New food joints in old Singapore
KEONG Saik Road's unique blend of old and new Singapore is what attracts food and beverage establishments such as Cure, Neon Pigeon and Lollapalooza.
21 Keong Saik Road
Opening in June
Three years after opening his first bar, The Cufflink Club, in Jiak Chun Road, Joel Fraser is finally ready to embark on his new ventures.
By the middle of next month, Mr Fraser, 31, will start work on Cure, located at 21 Keong Saik Road.
"We've signed the papers, it's confirmed. I'm teaming up with a prominent chef to do a bistronomy-inspired concept, where it's a young chef making the best food he's capable of without the three-starred kind of pretentious environment," he revealed.
He explained that instead of opening in a swanky shopping mall, he wanted to open a restaurant that will serve good food for about $100 per head in the laid-back environment of Keong Saik.
Another concept that Mr Fraser is working on prior to Cure is a Latin American bar and restaurant named Vasco, which is slated to open in Hong Kong Street by early May.
Boasting an open kitchen concept, Vasco will serve Latin American food such as ceviches, skewers and steaks, and drinks such as tequila, rum and pisco.
1A Keong Saik Road
Open Mon to Sat, 6pm-11pm
Closed on Sun and public holidays
If you enjoy the food at Lolla - the small-plate restaurant in Ann Siang famous for its sea urchin pudding - you might be excited to hear that the trio behind it have recently opened a new sister outlet named Lollapalooza.
The first sense of familiarity you get when you step into the new space is the long communal table - this time with a seating capacity of 26 to 30, instead of Lolla's 22 - where customers can dine next to strangers and possibly share food, wine and conversation.
The other similarity is the style of food. Like Lolla, Lollapalooza has a menu of 20 to 25 sharing plates, but the menu is printed daily to reflect whatever new dishes are available based on the ingredients in season.
Said one of the founders, Pang Hian Tee: "We came up with two words to describe the food, and they are "freestyle" and "borderless". Because we wanted the menu to be very produce-driven, so whatever is the best we can get, we will serve."
Not that it will be overhauled every single day, of course, but a couple of items will be replaced every other day to make way for fresh new stock.
Mr Pang added that while chef Isaac Lee is mostly European cuisine-trained, the food will not be limited to any particular cuisine. So expect to see a mix of European and Asian cooking styles and, perhaps, even Peranakan ingredients being used. The only thing you can expect of the food is that most items will be finished off in the wood-fired oven which runs on applewood all day.
Items on the menu include a mixed herb and vegetable salad ($18) where the ingredients may vary from day to day, dog cockle tartare ($30), radicchio with crispy pig's ear ($21), corned veal tongue ($45) and wagyu ribeye cap ($55).
According to Mr Pang, the food and concept at Lollapalooza are "totally different" from those of Lolla. In response to customers wanting a more private space, they have included individual tables and booths to cater to people on romantic dates or conducting business meetings.
1 Keong Saik Road
Open Mon to Sat, 6pm-midnight
Closed on Sun
Fancy some "bird feed"? At least that is what the folks at Neon Pigeon are calling their range of Japanese snacks - soups, greens, seafood and meats served with a modern twist at their brand new establishment.
Neon Pigeon opened its doors only on March 17 and is run by a new management group called The Dandy Partnership. It is made up of long-time friends and colleagues: Michael Macnab, who does marketing, Michael Goodman, who does food and design, and Rohit Roopchand, who is the head of operations and one of the people behind the Hong Kong establishment Fatty Crab.
Mr Macnab described his new eatery as "a vibrant social house that brings the soul of a traditional Japanese izakaya to Singapore with a punch of gritty urban vibe".
The food menu consists of small and large plates of items meant for sharing, such as edamame with shichimi smoked sea salt ($7/$13), miso black cod soup with smoked dashi and seaweed ($10 per person), crispy brussels sprouts with mirin glazed bacon ($12/$22), grilled duck breast with katsu curry pumpkin puree and Japanese red pickles ($18/$33), and miso roasted pumpkin rice with sugar snap peas, crispy garlic and egg yolk ($15/$28).
These dishes are prepared by chef Justin Hammond, who used to work at Gingerboy in Melbourne, and has worked in Hokkaido and Vancouver. It is recommended that guests order six to eight small dishes for sharing between two people.
As for drinks, Neon Pigeon offers a range of speciality cocktails, sakes, sochu and Japanese whiskies.
According to Mr Macnab, their eatery is meant to be a no-frills place that is laid-back so anyone can come and hang out with friends to have "good food at good value".
THE BUSINESS TIMES