6 restaurants for mouthwatering meat skewers

Image: ST

Skewers are usually just part of the offerings at many Japanese restaurants. But sticks of chargrilled or deep-fried meat and vegetables have become the star in a fresh crop of restaurants here.

Over the past nine months, no fewer than six skewer eateries have opened. They include Chikin, a yakitori and cocktail bar in Bukit Pasoh Road that opened last Friday; and Provisions, a claypot rice-cum-skewers restaurant-bar in Dempsey Road that opened earlier this month.

Come Aug 1, renowned kushikatsu restaurant Rokukakutei from Osaka will open its first overseas outpost in Odeon Towers in North Bridge Road.
One of the early birds is The Skewer Bar in 489 Geylang Road which opened in February last year. Co-owner Tan Jun Ann, 34, says business has increased by up to 20 per cent over the past year, with about 500 skewers sold daily. "The popularity of skewers is an extension of eating satay for supper," he says.

With Chikin, opened by Coterie Dining Concepts, chief executive officer Tay Eu-Yen, 38, hopes to bring yakitori out of a "traditionally smoky and woody izakaya setting" by covering her bar with Japanese pop art.

"Yakitori offers variety in a meal and are fun to eat," she says. "They are flexible as they can be a light bar bite or a heavier meal option."

At Provisions, South-east Asian ingredients are used in its meat skewers, claypot rice and cocktails. Co-owner Justin Foo, 27, says having a skewer-centric menu makes more business sense in a tough economic climate.

He and co-owner K.C. Rahmat, 34, pumped in "less than $90,000" for their maiden business venture. He says: "A skewer eatery requires less manpower. Only two staff members are required to run the kitchen, unlike in a full-scale restaurant."

Diners are lapping up the skewers. Human resource manager Mona Wee, in her 50s, likes barbecue grills. She says: "Skewers showcase a lot of creativity on a stick. It can be quite addictive and I can have 50 skewers with a group of friends."

ALSO READ: Top 51 Singapore dishes and where to try them



Where: The Woodgrove, Woodgrove Eating Place, 30 Woodlands Avenue 1; open: 4pm to 3am daily

Info: Call 9847-4988 or go to www.facebook.com/papaskewerbar

With Korean barbecue grill and Thai mookata restaurants mushrooming across the island, how does a barbecue stall in a coffee shop in Woodlands stand out from the competition?

The nine-month-old Papa's Skewer Bar does so by having close to 40 varieties of meat, vegetable and seafood on sticks.

Diners here grill the food themselves on gas-powered hot plates, so serving food on skewers is more practical.

Owner Louis Tan, 51, says: "It is troublesome to use a pair of tongs to flip the ingredients constantly to check if they are cooked."

Mr Tan, who runs the Woodgrove Food Place coffee shop, was inspired by skewers used in home barbecues. He prepares about 500 skewers each day.

Best-selling items include lemongrass chicken thigh, ham-wrapped cream cheese and bacon-wrapped pineapples. He uses marinades made with ingredients such as rosemary and fish sauce. The menu changes monthly.

Prices range from $1.20 for a shiitake mushroom skewer to $3.80 for a 25cm-long smoked chicken cheese sausage. There is a minimum order of 15 sticks.



Where: 6 Bukit Pasoh Road; open: 5pm to 1am (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays

Info: Call 6221-3670 or go to www.chikinbar.com

A quirky window display of monochromatic Japanese cartoon plushies such as Hello Kitty and Doraemon catches the eye at Chikin, a hip yakitori and cocktail bar that opened two days ago.

Ms Tay Eu-Yen, 38, chief executive officer of Coterie Dining Concepts, which runs Chikin, wants to provide a more "fun and trendy hangout" to enjoy yakitori instead of the traditional smoky and rustic izakaya.

The 3,000 sq ft space spans a three-storey conservation shophouse that is decked out in zany wall-to- ceiling pop art murals that are sprinkled with Japanese icons such as geishas. The bar is lit in neon lights, which immerse revellers in a slice of Tokyo's raucous nightlife.

Chikin means chicken in colloquial Japanese. The tongue-in-cheek name alludes to the fact that different parts of the bird are used in 13 types of yakitori ($3 to $4.50 a stick), including uncommon ones such as saezuri (windpipe) and kubikawa (neck skin).

Most skewers are seasoned with either salt or Sichuan peppercorns and other spices and grilled over binchotan charcoal. There is also a kushiyaki section that includes brussels sprouts wrapped in bacon ($4), and foie gras ($8).

More substantial offerings include unagi garlic fried rice ($12) and roasted cauliflower with melted cheese ($9).

The drinks menu features about 20 Japanese- inspired cocktails ($19 each) crafted by executive bartender Sam Wong, 32.

Most of his concoctions are cocktails that have been infused for up to four days. Favourites include the fruity Sake Sangria and Dozo Mango, made with sake and gin that are infused with mango and pineapple.

ALSO READ: Top 7 tasty Singapore restaurants for all the meat lovers out there




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Where: 55 Tras Street; open: 6pm to midnight (Mondays to Thursdays), 6pm to 2am (Fridays & Saturdays), closed on Sundays

Info: Call 8748-4585 or go to www.facebook.com/pg/birderssg

Yakitori, or grilled skewered chicken, is typically flavoured with salt or tare (a Japanese soya-based basting sauce). But at this two-month-old modern-chic yakitori bar, each of the more than 20 skewers is creatively personalised with toppings and sauces. The skewers mostly comprise common cuts of chicken.

The Sasami (chicken tenderloin, $4.50) is topped with ume and ohba genovese, a pesto made from shiso leaves; and the Tail ($4) is drenched in an umami-rich garlic shoyu sauce.

Vegetable skewers are also given the creative treatment. The Nagaimo Mentai ($8) has mountain yam laced with cod roe mayonnaise and umami corn ($6) that is topped with a gochujang-based sauce and seaweed.

The skewers are the brainchild of chef Makoto Deguchi, who worked at one-Michelin-starred French restaurant Sola in Paris. Most skewers in the 55-seat restaurant are grilled over binchotan charcoal upon order.

Owner and television actor Adam Chen, 41, says: "Yakitori may look restrictive, but we play around with seasonings and toppings to come up with exciting flavours."

He adds that the popularity of skewers is a result of diners getting more familiar with the izakaya (Japanese gastro-pub) concept. It pairs small bites with tipples and more substantial dishes are available if one still feels hungry. Heavier dishes on the menu include oyako don (chicken thigh and egg rice, $10). Wash the food down with a choice of about eight types of One Cup Sake that come in 180ml cups ($15 to $20 each).




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Where: 4 Haji Lane; open: 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30 to 10.30pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays), 11.30am to 3pm (Sundays), closed on Mondays

Info: Call 6291-3323 or go to www.facebook.com/pankosg

Unlike other new skewer eateries that specialise in grills, this week-old restaurant-bar zeroes in on kushikatsu or deep-fried skewers.

On the menu are more than 50 types of vegetable, meat and seafood skewers. Popular items include wagyu beef with oroshi ponzu ichimi ($6) and Japanese oysters ($8).

The boundaries of kushikatsu are stretched in the Special section, with skewers such as bacon-wrapped mochi and mentai mayonnaise ($5) and Hokkaido scallop with sea urchin ($8).

These new creations are the brainchild of executive chef Asai Masashi, who is from Osaka, where kushikatsu originated.

Panko is part of hospitality group Unlisted Collection, which runs restaurants such as Audace in Dickson Road and yakitori bar Bincho in Tiong Bahru that is also helmed by chef Masashi.

For kushikatsu, the food is coated in an egg batter and panko, fine Japanese breadcrumbs that absorb less oil when deep-fried. The golden-brown skewers are strained and dry-steamed to ensure they remain hot and crisp.

The chef says he picked up the skill of cooking kushikatsu from a "popular chef of a now-defunct restaurant in Osaka".

Most of the dinner crowd in the 70-seat restaurant pair the skewers with tipples such as Japanese craft beers on tap and sake.

ALSO READ: 5 affordable seafood places in Singapore




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Where: 2 Lorong 29 Geylang; open: 3 to 11pm (Sundays to Thursdays), 3pm to 12.30am (Fridays and Saturdays)

Info: Call 8188-2902 or go to www.facebook.com/pg/charsticks

Besides digging into dim sum and frog leg porridge, night owls in popular supper hangout Geylang can also check out the latest supper nosh - meat on sticks.

One of the first skewer eateries in the area is The Skewer Bar in 489 Geylang Road, which opened in February last year. One street down, another skewer eatery, Char Sticks & Grill, opened last November.

This no-frills 40-seat kushiyaki (grilled meat and vegetables) stall offers 60 types of skewers. Hot sellers include bacon-wrapped prawns, pork and chicken balls, teriyaki pork ribs and fruit and vegetables such as pineapple and corn. The skewers are basted with a housemade tare sauce as they are grilled over charcoal. About 400 skewers are sold daily.

Owner Mark Lim, 37, learnt to make kushiyaki from working in restaurants when he was on a three- month-long working holiday in Japan three years ago.

On the appeal of skewers, he says: "Diners can socialise over skewers better as they can control the pace of eating and quantity to order."

At $1 to $2.80 a stick, the skewers here are half the price of those in restaurants.

The former Western food chef says: "By operating in a coffee shop, I save on rental and can sell at a lower price."

Besides skewers, there are more than 10 grilled seafood dishes such as cheese scallops ($7.90 for two pieces), Canadian rock oysters ($10.90) and fish from Japan such as shishamo ($1.50) and samran ($4.90).




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Where: 7 Dempsey Road; open: 4pm to 1am (Tuesdays to Thursdays), 4pm to 2am (Fridays and Saturdays), 10.30am to 3pm (Sundays), closed on Mondays

Info: Call 6250-7090 or go to www.facebook.com/pg/provisions.asia

Despite having worked in Western restaurants for five years, chef Justin Foo went back to his Asian roots with his maiden business venture, Provisions. It is a 69-seat skewers and claypot rice cocktail bar that opened earlier this month.

The 27-year-old, who was the head chef at Senso Ristorante and Bar in Club Street, recalls that he was cooking Asian dishes such as bulgogi and tom yum soup on his days off. He says: "I love the alchemy of flavours from the spices and herbs used in Asian cuisine."

This tantalising melange of South-east Asian flavours permeates the skewers menu. On offer are 12 cuts of chicken, pork, beef and seafood grilled over binchotan charcoal. Popular picks include chunky chicken thigh ($5), which is perfumed with turmeric, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves; the beautifully lacquered char siew-style pork belly ($7) and Sichuan peppercorn- seasoned octopus ($10) drizzled with black garlic sauce.

Chef Foo also offers five variations of claypot rice cooked with five types of grains, including barley and terigu (wheat grains). These Asian-inspired claypots include oyster omelette rice ($18) and oolong tea- infused shiitake mushroom rice ($9).

The South-east Asian theme also extends to the cocktail menu, crafted by co-owner K.C. Rahmat, 34.

He concocts bespoke cocktails ($18) centred on infused liqueur such as grapefruit tequila and banana whisky. Other cocktails include Bantai Bundung ($14), which features rose syrup.

This story was originally published in The Straits Times.

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3 restaurants to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters

Vitel Tone
Image: Open Door Policy 


I would love to have a healthier diet, but my social life is the problem. If I suggest a salad bar, my male friends balk. Or if my friends suggest pizza for dinner, I cave to temptation. It’s easy to find restaurants that cater solely for the #eatclean movement, but it’s not as simple to find establishments that keep everyone (from the carnivores to the vegans) happy.

The problem, my vegetarian friend says, is twofold. One, you don’t want to seem like that picky eater whom everyone has to accommodate. But on the other hand, if they don’t take your diet into consideration, you end up having to pick at the scant options in the menu that cater to your needs. Chances are, these options are either token soups or salads, or don’t taste that great anyway. And for people who have enforced dietary restrictions (such as being lactose intolerant), well, it’s a bummer. 

So can’t we just all get along? Thanks to an increasing number of restaurants willing to cater to all palates, you can.  


For the friend who is gluten and dairy-free: Open Door Policy

Hipster favourite Open Door Policy went gone gluten-free and dairy-free (that’s GFDF to the uninitiated) last year, and has recently revamped their menu with 15 new dishes. There are no exceptions here: in fact, so strict is this rule that if you’re planning on bringing in a cake for a special occasion, it needs to be GFDF as well. To the cynics: the planter boxes of flourishing herbs lining the walls aren’t just grown for show. The herbs are harvested in the morning to be used for the dishes of the day.


Watercress Soup
Image: Open Door Policy


There’s nothing more comforting than soup and bread – yes, GFDF bread. We sampled the Watercress Soup ($18), a deep green, velvety smooth concoction served with potato fried bread. It is reminiscent of Chinese watercress soups, but this one is its elevated, elegant older sister. For added richness, there is a silken sous-vide egg (which pairs well with the potato incorporated into the soup), and bursts of plump wolfberries. The other soup on the menu is a Warm Wasabi Greenpea Scallop Soup ($23) which was just as moreish, but more creamy and heavier than the watercress. 


Roasted Pork Rack
Image: Open Door Policy 


In terms of mains, the surprise was the five spice Roasted Pork Rack ($38) with purple sweet potatoes and baby kailan. It was a fuss-free plate (you can’t get any simpler than one protein and two vegetables), but what made the difference was the spicy pineapple sauce. Pork is a tricky meat to get right because of how quickly it dries out, but when paired with the vibrant tartness of the pineapple, it made for a wonderfully tender bite.


Pan Seared Threadfin
Image: Open Door Policy


The Pan Seared Threadfin ($32) deserves a shout out just because of its accompanying Thai mango salad. Sweet and sharp with a kick of chilli at the end, it was the star of the dish and possibly one of the best-dressed salads we’ve ever had.  The crunch of peanuts and hae bee (dried shrimp) also served as a contrasting texture to the meaty white fish. The homemade Thai chilli sauce is made with Sarawak pineapple, coriander, banana shallot and honey, and we could have eaten it by the jar if we could.

Given the GFDF restrictions, we were surprised to see two risottos and pasta dishes on the menu. But the creamy texture that we associate with a good risotto wasn’t compromised – the chef has made up for the lack of dairy by using potato puree in the Vegetable Tempura Risotto ($25) and green pea puree in the Braised Veal Ossobuco ($32) with pea risotto. As for the pasta, it is made in-house with arrowroot or tapioca flour.


Apple Crumble
Image: Open Door Policy 


Regulars at Open Door Policy will remember the restaurant’s signature Apple Crumble ($16). This popular dessert is still on the menu, but after six months of hard work, is now GFDF. The spiced apples are cooked through but still firm, and the crisp crumble is made with coconut oil and oat flour. The cashew nut crème anglaise with vanilla bean is served in a jug at the side, so you can decide how much velvety sauce you want with your dessert. The dish takes twenty minutes to prepare, so you might want to order it while eating your mains. 

Our verdict: Honestly, you’d never know that the flavourful dishes are devoid of gluten or dairy. And with so many options on the menu (7 starters and 9 mains), we’d be surprised if even the pickiest of guests can’t find a favourite.

Open Door Policy is located at 19 Yong Siak Street.


For the friend who’s looking to detox: Angela May Food Chapters

There’s something to be said about eating food that’s less heavy on oil, sugar, and well, everything that’s bad for you. But even know we know fully well that it’s better to order these options, the fear is that they won’t taste as good, or that we’ll leave the table unsatisfied and still craving that cheeseburger. For the feel-good health factor and a full stomach, Angela May Food Chapters gets our vote.


Image: Angela May Food Chapters


We tend to think of vegetables as insubstantial or at its worst, tokenistic salads. The green options at Angela May Food Chapters are anything but. When celebrity chef and owner Angela May was told to cater for a party with vegetarian guests, she hit upon the idea of a meat-free carving station. Her solution was to serve an entire head of roast cauliflower, carved upon request by the guests. It was such a success that a similar version made it onto the restaurant’s menu.


Whole Miso Roasted Cauliflower


Served in its cast iron pan, the Whole Miso Roasted Cauliflower ($36) is firm yet tender, with burnished brown florets. The accompanying corn milk in a side jug was so delicious we mopped it up with leftover bread from another dish. It was subtly sweet, frothily light and perfectly complemented the saltiness of the miso. The cauliflower is substantial enough on its own (in fact it can be shared between two), but for a grain element, it is served with kale and whole grain farro. It reminded us of a risotto, albeit less heavy and coma-inducing.


Truffled Asian Dumplings
Image: Angela May Food Chapters


Another favourite was the Truffled Asian Dumplings ($18), little parcels of tofu, king oyster mushrooms and crunchy water chestnuts encased in translucent skin. Coconut cream may sound heavy, but this was light, silky and fragrant with kaffir lime leaves. We scoffed the lot and wanted more.


Spicy Bulgogi Lettuce  Wraps


Protein lovers will be glad to see that most of mains are not vegetarian. Angela May puts a local spin on classics, such as using laksa yoghurt sauce and steamed mantou buns in the Red Curry Prawn Burger ($22). Usually for meat dishes, vegetables are the side show, but not so for the Korean-inspired Spicy Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps ($28), where both beef and greens pull equal weight. The marinade and juices from the thinly-sliced grilled skirt steak have soaked through the spiced sprouts, kale and mango salsa, so that they take on a meaty flavour. The wraps are sizeable (it’s not a one bite situation) and with enough steak to satisfy hungry carnivores.

Our verdict: A meal here leaves you feeling full, satisfied, but content in the knowledge that you have been kind to your body. Also – don’t leave without sampling Angela May’s indulgent choux pastries.

Angela May Food Chapters is located at Robinsons The Heeren, #02-02.


For the friend who’s vegetarian: BAM!

Nothing is expected at this Japanese-Spanish fusion restaurant. Tucked away in Tras Street, BAM! has recently shifted its focus from tapas (which are still available on the menu) to omakase offerings. You can pick between 4, 6 or 8 courses, and have the option of adding sake pairing at an additional cost. BAM! makes our list because they also offer a veggie omakase option. We sampled the 8 course regular and vegetarian omakase options to see if either falls short in comparison.

So here’s the thing. As with most omakase concepts, Executive Chef Pepe Moncayo chooses the dishes depending on the freshness of ingredients available on the day. But while the dishes we write about may not be what you get on your visit, what we can vouch for are the unusual food combinations Chef Pepe put together, and the impressive balance in flavours and textures.


Cold capellini with citron confit, sea and land grapes


My vegetarian companion, who told me that she generally has to eat before meeting her friends for dinner due to a lack of options, was in vegetable heaven. A highlight was the cold capellini with citron confit and sea and land grapes. The delicate al dente noodles were evenly coated in hazelnut and balsamic dressing. If you haven’t had sea grapes before, their texture is akin to that of salmon roe. We were also told that the beautiful edible snake gourd flowers decorating the dish were also locally sourced.


Artichokes with kinshinsai, eggplant and shio kombu

But her favourite was an artichoke, kinshinsai and eggplant dish. Kinshinsai, which are lily buds, added the crunch element while the eggplant puree lent an earthiness. To this flavour combination was the slight bitterness of the artichokes and the tang of the pickles. Pulling it all together was the shio kombu, seasoned kelp that’s making its way onto gourmet plates around the world, thanks to its concentrated umami flavour. Other dishes on the menu included a wonderfully appetising pineapple gazpacho with compressed watermelon, cauliflower sprouts with aromatic sesame sauce and milky scamorza cheese with endive, picked kumquat and sweet onion puree.


Ama ebi, uni, green beans and ponzu jelly


Omnivores, fret not. The food in the regular omakase menu was equally bold in its flavour profiles. Most sashimi fans would have tried ama ebi (sweet shrimp) and uni (sea urchin) at many a Japanese restaurant. But it was the first time that we have seen the two paired with julienned green beans and mixed with ponzu jelly. Uni has a distinctive taste and creamy texture, but it was mitigated by the crunch of the fresh beans, the sweetness of the ama ebi and the tart ponzu jelly.  


Cod fish tripe with cod fish and roots cream


Another exceptional seafood dish was the battered cod fish tripe sitting in a cod fish and artichoke cream. Served with salty shirasu (baby anchovies) and artichoke heart, it was also generously showered with shavings of black truffle. Because the batter on the tripe was so thin and delicately fried, it wasn’t heavy – a good thing considering the menu had 8 courses (which included thinly sliced tender pork shoulder and a perfectly cooked New Zealand grouper).  

Our verdict: We’ve been lucky to try some exceptional food in our line of work, and BAM! is up there with the best. It’s been awhile since we declared vegetables exciting, but this one deserves the high praise. 

BAM! is located at 38 Tras Street.

Omakase prices: 4 courses for $98, 6 courses for $148 and 8 courses for $188. The vegetarian omakase prices are $78 and $98 (not including dessert).

Zero in on the foods to check out with our guide to the Singapore Food Festival

The annual Singapore Food Festival is back (yes, we did mention it a few weeks ago) again and our tummies are ready for a feast of epic proportions. For the uninitiated, the Singapore Food Festival is organised by the Singapore Tourism Board and takes place from the end of June to the end of July. Comprising weekly core events, themed celebrations, culinary workshops and  island-wide competitions, this is an all-inclusive celebration of all the local favourites that have earned Singapore its international reputation as a haven for a wonderfully diverse range of cuisines.

READ MORE: You can find your perfect wine pairing with your DNA and this pen is mightier than the brush: How to use your highlighter pen for maximum glow and minimum fuss

This year, you can look forward to fun lifestyle events (think appreciating a dance performance while dining), collaborations between the best local chefs and more. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a hardcore foodie or someone who’s just hankering for some local fare (how about some Bib Gourmand recommendations while you’re at it) and traditional snacks (speaking of traditional snacks, we are seriously craving bakwa right now).

The only problem? You have a limited amount of time and you’re not sure where to start or where to go. Not to worry: we’ve sorted out the Singapore Food Festival into five different categories for five different ‘personality types’. This way, you can really zero in on the things you want to check out and fill your tummy with.


For the wine lover:

Yup, local fare can be paired with wines. Happening at various locations, you can take part in a wine-meets-hawker affair organised by Merchants Wine Store. Sip on boutique (remember when we discussed bad wines?) Australian and New Zealander wines while you indulge in local delicacies (while we’re at it, check out these 51 must-eat local dishes) like chicken rice, laksa and more at participating hawker centres. A winemaker will be present to answer any burning questions you might have about the pairings. Hurry, get your tickets here before they all run out.

Where: Participating hawker centres

When: Now until July 30, 2017


For the artistic soul:


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How does appreciating a contemporary dance whilst dining sound to you? Hosted by Chef Nixon Low from Jiakpalang, Project Plait: Inheritance features a five-course modern Singaporean meal that’s elevated with a contemporary dance by choreographer Naomi Tan.

Inspired by our local traditions, this brings together the performing and culinary arts and aims to explore our sense of self within the ever-changing and fast-paced society of Singapore. The question to ask while you’re dining is: Are we losing our identities faster than we are creating it?

Where: Jiakpalang Eating House, 456 Alexandra Road, #01-06 S(119962)

When: July 20 to July 22, 2017


For the sweet tooth:


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For those with a sweeter tooth, the Kueh Appreciation Day is the event you should be at. Hosted by Slow Food, you get to enjoy traditional kueh (Malay for ‘cake’) from nine local bakeries. Featuring goodies from different ethnic groups – Eurasian, Hainanese, Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka, Peranakan and Malay (you have to try these chendol-inspired goodies) – you’ll also get to watch live demonstrations of the creation of these pastries as well.

So what can you expect? Ondeh ondeh (coconut and gula melaka snacks) by HariAnn’s, yi bua (Hainanese coconut rice cakes) by Hainan Xiao Chi, lempur (Indonesian glutinous rice with meat fillings) by Ratu Lempur and many more. Besides satisfying your sweet cravings, you get to thoroughly immerse yourself in these cultures. So keep your mind and appetite open and hungry for more at this event. If you’re still craving sweets after the event, then read our guide on best new places for desserts in Singapore.

Where: ToTT Store, 896 Dunearn Road, #01-01A, S(589472)

When: July 23, 2017        


For the mod-sin aficionado:

How does a crispy braised duck burger or Hokkien mee whipped up French bouillabaisse-style sound to you? Then you’ve got to check out Open Stoves at Timbre+ that will feature old-school arcade machines, craft beers and off-menu Mod-Sin dishes (read our guide on Mod Sin restaurants to keep an eye on in Singapore ), the latter of which is the result of a collaboration between restaurant chefs and hawkers.

With a total of nine pairs of chefs, expect an innovative blend of flavours – coconut cream prawn croquette sandwiches with laksa cheese by chef Wing and chef Gwern; prawn paste chicken thigh with spinach noodles by chef Kelly Wong and chef Nicholas Teo and more. While indulging in these exclusive treats, be sure to order a mug of icy cold craft beer to round off your meal (we do have a boozy list of craft beer places right here, should you need it).

Where: Timbre+, 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, JTC Launch Pad@One-North, S(139957)

When: July 28 - July 30, 2017.


For the tea lover:

Craving a little something to drink to ease your indigestion and soothe your stomach? Then head to The Singapore Tea Festival by 1972 Clipper Tea Co. (ugh, remember its whimsical Mother’s Day gift sets? We hear some of them are still available!) Indulge in aromatic teas with over 18 local brands showcasing their signature blends, tea-inspired wares and modern bites (consider a pampering afternoon of high tea with your girlfriend the day after).

While sipping on your brew, you can also explore Singapore’s rich tea heritage via insightful talks and a series of hands-on workshops and other tea-centric programmes. We’ll toast to that~

Where: Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn (238801)

When: July 22 - July 23, 2017

Excite your taste buds with these new restaurant openings, including one called Bird Bird

#1 Bakalaki

Located in the heart of Tiong Bahru’s buzzing enclave is new Greek restaurant Bakalaki. Executive chef Spiros Palaiologos, formerly of the popular Blu Kouzina, takes pride in his produce and imports fish and other seafood from the Mediterranean.

The kitchen rolls out a healthy selection of small plates and starters, such as pan-fried feta cheese drizzled with honey and sesame as well as domaldes (rice dumplings wrapped in grape leaves). For mains, expect to feast on grilled ocean catch like sea bream, sword fish and octopus.

The chef also dishes out grilled beef and chicken skewers served with tzatziki and hearty oven-baked dishes (sto fourno). Pair these items with labels from the Greek-centric wine list. Residents in the area can check out the restaurant’s well-stocked deli section of freshly baked pita breads, Greek feta cheeses and yoghurts as well as imported sweets and desserts.

Related: Love outdoor workouts? Here are 9 things to know

Bakalaki, 3 Seng Poh Road. Tel: 6836-3688


#2 Tono Cevicheria

Peruvian ceviche is more than just fresh fish, peppers and tiger’s milk at Tono Cevicheria, the first restaurant to open at Duo Galleria in Bugis.

The casual concept by Chef Daniel Chavez (chef-owner of Ola Cocina del Mar) presents variations of Peru’s national dish that’s reflective of the cultural influences of Europeans, Africans and Asians in the multi-ethnic country. Ceviche typically comprises cubes of fresh fish cured in tiger’s milk: a mouthwatering concoction of citrus and aji or Peruvian chillies.

A great introduction to this dish is the restaurant’s signature Tono ceviche of market fish (sometimes snapper or local barramundi) served with smoked aji amarillo pepper sauce and crispy baby squid. As a comparison, try the Nikkei (its Japanese cousin of sorts), composed of yellowfin tuna and a dressing of mirin, hondashi and sesame oil.

The stalwart ceviche is not the only star in the menu. Causas, a Peruvian potato salad, is a refreshing breakaway. We recommend the Lima causas of crabmeat and mashed potato topped with tobiko and crispy quinoa toppings. Other unique Peruvian specialities to try include the Lomo Saltado, a Cantonese-influenced beef stir-fry with coriander, tomatoes and potatoes.

Related: The best chocolate treats and bars to celebrate World Chocolate Day

Tono Cevicheria,  Duo Galleria, 7 Fraser Street #01-49/50. Tel: 6702-7320


#3 Nouri

Since departing The Kitchen at Bacchanalia, chef Ivan Brehm’s collaboration with the Unlisted Collection has been hotly anticipated.

The new 42-seater Nouri (Latin for nourish) serves as Brehm’s platform to diminish barriers in dining. It starts at the dining area where the sleek marble communal table doubles as the open kitchen’s prep station and pass, encouraging interaction between diners and with the chef. There’s private dining space for eight at the back, but the main dining area works great for an enlightening chef’s table experience.

Nouri’s cuisine, dubbed ‘crossroads cooking’, reveals similarities between Brehm’s Brazilian heritage and global flavours.

A starter of Silken Cheese recalls silken tofu for the Asian palates, and perhaps a savoury panna cotta for the European. The Acarajé, a white pinto bean fritter of Afro-Brazilian origin, is served with local-inspired turmeric and coconut curry sauce and Brazilian vatapá sauce made with bread, dried shrimp and palm oil.

Apart from the usual red and white wine, unorthodox pairings of rosé and orange wines are recommended here (according to beverage manager Matthew Chan, they are great for Singapore’s climate).

Related: Head to the Shangri-La Hotel's revamped Lobby Lounge for some tasty hawker-inspired treats this weekend

Nouri, 72 Amoy Street. T: 6221-4148


#4 Bistro du Vin

After its recent refurbishment in April, Bistro Du Vin at Shaw Centre now sports a fresher contemporary look with shades of grey and cream, coupled with wood and brass trimmings.

This casual eatery by the Les Amis Group is helmed by two Frenchmen: the larger than life director Philippe Pau (who’s been with the group for more than a decade) and new group executive chef Laurent Brouard.

The latter has introduced a new menu comprising well-executed classics of roasted cod or pan-seared sea bream with Provençale ratatouille and baby vegetables, and warm tart of sardines from Brittany with basil tomatoes concassée.

Some of the best-sellers that remain in the menu include tender braised beef cheeks served with bacon and mashed potatoes as well as duck leg confit with salardaise potatoes and green salad. Enjoy your meal with warm baguette and a glass of French red.

Related: Before you travel, explore these ultimate luxury hotels, and the brains behind the resorts

Bistro du Vin, 1 Scotts Rd, #01-14 Shaw Centre. T: 6733-7763


#5 Bird Bird

When he was concentualising Bird Bird’s menu, group executive chef Anthony Yeoh experimented with different chickens and finally decided on sakura chicken (thanks to its juiciness even after being thrown into the deep-fryer).

Diners have three versions of fried chicken to choose from. The crowd-pleasing classic Southern Fried Chicken is brined in Old Bay seasoning for 12 hours and bathed in buttermilk before being coated in a seasoned flour mixture and deep-fried till golden brown.

The Bangkok Fried Chicken which comes in a crispy rice flour-batter is given a punch of flavour with Thai herbs, lemongrass, kaffir lime and garlic. The juicy bird is served with a piquant green chilli nam jim dip but if you need something even more fiery, request for one of the bottled chilli sauces.

And there’s the milder Lebanese Fried Chicken slathered in honey and lemon and sprinkled with za’atar a Middle Eastern spice composed of fragrant oregano and thyme. The fried chicken comes in whole (a choice of two flavours) and half portions (one flavour). Sides to enjoy with the chicken include the ultra crispy hand-cut shoestring curly fries, and hearty mac and cheese (try the black truffle or three-cheese versions).

There are also wholesome salads displayed at the counter to boot. When you’re done licking your fingers, enjoy a cup of luscious toasted milk soft serve before leaving.

Bird Bird, 97 Frankel Avenue. T: 6694-8270

Related: From sniffing fruit to lighting candles: The strangest (and most effective!) ways to lose weight without starving yourself

This story first appeared on The Peak on July 11, 2017.

Bespoke cocktails, artisanal teas and more to drink at Singapore Food Festival 2017

The 2017 Singapore Food Festival is upon us. While there’s plenty to eat, the understated importance of delicious beverages must be addressed. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to suss out the best drink deals and activities at SFF 2017.


Teatime at Singapore Tea Festival

Image: The 1872 Clipper Tea Co., Juan Tea, Pin Tea

Head to the Tea Market at this year’s Singapore Tea Festival for a showcase of new, locally inspired teas from Singapore’s most beloved tea brands such as Pin Tea and A.muse Projects.

But what is a steaming cup of tea without the right tea ware and reading material? Ceramic studio Mud Rock is bringing their selection of handcrafted tea accessories to the market, while Booksactually has curated the necessary collection of local literature to complement your beverage. Naiise will be there too, promising tea-related knick knacks and lifestyle products galore.

Feeling peckish? Hit the Teapitiam, a pop-up cafe curated by Burpple, and sink your teeth into tea-infused sweet treats dreamt up by famous local chefs. Don’t miss the tangy passionfruit ugnuts (a portmanteau of “ugly” and “donuts”) made with osmanthus petals by Bird Bird and light and fluffy earl grey tea cake by Inthebrickyard. All the goodies incorporate tea blends from The 1872 Clipper Tea Co.

Find out more here.


Where: B4, Ion Orchard

When: July 22 and 23, 10am-10pm

Price: Free admission


Cocktails at STREAT

Image: MUSE

At this year’s installation of STREAT, the signature event of the Singapore Food Festival, festival-exclusive cocktails served by Native bar in collaboration with Sunday Punch, a local boutique bottled cocktail brand.

They are one of the nine food vendors, including New Ubin Seafood, Peranakan Khek, Whampoa Prawn Noodle and the team that won a coveted gold medal at the Ika Hoga Culinary Olympics 2016, who will be serving their unique takes on locally dishes. Stalls were carefully selected by local chefs Malcolm Lee of Candlenut and Willin Low of Wild Rocket, who will also be running a collaborative pop-up restaurant at the event. For just $50, you can enjoy their three-course mod-sin and modern Peranakan Tok Panjang menu.

Find out more here.


Where: Clifford Square, beside Fullerton Bay Hotel

When: July 14, 5pm to July 15, 10.30pm

Price: Free admission


Wine pairing at Hawker Wine Safari

Image: Merchants Wine Store

Elevate your hawker fare experience by pairing local favourites with artisanal Australian and New Zealand wines, courtesy of Merchants Wine Store. Each night, a winemaker from Te Hera Estate, a boutique winery in Martinborough, New Zealand, will give attendees a rundown of how to match flavours of fine wine and Singaporean food.

Expect five delicious New World wines and Bib Gourmand hawker stalls - think Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee and Tian Tian Chicken Rice - at one of several famous hawker centres like Tiong Bahru Market, Newton Circus Food Centre and Maxwell Food Centre.

Get your tickets here.


Where: Various locations

When: July 14 to 30, 6.30-8.30pm

Price: $88


Kueh pairing workshops by Rainbow Lapis

Image: Blocs Inc by Kaldi's Berry, Rainbow Lapis by Cooking Art, Tea Chapter

Speaking of local cuisine, why not skip out on the finger sandwiches and scones at your next afternoon tea party and reach for a traditional kueh instead?

Sign up for one of three kueh pairing workshops organised by Rainbow Lapis, depending on what your drink of choice is. For tea drinkers, Tea Chapter and Rainbow Lapis have a instructional pairing course, promising a menu of various traditional Chinese teas matched with ang ku kueh, pulut hitam and kueh dadar.


Where: Tea Chapter, 9 and 11 Neil Road

When: July 15, 2-5pm

Price: $80


If you prefer drinks of an alcoholic nature, head to Bar Stories to learn how to create kueh-inspired cocktails. At the workshop, you’ll get to taste three bespoke cocktails, try your hand at making a “mod-sin kueh” and mixing up two cocktails of your own. Learn how to create the best kueh and cocktail pairings, too.

Where: Bar Stories, 55-57A Haji Lane

When: July 22, 4.30-6.30pm

Price: $98


Coffee-lovers, you haven’t been left out. Kaldi’s Berry’s workshop offers you the chance to learn proper brewing methodology, make your own kueh and match flavour profiles. You’ll be sipping on three types of specialty coffee - Ethiopian, Brazilian and monsooned Malabar and sampling scrumptious kueh from local bakeries Dona Manis, Rainbow Lapis and Sago Talam.

Where: Kaldi’s Berry, 231 Mountbatten Road, #02-01

When: July 23, 10am-12.30pm

Price: $80

Sign up for any of the above, here.


Beer chugging at Open Stoves, Timbre+

Image: Jonathan Wong

Timbre+ has a mini-food festival of its own lined up for the end of July. Called Open Stoves, it boasts great food, good vibes and lots of fun.

And by fun, we mean drinking on beanbags under the stars and a game or two of beer pong. Sure, there are many activities like giant Jenga, or old-school arcade favourites, to engage in, but we’d show up just for the Beer Chug stage game.

The food event itself brings together nine pairs of hawkerpreneurs and restaurant chefs to create inventive new dishes that combine their culinary skill sets. Off-menu offerings include Crispy Braised Duck Burger by Chef Deming and Chef Melvin Chew, Coconut Cream Prawn Croquette Sandwich with Laksa Cheese by Chef Wing and Chef Gwern and Prawn Paste Chicken Thigh with Spinach Noodles by Chef Kelly Wong and Chef Nicholas Teo.


Find out more here.


Where: Timbre+, 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, JTC LaunchPad @ one-north

When: July 28 to 30, 12noon till late

Price: Free admission


Dining deals with Chope Exclusives: Local Eats Edition

Image: Little Bastard

All through this month, online restaurant reservations provider Chope is partnering with over 25 local restaurants to offer complimentary mains, sides, desserts, and exclusive set menus that centre on locally-inspired flavours.

These include some of our favourite watering holes - Yamazaki Restaurant and Bar, Little Bastard and Lighthouse Bistro and Bar. So if you’re planning to grab a drink at any of these bars, make a reservation first through the Chope app using these promotional codes for those exclusive deals. You’ll also receive an extra 50 Chope-Dollars, which can be used to redeem vouchers and discounts at other restaurants listed on the platform.


Where: Various locations

When: July 1 to 31


One-for-one Boost Juice

Image: Boost Juice

This one is for the health junkies. If you’re as obsessed with Boost Juice as we are, head to Ion Orchard this July and get two medium smoothies at the price of one. For just $6, you get both a Soraya’s Favourite and a Superfruit Smoothie.

All you need to do is download the Ion Orchard mobile app, select the Boost Juice Holideal (or any other great one-for-one Ion Holideals promotion) and scan the QR code displayed at the cashier. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #IONxCulinary when you post it on Instagram, you might just win shopping vouchers.

Find out more here.


Where: #B4-65, Ion Orchard

When: Now until July 31

Price: $6 (U.P. $12)

Which bar in Singapore has been named No. 1 on Asia's 50 Best Bars list?

Manhattan bar at the Regent Singapore rises from fifth place last year to claim the top spot as Asia's Best Bar, taking over from last year's No. 1 - 28 HongKong Street, which is now in fourth place. Also sitting in the top 10 is Operation Dagger (No. 6) at Ann Siang Hill.

In total, 13 bars from Singapore make up the top 50 - with five new entries. They are Atlas (No. 12) at Parkview Square; Employees Only Singapore (No. 17) and Native (No. 20) - both at Amoy Street; Nutmeg & Clove (No. 30) at Ann Siang Hill; and The Other Room (No. 35) at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel.

Fairmont Singapore's Anti:Dote bar - ranked No. 43 last year - did not make the cut this time. The rest of last year's entrants - Tippling Club (No. 11) in Tanjong Pagar Road; Gibson (No. 14) in Bukit Pasoh Road; Jigger & Pony (No. 21) in Amoy Street; D.Bespoke (No. 29) in Bukit Pasoh Road; and Sugarhall (No. 38) in Amoy Street - are still on the list.

China and Hong Kong also made a strong showing, with a combined total of 12 bars on the list - eight from Hong Kong alone. Shanghai's speakeasy bar Speak Low, the Best Bar in China, stays in second place.

Also retaining its spot in the top three is High Five - from Tokyo, Japan - which comes in at No. 3, and is one of the six bars to represent Japan on the list.

There are 18 new entries on the list this year, including Taiwan's Indulge Experimental Bistro, which comes in at No. 5, and is the Highest New Entry. India also makes an appearance on the list for the first time at No. 37, with Mumbai's Aer Bar & Lounge in Mumbai.

Almost 200 industry experts from Asia voted to determine the list.

The list is published by William Reed Business Media, which organises the annual World's 50 Best Bars Awards in October, as well as The World's 50 Best Restaurants, and Asia's 50 Best Restaurants lists.

This story first appeared on The Straits Times on June 22, 2017.

5 hottest new restaurants in Singapore (and our selected signature dishes)

With so many restaurants popping up each month offering a smorgasbord of cuisines, we understand that you simply don’t have the luxury of time to try out each and every one of them.

READ MORE: Drink up! Asia's best bar is in Singapore and CBD workers: Here are tasty new eateries to brighten up your lunch

To help you out in that department, we’ve put together a handpicked list of five tasty new restaurants out of the never-ending slew of new eateries.


The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar at COMO


From one of New York’s most celebrated chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, comes The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar at COMO - his first-ever venture in Southeast Asia.

For the uninitiated, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a savvy business man and restaurateur who is responsible for the successes of a constellation of restaurants worldwide (think United States, Mexico, Tokyo and more). All of which were awarded four stars by The New York Times, most notably Restaurant Jean-Georges in Central Park, New York, with three Michelin stars for 10 consecutive years.

Inspired by Dempsey Hill’s natural surroundings and Singapore’s multi-cultural background, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten “hopes that every guest can taste the passion that is infused in every morsel.”

Casual and refined, The Cookhouse Dempsey & Bar features an open kitchen, making the communal dining experience more familial and relaxed. Serving a collection of dishes from the chef’s vast empire, including some of his fine-dining restaurants, like the raw tuna with avocado and his famed-since-1990s molten chocolate cake.

We highly recommend his signature dish - Egg Caviar. Presented with the top of the egg shell removed, it is filled with vodka, lemon juice and whipped cream espuma and topped with fresh caviar. The light espuma cleanses the palate in between bites of the briny caviar.

Where: 17D Dempsey Road, S(249676)



With the revamp of Shangri La’s Tower Wing, they have introduced a new fine dining Japanese restaurant, NAMI. Choose from lunch sets, a la carte orders to omakase kaiseki priced mostly under $200. If you’re looking for a venue that is appropriate for luncheon meetings, we recommend heading to NAMI for their executive lunch sets.

NAMI is headed by Japanese chef Shigeo Akiba from Yokohama, who worked under Iron Chef Koumei Nakamura for five years and sushi chef Hiroyuki Ono who worked at Sushi Kanesaka in Tokyo.

Do look out for dishes prepared with Chef Akiba’s specialty dashi stock — simmered with kombu from Hokkaido and katsuobushi from Kyushu. While his pan-fried tuna head isn’t prepared with his dashi stock, we highly recommend it for the tender and creamy-fleshed tuna head chunks.

Served with sweet sauce spiked with yuzukosho (a type of Japanese seasoning that is made from chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt, left to ferment) and a squeeze of lemon. The zesty touch helps to cut the sweetness while the Yuzukosho lends an umami factor to the dish.

Where: Shangri-La Hotel Tower Wing, Level 24, 22 Orange Grove Road. S(258350)


F’ood by Davide Oldani


Michelin-starred chef (1 star awarded to D’O Restaurant in Italy) Davide Oldani, has recently ventured to our little red dot and opened up F’ood by Davide Oldani at the revamped Victoria Concert Hall. Over the years, Oldani has developed the philosophy of ‘Cucina Pop’ after training with top chefs like Alain Ducasse and Pierre Herme.

He explained that it means serving “high quality food that is also affordable and that affordable means seasonal. It's all on the chef on knowing how to work with the ingredients to be the king of the kitchen.”

With F’ood by Davide Oldani, you can expect the same sort of treatment: Using seasonal ingredients native to us and the regions around us to design dishes that are suited to our local palates. Putting diners as his top priority, he has specially curated cutlery for a unique dining experience. Like the spork (spoon and fork) for picking up all ingredients from a dish at one go; wine glasses with uneven rim for better tasting and even a water glass with two rims – one for sparkling water, the other for still.

We recommend Oldani’s signature Caramelised Onion, served hot and cool. Crafted with 20-months aged Grana Padano (a hard Italian cheese similar to Parmigiano Reggiano in flavour), in which the onion is halved and baked into a pastry, topped with gelato made from the Grana Padano mentioned earlier and served with hot Grana Padano cream. Crisp yet delicate, the savoury pastry is complemented by the sweet caramelisation of the onion and contrasting textures of the warm and cold Grana Padano cream.

Where: Victoria Concert Hall, 11 Empress Place, #01-01, S(179558)


The Palmary

A no-frills restaurant and bar, The Palmary resides on Owen Road in a beautifully restored three-storey pre-war shophouse, with the first floor being the restuarant and second as a chill lounge for cocktails and craft beers. Perfect for after-work gatherings and Sunday brunches.


Serving Asian fusion food, head chef Timothy Ong and his team has curated a menu with real cheeky names. Like the Quack, which is synonymous with duck confit; Soba So Good, cold soba noodles with braised cod; Just Wing It, their rendition of our local sze char favourite –  har jeong gai or prawn paste chicken.

We recommend The Butcher’s Cut. Cured in-house, the hanging tender cut has a marbling (fat to meat) score of 2+. It is placed in a sous-vide bath for 4 hours before being seared and plated. The red date soy dressing lends a subtle sweetness to the juicy and tender beef, while the roasted root vegetables cleanses your palate in between bites.

Where: 142 Owen Road, S(218941)



The sister concept of The Laneway Market, Brine is located within Hotel Clover on the ground floor. We love the wooden furnishings and plants added to the restaurant’s interior, exuding an inviting feeling. You can expect a lot of food prepared by brining techniques which is, or those uninitiated, the process of submerging cuts of meat into a brine solution to extract liquid and salt, resulting in a juicier and more flavourful cut.

All decked out in dim, ambient lighting, the open concept kitchen is helmed by young chef Christopher Tan. Serving up modern contemporary cuisine with quirky creations like The Crunch (pictured above) – soft poached eggs with puffed rice, marble potatoes, truffle mushroom pate and ebiko, as well as familiar dishes like John Dory burger – battered dory fillet with homemade tartare and tomato basil concasse.


We recommend the Furikake Scrambled Eggs. First off, plating is superb, we wouldn’t have expected a plate of scrambled eggs to look so well put-together with a splash of orange from the tobiko. Secondly, this isn’t your usual scrambled eggs from the brunch menu.

Chef has incorporated Japanese accents into this by pairing it with furikake (a Japanese seasoning made of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar and salt), dried shrimps and tobiko, which gives the scrambled eggs a heftier umami flavour.

Where: Hotel Clover, 775 North Bridge Road, S(198743)


Come see which restaurants in Singapore have made it to G Restaurant Awards 2017

Photo: Restaurant Andre

When times get tough, the tough get going. And that is indeed true of Singapore’s restaurant scene. Despite mounting challenges from overheads to labour costs, the top restaurants in our culinary landscape have managed to continually raise the bar.

We would know. The G Restaurant Awards is in its eighth iteration, and our panel of experienced food writers and editors have over the years dined at countless establishments, with tabs kept on the rising service and food standards. Leveraging an external jury comprising country ambassadors, well-travelled business leaders and wine experts, the GRA committee dined incognito to determine objectively the quality of each nominated restaurant.

This year, we have 52 Awards of Excellence winners – our longest list to date. On top of the usual coveted Category Awards, we are also introducing The G Hallmark of Excellence to honour establishments that consistently make the prestigious list.

Photo: Whitegrass

Eat, drink, and celebrate the fine fight put up by the best in Singapore's F&B scene.


Restaurant of The Year: Whitegrass

G Hallmark of Excellence: Les Amis

Best Dinner Experience (Asian): Hashida Sushi

Best Dinner Experience (Western): Restaurant Andre

Best Business Lunch (Asian): Ki-Sho

Best Business Lunch (Western): Otto Ristorante

Best New Restaurant (Asian): Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill

Best New Restaurant (Western): The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar

Best Champagne Brunch: Colony

This story first appeared on The Peak on June 21, 2017.