Cheek By Jowl
You think you know mod-australian until you’ve been to Cheek by Jowl. Defining the cuisine as “freestyle”, Sri Lankan-born head chef Rishi Naleendra’s free-spirited approach to food culminates into bold and invigorating dishes. To say he does things differently would be an understatement: each item on the menu is constructed starting with the vegetables; he can use French cooking techniques on one dish and Chinese techniques in the next; he doesn’t write down the recipes (but the rest of his team does); and he’s been dying to change a dish that’s a crowd favourite. But before you brush him off as another idealistic young toque, Naleendra has the skills to show for it.
The food is honest and straightforward, tinged with playfulness; every ingredient contributes to the taste, texture or smell of the dish. Deserving of special mention are the Smoked Mackerel (S$22) with pickled cucumber then sprinkled with a burnt lemon powder, the tender Slow Cooked Lamb Tongue with herbed yoghurt and the surprisingly good Coconut (S$15) dessert comprising a fragrant laksa leaf ice cream, pomelo and green chilli sauce that gives a slight kick at the back of the throat. We recommend getting the Chef’s Menu, which is available for lunch (five courses for S$58+) and dinner (five courses for S$88+) and include a few appetisers and mains that you can’t order a la carte. If you’re a fan of organic wines, chat with general manager Manuela Toniolo, who is also Naleendra’s wife, to take your pick of vinos from South Australian boutique vineyards.
21 Boon Tat Street. Tel: 65/6221-1911. www.cheekbyjowl.com.sg