Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Meatsmith Little India x Rogue Traders, Cicheti, Bochinche, and more
Where we dined this week...
Over the years, our wandering eyes have devoted a good amount of time, money, and calories to the moody hideout Bar Cicheti and the recent brunch favourite Caffe Cicheti. Admittedly, in the process, the first ever Cicheti down on Kandahar Street might have been neglected some way or another. Lest we forget that that it's where the Cicheti namesake was birthed — in cementing a group that's pegged to serve up stellar Italian fare like a traditional nonna would. (Major props to chef Yew Aun for filling that role.) The new menu is as tantalising as you would expect a restaurant fresh out of circuit breaker to be — robust, heady flavours that reside on fresh quality produce. As simple as charred eggplant — perfectly moist inside and plied with a warm anchovy garlic dip, capers, butter, chili flakes, and breadcrumbs for that crunch factor. Seafood also takes centerstage to remind old patrons that Cicheti isn't just a one-trick pony for handmade dough. As established by fresh sea prawns from Tekka Market tickled with a bang-on emulsion of butter, sofrito, paprika, garlic, cheese, and other spices. Best soaked up with sourdough bread, so do make that a side priority. The fresh Aussie mussels are next in line — keeping in line with the bold flavours from spicy bits of sausages and a tomato wine sauce, which is where the toast comes in handy again. Of course, it's blasphemous to leave Cicheti without the pasta. Here's where it's hard to go wrong with your choices: submit yourself to the beef cheek ragu that's sealed within the tubular folds or you could veer out of the typical vongole in a jazzed up plate featuring a ton of jalapeños and onion puree, tossed with plump Japanese clams. The latter will please those with a soft spot for heat. To really make the meal a home run, call for the off-the-menu neapolitan pizza. It's humbly plated with stracciatella, anchovies, and a solid tomato base. Even if you can't stomach all of it, take home the leftovers and it'll be good as new after a few minutes in the oven. — JS
52 Kandahar St, Tel: 6292 5012
Opening hours: 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm
Meatsmith Little India x Rogue Traders
A conceptual tasting menu awaits at Meatsmith Little India, dreamed up by head chef Kurt Sombero and senior bartender at Rogue Trader, Kelvin Chow. Unlike the hearty platters that you can procure at level one, fixed alongside open views of bustling Campbell Lane, the second level is slightly more intimate with grub that takes on a different tenor. A tiny potato "pani puri" lands on our table — and it's encased with a fish roe pop that explodes in the mouth. Not forgetting, the small counterpart coriander that held its own in a single bite. Other snacks included a delicate carvings of leek with a foie gras sandwiched between, as well as a cheeky interpretation of fish and chips — cured rout atop purple potato chips. What was enchanting had to be the curried granita — yes curried — showered in a cold dish of a brined carabinero. It was an impeccable amalgamation of flavours, although the shrimp could have dialled down on the salt. Each course from this tasting menu is also set to go hand in hand with a cocktail — (where you can get 6 cocktails for an add-on of just $65). A green apple concoction with burnt cream was a sweet relief from the dhal course — as it was met with grilled stringy squid and of course, poppadum. Even with flavours and textures in line, the heat in the dhal was unfortunately missed. There was also a red apple brandy with distilled macadamia, laying on a sweet, clean finish. As far as the mains go, the standouts fell on the butter chicken deluxe and the tandoori beef rump. The former was perfectly tender and came together with a douse of the rich butter curry while the latter (albeit posing a chew struggle), was laden with a deft mix of tandoori spice. Our gripe turned out to be the vegetables on the side — which was plied with heavy sauces. Perhaps, with all the rich thick gravys in mind, we hoped for our greens to be left clean and simply treated. That might have left more room when dessert came around. A smoked yogurt ice cream spiked with citrus resumed the menu's psyche of smoke and fire, but the highlight had to go to the chocolate ganache powdered with milo. Its cherry on top? A lone fried curry leaf, which concluded the divine dark cocoa in a piquant crisp. — JS
21 Campbell Lane, Tel: 9625 9056
Opening hours: 11.30am-11.45pm, closed on Mondays
Bochinche (Argentinian Beef Week)
Just a stone's throw away from Telok Ayer MRT — this Argentinian restaurant has been one of Latin America's finest representations since they've opened their doors in 2013. Featuring an open kitchen, you can choose to seat either at the bar at the back of the restaurant, where you can marvel at your food being prepared in all its glory, or choose a nice table in their dining section at the front. Commemorating Argentina's National Day on 9 July, head chef Fabrice Mergalet and his team at Bochinche are having a week-long celebration (9-16 July) of the nation's one true food icon — Argentine beef. A carefully curated menu will be available in house for one week only. First, a snack to start — iberico chorizo croquettes, that withhold a (literal) burst with flavour upon bite. Second, a starter of grilled ox tongue, complemented with a hearty serving of gribiche. You're spoilt for choice when it comes to mains — have the Ojo de Bife or Bife de Lomo — rib eye and beef fillet respectively — that are both perfectly seasoned with Cornish sea salt and a serving of Chimichurri sauce, with chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, and oregano. For those with a sweet tooth, a dessert of Bunyois-De-Vent and milk ice cream is coming your way. If all of this sounds too heavy for you, sip on their featured Argentine Malbec — the 2017 TintoNegro Malbec. Expect dark fruit flavours, rich texture, and a bright fresh finish with intense notes of mushroom and a hint of earth — a match made in heaven with that slab of steak. With the whole week lined up, make a reservation at Bochinche stat to celebrate with them — and pick up some tango moves while you're there. — YL
115 Amoy St, #01-02, Tel: 62354990
Opening hours: (Tue-Sat) 11.30am-3pm, 5.30-10.30pm (Sun) 11.30am-3pm, 6-10.30pm
Where we're looking to dine....
Indulge in the Italian spritz culture alongside hearty cuisine in this 38-seat restaurant and bar that's situated in the heart of Keong Saik street, home to many quaint bars and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. The interior was also masterminded by a movie set designer, which explains the romanticsm as you would see in a Italian picture. Experience true Italian hospitality with bar Milano's unique aperitivos and finely curated Italian wines, together with an authentic selection of pizzas and pastas.
55 Keong Saik, #01-02
Opening hours: (Mon) Closed, (Sun-Sat) 10am-10:30pm
Derived from the term 'orang laut', a Malay term which translates to 'sea people', Laut hopes to bring you the richness of heritage and tradition through their Southeast Asian-inspired cuisine. But tradition still leaves room for innovation — they have a knack for constantly changing up their dishes and cocktails on the daily. Laut's co-founder Leon Tan had formerly served as the head partender of Native, a cocktail bar that consistently ranks on the World's 50 Best Bars List. Expect no less than the best as he transforms familiar ingredients such as gula melaka, spiced mango, chrysanthemum and tamarind in their Soy, a boldly flavoured bottled cocktail. Or even the Kumquat, which combines citrus, Malaysian molasses, root tincture and aged Vietnamese sweet potato.
17 Stanley St, Tel: 8878 8018
Opening hours: (Mon) Closed, (Tue-Sun) 11am-8pm