Delicious, affordable offcuts
51 Duxton Road
Hours: 12-3pm, 6pm-12am (Monday-Friday), 6pm-12am (Saturday)
THE fail-proof way of running a restaurant these days seems to be: Order in a chunk of premium wagyu, toss it mindlessly on the grill (how bad can good wagyu turn out?), slap a high mark-up on it, serve.
But then again, where's the fun in that?
That is why budding local chef Leong Khai Git, 29, and his team behind three-week-old restaurant Dibs in Duxton Road set themselves up to do just the opposite.
Their aim: To present inexpensive offcuts of meat in unexpectedly delicious ways.
A platter of beef short ribs ($34) is cooked sous-vide for 24 hours to accentuate its tender marbling; a slab of pork cheek ($28) is dusted with a panko crust and served on a bed of pea and horseradish puree.
If it all sounds a tad Fergus Henderson to you, it actually is. Cordon Bleu-trained Leong admits to being enamoured of the nose-to-tail cooking philosophy, though not quite taking it to the extreme as Henderson's St John's restaurant does.
So while you won't find any lungs or intestines on the menu at Dibs, neither will you get prime sirloin or tenderloin.
It's not all bottom-of-the-barrel picks, either: The short ribs are from Black Angus cattle while the cheeks are from black pigs (kurobuta).
But the best part of the menu at Dibs is how the Asian elements play out in subtle, creative ways, such as a drizzle of fish sauce or gula melaka in the salad dressing, or a chicken roll with ginger, burnt rice and cucumber ($25) that's like a modern take on chicken rice.
A starter of "meat butter", or bone marrow ($15), is laced with teriyaki sauce and bonito flakes for that extra umami, and the bowl of smoky cockles ($8) is adapted from the favourite beer snack of kopitiam uncles, but dressed up with bacon dashi and a lively kick of smoked chillies.