10 NEW RESTAURANTS TO WATCH
Keep an eye on these new kids on the block
Casual, communal dining with an emphasis on market-fresh ingredients seems to be a recurring theme among the latest entrants to Singapore’s restaurant scene. But if the constant stream of restaurants opening here is anything to go by, the city has no lack of variety to appease even the most discerning palates. We’ve handpicked 10 new and noteworthy restaurants to keep an eye on.
1 VENUE BY SEBASTIAN Former Ember chef Sebastian Ng is chef-owner of this casual dining establishment. Inspired by his travels during a three-year hiatus, the menu is filled with the chef’s imaginative yet approachable dishes that blend modern European culinary techniques with Asian flavours. Set in the commercial district of Downtown Gallery, the spacious
1,900-square-foot space boasts pleasantly bright interiors. Poised for casual gettogethers, its dining concept focuses on communal dining where diners get to sample a variety of small plates, portioned slightly larger than the usual tapas.
Changing daily to incorporate seasonal specials, the menu features visually appealing, well-paired dishes. Think grilled octopus resting on a generous smear of white bean purée dotted with olive green capers and sprinkled burnt butter ($27) and flavourful finger food like cauliflower fritti with spicy mint aioli ($10). For meat options, the Chilean seabass with mushroom ragout and truffle yuzu butter sauce ($32) shines. The creaminess of the butter and fragrant yuzu hit just the right note with the perfectly pan-fried fish.
#01-02 Downtown Gallery,
6A Shenton Way. Tel: 6904 9688; venuebysebastian.com
The Unlisted Collection group places boutique hotels and restaurants in Singapore, London, Shanghai and Sydney by hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng under one brand. Nouri, in Telok Ayer, is one of the newbies to join the group, and Ivan Brehm’s first foray as owner-chef. Most notable for propelling The Kitchen at Bacchanalia to its first Michelin star in 2016, his skills were honed in internationally acclaimed kitchens including four years as developmental chef at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.
At Nouri, guests at the centrally located chef’s table choose from a lunch a la carte or set menu (from $28); or dinner tasting menu
($140 for five courses and $170 for seven). They are both audience and participants as plating, elaboration and interaction take place before them as they dine. The neutral palette of the contemporary interiors allow the picture-perfect food to play the main role.
Chef Brehm explores “crossroads cooking” in enabling guests to experience the universal touchpoints in the shared familiar, while encountering the novel in ingredients or food preparation techniques. A case in point: Nouri's silken cheese, which is relatable in its flavour (made with fresh milk and finished with grated nutmeg, lemon and pickled nutmeg flesh) and plays on textures reminiscent of silken tofu and Italian panna cotta.
72 Amoy Street. Tel: 6221 4148; nouri.com.sg
3 BLACK WATTLE
Set to open its shophouse doors along Amoy Street in mid-September, Black Wattle is the brainchild of Clayton Wells, the head chef and owner of award-winning restaurant Automata in Sydney. Both are part of the Unlisted Collection. Designed with a raw industrial feel, this new addition sports the same DNA as Automata, featuring the bold flavours and unique, unfussy style of chef Wells. It will feature a five-course tasting menu together with a la carte choices for lunch and dinner. Just hearing about its Singaporeaninspired dishes like mud crab with braised pumpkin seeds is enough to set your expectations for its food soaring. Also, desserts like buttermilk ice cream with black sesame and a citrus trio of kumquat, tangelo and mandarin are probably going to be as amazing as they sound. Joeri Timmermans, Automata’s sous chef, will lead the kitchen here, with chef Wells dividing his time between the two cities. A cocktail bar will be located on the shophouse’s second floor.
97 Amoy Street. unlistedcollection.com 4 SUSHI KIMURA
A 12-seater hinoki wood counter takes pride of place in the cozy 22-seat Sushi Kimura. From minimalist wooden furniture to the 200-year-old noren fabric by the entrance, everything about this tasteful Edomae-style restaurant speaks of the master chef Tomoo Kimura’s detailed care and personal touch. Meticulous about provenance, Kimura cultivated direct relationships with small farms and holdings from which he sources his supplies. They include special A-grade Tsuyahime organic rice valued for its shiny, large grain and the highest grade nori made from the soft leaves of the first harvest.
Only omakase menus are served here. Lunch and dinner sets—featuring seafood flown fresh from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market four times a week— start from $120 for five courses. The Edomae style emphasises simplicity, allowing the original flavour of food to shine through. This is amply conveyed in the top-priced Rikyu set at $390 for
11 courses. Its highlights include sake-simmered abalone, five kinds of seasonal sashimi and the deluxe uni platter. Another standout is the signature bakudan don, a seafood rice bowl topped with uni, glistening ikura, chopped toro and an onsen egg.
#01-07 Palais Renaissance, 390 Orchard Road. Tel: 6734 3520; sushikimura.com.sg
5 MUSE AMUSE
Opened in April, modern Asian cuisine restaurant (Muse) and cocktail bar (Amuse) by lifestyle concept company The Carbon Collective are housed in a two-storey South Bridge Road shophouse. The long dining table dominating the restaurant’s minimalist interior clues you in on the dining concept at Muse. It is the communal dining experience of sharing plates that allow parties from couples to larger groups the bandwidth for variety in their sampling choices.
Owner Justin Lum works with a team of three junior chefs to come up with the quarterly-changing menu comprising familiar tastes, yet inventive takes. Highlights include Royal Ratchaphruek
($12), an Asian ratatouille that is art on a plate with slivers of lotus root and zucchini; and roasted chicken ($26), charred-crisp goodness on the outside with tender, Chinese herb infused meat inside. Lastly, there is the briny-sweet dessert pairing of panna cotta and savoury sea urchin ($12). After the meal, walk across a narrow gangway in the airwell to cocktail bar Amuse and try their curated list of lesser-known small-batch labels.
289 South Bridge Road. Tel: 9475 5529; thecarbonco.com/muse-amuse
THE DEMPSEY COOKHOUSE & BAR
There are many things going for this casual dining restaurant by celebrated chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. First, there is the wow factor of its surroundings when you first enter. It feels like a green house with its blackand-white flooring and intricately woven white wicker chairs interspersed with overhanging lush greenery.
Foodwise, there is the eschewing of traditional stocks and rich cream to enhance flavours. Instead, the chef’s signature emphasis is on subtle flavours and textures derived from vegetable juices, fruit essences and light broths. Expect lighter dishes that pack just a punch like the egg caviar ($38) which, but for its diminutive portion, is much raved about; and the roasted cod with broccoli rabe with herbal coconut broth ($34). End off with a sharing portion of salted caramel ice cream sundae with popcorn and hot fudge ($14).
Worth checking out too is the bar with its unique cocktails. A must-try: Passion Whiskey Fizz ($22) made with Maker’s Mark, passionfruit and lemon.
Blk 17D Dempsey Road. Tel: 1800 304 5588; comodempsey.sg
Enter this intimate 19-seat restaurant newly opened in April and you’re greeted with sleek, dark interiors. Light strategically trained on the counter draws your eye. Fittingly, since kappo (meaning to cut and cook) style dining emphasises a casual counterside experience where the chef takes centrestage, interacting with diners.
Kappo Shunsui’s chef is Tomo Watanabe, whose Azabu district restaurant in Tokyo, Shunsui has garnered the Michelin Bib Gourmand for three years running since 2015. Jumping at the opportunity to set up shop in Singapore, chef Watanabe closed his Tokyo restaurant and established this dinner-only restaurant here.
Open daily (except Mondays) at 6pm until the wee hours of 3am, it offers both an omakase set menu showcasing seasonal bests as well as a la carte options. Priced at $249, the substantial 10-course set spans appetisers, sushi and sashimi, warm dishes that are grilled, steamed, fried or simmered, and dessert.
For his autumn menu, chef Watanabe brings in hamo (pike eel), ikura (salmon roe), matsutake mushroom and features them in dishes such as Kappo Shunsui’s signature claypot rice. Another must-try is the meltingly tender A4 Kagoshima roast beef, sous vide in broth for two hours and finished on the grill. As a testament to his high standards, chef Watanabe taste-tested nearly 20 types of water before picking the right one that he says brings out the best in his dashi.
The chef is also a kikisake-shi, or qualified sake sommelier, so try the options for sakepairing with your meal. He expertly pairs the dishes with tipples from his curated collection of 100 different kinds of sake, including very rare ones. These include $3,500-per-bottle Juyondai Ryusen sake whose brewery sells only to trusted sake procurers, and Ura Shinigami Sugiura Special sake whose brewery only produces 50 bottles a year. Sake pairing comes with six servings of different sakes (from $55). #04-02 Cuppage Plaza, 5 Koek Road.
Tel: 6732 0192; facebook.com/kapposhunsui
GAIG RESTAURANT SINGAPORE
The brainchild behind the menu of this Catalan restaurant is fourth-generation Catalan chef Carles Gaig. His family business specialising in the cuisine can be traced back to the original family-owned eatery in Barcelona’s Horta neighbourhood, Taberna d’en Gaig, established in 1869. Opened in July, Gaig Restaurant, the Singapore outpost of chef Gaig’s one-Michelinstarred Barcelona restaurant is run by his daughter Nuria Gibert, who is fifth generation in the family’s culinary line.
Housed in a restored shophouse, Gaig Restaurant’s mostly white interiors oozes rustic charm. Rough-textured walls hug a cozy setting with wicker-backed chairs. And in a nod to Catalan’s seaside location, it features frosted lights resembling glass buoys. Try their signature cannelloni ($14) which arrives as cannelloni sheets lovingly wrapped around roasted meats, nappéd in truffled cream sauce which is based on a 150-year-old recipe passed down from chef Gaig’s great-grandmother. Other must-haves are their hearty stews—think prawns deeply flavoured in an almond, hazelnut, garlic and paprika reduction ($22.30), whose dregs are best mopped up with crusty bread; and stuffed baby calamari in a piquant tomato sauce ($24.50). This is Catalan fare at its delectable, unpretentious, bucolic best.
16 Stanley Street. Tel: 6221 2134; restaurantgaig.com
Another addition to the Unlisted Collection is Audace which serves modern French bistro fare from its location in Wanderlust Hotel in Little India. Its interiors are quirky and comfortable, with Pop Art on the walls, mismatched metal chairs and distressed wooden table-tops. Here is where chef Jérémy Gillon, who led fine dining restaurant L’Epicurien in the French Alps to its first Michelin star in 2015, presides.
Audace, a play on “audacity”, makes bold promises. Expect market-fresh ingredients from local wet markets combined with produce sourced from specialist suppliers in the region. These include oyster and caviar from Vietnam and micro herbs from Northern Thailand. Other herbs come from a forager in the Savoie region of the French Alps. Particularly interesting is how chef Gillon composes his dishes: he starts by exploring the texture, varied cooking methods and flavours of the accompanying vegetables, after which he pairs them with a specific protein. This is beautifully illustrated in his signature pork belly dish ($38) where the meat turns meltingly tender after sitting in beetroot marinade for 24 hours, then slow-cooked and caramelised in a beetroot glaze.
Wanderlust Hotel, 2 Dickson Road.
Tel: 6298 1188; audace.com.sg
This contemporary Italian restaurant at South Beach Avenue opened without fanfare in January. Now settled in, the restaurant gives off an energetic, artistic vibe, where guests can enjoy a view of the action from the openconcept kitchen. Its design features gridwork patterns of the clean lines created by black metal furniture and overhanging shelves, and accented by splashes of colour from its green-tiled counters. Keeping things traditionally Italian, its menu features mains like grilled pork chop ($45), pizzas and pastas. It centres its food on the freshest seasonal ingredients, paired harmoniously and simply prepared to draw out natural flavours.
Tapping on his experience at Michelinstarred restaurants such as two-starred Uliassi in Senigallia, Italy, executive chef Andrea Tarini dreams up his menu here. It is based on a combination of locally sourced fresh produce and weekly air-flown ingredients from Italy.
For example fresh burrata is used in simple, toothsome starters like burrata with mini San Marzano tomatoes ($28). A well-stocked retail section also allows patrons to take some of the same artisanal produce home, like the 24-month aged prosciutto and balsamic vinegars used in the restaurant’s dishes.
#B1-22 South Beach Avenue, 26 Beach Road. Tel: 6581 0085; atmastel.com