Photo: Regent Singapore
There are times when you just have a craving for something fried or satisfyingly crispy to go with a refreshing hand-crafted cocktail or a delicious glass of wine. After all, nothing is better than nibbling on something while you’re having a heart-to-heart with your gal pals. Here are the best places for some of our favourite bites (vegetarian-friendly options included) which you can pair with a revitalising drink or two.
1. Kushikatsu at Kushikatsu Tanaka
Photo: Kushikatsu Tanaka
If you love fried food breaded with panko, then Kushikatsu Tanaka is the place for you. Boasting over 165 outlets in Japan, Kushikatsu Tanaka is renowned for its famous Osaka-style fried skewers (from $1 per skewer) and signature special dipping sauce. Everything can be skewered, breaded with finely-ground panko crumbs and deep-fried here. This includes the usual prawns, chicken, and plump oysters to more unique items such as fork-tender braised pork belly, and gooey and chewy Oreo cookies, all encased with a thin, crispy golden crust.
Do also look out for seasonal items (yes, deep-fried too), such as mentaiko and sweet and soft white leeks. The secret to these delicious skewers lie in their unique oil blend, which includes beef fat, and also their signature sweet-savoury-tangy dipping sauce (please take care not to double dip in the sauce bowl). The boisterous restaurant also offers a large range of Jim Beam highballs (over 15 varieties) including the Triple Berry Highball, Triple Citrus Highball and Aomori Ringo Highball, all from $6.80.
Kushikatsu Tanaka is located at 3A River Valley Road, Merchants’ Court Clarke Quay Block A #01-01B, Singapore 179020, tel: 6258 3789.
2. Bunon Karaage at RVLT
Photo: Xie Huiqun
For natural wines and great food, look no further than RVLT. Founded by veteran sommeliers Alvin Gho and Ian Lim, the fuss-free wine bar comes alive after 5.30pm and fills up rather quickly, so do try to grab a seat as early as possible. The food menu here changes rather frequently, but a few classics remain and we have our eyes set on their awesome Bunon karaage ($12) — this “secret” recipe is courtesy of Chef Shigeru Nakaminato from the famous wine bar Bunon in Tokyo. The well-seasoned (we know sake and Japanese soy sauce are involved) chunks of fried chicken are lightly dusted with starch and deep-fried to a golden brown and served simply with a wedge of lemon.
Give the lemon a good squeeze and enjoy the lightly crispy chicken that is at the same time oh so tender and juicy. This dish definitely calls for drinks, and we like it with a crisp white wine or bubbly. Feel free to ask for recommendations. Other must-tries include their signature Patty Melt ($26) made with Westholme Wagyu patty and melted cheese, sauce gribiche (a mayonnaise-like sauce made with cooked egg yolks, capers, cornichons and herbs) and ketchup, between thick slices of toasted milk bread. Good for sharing, but you might change your mind.
RVLT is located at 38 Carpenter Street, Singapore 059917, tel: 9679 5166.
3. Har Jeong Frog Legs and Spam Fries at Relish
Photo: Xie Huiqun
Following the closure of mod-sin restaurant Wild Rocket, local chef Willin Low has opened a second branch of Relish (the first branch at Cluny Court is best known for their classic and locally-inspired burgers) at Frasers Tower on Cecil Street on November 2018. Expect familiar favourites such as his signature Laksa Pesto Linguine ($17.80) and delightfully spicy Hae Bee Hiam Spaghettini ($17.80). Fried must-tries here include the moreish Har Jeong Frog Legs ($10) made with fresh frog legs. They are deep-fried in a prawn paste marinade batter until they are crispy on the outside, but the meat still retains good texture (please check with the staff for availability).
Best washed down with Asashi beer on tap (from $5 for half pint all day till 8pm) or a lip-smacking Relish Lychee Mojito ($12.50) made with Havana rum, lime, mint leaves, lychee and a touch of sugar. And most certainly try the sinful Spam Fries ($8), which are fried without any batter or flour to achieve the perfect crust with a soft mushy meatiness inside, served with kaffir mayonnaise. Still one of the best ever spam fries in our books.
Relish @ Frasers Tower is located at #02-12/13 Oasis of Frasers Tower, 182 Cecil Street, Singapore 069546, tel: 6904 5458.
4. Crispy Golden Cauliflower at Manhattan Bar
Photo: Regent Singapore
While artisanal handcrafted cocktails rule at Manhattan Bar at The Regent – they were named #3 in World’s 50 Best Bars and #1 in Asia’s 50 Best Bars for 2018 – their tempting bar bites, such as the Boston Lobster Tacos with Yuzu Kosho Mayonnaise and Flying Fish Roe ($28), also have a strong following. We particularly enjoy the vegetarian-friendly Crispy Golden Cauliflower ($14). The cauliflower is first parboiled with water and apple cider vinegar, then separated into florets, coated with tempura batter (made Manhattan’s house draught beer Knickerbocker lager) and deep-fried to a glorious golden brown at 195 degrees Celsius. Served with salty, earthy Gorgonzola, fruity bits of pomegranate seeds, and a smooth blend of cauliflower stem, tahini, sour cream and Japanese mayonnaise, this is one addictive snack. Pairs well with their Solera-aged Negroni or a glass of bubbly Champagne.
Manhattan Bar is located at Regent Singapore, 1 Cuscaden Road, Singapore 249715, tel: 6725 3377.
5. Fried Shishito Peppers at LeVeL33
Photo: Xie Huiqun
At LeVeL33, the world’s highest urban brewery, you can nibble on bites from their Beer Dining menu from 2.30pm to 11.45pm. In addition to the usual deep fried snacks such as Southern fried chicken ($22) with lager pickled daikon and garlic dip and sweet potato fries ($13) with Cajun spices and wasabi aioli, why not try the vegetarian-friendly fried shishito peppers ($10)? Japanese shishito peppers are deep-fried until tender and sprinkled with salt that has been infused with the bitter yet floral aromas of the hops (used to brew the house beers), and a powder made from espelette peppers (the only French spice to be classified under the AOC certification). These slightly crunchy sweet-savoury peppers make great nibbles and go well with an aromatic, hoppy, malty and slightly bitter Indian Pale Ale ($9.33 for 330ml from opening to 8pm, $12.33 after 8pm).
LeVeL33 is located at #33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, 8 Marina Boulevard, Singapore 018981, tel: 6834 3133.