10 awesome light bites to go with drinks

Indulge in some of these addictive snacks that are perfect with that artisanal cocktail or chilled glass of wine for a fabulous night out

6. Fried Sage Leaves at Bar Cicheti

Photo: Bar Cicheti

At this chic wine and pasta bar, you can enjoy your favourite pastas and Italian antipasti with a selection of wines curated by beverage director Ronald Kamiyama, who is happy to help with pairing suggestions. To start, a simple dish of Fried Sage Leaves ($8), salvia fritta in Italian, comes recommended for bites. Fresh sage leaves—only the largest—are washed and dried, coated in a carbonated batter of rice, corn and wheat flour, and individually fried to a beautiful golden brown and finished with a sprinkling of Maldon salt. When done well, each delicate golden batter-gilded leaf is savoury, crispy and almost melt-in-the-mouth (think: guilt-free chips). Kamiyama would pair this with white wines such as a light, refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Hermit Ram or a Prà Monte Grande Soave Classico from Italy with good acidity to cleanse the palate. Do follow up with outstanding dishes such as beef brisket meatballs ($15) with a robust tomato paprika sauce and Parmesan cheese and al dente Rigatoni with a lightly tangy and spicy arrabbiata sauce topped with creamy stracciatella cheese (from $20 for small) for a charming night out.

Bar Cicheti is located at 10 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089264, tel: 6789 9801.


7. Edible Charcoal at Le Binchotan

Photo: daphotographer

This may look like lumps of charcoal, but we assure you it is far more delicious then what it seems. In short, it is pulled beef wrapped in popiah skin ($23), rolled in powdered bamboo charcoal and deep-fried, then further rolled in shichimi togarashi (a Japanese spice mixture). In full, it is tedious to prepare. The beef filling is prepared with Angus short ribs, braised for 16 hours in saikyo miso (sweet mild miso) and port wine jus until uber tender, then pulled apart. It’s served with a garlic yoghurt – the chefs confit garlic for some three hours and then mash it into plain Greek yoghurt. Each crunchy bite gives way to tender and full-bodied braised beef; gets us hungry just thinking about it. This dish is rather rich, so do pair it with their Ume cocktail ($22) made with gin, rum, fermented plum and sansho, which has good acidity and citrus to help cut through the richness.

Le Binchotan is located at 115 Amoy St #01-04, Singapore 069935, tel: 6224 1045. Entrance via Gemmill Lane.


8. Crispy Pig’s Ears and Intestines at Eliza

Photo: Eliza

Eliza, a modern Asian bar and cocktail club, is the latest concept by the good people behind Sum Yi Tai and Mona Lounge at Boon Tat Street. Patrons can expect curated cocktails, Shanghai cuisine, live playful rearrangements of music from the 2000’s and also DJ sets filled with House Anthems, Acid Jazz, Disco and Nu-disco. Besides the potent cocktails, food here is another draw. For fried bar bites, go for the crispy spiced pig’s ears ($10) and fried pig intestines ($12). Both the ears and intestines are first braised, sliced and then deep-fried. The crunchy pig’s ears and crispy-on-the-outside-and-tender-on-the-inside pig’s intestines are pretty addictive. Perfect with drinks, especially whisky and beer. If you need something more substantial, go for their Shanghai Red-Braised Pork Belly ($16) and Noodles with Ebi and Spring Onion Oil ($12).

Eliza is located at 113 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068582, tel: 6781-4708.


9. Avocado Fries at Idlewild

Photo: Xie Huiqun

Inspired by the decadence and romance of air travel’s resplendent years, Idlewild, the new bar at InterContinental, takes guests on a journey through popular travel destinations along the transatlantic route. Drinks here, conceptualised by Head of Operations and Creative, Andy Griffiths, are based on 10 cities along the popular Transatlantic Route – Dublin, Rome, Lima, Lisbon, New York, Casablanca, London, Paris, Mexico City and Havana – and they have 20 signature cocktails (from $20 each). Each location is also represented with a tapas-style bar snack (from S$15), which brings us to the highly unusual Avocado Fries ($15) that pays homage to Mexico City.

Thick slices of avocado are coated in a layer of chopped almonds and deep-fried to a crisp. Definitely one of those love-it-or-hate-it creations (avocado fans rejoice). Go on, dip one into the lemon mayonnaise; the crunchy almonds gives way almost immediately to the creamy, mushy avocado. On its own, we think it needs a tad more salt. But when paired with the refreshing Sugarloaf ($24) made with Plantation pineapple rum, 1840 Cognac, spiced tepache (a fermented pineapple beverage), tamarind and lime, it plays well. Other bites to look out for include the Cubano ($18), or Cuban sandwich, which has marinated roast pork loin, Virginia ham, gherkins and yellow mustard, and the Hazelnut and Cheese Tortellini ($15). Think: blue cheese, roasted hazelnut and bechamel sauce and brown butter. Yum.

Idlewild is located at 80 Middle Road, Lobby Level, InterContinental Singapore, Singapore 188966, tel: 6825 1045.


10. Crispy Pork Jowl and Crispy Brinjal at New Ubin Zhongshan Park

Photo: New Ubin Seafood

You don’t usually go to a cze char eatery for small bites, but this is no ordinary cze char spot. Known for its hearty and comforting yet innovative local dishes, New Ubin is perhaps best remembered for their tender USDA Black Angus Rib-eye cubes served with ‘Heart Attack’ Fried Rice. But for something light, go for their Grilled Crispy Pork Jowl ($14++ for 125g). The pork jowl is grilled over coals in a Spanish MIBRASA oven, leaving behind a crispy exterior wrapped around the succulent meat. Served with a specially concocted miso gula Melaka sauce which adds a nice sweetness to the dish, we love how every bite gives a satisfying crunch as the flavourful juices of the meat floods into the mouth.

Pair the dish with another addictive offering — their Brinjal Delight (from $15). Thin slices of brinjal are caramelised and deep fried, then fried together with dried chilli, creating a crispy mouth-feel that is accompanied by a sweet, spicy and tangy flavour. Best of all, you get to enjoy all these snacks in a tranquil hotel atmosphere. Best paired with a crisp sauvignon blanc or an aromatic pinot noir.

New Ubin Seafood Zhongshan Park is located at Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park, 16 Ah Hood Road, Singapore 329982. For reservations, call 9740 6870 or email makan@newubinseafood.com.