New Year, new favourite restaurants. From the slew of recently opened and revamped concepts to have popped up on the foodie radar as 2020 rolled in, Eunice Lew whittles it down to 8 must-try joints that you should make a reservation for, pronto.
The latest in the series of high-profile openings at the newly renovated Raffles Singapore, Butcher’s Block, if you haven’t already guessed, shines the spotlight on meats. But not just any meats – here, we are talking out some of the world’s finest cuts of proteins and seafood, showcased in a glass-walled space dubbed The Vault within stylishly appointed, cobalt and dark wood interiors. Chef de Cuisine Rémy Lefebvre takes the helm and doles out flavour-focused creations like Hay Smoked Wagyu A5 ($35) and Lamb Shoulder For Two ($102), employing a wide range of culinary techniques including smoking, curing, fermenting and wood fire cooking.
For a truly unique experience, cop a reservation for the eight-seater, communal dining OAK (One Of A Kind) Table ($398/guest), only available for dinner between Thursdays and Saturdays. Not only will you be surprised by off-the-menu dishes, you’ll also sample carefully sourced, limited quantity cuts such as small batch beef or a whole umami-rich, dry-aged fish. The cherry on top? Free flow of one bubbly and three wines selected by Raffles Singapore’s esteemed sommeliers.
Butcher’s Block, #02-02 to #02-07, Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 188719
Tel: 6337 1886
Chef-owner (and self-dubbed Food Bro) Bjorn Shen of modern Middle Eastern restaurant Artichoke has always been one to buck the norm, and he’s done it again with the reservations-only, private dining outfit Small’s, which opened on 1 February. Tucked into Artichoke, the tiny space started as a work studio where he could unleash his culinary creativity, and has since evolved into the (slightly) more concrete form of Small’s, an experimental four-seater personally and solely fronted by Chef Bjorn. It’s only open three days a week, its offerings are unavailable to Artichoke diners, and upcoming dates are made public at 12pm on the 24th of every month – fastest fingers first at smalls.as.me. Prices differ according to the monthly menu, and reservations must be made in groups of four.
Already fully booked for February, Small’s currently offers a 12-course omakase menu inspired by his pizza experiences from the 80s and 90s. Among other treats such as Meatballs with abalone mushroom gnudi, the menu features four airy and puffy pizzas with soft middles made using high-hydration Neapolitan-style dough, aged for at least four days. This process allows the yeast to come alive and work its magic, developing a deeper, more nuanced flavour. The few lucky February diners will also get to savour expensive, hard-to-find and unusual ingredients such as octopus eggs, fresh seaweed and unheard-of clam varieties.
As an ever-changing concept, don’t count on getting the same dishes come March, or even on Chef Bjorn keeping at this pizza gig for long. Blink, and you could be staring at a chicken nugget and Champagne bar or cold noodle slurp shop next. Nothing’s too wild for Bjorn Shen.
Small’s, 161 Middle Road, Singapore 188978
Hong Kong-based Maximal Concepts makes its Singapore debut with the unveiling of Mott 32’s outpost at Marina Bay Sands. The fine dining Chinese restaurant occupies defunct Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza’s sought-after spot in the luxury mall, its interiors redesigned with colonial and botanical details, copious greenery and oriental accents for a plush and lush ambience.
Just like its sister outlets in Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Seoul and Vancouver, the MBS outlet boasts timeless fare that pay tribute to the rich culinary heritage of China’s distinct regions. Hong Kong-born veteran and Executive Chef Chan Wai Keung leads the culinary team to serve up dishes such as Barbecue Pluma Iberico Pork Glazed with Yellow Mountain Honey ($48) and signature Apple Wood Roasted Peking Duck with Mott 32’s “Signature Cut” ($108). A specialty of Chef Chan’s, Cantonese-style dim sum is also available for lunch from 11 February, with a small selection available at dinner.
Don’t miss out on the stellar bar programme either – Mott 32’s mixologists swizzle up signature cocktails such as the Hong Kong Iced Tea ($24) of Blanco Avion Tequila with Lillet Blanc, blackcurrant, and jasmine tea; and Harbour Dawn ($24), a Singapore exclusive of butter-washed vanilla rum with coconut, pandan, almond, verjus, and Champagne.
Mott 32, B1-42/43/44, Galleria Level, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018956
Tel: 6688 9922
Soak up Mediterranean vibes of the Grecian coast – without the plane ticket – in the breezy white and blue interiors of 1-Group’s newest venture, Zorba, The Greek Taverna, at Clarke Quay. Sourcing many ingredients directly from Greek suppliers, Zorba takes pride in presenting authentic Hellenic dishes.
Start with the traditional Greek Moussaka ($22) of layered zucchini, eggplant, potato and minced beef, slathered in béchamel sauce and baked till golden brown, before digging into the Greek’s Mixed Grill Platter ($88), a generous selection of cheese-stuffed bifteki, pork gyros, chicken and beef souvlaki, lamb chops, and loukaniko sausage. Or order the Htapothi Sti Skhara ($30) of tenderised octopus that’s grilled to perfection over a charcoal fire.
Zorba, The Greek Taverna, 3A River Valley Road #01-02, The Riverhouse, Clarke Quay, Singapore 179020
Tel: 8558 1704
Diners in Singapore have not had many opportunities to enjoy Central Asia’s cuisines, but that’s about to change with the opening of The Nomads by Shawn Kishore of Five Ten Holdings (The Salted Plum and Five Ten restaurants) and Olzhas Zhiyenkulov, a Kazakhstan native. The Telok Ayer street restaurant builds upon a reimagination of The Silk Road’s gastronomic trail, peppered with Southeast Asian influences.
Embark on a culinary journey of the region with one of the three tasting menus: the introductory 11-course A Trail Ablaze ($98), 17-course The Odyssey of Fire ($148) focusing on delicacies from the grill, and Nirvana ($188) comprising up to 22 courses of seasonal specials. Notable dishes include Salat, a grilled fruit salad from Almaty, Kazakhstan, that pairs glazed pears with cherry vinaigrette, anchovy sauce and raspberries; and Squid Laghman from Xinjiang Uyghur of grilled squid noodles, capsicum and pine nuts with a lip-smacking bone marrow and Sichuan peppercorn sauce. An a la carte menu and communal menu (for the speakeasy-style, 10-seater private dining room) are also available.
The Nomads, 70 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 048458
Tel: 6977 7057
Gone is Otto’s Deli Fresh and in its place is Swiss Chef Otto Weibel’s new farm-to-table grill concept, Black Marble. The 73-year-old F&B industry veteran flexes his culinary chops with a mouthwatering selection of meats from Australia, Japan and USA paired with fine wines.
With 16 years of experience and expertise with the chargrill, Head Chef Jay Siaw executes Chef Otto’s vision of hearty fare using premium meats and fresh ingredients harvested at their peak. Unctuous and juicy, the A4 Japanese Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Sirloin ($90) melts in your mouth; while the 45 days Dry-aged Bone-in Ribeye ($78) is dry-aged in-house for an intense savouriness.
There are choices for seafood lovers too – the Lobster & Scallop Saffron Risotto ($34) is a comforting dish of rich lobster broth flavours and succulent Boston lobster and scallop, and the Spicy Seafood with Capellini ($28) packs a fragrant punch with zhoug-spiced scampi, Hokkaido scallop, and blue mussels.
Black Marble, 118 Holland Ave, #02-01 Raffles Holland V Mall, Singapore 278997Tel: 9641 6913
Taking over short-lived Soufflé at Duxton Hill, BTM Mussels & Bar is an approachable and cosy joint that has arguably more lasting appeal. Drawing from founder Olivier Bendel of Déliciae Hospitality Management’s decade-long experience at the famed Léon de Bruxelles group (a European mussels-focused institution with its roots in Belgium), the restaurant allows its hearty ‘mussels and fries’ offerings to speak for themselves.
BTM serves their Bouchot mussels (500g at $36, 750g at $48, 1kg at $58), air-flown from Parcs Saint-Kerber in Brittany, in seven ways, each specially developed to enhance the mollusc’s natural sweetness and paired with French fries. The Thailandaises is inspired by the distinct flavour profiles of the Land of Smiles, combining chilli, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and coconut milk to make a piquant and aromatic dish; while the Au Roquefort is pungent with blue cheese’s signature funk. Or you can always go back to basics with Marinières, the classic French-style preparation with white wine, butter, onion and parsley.
But that’s not all – you can also tuck into Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) bar bites at BTM. Pop a golden, beefy Bitterballen ($8) ball or bite into the Le Croq-Truffle ($18), a luxed-up croque monsieur with French black truffles, Comté and Serrano ham.
BTM (‘Back to Mussels’) Mussels & Bar, 5 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089591Tel: 6690 7562
This oldie but goodie is firmly on this year’s eat list with the Funan and Raffles City outlets’ transition into Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner. Leading the change is Chef de Cuisine Chef Paul Albert, who draws from his haute cuisine training in Michelin-starred restaurants of France and Rio de Janeiro, as well as experiences working in Paris’ cafés and bakeries.
Look forward to creative all-day breakfast options such as the 100% Sourdough Waffle, made Belgian style. Using a 158-year-old starter brought from Rio’s The Slow Bakery, the sourdough’s tangy nuances are more pronounced, the result of two-day fermentation. Enjoy it Sweet ($21) with ripe Thai mango and salted butter caramel sauce, or Savoury ($23) with a sunny-side-up, grilled bacon, smoked paprika-infused maple syrup. Tip: work up a chat with Chef Paul and he’d be happy to let you bring home a little starter for home-baked goodness.
Chef Paul also puts in a concerted effort to showcased locally grown produce through creative green and vegetarian/vegan-friendly dishes. Take for example the Super Green Warm Soup ($16), in which five vegetables including Chinese spinach and lady’s finger are cooked in mushroom broth, blitzed with almond milk and served with beetroot pickled ricotta (can be omitted upon request) to make a nourishing and comforting treat.
Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner
107 North Bridge Road, #04-(22-25) Funan Singapore, 179105
252 North Bridge Road, #B1-11 Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore 179103
Tel: 6877 4866 (Funan) / 6333 4160 (Raffles City)