Small-plate grub go big on Asian flavours
NEW food-and-beverage outlets are taking the small-plates sharing concept to new heights with innovative injections of Asian flavours.
9 Keong Saik Road
Open Mon to Sat, 5.30pm - midnight; Closed on Sun
Everyone knows Keong Saik Road already has one of the most vibrant dining scenes in Singapore, and now even more so with its most recent addition - a contemporary Asian restaurant named Meta.
This small-plates style restaurant is helmed by Korean-native head chef Sunok Kim - who is an alumnus of both Tetsuya's in Sydney and Waku Ghin in Singapore - so he brings his Asian heritage, combined with French influences and techniques, to the menu at Meta.
It's clear where his Korean heritage has come into play as well, especially with signature dishes such as the Korean sea snails seaweed pancake topped with Bottarga fish roe ($18) and the Wagyu bulgogi with egg jelly & Korean pear kimchi ($25).
That's not all he has in his repertoire, as other signature items you may find on Meta's regularly evolving menu include an oyster with tangy lemon-ginger dressing and topped with pomelo ($8), and a carpaccio of Hokkaido scallops topped with sago pearls marinated in yuzu ($18).
While chef Kim takes charge of the kitchen, the restaurant belongs to a few owners and investors, including 31-year-old Joanne Khoo, who keeps her day job and prefers to leave the restaurant's operations to the professionals.
Meta opened its doors on Oct 22, but will officially launch early next year.
THE EAST BUREAU
Marina Square, #03-03
Open Mon to Thu, Sun, noon-10.30pm; Fri to Sat, noon-midnight
After over a decade of focusing on Italian cuisine, Samdy Kan - chief of F&B company The Cre8tive Group, which runs eateries such as Supply & Demand and Equilibrium at Capitol Piazza - is going back to his roots with his new modern Pan-Asian restaurant The East Bureau.
Located at the rooftop garden of Marina Square's new wing, this two-week-old restaurant serves modern Asian cuisine in small plates, such as a lychee martini sweet and sour pork ($13) and Thai basil pork gyoza with homemade Thai chilli sauce ($12).
"I needed to break out of my comfort zone and satisfy my need for creativity. I had to do something which I already had the basics for... so Asian cuisine came naturally to mind. It's something I was born into," says 33-year-old chef Kan, who is also the executive chef at The East Bureau.
So while some other restaurants under the "modern Asian" umbrella might incorporate Western influences in their cooking, chef Kan prefers to stick closely to Asian techniques and wants to present a "modernised collection of flavours and recipes across South-east Asia".
For instance, the poached "drunken" chicken in savoury cucumber granita ($15) puts a modern twist to the traditional Chinese "drunken" chicken dish: The granita is a nod to the cucumbers often found in Hainanese chicken rice.
2 Emerald Hill
Open Mon to Thu, Sun, 5pm-2am; Fri to Sat, 5pm-3am
The black nut, otherwise known as the buah keluak, is almost always associated with Peranakan food. So it came quite naturally that the owners of the new Black Nut bar decided on that name for their new F&B establishment - a nod to its past life as a Peranakan museum.
They didn't just stop at the name. They have also kept the old Peranakan artifacts hanging on the walls of the first floor of their two-storey bar, and made sure the menu carries a strong Asian influence.
"We looked at the location and the kind of architecture we had there, and tried to do something that's in line with the history of the space," explains director of operations Yung Ong, 35.
He runs this new bar along with other F&B outlets in the Peranakan Place building, which is owned by his family, on top of a furniture business. They decided to launch Black Nut after moving their F&B operation offices out of the building last year.
The food menu was designed with the Asian theme in mind, due to Mr Ong's personal love for Asian food, he says.
An example is their buah keluak wontons ($18++), which are stuffed with the black nut, finely diced prawns, spring onions, garlic and ginger, and served with a sambal chilli dip. Other examples are the Indonesian-inspired ayam bakar burger ($15++) and a fried chicken kimchi burger ($13++).
However, the most popular items on the menu would be what the eatery calls its AFC - Asian Fried Chicken (four for $12++, eight for $20++), which is available in four flavours including the zi char-favourite har cheong kai, and the sweet and spicy Korean gochujang sauce.
Since their soft opening about two weeks ago, the Asian-influenced menu at Black Nut has been receiving great feedback, and that has led to plans for their European-style tapas menu at Alley Bar to eventually transform into a more Chinese-influenced one, says Mr Ong.
THE BUSINESS TIMES