Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Dumpling Darlings Circular Rd, Kiap, Cheek Bistro weekend brunch, and more

Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Dumpling Darlings Circular Rd, Kiap, Cheek Bistro weekend brunch, and more

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Text: Janice Sim Cheryl Lai-Lim

Where we dined this week...

Dumpling Darlings Circular Rd

The modern dumpling shack down on Amoy Street has expanded — onto yet another bustling stretch down on Circular Road. With the arrival of a second outlet means good news for the snaking queues over at its first joint. Divide and conquer does seem like a good approach after all. Armed with a few surprises — it's hard to miss the swanky spot with its three-story mural designed by Paper Street Design Co. — with cute illustrations picking up dumplings as the focal point. Inside, we caught our reflection in a dumpling-shaped mirror before setting our sights on the wooden bar counter - where you can procure a few cocktails listed on the menu. While the concoctions could use some guidance (our carrot gin tipple didn't exactly hit the right spots), the restaurant has recently introduced natural wines in collaboration with Cogito Wines. And despite their funky reputation, they make a swell match for the grub. Especially with the outlet's new additions, XO Prawn Noodles and Crab and Prawn Dumplings. The former stands as our favourite noodle dish from the brand — with al dente handmade noodles (supposedly only made with a secret ratio of flour, eggs, and salt) delicately coated with a housemate XO sauce and umami all around. It is also good reason to why this new outlet will be our preferred choice. Prawns were fresh as they came and there's also the option to add a ramen egg, to which we will never turn down. The latter is a little special for our city: it actually stands as a rep for Singapore, as with all the other dumplings inspired by a certain country/and or city. Hence this dumpling dish weaves in close-to-home flavours like galangal, candlenuts, and even rempah that's used as seasoning for crab meat and prawns. The skin is lightly charred on the sides — gyoza style — summing up the bite perfectly, and even with finesse, despite being a casual street snack. We obviously didn't stop there, with the must-haves of Sichuan and classic mandus filling up our table, not forgetting that legendary poached pear fried dumpling to finish. —JS

Prawn crab dumplings

86 Circular Rd, Tel: 8889 9973
Opening hours: (Tues-Sat) 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm


If you're Singaporean, loud and proud, you should know what kiap means. Basically, a local slang for clutching something tightly. Perfectly relevant for eating tacos — when you're adamant on keeping all contents intact before it reaches your lips for one big moreish bite. Priding itself on an Asian take on the humble Mexican staple, Kiap is where you can score a wide range of flavours, inflected from influences all over Asia. From Torikatsu curry chicken (no prizes for guessing where it's adapted from) to Filipino pork belly sisig (a traditional dish made from pig head parts and chicken liver then dabbled with various spices), this certainly isn't your ordinary flour wrap stuffed with protein. While some might tout this as fusion, the various flavours executed remain as true to its origin. Like the Vietnamese-inspired fried cod taco, laden with charred spring onions, crushed peanuts, dill, mint, and not forgetting a healthy dose of sriracha mayo. For something closer to home, we opted for the beef rendang. It didn't exactly need accompanying sauces with it helming its own thick gravy alongside it. What we truly appreciated? Quality ingredients that were deftly cooked — not to mention, generously portioned to pose as a challenge to remain perfectly swaddled. If tacos aren't exactly your idea of a meal, Kiap also serves sandwiches, in line with the vein of Asian ingredients. Quite possibly the heartiest footlong you'll find and a leg up your average Subway sammie. —JS

Kiap together

15 Swan Lake Ave
Opening hours: 11am-9.30pm
To order online, click here.

Cheek Bistro weekend brunch

Since its casual do-over, Cheek Bistro has certainly stood by its vision of churning out fun, playful fare without any compromise with regards to ambition and culinary technicalities. So much so that it has earned a Michelin star less than a year after its revamp. Which is why when a brunch menu recently came up, we were safe to say, enthused. A candid concept that chef-owner Rishi Naleendra was always determined to bring forth with the birth of Cheek Bistro, being the casual sibling from his bunker of restaurants. On the menu, there are recognisable café staples and then there are new formations that we haven't quite seen before. The former sings of plates like shakshuka — lined with tomatoes, red peppers, chickpeas, yoghurt, and toasted sourdough, as well as mushrooms on toast, where you'll see an artful take of blue foot mushrooms alongside vegemite custard, and paired with soft-boiled eggs in a rich mushroom consommé. There's also a Sri Lankan coffee signature here, adapted from Vietnamese's rendition, but just loaded with a myriad of spices and quite a generous amount of sugar. Amongst the toast counterparts, one derived from the grimly humorous fable, did catch our eye. It tells of a mother warning her future son-in-law that if he ever mistreated her daughter, his balls would be fried up and served like a hot meal — hence Son-in-law eggs. Which in Cheek Bistro's case, was delightfully executed. Soft pita bread plied with a hummus and a house blend of dukkah spices could have already been a treat on its own, but when met with perfectly fried eggs cooked with a slight runny center, the dish came full circle. We then took a fun turn to Cheek's Not Hot Chicken, essentially buttermilk quail atop of fluffy waffles tapered with a sweet smoky syrup. Everything fell together immaculately, including the choice of quail instead of the typical chicken. —JS

Not Hot Chicken Cheek Bistro

Cheek Bistro's weekend brunch is is available every Saturday and Sunday, from 10am-4pm. For reservations, please email [email protected] or call 6221 1911.

Where we're looking to dine...

CE LA VI Sky High Hawker

We're excited for CÉ LA VI's upcoming all-women Sky High Hawker, which will feature prominent female chefs and local hawkers who are renowned in their culinary fields. For this special monthly series, each chef will present one of their noteworthy signatures, as well as an exclusive creation for the event. Indulge in the many available local varieties and sweet treats that will be available over the two-day event.

Event space of Ce La Vi All-female Sky High Hawker

SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands, Tower 3
CÉ LA VI's Sky High Hawker will be held on 5 & 6 September, from 12pm to 10pm. Click here for registration.

Butter Bean

Think of it as Toast Box's cooler cousin, with a contemporary menu consisting of Nanyang coffee-based beverages and fresh twists on Singaporean dishes, bakes, and sandwiches. One of which happens to be the BBrûlée Kopi Latte, made with fresh milk, Nanyang coffee and salted cream foam topped with torched caramelised sugar, and the hearty Hey You Hae Mee, a special riff on the classic prawn noodles.

Butter Bean Singapore's BBrulee Kopi Latte and Curry Rice

Funan Mall, #01-01
Opening hours: 8am - 9pm