Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Gather at Raffles Arcade, Zorba, The Nomads, and more
Where we dined this week...
Well-informed folks of the food community would know of Ronin's closure (due to an alleged rent spike) down on Hongkong Street. And with that unfortunate news, the folks behind the now-defunct hideout as well as Punch, have countered with a charming spot at Raffles Arcade. In our opinion, almost like the anithesis to Ronin, fashioning a light and bright palette of brick red walls and wicker chairs to boot. Apart from the F&B spot, there's also a tiny space allocated to a retail arm — of minimalist fabrics and bamboo jewellery. Gather seems like the ideal location where movies could conjure meet-cutes, but more importantly, where the rest of us can satisfy a crepe craving. While the menu isn't like most cafes to offer anything from truffle fries to avocado grain bowls, they do a mean crepe — either savoury or sweet, which each honing a different texture and mouthfeel. The savoury ones that are touted galettes, are undoubtedly the focus here. There's a list of to choose from — including a signature, Off The Bone, comprising class ham, gruyere cheese, cheddar, and an egg. But we enjoyed the Bolognese most — which folded slow-cooked minced veal, beef and pork bolognese, gryuyere cheese, and an oozy egg yolk within. It was a sizable portion, considering the previous experiences we had with crepes. With what we would dub to be perfect time on the grill, the crepes were crisp while retaining a tender side as you rumage your way into the middle. Coffee? As good as we remembered a flat white at Ronin to be. The dessert crepes took a different approach, with the pastry cooked to a soft, pillowy thin sheet, almost to the point of fragile. The pick glazed with burnt caramel was delectable enough to have us pencil in a returning visit. —JS
Raffles Hotel Arcade, #01-12
Opening hours: (Tues-Sat) 8am-10pm, (Sun, Mon) 8am-6pm
For a tiny city like Singapore, there's no shortage of diversity when it comes to eating your way through the food scene. But if there's one thing that Singaporeans can't really sing about here, it would be Central Asian grub. Because well, most of us can't exactly pinpoint what it entails. For starters, it is a mouthful unless you're already well acquainted with the Silk Road trail. Diving straight into the abyss, it's intriguing to taste without actually knowing what you're in for. Lamb samsa was one of the many worthy learnings here: A baked pastry topped with meat typically enjoyed in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. But at The Nomads, we bit into lamb tartare from fresh Mottainai lamb short loin, coned in an aegis of coffee sugar that levitated the savoury spiced chunks. An ode to Singapore came in the form of a pie tee shell, with the sweetness of housemade kaya gracing poached Argentinean prawns. Also a dollop of Kristal caviar to garnish. Meat dishes like the beef cheek — a reimagination of beshbarmak, Kazakhstan's national dish — teased the palate with a tender slab, doused with a tea-infused spiced broth and joined by potato sheets, an onion medley, and pickled shallots. The bowl of comfort resulted in a light, fragrant iteration of a French onion soup, which we slurped down to the very last drop. Other punchy plates included a foie gras in ash, where chef Dannel Krishnan dabbled goose liver with cherry gastrique and charred breadcrumbs in a single heady bite. The engimatic cuisine is undoubtedly, a trail of unknown produce and senses, so to really get a good glimpse into it, come hungry with an open mind and go big on one of the tasting menus. Which is aligned with pockets of soundbites and stories from the chefs themselves, to complete the satisfying meal here. —JS
70 Telok Ayer St, #01-01, Tel: 6977 7057
Opening hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm
Zorba, The Greek Taverna
Fancy a Hellenic dining experience whilst soaking in the blue skies, white houses and glittering waters? That's right folks, we're still in Singapore, namely in a newly opened Greek taverna situated across the Singapore River. Aligned with superb views and delicious flavours to match, this restaurant prides on a classic Greek dining experience. Starting with their classic dips platter. Homestyle yogurt mixed with cucumbers alongside hummus, and tirokafteri — a delectable assortment of feta cheese and spices wrapped up in one — was a refreshing start to the feast. That and its pairing of fluffy, warm pita bread was an instant connection. A pleasant surprise came in the form of a Greek Moussaka. Resembling a lasagna, this dish puts together dense layers of zucchini, potato, eggplant, and minced beef concealed within. So moreish, that we think it sits better off as a main rather than an appetizer. Health nuts can call for the appetising chef salad — it's vegan and hearty. You'll be convinced after copious mouthfuls of avocados coupled with sliced almonds and balsamic lemon dressing. Moving on to the highlight of the night: the Mixed Grill Platter. After all, Greek food isn't Greek food without its quality cuts of meat. Congregating cheese-stuffed bifteki, pork gyros, chicken/beef souvlaki, lamb chops and Loukaniko, it was the ultimate sharing platter. Best to be shared between a few hungry peeps, the abundant selections in meat and its large portion size render it more compatible with larger groups. For those with smaller appetites, opt for the slow roasted Lamb Kleftiko with baked potato and salad. A proper Greek meal is never complete without having a taste of their saccharine desserts. Layered with flaky and rich texture, their Greek Baklava felt like the most fitting way to finish off the feast. —NK
3A River Valley Road, Tel: 8558 1704
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 6pm-12am, (Sun) Closed
Where we're looking to dine...
Ever wanted to sip on a Chinese herbal tea with a smidge of alcohol? Well, you're in luck because Moonstone Bar has reopened its doors. On top of their ambrosial cocktails, tuck into spicy flavourful explosions of Asian comfort food with crowd favorites like Bakmi Ayam — basically Indonesia's version of the tried and true bak chor mee. There's also their own rendition of KFC's crispy chicken sandwich to shout about — paying homage to the one and only Colonel Sanders.
103 Amoy St, Tel: 6610 3029
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 12pm-12am
There's something exciting brewing over at Nouri, with a new multifaceted concept, Appetite to be housed above the restaurant. This new concept strings together scientists, artists, designers and musicians to construct a unique dining experience in Asia. Think a music space-art gallery unveiling a bank of thousands of vinyl records to enjoy. More importantly, Appetite will be tapping on their science-based approach to food through a development kitchen to produce conceptualised dishes.
Appetite Nouri is slated to open in April 2020.