Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Shake Shack Singapore at Neil Rd, Mott 32, Da Paolo Dempsey, and more
Where we dined this week...
Mott 32, which riffs off the name of a street that opened the first Chinese grocery store in New York. In line with the same vein of 'East meets West', the restaurant stands to be a successful representation of modernising Chinese cuisine no matter where in the world you are today. Which is why our city's grand opening at Marina Bay Sands felt like a fitting notch in Marina Bay Sands' bedpost of acclaimed and celebrity restaurants. By the hands of Joyce Wang Studio, Singapore's outpost is seductively green — alluding inspiration to our country being a garden city. The entrance's façade reads colonial: Almost like a refined bank building, leading in to the dimly-lit space festooned with porcelain botanical motifs and oriental Chinese inspired lanterns hanging from a netted copper ceiling, which happens to be a Mott 32 signature. The dim sum selection is varied but recognisable. Simply put, what sets Mott 32 apart from traditional Chinese restaurants and those that are tagged with a fusion label, would be a premium interpretation to classics that are near and dear to us. For instance, their Peking duck bun (a Singapore exclusive) sees black charcoal spheres with a crisp outer and doused with sugary powder. The run-of-the-mill siu mai prides on Iberico pork and withholds a runny quail yolk within. Although we do wish more black truffle could have been weaved into the Chinese dumpling, each mouthful felt meatier and more flavourful than the typical bites served from a dim sum trolley. Of course, the highlight boils down to Mott 32's famed Peking duck. A dish that they have resiliently stuck to — a fragrant smoked applewood whole duck. It doesn't come alone; apart from the special born-and-bred duck (up to 49 days to be exact), comes a basket of chewy paper thin skins. Unlike the usual grease that you'll find from Peking duck wraps, which at times could besmirch the entire experience, these pillowy soft circles make up the glue that holds the entire dish together, followed by a deft mix of sesame and peanut sauce. When it comes to smoking their mains, the indulgent smoked black cod comes in as a close second. Because A: It's lined with a glorious sheen of honey and B: It's deep-fried. Other field notes we took away from the experience? A 'Lazy Susan' that got its overdued makeover. The matte gold rotating sphere was constructed seamlessly into the roundtable, so yes hats off to any place that can gentrify a contraption like this. —JS
2 Bayfront Avenue, B1-42-44, Galleria Level The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Opening hours: 5pm-11pm
Shake Shack Neil Rd
It's hard to miss Shake Shack's newest outlet as it takes over a huge heritage building on Neil Road with an illustrious history dating back to 1924. It used to be Eun Aun Tong factory where the production of Singapore's famed Tiger Balm happened for close to 50 years. Paying tribute to its location, Shake Shack Neil Road steers towards an artistic movement of Singapore's heritage and culture — starting with its interiors. You'll find the iconic Shake Shack logo propped up against vibrant patterns of the Peranakan culture. Where cultural inclusivity meets the reputable chain's New York origins. One glance inside and you will be in awe at the Madison Square Park inspired foliage complemented by opulent lighting. And as you lounge in the cushy leather booths, it's hard not to notice the hallmark traits of the stunning tiger mural — paying tribute to the Tiger Balm factory once operating in Shake Shack's fresh abode. For all those that have become all too familiar with the classic beef burgers, hot dogs, and crinkle cut fries, there are new additions to love. Starting with the exclusive Chick'n Shack. Making its Southeast Asia debut, this moreish burger is an instant win — featuring a crispy slow-cooked chicken breast with a creamy buttermilk marinade that we swiftly devoured it. Did we mention that this crisp dream is a 100% all natural, antibiotic-free chicken breast? For something sweet, eat your way to the concretes. Starring a fusion of sought-after local ingredients and flavours in a vanilla custard broth, your taste buds are in for a treat with the Eye of the Tiger's chillingly dense frozen custard. Fancy all things sesame? The Open Sesame concrete with black sesame paste decked in plain vanilla brownies and gold-dusted chocolate is guaranteed to be your next favourite source of savoury indulgence. And while you indulge in these desserts, 5% of its sales will go to a non-profit organisation called Very Special Art Singapore, enabling opportunities for the disabled through arts — giving a whole new meaning to comfort food. —NK
89 Neil Rd (Doors open 7 Februrary)
Opening hours: (Mon-Thurs) 11am to 10pm, (Fri & Sat) 11am to 12midnight, (Sunday) 11am to 10pm
Da Paolo Dempsey Restaurant & Bar
Inspired by the vibrant summers of South Italy, family-run Da Paolo has opened its doors to another eatery at Dempsey Hill. From a pasta-making counter to a wood-fired pizza oven, the visual treats at Da Paolo Dempsey Restaurant and Bar lets on a heartening space for diners to indulge in their distinct Italian produce. First order of business? Tasting the tried and true pizza, of course. But not just any regular old pizza — a Naples-style wood-fired pizza extravaganza. Spice enthusiasts will be happy to note that the spicy pork and calabrese salami on top of the last crust charred bites made the Spilinga pizza a definite hit in our books. The second slice of breaded heaven came through next — a cheese pizza with eight different types of cheese along with a generous pour of truffle honey added in the mixture. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, widen your vocab of cheese, as their selection rotates daily. Another culinary delight we devoured was the Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia with signature squid-ink sauce and scrumptiously fresh cuttlefish. You'll also find yourself gravitating towards their enticing gelato counter with 18 mouth-watering flavours made in-house with Italian ingredients — of course. Flavours such as Sicilian pistachio with Bronte pistachios and rich dark chocolate are made available for your pleasure, but we opted for the classic tiramisu — devouring it without a second to waste. Last but never least, the cocktails. Da Paolo serves up a slew of Italian alcoholic concoctions made by the resident beverage product manager, Davide. Sip on uniquely titled creations such as Always Corny with bourbon and sweet corn or Not a Big Dill with vodka infused lemon, in between copious bites of complex carbs. —NK
Block 8 Dempsey Rd, Tel: 6261 3128
Opening hours: (Mon-Thurs) 8am-9.30pm, (Fri & Sat) 8am-10.30pm, (Sun) 8am-9.30pm
Where we're looking to dine...
Zorba, The Greek Taverna
With copious amounts of Greek eateries positioned across the sunny shores of Singapore, you will never not achieve your Hellenic meal fix. A latest entrant happens to be just off the shores of Singapore River — Zorba, which combines authentic Hellenic dishes with age-old Mediterranean traditions. Directly sourced from Greek suppliers, traditional ingredients will make their way into crowd-favourites like those deliciously grilled Souvlaki platters on our crave list.
3A River Valley Road, Tel: 8558 1704
Opening hours: (Mon-Sat) 6pm-12am, (Sun) Closed
Sky High Brunch at CÉ LA VI
The post-holiday blues are all too real. But CÉ LA VI's iconic Sky High Brunch will brighten things up for the weekend. Think tropical beats spun by their resident DJ, lavish Asian buffet offerings, and a four-hour free flow champagne service — i.e. the perfect recipe for an unforgettable bash, a potential hangover, and a revitalised spirit ready to conquer the coming work week.
1 Bayfront Avenue Hotel Tower 3, Level 57 Marina Bay Sands, SkyPark
Sky High Brunch will take place on 15 February, Saturday. From 12pm-4pm. Tickets are available for purchase here. For reservations, call 6508 2188 or email at [email protected]