Photo of Birds Not So Stinky Tofu: Birds of a Feather
From Sichuan dishes that don’t solely play with mala flavours to a Taiwanese tze char restaurant with $5 dishes, these are the restaurants upping the ante. Whether you’re chilling with your besties or getting together with the family, you’re going to want these places and their dishes on your radar.
1. Restaurant Ibid
Photo of starters: Restaurant Ibid
Lunchtime in the CBD just got a little more interesting now that contemporary Chinese, Nanyang-style Restaurant Ibid has rolled out its Wednesday to Friday lunch menu.
Chef-owner Woo Wai Leong (who you might recognise as the first winner of the inaugural MasterChef Asia season) draws from his experience with food growing up, reinterpreting familiar flavours, ingredients and dishes.
For starters: graze on the highly addictive Cumin Spiced Fried Baby Potatoes ($8) with garlic mayo and laksa leaves or go for General Soh’s Chicken ($8) - fried chicken coated in a sticky, tangy and sweet glaze, and crowned with roasted peanuts and coriander salad.
Then move onto the mains because the smokey Shaobing Burger ($14) is not to be missed. Snugly sandwiched between the flatbread is a juicy medium-rare beef patty, pickled green chilli mayo and charred onions. It’s bursting with flavour, complete with gooey mozzarella, spring onions, sesame oil and black pepper.
Address: 18 North Canal Road; Tel: +65-9151-8698; Opening hours: 12pm-2pm from Wednesdays to Fridays. A 2-course meal is priced at $18, while the 3-course meal is priced at $25.
2. Birds of a Feather
Photo of Sichuan Oxtail Soup: Birds of a Feather
Any mention of Sichuan and tongue-numbing spicy mala immediately springs to mind. Located on Amoy Street, Birds of a Feather seeks to broaden what we know of Sichuan cuisine with a slew of new dishes that embrace the nuances of the food there.
Good for sharing are light bites such as the Charcoal Grilled Pork Bits ($15). Marinated overnight in spices before being skewered, deep fried and charcoal grilled, the pork belly chunks are served atop Japanese sweet potato, crispy rice pieces and charred green chilli.
Stinky tofu isn’t for everyone. But the Birds Not Stinky Tofu ($16) is a crowd-pleasing spin on the funky street snack. Silken tofu is pressed overnight and blended with vieux lille cheese before being piped into the pockets of aburaage tofu. It’s then oven-baked and served on a bed of shallow fried soy beans alongside pickled beetroot.
With all the heavy rainfall we’ve been experiencing lately, the Sichuan Oxtail Soup ($24) is just what we need. The clear broth is inspired by the sichuan pork trotter soup that warmed the chef on a cold winter’s night in Chengdu. The rainy weather in Singapore might have nothing on China’s winters but we welcome the comforting bowl of clean and light flavours just the same. On the side is a crisp spring onion arlette - a Chinese spring onion pancake made like a French puff pastry.
Address: 115 Amoy Street; Tel: +65-6221-7449; Opening hours: 10am-11pm daily
3. Halcyon and Crane
Photo of King's Chicken Hash Benedict: Halcyon and Crane
Perched on level three of Paragon, Halcyon and Crane is a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road. The sister restaurant Birds of a Feather focuses on cafe-style European cuisine with Sichuan influence.
Enjoy breakfast for dinner by ordering the hearty king’s chicken hash benedict ($21). Instead of your ubiquitous eggs benedict, the English muffin is topped with gongbao chicken, cheddar cheese, strips of crispy leek and sous vide egg - cooked down to a precise 64 degrees. On the side are fried potatoes inspired by street food in Chengdu. They're sauteed and seasoned with Sichuan BBQ spice such as cumin and Sichuan pepper.
Another breakfast and all-day-dining choice is the cured sausage shakshuka ($20). Made with tomato sauce, corn, mushroom, white beans and cheese, the Sichuan influence can be found nestled inside. The sausages are a Sichuan speciality and give the dish a spicy kick.
Address: #03-09 The Paragon, 290 Orchard; Tel: +65-9721-5121; Opening hours: 9am-10pm daily
4. Crystal Jade Kitchen
Photo of Premium Seafood Congee: Crystal Jade Kitchen
After two months of undergoing renovation, Crystal Jade Kitchen at Holland Village is back in business. Now helmed by culinary veteran Chef Martin Foo.
One of our favourites on the menu is the Premium Seafood Congee with Japanese seaweed ($13.80). It’s a light, comforting medley consisting of the umami flavour of kombu (Japanese kelp), scallop, crab and prawn.
Another one that caught our attention is the soya sauce chicken with osmanthus (starting from $14.80 for a regular size). The meat is steeped in marinade and the osmanthus-infused syrup gives the dish a sweet, fruity fragrance.
Address: 2 Lorong Mambong, Holland VIllage; Tel: +65-6469-0300; Opening hours: 8.30am-11pm daily
5. The Salted Plum
Photo of Seasonal Pickled Fruit Salad: The Salted Plum
The Salted Plum added 10 new dishes to the menu this month, bringing out what it does best - Taiwanese home cooking modified to suit the Singaporean palate.
Think of Taiwanese food and lu rou fan (braised pork rice bowl) often comes to mind. Well, not if this restaurant has anything to say about it. The restaurant wants to shed light on fruit with its Seasonal Pickled Fruit Salad ($5). Depending on the season, guava and papaya slices are infused with orange peel for three days. It’s simple yet refreshing and packed with flavour.
Another dish that experiments with fruit is the pan-seared and grilled mackerel ($15). The velvety fish is served with a sweet-savoury cherry-tomato and salted plum sauce, topped with fresh leek and onion tossed in vinaigrette.
What makes a moreish snack: the triple fried yam ($5). Fried, braised and fried again, its exterior has a crispy crunch to it but sink your teeth in and you can still taste the moist texture of the yam. Dip it into the spicy mayo for a peppery-boost.
Address: 10 Circular Road; Tel: +65-6260-0155; Opening hours: 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm from Mondays to Saturdays