Three to try: Argentine cuisine, farm-fresh digs, and an unorthodox bespoke menu
Fans of decades-old Hokkien restaurant Beng Hiang might be slightly disgruntled that the veritable culinary institution has moved out of Amoy Street, but springing up in its place is Argentine restaurant boCHINche, which has moved out of its neo-soul industrial digs at Robertson Quay and into a light-filled shophouse anchored by an open kitchen. Love your vino? A bar well-stocked with bold, seductive reds from South America greets you as you enter the door, as does the glorious smell of prime, grass-fed meat baptised in the kitchen's custom-made wooden charcoal grill. In keeping with tradition, small plates continue to dot the menu, filled with everything from creamy chorizo croquettes to elegant plates of jamon paired with preserved cherries and pecorino cream. As for boCHINche's signature empanadas — they're still as delicious as we remember them to be.
During our visit, Diego Jacquet, chef patron of ZOILO and boCHINche, worked the pass alongside his team, ensuring the (then) week-old restaurant ran like a well-oiled machine. Jacquet, who oversees the menu refresh at boCHINche, has balanced the meat-driven cuisine of Argentina with seafood dishes that would please the pescatarian. There's whole market fish dressed with basil and almonds beurre blanc, and generous hunks of grilled octopus served with pickled mussels, black tomatoes, and burnt onions. For dessert, call for the refreshing basil and yerba mate sorbet topped with strawberries and mascarpone. —DK
#01-02. 115 Amoy Street. Tel: 6235 4990
Chef's Table by Chef Stephan
We are guilty of being creatures of comfort. When we head to new restaurants, we still pick out items we're familiar with. But there'll be none of that at Chef's Table by Chef Stephan. In a move that challenges both chef and diner, diners are invited to cross out ingredients they would prefer to avoid on the menu — thereby paving the way for chef-owner Stephan Zoisl's creativity. Along with Chef Lorenz, the two chefs brainstorm daily to switch up the lineup of each meal, one which comprises a rotating set of 28 seasonal ingredients. Experimental and exploratory, the restaurant offers a seasonal menu that surprises with a different dish each night. The most challenging meal they've had to prepare? Probably the time they hosted a pescatarian and lactose-intolerant diner who had cancelled 21 out of the 28 ingredients listed.
For all its novelty and excitement, the chefs believe in creating an intimate and interactive dining experience for its patrons. Here, you're welcome to wander into the open kitchen at any point in time to better understand the inner workings of the kitchen. Even as the dishes arrive on the table, expect the chefs to share tidbits on the different elements on the plate while detailing the inspiration behind it. —PT
61 Tras Street. Tel: 6224 4188
Open Farm Community
Welcomed by the sprawling 35,000-square-feet of urban farmland, there's a charming rustic allure to this eatery-cum-garden set in the Dempsey Hill precinct. Together with the good folks from Edible Garden, this culinary project of Tippling Club's celebrity chef Ryan Clift ensures only the freshest local produce — some of which are sourced within the restaurant's own urban farm — make it to the kitchen.
The restaurant — housed within a glasshouse structure — and lush alfresco area are fitting settings for the farm-to-table dishes, which are packed with flavours of earthy goodness. Favourites from the previous menu still remain, but new radical additions see sheep cheese-tinged beetroot fregola pasta crowned with crispy frog legs sourced from Jurong and a mac-and-cheese rendition of carnaroli risotto sprinkled with chorizo and ebi. All that is well and good, but what we loved most was the coconut laksa barramundi served with crushed potato cakes. Its rich curry spice keeps you spooning for more, even when you've licked your bowl clean. Polish off your hearty meal with the citrusy zest of the restaurant's decadent lemon tart, presented alongside a delectable pairing of basil ice cream. Deliciously inventive. —BH
130E Minden Road. Tel: 6471 0306