Where are you headed for dinner? We’ve got intel on the hottest new restaurant openings in town!
This month the Keong Saik ‘hood gets a heap of new restaurants; an elBulli alum brings his talents to Singapore; and a new cafe brings a taste of African cuisine to the island! Read on for all the latest in new restaurant openings in town.
Olivia Restaurant & Lounge — Barcelona-inspired by ex-elBulli Chef
Olivia Restaurant & Lounge is one of the new restaurants reviving the food scene on Keong Saik Road. We have a bit of a style crush on this looker of a restaurant decorated with pieces – from the floor tiles to the sculptures and pots – flown in from Barcelona. At the helm is award-winning chef and co-founder, Alain Devahive, who has worked at Michelin-Starred restaurants including Spain’s famous elBulli. The menu isn’t traditional Catalan; rather it reflects Barcelona’s multicultural modern dining scene. Highlights include the deliciously sweet free-range oak forest ham Jamón Ibérico de bellota ($32) as well as the Ibérico” Ham, Cheese and Truffle “Bikini” mini sandwich ($12); the Roasted Meat Canelon with Foie Gras and Parmesan Cream ($24); and Grilled “Secreto Ibérico” Pork with “Padrón” Peppers & “Pico de Gallo” ($32). The Eggplant with Miso and Ponzu Sauce ($12) is probably one of the best eggplant dishes we have tried and highlights how Barcelona cuisine incorporates international ingredients and flavours, as does the pretty dish entitled “homemade avocado-lobster roll from “Catalunya Restaurant” ($25). (Side note: If you’ve been missing the energy of defunct Catalunya you may recognize a few faces here at Olivia Restaurant & Lounge.) Former Michelin Sommelier Miquel Sabrià, leads the restaurant’s operations and personally selects the Spanish and international wines, many of which are under the $100 mark. The team’s passion and energy is visceral, and they are ready to welcome you into their fold with Barcelonian hospitality whether you are there for a lazy lunch or dinner that transcends into a closed-door after party. We also hear weekend brunch is coming soon — ¡Olé!
Olivia Restaurant & Lounge, 55 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089158, Tel: (+65) 62210522
Kafe UTU — African inspired café
It’s not often you saunter past a cafe and are stopped in your tracks by the soft sweet African music coming from within, as the smell of Swahili curry from Kenya wafts into the street. That’s what you’ll find at Kafe UTU, the first African cafe in Singapore. Located just off Keong Saik in Chinatown, it’s beautifully decorated with huge black and white African portraits on the walls and stunning wooden doors crafted in Lamu off the coast of East Africa. Upstairs there’s a room that I might just move into forever with leather sofas, bright yellow African print cushions, trinkets from West Africa. In short for anyone who has loved Africa, this place offers a little breath of “home”. On the menu you’ll find superfood brunch items like Avocado on Toast ($18) – though the twist is the curry paste, raw garlic rub and cassava chips – plus Quinoa veggie Bowls ($20) and Ricotta Hotcakes ($24). But for something excitingly different, look into the African cuisine. Here you’ll get a taste of Liberian Peanut Chicken Stew ($28) or the aforementioned Swahili Fish Curry ($29) with firm Red Snapper, heavy on tamarind to cut the coconut milk sweetness. Share some Fried Plantain with Mango Chili Marmalade ($16), or for dessert, the Kenyan Donuts with house soft serve ($10) and start planning that safari trip to Africa.
Kafe Utu, 12 Jiak Chuan Road, Tel: (+65) 6996 3937, www.kafeutu.com
Pasta Bar — Daily Handmade Pasta
Pasta Bar by Chef Alessandro Giustetti is all geared up to make carbs sexy again. Sit up close and personal with the Italian chefs at the open kitchen bar-counter, or grab one of the table seats if you want to look your date in the eye over that steaming bowl of pasta. Start off with Arrosticini ($19) of grilled lamb skewers served the traditional way from a terracotta pot alongside rosemary infused olive oil. The creamy Burrata with Pesto ‘Genovese’ and tomato salad is a great sharing plate that will feed two ($38). The stars of the show, though are the 11 different kinds of pasta, each handmade daily with varying textures thanks to the variations of flour (wheat, semolina, ‘OO’ or truffle flour) whether or not egg or part of is used and the amounts of water. The Lagane ($28), for example, is crafted without egg, just using flour and water lending a different chewier texture to the usual al dente bite. This vegetarian dish is finished with chickpeas, chilli and garlic. Other highlights include sweet parcels of Tortelli with Pumpkin and Sage ($26), or there ’s the Rabbit Ragu Pappardelle ($30) with olive and pine nuts. For those needing a hit of protein there’s a small menu of “Secondi” that will change often– for now there’s Black Cod with Couscous, ($34), Veal Saltimbocca with burnt mashed potato ($38) and Brick-flattened Chicken ($34) to name a few.
Pasta Bar, 55 Keong Saik Road, #01-05, Singapore 089158, Tel: (+65) 6222 0627, www.pastabar.sg
Hush 20 – Revolving Pop-Up concept
Hush20 is reinventing the pop-up experience with its constantly changing culinary concept that embraces a new style of cuisine every 20 days. In the past they’ve brought a taste of Europe to Singapore with free-flow imperial blue mussels, Belgian fries, beer and wine (for $69 pp), then in January this year it was free-flow beef short ribs, pork spare ribs, plus beer and wine (for $79pp). Their current feasting offers free-flow roasted chicken, grilled lamb and merguez couscous, wine and beer (also for $79pp). It’s an intimate crowd every night as there’s only room for 30 diners so book early and keep it hush. Like every good incognito operator, do enter by the back door only, ya hear?
Hush 20, Back Door @ Duxton Plain Park, Singapore, Tel; (+65) 8127 2728, www.hush20.com
Gake — Japanese-European fine dining
Singaporean Angus Chow’s first restaurant Gake has opened on Carpenter Street, offering his take on a contemporary Japanese-European fine-dining cuisine. Chef Chow has worked at Les Amis, Spanish FOC and sake bar Boruto and brings his experience of French cooking techniques to Japanese cuisine with the addition of experimenting with Singaporean flavours. There is an a la carte menu with signature dishes like the Charcoal Karaage ($15.80) of succulent chicken pieces encased in crisp charcoal and Truffled Somen with Uni, Sakura Ebi and Caviar, but opt for the omakase set menu which starts at a super affordable $98 for 8 courses! You might get a plump Hiroshima Oyster with sesame ponzu to whet your appetite, followed by Hokkaido Scallop with Laksa and Beni Shoga, a dish which showcases Chef Chow’s interest in incorporating elements of Singaporean flavours. The Laksa espuma adds a spicy punch to this dish, and in fact spices are used liberally throughout many of the dishes; the Maitake No Kopa Yaki sees Hand of the Wood Mushroom doused in Java curry powder and the ala carte dish of Kopa oven Grilled King Mushroom ($12.80) uses cajun spices and lime to bring the mushrooms to life. A star of the omakase set has to be the USDA Beef Short Rib cooked to perfection, the beef is melt-in-your-mouth tender with a rich gravy that will have you scraping the plate clean. Dessert steers away from traditional Japanese again to delightful success: don’t miss the Orange Cake (available a la carte at $12.80) made with olive oil and served with berries and yuzu sorbet.
Gake, 36 Carpenter Street, Tel: (+65) 6781 3603, www.facebook.com/pg/gakesg
Gaston Burgundy Bistro & Wine Bar — French Brasserie
Gaston Burgundy Bistro & Wine Bar opens in a shophouse on Keong Saik Road, bringing with it a taste of the Burgundy countryside. Head Chef Julius Soo Thoo (who has worked at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Iggy’s), cooks up moreish Oeufs en Meurette ($13/small) of poached eggs in red wine sauce, with mushrooms and bacon as well as the expected Boeuf Bourguignon ($32). Escargots de Bourgogne ($15 /6pcs, $28/12pcs) are a clever way to eat snails snug inside shells of pastry so you can pop the whole garlicy buttery thing into your mouth with a satisfying crunch. Don’t miss the beautifully cooked Steamed Trout Fillet ($28) served with white wine reduction made of Aligoté, an indigenous white grape from Burgundy. We have earmarked Gaston’s Thursday Oyster Night to return — that’s where you can snag 6 oysters for nada when you buy a bottle of wine at minimum $100 (or 12 complimentary oysters with a bottle of wine at minimum $150). There are 350 labels from Burgundy and beyond, tucked away in the wine bar’s walk-in cellar, plus plenty of wine-by-the-glass, too.
Gaston Burgundy Bistro & Wine Bar, 25 Keong Saik Road #01-01 Singapore 089132, www.bistrogaston.sg
The Feather Blade — Weekend steak pop up for 8 weeks only
Inspired by renowned London steakhouse Flat Iron, where founder Sheen Jet Leong honed his skills, The Feather Blade is a pop-up concept (for 8 weekends only). True to its name, the pop-up steakhouse showcases only the feather blade/flat iron cut: the tender section carved from the cattle’s shoulder at $21. The char-grilled steak is served alongside classic and Asian-inspired sides at $7 each with the likes of shimeji, shiitake, and button mushrooms, plus creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. Tasty sauces are $2 apiece. The Feather Blade pop-up officially starts from 2 March and will run every Saturday and Sunday till 28 April. Good to know: On opening night (2 March) there will be complimentary steaks for all from 5:30pm till it stock runs out. Race you there!
The Feather Blade at Zui Hong Lou, 90 Club St, Singapore 069458, Tel: (+65) 8181 0572, www.facebook.com/pg/thefeatherblade
In other foodie news:
- A new branch of Alt Pizza has just opened at Holland Village.
- New Ubin Group opens third outlet, New Ubin Zhongshan Park, in Balestier.
- A new branch of Pita Tree Mediterranean Grilled Kebabs is now serving up at Forum Shopping Mall.
- Summerlong has jazzed up their kids’ menu and little types are well catered for now (read more here)
- Home-grown bistro The Marmalade Pantry, now in its 20th year, is opening a new flagship outlet on the 4th level of ION Orchard.