French-tinged ramen, Violet Oon’s satay bar and a slew of brunch spots.
French-tinged ramen, Violet Oon’s satay bar and a slew of brunch spots.
- By Mrigaa Sethi
- | Jan 31, 2017
February is here and Singapore's F&B machine is just getting warmed up, with new openings of all shapes and sizes, from massive heritage buildings in leafy estates, to cute brunch spots, the return of celebrity chefs and even some exciting and hip pop-ups. Here's what to book this month.
Open Farm Community has an exciting locally inspired menu
We were cautiously optimistic when Spa Esprit Group’s Open Farm Community first opened on Dempsey Hill, with its on-premises farm in collaboration with Edible Garden City. But far from marketing hoopla. OFC’s commitment to farm-to-table dining continuously impresses us. Most recently, they’ve unveiled 10 new dishes on the menu, and announced that 90% of their produce now comes from farms in and around Singapore or from within a 400km radius. What’s more, chef Ryan Clift’s inventive dishes might just make Asian-fusion creative and sexy again, with dishes like the steak tartar ($26), marinated with ginger chili, coriander puree and spring onion, and the tempura Jurong frog legs ($26), which comes with a root vegetable curry. Find out more about their new menu here. Check out our listing on OFC here.
Violet Oon is opening a satay restaurant
After opening the very beautiful and fancy National Kitchen at the National Gallery Singapore exactly a year ago, Peranakan darling Violet Oon is following things up with her third restaurant. Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill is opening in February, just a few steps away from beloved 1990s institution Satay Club in Clarke Quay, serving—you guessed it—charcoal-grilled meat on a stick. To be specific, there will be grilled meats, seafood and local vegetables, along with Nyonya classic buah keluak otak otak. We’re especially intrigued by images on their mysterious Facebook page of what will surely be an exciting, gourmet selection of homemade dipping sauces and relishes to take the satay selection to the next level. Also on the menu are some Violet Oon signatures, like the babi pong tay and the beef rendang. More info here.
And Willin Low just opened one specializing in popiah
Housed in Lo & Behold Group’s gorgeous new Warehouse Hotel at Robertson Quay, flagship restaurant Po is headed by Singaporean celebrity chef Willin Low (of Wild Rocket fame), and focuses on a Mod-Sin concept, presenting an elegant twist to the original dishes. On the menu, Willin has included a vast array of familiar Singaporean dishes, one of which is the popiah, which is the restaurant’s main highlight. If you think this is a simple dish, think again. A lot of time has been put into cutting the vegetables to a perfect thickness and braising the ingredients for hours on end. The popiah comes in three different platters—classic for two ($28), prawn ($38) and luxurious flower crab meat ($58). And then there’s your typical hawker favorites with a spin, like the charcoal-grilled Iberico satay ($20) that’s been marinated in spices for 12 hours and served with a freshly grated pineapple and peanut dip; carabinero prawns and konbu mee ($32), their rendition of the classic hokkien mee, but with Red Boat fish sauce, lardons and sakura ebi. Check out our visit to Po here.
Check out these two new options for date night
The 1 Group, behind places like Stellar, 1-Altitude and UNA, has delivered a one-two heritage punch in recent weeks, with the near-simultaneous openings of The Summerhouse at Seletar Aerospace Park and The Garage at Singapore Botanic Gardens. The latter is a major restoration of a two-storey, seven-car garage, first built in the 1920s, which held the cars (and, upstairs, the drivers) of horticulture professors. On the second floor is Botanico, a high-ceilinged Spanish bistronomy eatery, with UNA chef Antonio Oviedo at the helm. The menu is packed with hearty flavors and shareable dishes with pretty plating, unusual garnishes, savory ice creams, unexpected combos and other touches. We love the simple but delightful, smoky-sweet Inka chargrilled carabinero prawn ($28), topped with pine nuts and served alongside a deep-flavored paella-risotto-like mellow rice made with prawn trimmings and topped with little cubes of pork trotter terrine. Full lowdown on Botanico here.
And over at Seletar Aerospace Park, the kitchen at The Summerhouse is run by German-born chef (formerly at Alma by Juan Amador) Florian Ridder, whose signature dishes include raspberry pickled beetroot, which comes with "surprise" ricotta cheese in the middle ($18), the slightly spicy Taco, a beef tartare that's complemented with the crispy taco chip ($17) and comforting but unusual mains like buckwheat porridge with bacon bits, Parmesan crisp, Chinese spinach and pumpkin and sunflower seeds ($16). Find out what else they have to offer here.
There’s a cute new brunch spot at Singapore Botanic Gardens
We wrote above about 1-Group and chef Antonio Oviedo’s Botanico at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Well, The Garage, whose second floor Botanico occupies is also home to a new brunch spot—also by 1-Group. Bee’s Knees is the type of semi-alfresco place you can stop by at while taking the dog for a walk or finishing up your morning run. It’s pretty casual: you order at the counter, and pick up at the next counter, and the menu has usual suspects like focaccia sandwiches ($14), pizzas ($22-26) and pastas ($15-18) like the lovely Genovese pictured above.
And two at Seletar Aerospace Park
1-Group expansion also extends way out east, where they have now opened The Summerhouse and, on the same compound, glass-paned, flowery brunch spot Wildseed, where the coffee is courtesy of Nomad the Gallant and the menu features interesting gourmet sandwiches (one with beef brisket and eggplant stew and hummus), unusual pastries (pea flower and coconut muffin anyone?). A short walk away is Wheeler’s Yard follow-up Wheeler’s Estate, a two-acre space with lawns, refurbished colonial-era verandahs, picnic tables, avocado toasts and pull-apart breads and the option to grab a bike and explore the area. The huge complex comes with a restaurant, cafe and bar; definitely an upsized version of its first branch on Lorong Ampas. Aesthetics aside, you’ll find a variety of wild, interesting dishes like Idle Tongue, an exotic ox tongue with sides like marrow croquette and sourdough toast ($24); Cape Byron “Tomahawk” steak served with two sides (and can feed four people) ($178); and a suckling pig feast ($238). More here.
A famous HK yakitori bar is having a one-night pop-up in Singapore
When we heard that Hong Kong "it" restaurant Yardbird, known for their delicious yakitori, was making an appearance in Singapore, we got pretty excited. For one day only, Yardbird will be taking over Meatsmith for a pop-up event on Feb 12. Despite being a Canadian-born chef who picked up Japanese cooking much later, Matt Abergel's Yardbird has gained a huge following in Hong Kong (he also owns two other restaurants, Ronin and Sunday's Grocery). Both Matt and Meatsmith's Andrew Baldus will be collaborating to cook up some great yakitori street style food. At the pop-up event, which will also see a street party with music blasting as you take bites off sticks of meat, they'll be serving their signatures in Hong Kong like the Katsu Sando, KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower), fried chicken with garlic and kewpie, meatballs with tare cured egg yolk and wings with house-made shichimi. Stay tuned for updates here.
Speaking of pop-ups, there’s a French-leaning ramen atelier too
Singapore Science Park’s Ascent building is currently home to Ramen Atelier, a noodle pop-up by chef Andrew Ng, who has a decade of French cooking under his belt. The menu is small, with three signature dishes, and while all feature Ng’s signature tonkotsu broth, each offers something unusual. The Ramen Rouge, for example, has a tomato-based tare, with herbes de provence, bay leaves and butter, and the Ramen Noir is black from a squid ink and miso tare and comes with a lava egg and plenty of cha shu. They're all a very reasonable $13 a bowl. Ramen Atelier is currently a pop-up, but not because it’s going away. It’s getting a permanent spot in the same building by early March. More details here.
We now have allegedly the freshest sashimi in Singapore
Japanese tuna wholesaler Misaki Megumi Suisan, also behind Eat at 7's Maguro Donya, has launched a casual but pretty donburi restaurant along the strip of Japanese eateries at the new Tanjong Pagar Centre. Kuro Maguro's whole thing is its ability to bypass markets like Tsukiji and bring fresh, affordable bluefin tuna straight from the trawler to the restaurant. (Is this sustainable, you ask? We did, too, and were told Misaki Megumi Suisan fishes in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, where the bluefin population is much healthier than in the Pacific, and never catch young tuna that haven't had a chance to spawn.) The big draw is the 18 choices of generous donburi bowls. The most luxurious option the kiwami meshi ($42), which has various cuts of fatty tuna, uni, shrimp and other goodies atop a bed of Hokkaido rice. Also delicious, and a bit lighter, is the toro taku meshi ($25.80), which features minced fatty tuna cut with grated yam and ikura. A few don also come in mini options, ranging from $10.80-18.80. More here.