Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: MO Bar's new menu, Laut, Gaig, and more
Where we dined this week...
Some bars in Singapore leave you little to no choice when it comes to deciding your poison of choice — often that can be a good thing, especially when utterly assured of both the ethos and bartender. But then you also have MO Bar at Mandarin Oriental Singapore, where you're handed a nifty booklet plied with starry illustrations and a myriad of cocktails, binded as the illustrious Volume Three in their journey. It's a giddy mix of options, which really begs the question: "How many drinks can we imbibe today?" The limit does not exist here. Seeking to inherit the spotlight of the famed Hainanese Chicken Rice cocktail is a chilled glass of "Thunder tea leaf rice" — also a savoury interpretation of an iconic dish. This remains as one of the non-alcoholic beverages but you can choose to have it spiked with a splash of gin — as it ropes an earthy mix of rice and herbs all within. We would dub this an initiation of your time at MO Bar, before moving on to the heavyweights. Mostly an ode to the regional greats like Vesper in Bangkok and Alice Cheongdam from Seoul. So to answer your question: yes there's a kimchi cocktail. Adhered in a Bloody Mary-like tipple — where the tangy spice is refreshing to down with a touch of black garlic, and last but never least, tequila. It reminded us of a chilled kimchi soup, just sans the cabbage. Between sips, the grub at MO is worthy enough to seat yourselves for dinner. Yes, we're talking about a hotdog roll here — charred chicken sausage slathered with achar, sambal mayo, scallions, and dry shrimp within a pillowy bun. But if you're just here for light bites, pick on the tater tots with curry mayo —dangerously addictive but the perfect snack as you meander through the drink menu. Our favourite drink of the night? The Soma, inspired by New Delhi. It may not be the strongest potion on the list, but holds a clarified edge involving yoghurt, chutney and an array of spices to complement the gin within. —JS
5 Raffles Ave, Tel: 6338 0066
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 5-10.30pm, (Sat & Sun) 12-10.30pm
It means 'sea' in Malay, which already sets an impression of what the restaurant is dishing out. Yes, plenty of charms hailing from the ocean, while embedded in the roots of Southeast Asia. Which all in all, sounds like a promising place to start. The mood at Laut is swanky yet bustling — in the background, emblematic and funk beats are pared against the chatter of every table. Everyone is having a good time here. While the drinks are good enough to stop by post-dinner along the nauseating options on Stanley Street, the grub matches up, worthy to make a reservation around the 7pm mark. All of the plates are perfect for sharing — so there's always strength when you come in numbers. We started with light bites — fresh blue flower crab chunks from Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong joins yoghurt from local dairy farm Dairy Folks, before oiled with cilantro and a soy cured quail egg, and laid upon bite-sized toast. The establishment makes it a point to source locally — from the small to star ingredients. Moving on, gado-gado. Which can be dangerous when you're dealing with a dish with a lineage of this measure. Laut jazzes theirs up with seared squid — and tossed with lontong rice cakes, gado gado peanut sauce, and fish crackers. The flavours were spot-on, while eschewing the cloying sweetness that typically makes you stop for a chug of water after a few bites in. It might also have something to do with the slight char on the squid, which countered the peanut goo beautifully. What used to be an otah bun, has now been weaved into otah atop of a grilled fish. Bringing a literal meaning to the dish of otah. You get the kick of the spicy paste and the plump flesh of the catch — a win-win if you ask us. Paired with sambal on the side and we honestly couldn't ask for anything for. One outstanding winner turned out to be the Prawn Raja, a clever mash-up of thunder tea rice, risotto, petai, and century egg. Within the mushy pool, you'll find a clean, earthy basil aroma as well as some Thai coriander butter to ramp up the flavour. That, alongside juicy charred prawns and we can safely say fusion isn't a dirty word here. —JS
17 Stanley St, Tel: 8878 8018
Opening hours: (Tues-Fri) 11.30am-10.30pm, (Sat) 5.30pm-10.30pm. Closed on Sun & Mon.
Nestled in the bustling Stanley street, you'll find Gaig — next to serious contenders like Miznon and Laut. In 2017, celebrated Catalan chef, Carles Gaig, opened his first international restaurant in Singapore, introducing the Catalan gastronomy to the local dining scene with roaring success. Four years later, led by executive chef Martí Carlos Martínez and fifth-generation Gaig, Núria Gibert, daughter of Carles Gaig, the redesigned menu at Gaig features a surf and turf element — serving up contemporary versions of heritage-rich traditional Catalan recipes. You will see thoughtful pairings of seafood and meat in their selections, a reflection of the terrain of Catalonia, a region on the Mediterranean coast where fresh produce from sea and mountains are aplenty. From the Chef's menu, you start with the Salmorejo, a classic tomato summer soup served cold with burrata cheese and jamón ice cream, a perfect blend of flavours infused together. A cold tapas sandwich of Duck foie gras terrine with anchovies and hazelnut sable comes next, an acquired mix of sweet and savoury captured in a bite or two. Their Bomba de la Barceloneta, a deep-fried potato ball was a warm hug for the soul, filled with just the right amount of spicy minced beef and served with a homemade brava sauce made by the Gaigs. A bite into the Gaig's traditional cannelloni felt like a homestay in a Catalan home, comforting and familiar with a luxurious pairing of truffle cream sauce. Wonderfully paired was the unassuming chargrilled octopus with three various textures of cauliflower, lightly seasoned and fresh. It was almost close to being in the ocean. As with all good things, they must come to an end, but first, finish the Catalan meal with the Pa amb oli i xocolata, a Spanish childhood treat of sorts, made from chocolate ganache, olive oil ice cream, and crispy chocolate bread bits — a piece of gooey and crunchy goodness on a plate. —CL
16 Stanley St, Tel: 6221 2134
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 12-2pm, 6-10pm Closed on Sun
Where we're looking to dine...
With a 3 Michelin star on his accolade for his restaurant Mirazur in France, one Argentine chef, Mauro Colagreco is now coming in with CARNE — a unique burger bar concept, now making its first international premiere in Singapore come February. CARNE merges the idea of sustainable practices into the gastronomical adventure of a humble hamburger. With its promise to high-quality ingredients such as organic seasonal vegetables and meat from grass-fed animals, the soon-to-be spot is one where we can expect a redefinition of the burger, as we move forward into a new paradigm for food production.
Janice Wong x Two Men Bagel House
As part of her Christmas High Tea at Janice Wong's 2am:dessert bar, the new Christmas Campfire Collection is set to offer a sweet, playful and delectable experience where guests can expect to revel in a sweet and savoury range of chocolates, cookies and bagel sandwiches. And that's where Two Men Bagel House comes in: exclusively created for the season, they've whipped up the Two Men Bagel Special that will feature a Smoked Pork Collar with Mop Sauce, Cheese and Marmalade. Other offerings in the entire collection includes Janice Wong's signature desserts prepped for the holidays, such as the Diamond Chocolate Bon Bons and the Christmas Hat Cake.
21A Lor Liput, Tel: 6291 9727
Opening hours: (Tues-Sun) 1pm-12am, Closed on Mondays