From The Straits Times    |

#1 Bakalaki

Located in the heart of Tiong Bahru’s buzzing enclave is new Greek restaurant Bakalaki. Executive chef Spiros Palaiologos, formerly of the popular Blu Kouzina, takes pride in his produce and imports fish and other seafood from the Mediterranean.

The kitchen rolls out a healthy selection of small plates and starters, such as pan-fried feta cheese drizzled with honey and sesame as well as domaldes (rice dumplings wrapped in grape leaves). For mains, expect to feast on grilled ocean catch like sea bream, sword fish and octopus.

The chef also dishes out grilled beef and chicken skewers served with tzatziki and hearty oven-baked dishes (sto fourno). Pair these items with labels from the Greek-centric wine list. Residents in the area can check out the restaurant’s well-stocked deli section of freshly baked pita breads, Greek feta cheeses and yoghurts as well as imported sweets and desserts.

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Bakalaki, 3 Seng Poh Road. Tel: 6836-3688


#2 Tono Cevicheria

Peruvian ceviche is more than just fresh fish, peppers and tiger’s milk at Tono Cevicheria, the first restaurant to open at Duo Galleria in Bugis.

The casual concept by Chef Daniel Chavez (chef-owner of Ola Cocina del Mar) presents variations of Peru’s national dish that’s reflective of the cultural influences of Europeans, Africans and Asians in the multi-ethnic country. Ceviche typically comprises cubes of fresh fish cured in tiger’s milk: a mouthwatering concoction of citrus and aji or Peruvian chillies.

A great introduction to this dish is the restaurant’s signature Tono ceviche of market fish (sometimes snapper or local barramundi) served with smoked aji amarillo pepper sauce and crispy baby squid. As a comparison, try the Nikkei (its Japanese cousin of sorts), composed of yellowfin tuna and a dressing of mirin, hondashi and sesame oil.

The stalwart ceviche is not the only star in the menu. Causas, a Peruvian potato salad, is a refreshing breakaway. We recommend the Lima causas of crabmeat and mashed potato topped with tobiko and crispy quinoa toppings. Other unique Peruvian specialities to try include the Lomo Saltado, a Cantonese-influenced beef stir-fry with coriander, tomatoes and potatoes.

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Tono Cevicheria,  Duo Galleria, 7 Fraser Street #01-49/50. Tel: 6702-7320


#3 Nouri

Since departing The Kitchen at Bacchanalia, chef Ivan Brehm’s collaboration with the Unlisted Collection has been hotly anticipated.

The new 42-seater Nouri (Latin for nourish) serves as Brehm’s platform to diminish barriers in dining. It starts at the dining area where the sleek marble communal table doubles as the open kitchen’s prep station and pass, encouraging interaction between diners and with the chef. There’s private dining space for eight at the back, but the main dining area works great for an enlightening chef’s table experience.

Nouri’s cuisine, dubbed ‘crossroads cooking’, reveals similarities between Brehm’s Brazilian heritage and global flavours.

A starter of Silken Cheese recalls silken tofu for the Asian palates, and perhaps a savoury panna cotta for the European. The Acarajé, a white pinto bean fritter of Afro-Brazilian origin, is served with local-inspired turmeric and coconut curry sauce and Brazilian vatapá sauce made with bread, dried shrimp and palm oil.

Apart from the usual red and white wine, unorthodox pairings of rosé and orange wines are recommended here (according to beverage manager Matthew Chan, they are great for Singapore’s climate).

Related: Head to the Shangri-La Hotel’s revamped Lobby Lounge for some tasty hawker-inspired treats this weekend

Nouri, 72 Amoy Street. T: 6221-4148


#4 Bistro du Vin

After its recent refurbishment in April, Bistro Du Vin at Shaw Centre now sports a fresher contemporary look with shades of grey and cream, coupled with wood and brass trimmings.

This casual eatery by the Les Amis Group is helmed by two Frenchmen: the larger than life director Philippe Pau (who’s been with the group for more than a decade) and new group executive chef Laurent Brouard.

The latter has introduced a new menu comprising well-executed classics of roasted cod or pan-seared sea bream with Provençale ratatouille and baby vegetables, and warm tart of sardines from Brittany with basil tomatoes concassée.

Some of the best-sellers that remain in the menu include tender braised beef cheeks served with bacon and mashed potatoes as well as duck leg confit with salardaise potatoes and green salad. Enjoy your meal with warm baguette and a glass of French red.

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Bistro du Vin, 1 Scotts Rd, #01-14 Shaw Centre. T: 6733-7763


#5 Bird Bird

When he was concentualising Bird Bird’s menu, group executive chef Anthony Yeoh experimented with different chickens and finally decided on sakura chicken (thanks to its juiciness even after being thrown into the deep-fryer).

Diners have three versions of fried chicken to choose from. The crowd-pleasing classic Southern Fried Chicken is brined in Old Bay seasoning for 12 hours and bathed in buttermilk before being coated in a seasoned flour mixture and deep-fried till golden brown.

The Bangkok Fried Chicken which comes in a crispy rice flour-batter is given a punch of flavour with Thai herbs, lemongrass, kaffir lime and garlic. The juicy bird is served with a piquant green chilli nam jim dip but if you need something even more fiery, request for one of the bottled chilli sauces.

And there’s the milder Lebanese Fried Chicken slathered in honey and lemon and sprinkled with za’atar a Middle Eastern spice composed of fragrant oregano and thyme. The fried chicken comes in whole (a choice of two flavours) and half portions (one flavour). Sides to enjoy with the chicken include the ultra crispy hand-cut shoestring curly fries, and hearty mac and cheese (try the black truffle or three-cheese versions).

There are also wholesome salads displayed at the counter to boot. When you’re done licking your fingers, enjoy a cup of luscious toasted milk soft serve before leaving.

Bird Bird, 97 Frankel Avenue. T: 6694-8270

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This story first appeared on The Peak on July 11, 2017.