One of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in town and where Bjorn Shen unleashes his creative genius
The hype: With so many feathers already in his cap, chef Bjorn Shen (now also one of the three judges of the inaugural MasterChef Singapore) needs little introduction. His first restaurant, Artichoke, is the personification of the guy’s dudestronomic ethos, and where you’ll wanna be for one of the best, inauthentic Middle Eastern meals in town.
The vibe: It’s busy but service is always friendly. The mix of high and low tables, clean white furniture juxtaposed with wood elements and scratchy walls makes you feel right at home. Nothing is too precious, and that's the way we like it.
The food: Always start with the mezze dips, with favorites being the smoky eggplant-based baba ganoush ($10) and the spicy but silken burnt miso hummus ($10). Have them with Turkish bread ($4.50). If not, dive straight into toothsome plates of hot skillet prawns ($36) that come drenched with a green chili harissa and fried onions (Shen's take on a curry), that will have you licking the pan clean.
There’s been a big update to the menu as of April 2018, after Shen closed his other restaurant Bird Bird and returned to focus on Artichoke. The aforementioned crowd pleasers remain, but add to that an even more ridiculous selection of creative, unabashedly low-brow comfort foods like BJ’s favorite steak ($36). The cheeky name aside, the low-marbling Australian flank steak is a lean and beefy slab of buttery, garlicky goodness. The lamb adana ($28) too, is a deceptively simple-looking dish to make, but the tender, spiced kebab takes much care to prevent it from being too soft or too tough.
For seafood, besides the must-have serving of hot skillet prawns, the mentaiko taramasalata ($18) will easily have you dipping the charcoal-fired garlic breads in the accompanying creamy cod roe dip again and again.
Desserts are a blast of fun. Try the ugly and crusty baklava croissants ($7) that are baked fresh daily from 4pm. If you’re hoping to buy some of these aromatic pastries home, that’ll be the best time to head over. There’s also the sea salt burnt honey soft serve for a sweet (and salty) ending that will not bust your gut.
The drinks: There’s a good selection of wines here, but at Artichoke is where you’ll find ready-made craft cocktails by Sunday Punch. Artichoke’s the first restaurant to serve it on their menu, and with wacky concoctions like the pandan gimlet and, our favorite, the #88 (gin, pineapple, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and vermouth), we can see why.
Why you’ll be back: There’s only one place in Singapore where you’ll find Shen regularly dishing out such ridiculously good grub.