The scoop on all the new restaurants in Singapore this February: it’s a fusion fiesta, from Korean-Mexican, to Tokyo-Italian, to Nose-to-Tail and everything in between!
Hey, mama! Need a quick shot of inspiration for a night out on the town (no kids, that is)? Here’s our pick of new restaurants in Singapore (and the latest bars!), condensed and served up in tasty bite-size pieces just for you.
Alati – New Greek
Walk into Alati and be immediately transported to the Mediterranean with their whiter-than-white walls and cool tones of ocean blue. While there’s a sea of Italian restaurants out here, Greek cuisine hasn’t ridden in on the same wave, so it is with excitement that we caught up with this new Hellenic spot. Happily, we can report back that it is worth a stop and the punters agree, with the restaurant being solidly booked out when it first opened a few months back. Even on a Monday night it is pretty full. Start with Meze: cool cucumber Tzatziki ($15), Favabean puree ($13), Smoky Eggplant dip ($16) and moreish Fyllo Wrapped Feta ($15) – salty cheese complemented by the drizzle Greek honey served with pitta or freshly baked bread. Salad stretches beyond the usual combinations so try their Lentil Salad with Fresh Anchovies ($24) or the Greek Tuna Salad with Cabbage ($24). Moussaka ($26) was a little on the dry side, but stick to their specialties of Seafood like Salt Baked Seabream, fresh Sardines and flavourful grilled Octopus (flown in from the Med twice a week) or for carnivores, Lamb Chops ($32), Pork Belly (26) and Meze Beef Meatballs ($16).
Alati Divine Greek Cuisine, 73 Amoy Street, Singapore 069892, Tel: (+65) 6221 6124, www.alati.sg
Dehesa – Trendy Nose-to-Tail
At the helm of newly opened Dehesa is Chef-Owner Jean-Philippe Patruno. Chef JP is dedicated to using the whole animal from snout to curly tail – something that most restaurants have shied away from (the now-defunct WOLF and your pig organ soup hawker stall notwithstanding). After stints in the UK at successful establishments like Barrafina and at local BOMBA and UNA, Chef JP aims to bring a little of London to Singapore with the nose-to-tail dining concept. He makes much from scratch including most of the cold meats from the Dehesa Platter of Cold Meats of Pig Head, Pig Ear, Fifi Pate, Homemade Saussison ($32) as well as the crusty fragrant sourdough ($4) – perfect for mopping up smoky sweet home made garlicky aioli. The interiors are dark, suave and masculine – there’s some alfresco seating for street watching, counter seats and a private dining room too. Be warned: food here, while pretty as a picture and tasty to boot, is not first date fare. You’ll be munching on earth shatteringly crunchy pork scratchings as big as your fist, wrapping your paws around sauce dripping Pulled Pork Sandwiches ($18), mopping up the deeply rich, sweet quince gravy from the Duck Hearts on Toast ($13), and grinning with black teeth as you tuck into squid ink Seafood Wet Rice ($22). Those wary of offal, don’t look away just yet. There are enough ‘safe’ dishes on the menu to warrant joining a bloodthirsty partner at this smart spot. Don’t skip dessert like the Caramel Flan ($5) which comes with crispy caramel glazed smoked pancetta.
Dehesa, 12 North Canal Road, Tel: (+65) 6221 7790, www.dehesa.com.sg
Empress – Modern Cantonese with a View
The Privé Group have rolled out their first Cantonese restaurant, Empress at the back of the Asian Civilizations Museum with a beautiful view of Boat Quay and the Singapore River. Empress Bar is alfresco and looks on to the water for drinks with a view while Empress restaurant inside is all geometric patterns and modern mood lighting stepping away from the traditional often bright Chinese restaurant interiors. The menu offers traditional dishes alongside some surprisingly modern and Western offerings – there’s even a whole section for salads like the Kale, Broccoli and Lotus Crisp Salad ($16). Highlights include the Triple Roast Platter ($28), of Crackling Roast Pork, Char Siew, and Sweet and Sticky Pork Ribs and the wonderfully tender Seared Angus Tenderloin Cubes ($32/48/64). We like that brown rice is offered alongside white, or try something different: Fried Brown Rice ($20/30/40) with mushrooms, pine nuts and Goji berries. Our favourite ‘Westernisation” of the menu has to be the dessert menu, which steers well away from mango purees and jelly and instead delights with everything from a deliciously sticky, Sticky Date and Longan Pudding ($12) with superfood goji berry swirl ice cream, to a flavourful Cempedak Crème Brûlée ($13) topped with fresh and dried jackfruit.
Empress, 1 Empress Place, #01-03, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 179555 Tel: (+65) 6238 8733, www.empress.com.sg
Gemmills – Deli-Bottle-shop
Gemmills, sister to Maggie Joan’s has opened up on Gemmill Lane. Open from 8am for breakfasts and lunches of sandwiches (from $13) and tarts (from $9), takeaway or dine-in. This casual spot is open through to the evening where you can pop in for cheese and bar snacks and buy a bottle or two of wine from South America to South Africa ($40 – $120 plus an additional corkage charge of $15 to drink your wine at Gemmills.)
Gemmills, 110 Amoy Street, #01-02, Singapore, Tel: (+65) 6221 5564, www.facebook.com/gemmillssingapore
Kai Garden – Modern Dim Sum & Cantonese
Chef Owner Fung Chi Keung (formerly of Taste Paradise) has opened Kai Garden, a light-filled restaurant at Marina Square offering Cantonese, roasts and dim sum. Dishes here take Cantonese classics and elevate them with a spin on presentation or composition. A quirky rendition of Sweet and Sour Pork on The Rocks ($22) is served as skewers on crushed ice and Instagram-friendly Chilled Cherry Foie Gras ($24) sees foie gras bites disguised as sweet cherries. The signature Singapore Peking Duck ($88/whole) may surprise when it arrives with a steaming selection of multi-coloured (pumpkin, beetroot, charcoal) pancakes served with a selection of sauces – quite a revamp from the traditional duck. On the dim sum side, try Pan Fried Charcoal Pork Buns ($6.80) for a spin on the traditional bun with squid ink infused black exteriors and a juicy pork filling; the spicy XO Carrot Cake ($9.80); and an impressive version of Siew Mai ($8.80) packed full of prawn and mushroom, first steamed, then pan-fried, glazed and grandly individually presented (pictured).
Kai Garden, 6 Raffles Boulevard, #03-128A/B Marina Square, Singapore 039594, Tel: (+65) 6250 4826, www.facebook.com/KaiGardenSG
Odette – French Fine Dining
Will they or won’t they? That is, get one of the first Michelin stars awarded when the guide debuts in Singapore this year? That’s the big question on everyone’s lips since the opening of much anticipated Odette a few months ago. Chef Julien Royer (formerly of JAAN) is the reason Odette’s phone has been ringing off the hook (if you didn’t ask for a reservation for your Christmas present, then chances are you wont be dining here any time soon – there’s a 6-week wait). Odette, based at the National Gallery, is modern French food, artfully presented using seasonal produce from France to Japan. Menus are set with lunch being 4 and 6 courses ($88/$128) and dinners, 6 or 8 courses ($208/$268). A mind blowing amount of thought and work goes into every little bountiful detail here from the clean palette interiors, to the cutlery and interesting tableware, to the sourcing and preparing of unusual ingredients (Chinese artichokes, Chestnut Truffle Noodles, White Beetroot for the dish of Heirloom Beetroot [pictured] with Salt-baked beetroot, beetroot infused meringues, jelly, sorbet, beetroot crumble and straciatella burrata with honeycomb.). Chef Royer likes to keep himself on his toes – his menu changes not daily but sometimes twice a day, though there are some keepers (including a fair few dishes you may remember from JAAN like the 55-minute poached eggs that arrive on smoking dry ice and the mushroom tea poured from a caffetiere). Chef Royer is in his element; his passion for good food and his love of ingredients is palpable. Go there now before any potential Michelin star renders getting a table mission impossible!
Odette, #01-04, 1 St Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957. Tel: (+65) 6385 0498, www.odetterestaurant.com
Seorae Singapore – Korean Grill
K-fever has gone island wide with Korean dramas, K-pop and Korean food taking Singapore by storm! Saeorae opens up in Singapore for the first time (there are hundreds of branches in South Korea) and on the menu is their signature Korean galmaegisal (pork skirt — a unique cut of meat between belly and ribs of which there is only 250 grams per pig!). Choose your meat and marinade, then it’s DIY grilling on special circle grills at your table. Don’t over cook your galmaegisal, it is fairly lean so can easily go from tender to tough (servers are on hand to help grill if you’d prefer to sit back and sip on your Soju). To accompany the selection of meat (chicken, pork and beef), there are freeflow vegetable side dishes of fresh lettuce kimchi, napa cabbage kimchi, spinach plus grilled omelet, grilled cheese, and a selection of sauces. Look out for their tasty cold sweet potato noodles ($14.80) and the kid-friendly patbingsoo (shaved-ice desserts).
Seorae Singapore, Plaza Singapura, #02-01, 68 Orchard Road Singapore 238839. Tel: (+65) 6238 8429, www.seorae.com.sg
Saint Pierre Market – Healthy Lunches
Celebrity Chef Emmanuel Stroobant has opened up a small deli-café in Ngee Ann City (Tower B) where the focus is said to be on health – from salads to wraps, sandwiches, quiches and soups. Grab a salad like the Chef’s Favourite ($12.80) of organic chickpea, romaine lettuce, cucumber, parmesan, toasted walnuts and a choice of dressings like Avocado, or a hot soup of vegan Curried Zucchini ($8) and an Asian wrap ($12.80) of organic kale, organic Sakura chicken, tofu, shredded nori, and sunflower seeds. Don’t miss their delicious gluten-free guilt-free Flourless Chocolate Cake ($6). There’s room to dine in but most grab and go – if you happen to work in Ngee Ann City and are handcuffed to your desk then call for delivery ($10, unless you’re ordering for the whole office and can spend over $200 when it’s free).
Saint Pierre Market, 391 Orchard Road, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, #02-11 Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238872, Tel: (+65) 66944414, www.saintpierremarket.com
Terra – Tokyo-Italian on Tras
Terra, described as Tokyo-Italian, is categorically not a fusion of Japanese and Italian cuisines. Their aim is Italian cuisine (a favourite of the Japanese) experienced through omakase (“let the chef decide”). The chef in question is Chef-Owner Seita Nakahara (who you may know from Enoteca L’Operetta). There are only 36 seats at this intimate boutiquey restaurant on trendy Tras Street, and thanks to Chef Seita’s warm personality and kitchen flare, his restaurant is packed out most nights with a largely Japanese clientele. Omakase sets range from $128, $168 or $208 per person depending on the freshly delivered Japanese ingredients used and the number of courses. You might have some of Seita’s signatures like the Salfutu Scallop Gratin with five types of wild mushroom and asparagus and the wonderfully al dente homemade Spaghetti with Sea Urchin, Yuzu, Bottarga and a touch of chilli. Next up, Japanese style bouillabaisse with Japanese vongole, fish and olives in a saffron rich broth followed by beautifully flavoured buttery Wagyu Beef with elements of the Mediterranean in the accompanying ratatouille-esque sauce. Lunches are more modestly priced at $42 for 3 courses and $58 for 4.
Terra, 54 Tras St, Singapore, 078993, Tel: (+65) 6221 5159, www.terraseita.com
Vatos Urban Tacos – Korean-Mexican Tacos
Kor-Mex (Korean-Mexican) might seem like an unlikely combo but when you consider “ssam” Korean lettuce wrapped around grilled meat and sauce, it’s not such a leap to Mexican corn tacos. That little overlap in between? That, my friend, is Kor-Mex. Vatos Urban Tacos (by three Korean-Americans) has taken Korea by storm with 6 restaurants having opened in the last 5 years. Their latest venture – and first international post – is here in Singapore at South Beach. So what exactly do you order at this casual bustling spot? Kimchi Carnitas Fries ($16) are a go-to: French fries topped with braised pork carnitas, kimchi, melted cheese, chopped onions and sour cream. Then grab some tacos like the Barbacoa Pork ($10/2 tacos) of slow-braised sweet and spicy pork shoulder, cilantro and Vatos hot sauce or the Galbi Short Rib ($12/2 tacos) of marinated short rib, ssamjang aioli, Asian slaw, chopped onion and roasted sesame seeds. Tacos are decently sized, come stuffed with meat and sauce and are wrapped with home made soft corn tortillas. Wash this down with some Mexican-style salt-rimmed Margaritas ($18).
Vatos Urban Tacos, 36 Beach Road, South Beach Quarter, Singapore 189673, Tel: (+65) 6385 6010, www.vatoskorea.com