Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Basque Kitchen by Aitor, The Salted Plum and a swanky golf bar
WHERE TO EAT
Where we dined this week...
Before running his own show, Chef Aitor was head chef at 1-Michelin starred Iggy's. Now, his latest venture sees a modern interpretation in Basque cuisine, which is where his family is orginally from. Basque Kitchen by Aitor is yet another brainchild from award-winning hospitality group Unlisted Collections, and fills in the space of the now-defunct Blackwattle. Heads up, the interiors have not differed much between the two. Thankfully, we can't say the same for the grub. Here to define what modern Basque looks and tastes like, rustic components of the dish are sieved under the hands of Aitor and rendered refined. First off with snacks: anchovies plied with a sliver of sliced tomato, garlic and olive oil caviar over a savoury cracker. What we envision to either be a hit or miss to some, is unsurprisingly the cherry gazpatxo, a dish that pays tribute to renowned chef Dani Garcia, who's one of Aitor's personal heroes. After all, not everyone likes their soup cold — this number comprises of a veggie-cherry blend, followed by a drizzle of sherry vinegar for that acidity as well as cottage cheese dotted around. If there was a dish to return for, it would be the Oxtail "Bomba". Essentially, a creamy risotto made out of Spanish bomba rice and braised with Angus oxtail and onions. To top off the experience, you'll find a confit quail egg yolk atop in the middle of the perfect rice dome. What's not to love?
97 Amoy Street, Tel: 6224 2232
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 12pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-11pm, (Sat) 6.30pm-11pm
There's something comforting about digging into a hearty bowl of lu rou fan (Taiwan's speciality braised pork rice), and The Salted Plum is where you can find it; sans the cost of an flight ticket to the native land. In our opinion, this bustling eatery is your closest shot to authentic Taiwanese zi char. Bamboo shoots take on robust flavours with add-ons of pork croutons and soft, braised cabbage and steeped in a broth simmered with chili, garlic and pork bones. Those who love offal, make sure to order the pig's liver. Its dressing features sesame and ponzu, eschewing the odours that most naysayers would be daunted by. Adapting the street grub from Taiwan's night markets, comes the pan-seared mackerel, which is treated with fresh leek and a refreshing cherry-tomato and salted plum sauce. The binding staple to tie in the aforementioned dishes? There's obviously the shiny rice — gussied with lard and garlic oil, and the latest addition, sweet potato congee. The latter might sound healthier, but it is in no way, lacking in flavour. Lastly, save room for dessert. It's a bold claim to say this one rivals our love for bubble tea; but their bowl of red tea jelly, pearls and cream did have us rethink our priorities.
10 Circular Rd, Tel: 6260 0155
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm
Singapore's first arts club had us reminiscing of the times we camped out at CCAs while in school. Except it's one made for the grown-ups for obvious reasons — just by looking at the bar. This cool spot encourages day drinking, with a happy hour starting from 12pm and ending at 7pm. Cocktails here are spiked with Southeast Asian flavours — think high balls with a dose of Choya yuzu liqueur, Mount Gay rum smoothed out with fresh lime and pineapple. While drinks are definitely a hoot here at Telok Ayer Arts Club, the food on the other hand, left us a little underwhelmed. With a menu of French Mediterranean plates, the dish that stood out the most had to be the locally bred spatchock, embodying a smoky herb aroma and drizzled with red wine sauce. Give the small plates like tomatoes and tofu a miss, and save the stomach space for dessert instead. Their baked chocolate pudding was light, airy and deftly complemented with salted jaggery and french vanilla ice cream. Safe to say, we polished the plate within minutes — no regrets here.
2 McCallum St, Tel: 6221 0712
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 11am-11pm
Where we're looking to dine this week...
Fancy a cocktail in one hand, and a golf club in the other? Well that can only happen at Holey Moley, a brand new entertaininment venue taking the place of Shanghai Dolly at Clarke Quay. Part mini golf course, part bar, this vibrant space might just reinvent the stigma of dated country clubs.
3 River Valley Rd
Opening hours: 1pm-12am
Fans of Hashida Sushi were gutted when the well-loved restaurant exited the space of Mandarin Gallery earlier this year in June. And now, it has made its glorious return back at Mohammed Sultan Road. Spearheaded by the Chef Kenjiro 'Hatch' Hashida and his dream team, the simple restaurant boasts three private dining rooms and a bar displaying the chef's personal sake and spirits selection. As far as the modus operandi goes, omakase menus are still the same, with traditional Edomae sushi and inventive offerings for lunch and dinner.
25 Mohammed Sultan Road, Tel: 8428 8787