Le Bab, a gourmet kebab house based in Soho London, dishes out beautiful and mouthwatering Middle Eastern dishes. It’s not a surprise either, as the chefs who have backgrounds in Michelin starred kitchens. The food was so good that Chef Nic Philip from Fat Prince (a well-loved kebab bar and cafe here) asked the minds behind Le Bab to take over his kitchen in Singapore.
“It didn’t take much convincing,” said Ed Brunet, co-founder of Le Bab, with quick grin and shrug. The team is not new to doing collaborations with other restaurants in England, though a takeover was completely new and foreign to them, albeit exciting.
We were thoroughly excited too, just by looking at the menu. We tried every item on it so we can recommend the absolute best dishes that you simply must order.
The one dish you can’t miss ordering is actually the vegetarian one – Paneer ($10). This gorgeous mess you’re seeing is a fluffy charred pita bread stained with beetroot and coconut puree, that is topped with smoky cubes of paneer (North-Indian cottage cheese), lashed with drippings of curry mayo, and sprinkled with a smattering of fried shallots and coriander. If you’re guessing this was a messy experience, you’re spot on.
The chefs made the right choice with the ingredients as the cheese works surprisingly well with the sweetness of the beetroot, and the addition of crispy shallots and curry mayo brings us back to memories of sinful street-side kebabs devoured after a fun night out.
Speaking of fun nights out, we dare say the experience with the paneer kebab isn’t complete till you’ve paired it with Fat Prince’s Genie Land ($20) – a potent concoction of rose-infused spiced rum mixed with passionfruit and bergamot. The citrusy notes from the bergamot and tangy flavours from the passionfruit hit you first, but the spiced rum is what lingers on your palate. It tastes bright, sweet and tangy all at the same time. It’s exactly what you need for the creamy and cheesy paneer kebab.
Another one of our favourites is the Le Bab Bhaji ($16). These balls of slow-cooked then fried lamb shoulder and beef shin are worth every dollar. Savour them slowly, as we found ourselves looking sadly at an empty plate that’s been scraped clean, minutes later. The intense flavours of these red meats are toothsome enough to savour on their own, but dab on some of the sambal mayo (adapted from the original chilli mayo for a Singaporean take) too.
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One of the stellar examples that show how the minds of Le Bab make street food and gourmet cuisine join seamlessly is the Lokma Doughnut ($16). It’s traditionally made with fried dough that’s been soaked in a sugar syrup, but Le Bab kicks it up a couple of notches higher with a delectable glaze made from reduced chicken stock, pomegranate molasses, and honey. And there’s the filling: a creamy chicken liver parfait with the consistency of hummus. All in all, you get moreish golden doughnuts that are sweet yet ooze with a savoury and lightly spiced chicken centre. The crushed nuts and rose petals make them lovely to look at too.
Another one of our favourites (yes, another, since there are so many hits and barely any misses here at Le Bab), is the simply named Squid ($10). It’s a kebab that is dressed with both grilled and batter-fried squid, as well as pickled shallots. We initially thought this would be a bad choice, since kebabs don’t normally have squid, but boy this dish had us eating our words too.
The grilled squid was tender and succulent, and so very moist with the right amount of chewiness. The squid ink that oozes with every bite coats the ingredients with a scrumptious earthiness while the charred taste and aroma from the pita bread holds everything together. Mmm. We were stuffed to the brim by that point, but we wouldn’t have minded a second helping.
Die-hard fans of more traditional kebabs should try the 15 Hour Pork ($10) kebab. This one was conceptualised and specially made for the takeover here. The pork was slow-roasted over the large wood-fired earth pit that Fat Prince is equipped with. The pork’s texture felt a little bit like pork floss, with the way it was shredded, but it was yummy and juicy, with the pickled achar of cucumber and carrots lending acidity to the otherwise homely-tasting kebab.
If any of the indulgent food is getting a little too much for you to take, order a side of Endive & Pomegranate Salad ($14). This is definitely not your typical salad. For one, nothing in it is green; it’s all red, purple and pink. Crisp endives, zingy red onions, pomegranate arils, and ground sumac come together to provide just the right amount of tartness you need to cut through the strong flavours of middle eastern cuisine.
Finally, end your meal with the Spiced Creme Brulee ($12). Unless you’re a serious sweet tooth, one is good enough for two to share. The creme brulee was exceedingly milky and delicate, unlike the usual you’d find in most restaurants. It’s made with coconut milk and was infused with spices like cloves, cinnamon, and star anise. The burnt layer of palm sugar tasted very much like roasted marshmallows, a pleasant surprise.
Le Bab left us in a dazed food coma, happy and struggling to return to office. You don’t need to enjoy Middle Eastern food to appreciate the dishes here, just an open mind to try different experimentations on food.
Le Bab will be in town only on 28 and 29 November 2017. Make your reservations with Fat Prince right now by calling 6221 3683 or booking a table on Chope. Lunch is from 11.30am – 2.30pm, and dinner is served from 6pm – 10pm. Expect to pay around $60 – $80 per person.