me feel like I should quantify this as a sharing, more than any specific assessment of a typical meal (though everything we ate’s on the menu!).
we entered to an introduction by the chefs, and then the food started:
small canapes of olive tapenade on tiny toast; a lovely, savory scallop-mushroom ball that was both fresh and bouncy; and housemade beef jerky, a tad too dry – but interesting an idea all the same.
hokkaido scallop ceviche, compressed plums, tobiko, cilantro, red onion, homemade tortilla chips
we started the menu proper with a fantastic scallop ceviche – the sweetness of the seafood stood out amongst the not-pungent-and-rather-sweet red onions, and there was so much texture (!).
compressed watermelon, mixed green salad, homemade basil ricotta cheese, green goddess dressing, candied pumpkin seeds
that was followed by a fresh green salad tossed with ricotta and watermelon – and while I liked the mix of flavors very much, I thought the compressed component a little uppity and pretentious.
it didn’t hurt the dish flavorwise (though some au naturel cubes of crunchy melon would have done nearly as well
or better) – I did finish nearly every bit of what was on the plate.
steamed clams, fig broth, homemade kim chee, pickled wakame, spring onion
the fig broth was definitely interesting – but it turned out a little too sweet, almost overpowering the flavor of the clams. this was also the least interesting dish in the meal – not so much for lack of execution but for its more pedestrian flavors.
firecracker pulled pork conchiglie pasta, habanero pesto, sour cream, spring onions
this, though, was pretty fantastic. I wasn’t impressed as much the night we had it – but I can’t quite stop thinking about it: rich, gravied pulled pork strewn through al dente shells (one of my favorite pasta shapes) and topped with this fragrant green pesto with a touch of heat. ask for more pesto, if you get this – it cuts through the stodginess of the pork and pasta.
grilled house poached octopus, squid ink risotto, salted egg sauce, tobiko, wasabi sprouts
this rich rice dish was darn impressive. it sounds far too involved: five different components with distinctive flavors and far too much technique – but it worked well. the squid ink risotto held up to the yellow umami-rich sauce – some people thought the latter overpowering but I suspect you just need a more judicious hand in the rice-sauce ratio – and the octopus and pearls of roe good textural contrast.
it is undeniably rich, but it’s also very good. very plate-lickable.
ume-sake braised beef, okinawan sweet potato, ume koji wasabi, naibai
butcher’s secret: grilled bavette, pickled grapes, shishito peppers, fingerlings, onion jam, chimichurri sauce
we finished with two plates of beef – and I think these were my favorite dishes that night. one braised till tender, one pan-seared and satisfyingly-muscley-but-not-sinewy – they have a great hand with beef. it pretty much tastes the way it looks, and I think what I liked most about these were that they weren’t intricate preparations of an ingredient, but a more simple and rustic take on a good piece of meat.
if I had to pick one, I’ll do the bavette over the braised (but I would ideally have both) – it’s on par with the excellent bavette we loved at the market grill.
homemade almond milk panna cotta, candied orange, port reduction
morsels signature milo tira-miso
no meal is complete without dessert – and it was here that we met their first weak dish. the almond panna cotta was over-gelatined and terribly firm, and tasted exactly like the sort you get out of a chinese boxed mix. not great, and almost entirely left untouched.
the local take on tiramisu was good though. the packaging takes the rather hipster mason-jar route, but at least we had big portions here (as opposed to the stingy tiramisu hero), and it was lovely. I especially like the hit of salt with the malty flavor of milo.
I finished with one of their herbal infusions, which makes for a nightcap.
I’m pretty sure it’s obvious that I had a great meal here, more than decent and truly a show of how expert these chefs can be. it’s fantastic food – the textures were great, the flavors special, and all those appealing colors showcased on a rather top-notch set of servingware.
but because I remain wary of reviews that are too positive, I’ve tried to be as qualitative here as I can – which means I’ve had to restrain any raving (not easy with good food) – so that it’s obvious why I like what. and let me know if you’ve been here before, and if you liked it?
35 Mayo Street
tel +65 6396 6302
p.s. thanks to roxanna and lucas at picky for the kind invite, and to bryan and petrina for delivering such a lovely meal.
it’s a good time to mention picky, which is a singapore-specific food reviewing+navigating app (always useful amidst the rapid proliferation of restaurants we’ve been seeing). if nothing else, have a look at its interface for it’s gorgeous – the android app is still rather iffy and crashes oft on my phone, but you apple-fanboys should do just fine.