Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Five Guys at Zouk Singapore, Skai's weekend brunch, and Jimoto Dining
Where we dined this week...
There are places to brunch and then there are places to brunch for grown-ups. Like at Skai on a Saturday arvo, as you're led through the beautiful restaurant while a DJ works buoyant tunes up on the console, it's safe to say that good vibes here flow freely. Good news, so does the champagne. The concept of a buffet can be enticing but it can also eschew any exclusivity that you're typically offered with a la carte. Skai's weekend brunch dares to match up to both; by serving a buffet table of charcuterie and fresh loaves as well as a made-to-order menu comprising of both hot and cold dishes from the kitchen. And no, none of the typical Eggs Florentine or a stack of truffle fries can be found – instead, under chef Paul's deft culinary direction, we ate our way through specialties like wagyu beef tataki dabbled with pickled eryngil and ponzu dressing, seafood hash atop a charcoal waffle and a perfectly cooked grilled snapper paired with a coconut pea emulsion. A mere look at the menu, and it's hard to hold back the desire to order (almost) everything. The guys at Skai seemed to already have predicted this; by cleverly portioning their plates in a smaller size, just so you have enough room to put your fork through most things here. As for cocktails? Free-flow is the MO. Whether it be a shot of espresso in your elixir or a Breakfast Bellini that's spiked with toasted oats, honey and apricot, we're pretty sure our brunch affair at Skai will be one plied with abv. That's what the weekends are for. – JS
Hero dish: Grilled snapper with coconut cream and peas
Estimate calorie count: 425
Level 70 Swissôtel The Stamford, Tel: 6837 3322
Lunch opening hours: (Sun-Fri) 12pm-2.30pm, (Sat) 12pm-3.30pm
Dinner opening hours: (Mon-Sun) 6pm-10pm
Meticulousness is steeped in the DNA of the Japanese. Have you ever seen a shoddily-packaged something from Japan? Didn't think so. While we wouldn't go so far to say that you'll experience a keen attention to detail at all Japanese establishments, you'll most certainly find it at Jimoto Dining, a tiny omakase spot that recently opened along Joo Chiat Road. Helmed by Tokyo-born Chef Takahiro Sato, formerly of Hashida Sushi and Melbourne's Kakizaki, the 21-seat restaurant only has four sets on its menu – the five-course Toki ($55, served only from 6-7pm), alongside three seven-course options, Sanpuru ($68), Kakushin ($98) and Zeitaku ($128). If you're going for a seven-course dinner like we had, be prepared to stay a while (read: three hours) – which may just be what the doctor ordered after a long day. We started light and easy, with vegetable sticks served with a salty and slightly spicy red miso-Gochujang paste to open our palettes, followed by a seasonal sashimi course of four types of raw seafood. Next on the list are a perfectly pan-fried and lightly seasoned seabass with crispy skin, and a binchotan-grilled fatty tuna head so tender you almost didn't have to chew. Of course there were some exquisitely fresh and well-balanced sushi, and all seven pieces are hand-moulded by Chef Taka himself. It gets better; the last savoury course is a mini rice bowl topped with all of our favourite things in Japanese cuisine – ikura, uni and tonburi (land caviar). Traditional as Jimoto may seem (its intricately carved Ranma doors and wood-heavy interiors definitely contributed to the vibe), alcohol pairings are not restricted to sakes and shochu – red and white wines are thrown in as well, for just additional $30+ per person. Post-dinner nightcaps in the form of whisky or brandy flight are also available at $27+. Considering the number of dishes and the fresh ingredients used, Jimoto's omakase options are one of the best in value we've had in town, so the next time you're feeling for some straight-up good Japanese cuisine, the East should be where you're headed. – CL
Hero dish: Uni Rice Bowl
Estimate calorie count: 616
325 Joo Chiat Road, Tel: 6223 3397
Opening hours: (Tue-Sat) 6pm-11pm, (Sun) 6pm-10pm
Les Bouchons Rive Gauche
Along the scenic pathways by the rivers of Robertson Quay lies a sophisticated French bistro that has established itself a strong contender for perfecting that combination of good vibes and exquisite French food. Their latest launch springs them to the top of our go-to food lists yet again – a 'Bouchons Riviera Brunch', complete with an exclusive Sunday menu full of novelties destined to please the palate. When their starter came, we were bewildered — there was much to behold in their Riviera Wellness Bowl, with generous helpings of granola, honey yoghurt, an assortment of fresh fruit and chia seeds. Starter it might have been, but muted it was not; the flavours of health and nutrition danced around in pleasant harmony on our tongues. Then came the heavier stuff: Gueule de Bois, otherwise known as the Bouchons Hangover Cure. With "Impossible" meatballs (completely plant-based), truffle oil-covered scrambled eggs and colourful toasted vegetables on the side, the meal guarantees to chase away signs of a post-imbibing state as the kick of the impressively-realistic meat sucks you in and replenishes your body. They also serve some of the real stuff – with a Roast of the Day varying each week, their Bouchons Sunday Roast features the freshest, in-season poultry that the chef personally chooses, plated with a piquant mushroom sauce in the middle and perfectly spiced roasted baby potatoes to the side. Of course, Chef Mickael Cornac keeps his regulars close in mind, so a few of the fan favourites from their regular menu made the cut for this brunch one. The Escargots De Bourgogne was one of them – and thank goodness for it. Drenched in garlic butter and served with a basket of bread, we were educated on the Parisian way of paying compliments to the chef: use the freshly-baked bread to soak up all remaining buttery juices and leave the plate spick and span. We were more than happy to oblige. – MS
Hero dish: Bouchons Sunday Roast
Estimate calorie count: 741
60 Robertson Quay, #01-02, Tel: 6733 4414
Brunch opening hours: (Sun) 11.30am-3.30pm
Lunch opening hours: (Tue-Fri) 12pm-2pm
Dinner opening hours: (Tue-Thu) 7pm-10pm, (Fri-Sat) 6pm-10.30pm, (Sun) 5.30pm-8.30pm
Where we're looking to dine...
To the average Singaporean, the name Zouk immediately flashes a vibrant party scene in our heads, complete with the signature pounding music pouring out of its nightclubs. But the Zouk Group has ambitions beyond the nightlife scene – in a move to expand its portfolio to include lifestyle ventures, they will be bringing the iconic food chain Five Guys that originated from America to our shores. Our food landscape is not lacking in famed burgers and fries, though, so we're curious and (hungrily) anticipatory of what sort of X-factor they can bring to the table...
The Alkaff Mansion
We love immersive experiences, and we love food – so when The Alkaff Mansion claimed that they had put both features in their new multi-concept F&B destination, our eyes naturally glimmered. Apparently, the restored house on a hill has more than one option for us to feed our bellies and quench our thirsts, with TXA Pintxo Bar being the pioneer destination in Singapore dedicated to exuding a quaint, sultry environment that is elevated in a twilight setting. Of course, the subtle star of the mansion is the restaurant UNA — serving cuisine from the Basque culture that also forms the inspiration for most of the house's aesthetics and experiential design.
10 Telok Blangah Green, Tel: 6773 0070
TXA Pintxo Bar opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 5pm-11pm
UNA opening hours: (Wed-Sun), 6pm-10.30pm
Wildseed Café opening hours: (Sun-Mon) 8am-5pm
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*All calorie tabulations are derived from MyFitnessPal and are estimated per serving.