Photo: The Affogato Lounge
With everything from cosy bistros like Gaston to creative Italian at Bar Cicheti, and six new F&B launches from Kesa House (which occupies a stretch of 10 shophouses), Keong Saik is the foodie enclave du jour. It’s also a popular locale for street parties and festivals, as its narrow lanes are easy to cordon off.
Caribbean, African, French, Korean, Indian, Spanish… the culinary diversity here is largely responsible for turning the district into a gastronomical trove.
Geoff rey Daurelle, owner and manager of Gaston Burgundy Bistro & Wine Bar, cites the “melting pot of cultures” in this neighbourhood as the main reason for setting up shop here. “I find Keong Saik Road an exciting place because of its great cultural diversity and a mix of local restaurants, fine dining, bistros and wine bars,” says Geoffrey.
“For that reason, it attracts a lot of people, especially in the evenings. It has a really good vibe.” Chef Alain Devahive of Olivia Restaurant & Lounge agrees. “Keong Saik Road is attractive both commercially and visually – the diversity of the restaurants and vendors is so rich and intriguing. It’s a hub for independent dining establishments and therefore appeals to many types of diners. So we feel it’s a great privilege to be able to join such an eclectic dynamic in one of Singapore’s most iconic roads.”
Here’s our guide to the new kicks on the block :
1. The Old Man
Photo: The Old Man
Possibly the most innovative bar in Singapore now. This is the first international branch of the original award-winning Hong Kong bar, and its name and cocktails – A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises – are Ernest Hemingway inspired. Like the ingenious writer (who did love a drink), the cocktails here are experimental. Each spirit goes through processes like fat-washing utilising a centrifuge, rotary evaporation, or sous-vide cooking. (The Negroni, for instance, features coconut oil fat-washed applejack.)
It’s not just the preparation techniques that impress. The bar also has a brass section running across it, acting as a cool beer mat to keep your drink chilled at the optimal temperature and density for maximum enjoyment. We do love a great afterschool special.
#01-04, 55 Keong Saik Road
2. Pasta Bar
Photo: Pasta Bar
The only pasta place in Singapore that handmakes its pasta daily. Yes, daily. Chef Alessandro Giustetti of Pasta Bar isn’t playing around with his heritage. He uses old recipes inherited from his family in Genoa to retain the authenticity of his fare. From the types of semolina and flour to the amount of egg yolk, everything has been calculated to create different textures for various pasta shapes.
A favourite is the beef ragu – thick tagliatelle coated in a rich decadent sauce of beef, parmigiana and tomato paste. The noodles are firm, but melt in your mouth and meld with the sauce once you start eating.
#01-05, 55 Keong Saik Road
3. The Affogato Lounge
Photo: Instagram / @theaffogatolounge
Coffee in dessert form? Yes, please. Live out your dreams of drinking liquid tiramisu as you relax on the comfiest of couches at The Affogato Lounge. Designed to make you feel like you’re chilling at home, this place is a quieter version of its sister bar next door, The Affogato Bar.
Non-coffee drinkers, be prepared to be converted by the affogato here, which is essentially a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of cold, creamy vanilla ice cream. Otherwise, spring for small-batch ice creams and homemade sandwiches.
#01-02, 55 Keong Saik Road
4. Bar Cicheti
Photo: Bar Cicheti
Dare we say that this is our favourite Italian restaurant at the moment? We love the stylish interior (it transports you to Milan’s fashionable Via Montenapoleone district), the soulful music and, of course the neo-Italian dishes. Think: jalapeno pesto and Japanese uni. Chef Lim Yew Aun is constantly experimenting with new ingredients and new spins on classics.
The restaurant’s signature dish, the spaghetti, is not your average pasta – instead of making pesto out of the usual leafy greens, Chef Lim switches it up with jalapeno for a pesto-based pasta with a kick, tailored to satisfy spice lovers. The wine list is made up of offerings from artisanal producers (ask for the dry white Hungarian), and the bar does clever pairings.
10 Jiak Chuan Road
Burgundy’s reputation as one of France’s major winemaking regions is well known. Geoffrey Daurelle, owner and manager of Gaston, a Burgundian bistro and wine bar, aims to dispel the stereotype of luxurious offerings from that region by creating
affordable, laid-back food. Together with Singapore chef Julius Soo Thoo, whose illustrious career includes stints at Iggy’s and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Geoffrey brings his family recipes and wines from his native region to this cosy joint.
Having lived in Singapore for seven years, Geoffrey has an understanding of the local palate and works with Chef Julius to tweak the dishes. “French food tends to be rich in butter and cream. So we made our cream-based sauces lighter by reducing the butter and cream so that they’re not too heavy for the local palate.”
The food might be traditional, but the wine cellar is anything but. Ask to have a look at the selection of boutique wines, which are great value for your dollar.
25 Keong Saik Road
This story was first published on Her World's June 2019 issue