Looking to celebrate the very welcome first step towards normalisation of Singapore’s economy by dining out? Here are seven new openings in Singapore you should check out.
The last three months have been somewhat of an apocalypse for Singapore’s F&B industry in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The health scourge – and the ensuing measures to contain it – had cancelled events, forced bars to shut, and compelled many restaurants to pivot their business models towards food delivery during this period. Some didn’t survive, and yet many others are still on the verge of failing. So you could almost hear the palpable sigh of relief when the Singapore authorities announced yesterday that the country will be moving into its Phase 2 in the reopening of the economy.
Among the easing of restrictions was the resumption of dining in at restaurants and gastrobars in a limited form from 19 June, which is certainly the best news for the longest time for Singapore’s beleaguered F&B industry. But while we’re all eager to rush out and support these restaurants, there are some places we want to visit more than others; namely, those establishments that are untimely started up – and then suffered – during this painful period.
We’ve put together a list of seven new places that’s opened up during Singapore’s circuit breaker and Phase 1 periods we really want to visit now that we can go out and eat again.
If you’ve not heard of Chef Dillon Ng, we can’t say we blame you – he’s probably one of the most understated local chefs Singapore has to offer. Chef Dillon is best known for his inventive East meets West cuisine at GastroSmiths, but closed that to open Allium just as the coronavirus pandemic started.
Allium is small and eatery run by Chef Dillon and his wife Lusiana (Lulu) Hendrika, and they offer a creative take on local and regional cuisines leveraging modern techniques and ethically- and sustainably-sourced produce. During this period they’ve been offering delivery for their rotating, seasonal menus; their Signature Nasi Liwet is the talk of the town, while recent inspirations included a modern spin on Teochew-style porridge, and before that, an Indonesian rijsttafel.
And make sure you don’t miss out on Chef Lulu’s choux buns, those cream-filled creations are some of the most delectable pastries you’ll set mouth to.
Like Allium, modern restaurant and gastrobar Laut brings diners on a local and regional spin where flavours are concerned – and that applies to both its creative dishes as well as cocktails.
Similarly Laut also a focus on locally-sourced produce; their delectable Laut Curry is a veritable boon of seafood topped by a huge chunk of seabass that’s procured from local fishery Ah Hua Kelong, for example. We’re big fans of their Otah Sandwich, and literally drool over their very moreish Burnt Eggplant Dip.
Laut co-founder Leon Tan was previously head bartender at award-winning cocktail bar Native, and harnesses his mixology chops to put together cocktails along a similar theme of sustainability and use of local and regional ingredients. For example there’s Kumquat, which uses the tropical citrus along with Malaysian molasses and even Vietnamese sweet potato, while Pineapple is a savoury, sweet and spicy tipple made with grilled Sarawak pineapples, molasses, Sarawak pepper, and mead.
One of the most highly-anticipated openings is Lucali BYGB, a collaboration with Singapore-based hospitality pioneer Gibran Baydoun and Mark Iacono of Brooklyn, New York’s celebrated pizza joint Lucali. You probably would have caught Iacono and Lucali on an episode of David Chang’s Ugly Delicious, where he expounded on the virtues of one of Italy’s most venerated culinary exports, the pizza pie.
While the famed ‘Lucali pie’ are not on Lucali BYGB’s takeout and delivery menu upon its soft launch, we’re certain they’re on the cards when the restaurant finally opens to the public. Until that happens though, we’d happily to dig into takeout versions of Iacono’s Italian-American eats such as the Lasagna and that iconic no ketchup Meatloaf.
Contemporary cocktail bar restaurant LUMO opened just weeks before Singapore went into its circuit breaker mode; at any other time its innovative modern European cuisine and cocktails – and its modernist space – would have drawn the crowds.
One side of LUMO comprises its open kitchen and dining area where Head Chef Martin Wong holds court; the Westholme Wagyu Intercostal is the stuff culinary carnivores dream of, while his signature Aged Chicken Mid-Wings are finger-licking good. Also worthy of gastronomic note is his ubiquitous sounding Potato Hash, but this breakfast – or after-drinks supper – dish of perfectly fried potato cubes and duck prosciutto smothered in sour cream will cure any nasty hangover.
On LUMO’s other side is its cocktail bar, pushing out a number of rather edgy cocktails that seek to impress you with their creative process as much as their flavour. The Coded Cobbler, for example, pushes the classic sherry-based cobbler into health-conscious territory with the use of fermented ABC (apple, beetroot and carrot) juice. Then there’s the Ananas Arrack, a rum take on the Rum Old Fashioned, while the insanely complex gin-based Patty Royale combines gin, distillate from rendering Impossible meat, vermouth and bitters into a seriously spirit-forward drink.
Not really a new opening, but a move. We’ve been big fans of understated cocktail bar IB HQ – it is home to our favourite gimlet in town – since its opening late 2018. The latest news though is that it’ll be moving out of its Kampong Glam digs. IB HQ’s new location? They’ll be moving to Duxton Hill and will be taking over The Lounge Bar above Michelin-starred French fine dining eatery Restaurant JAG.
What’s particularly interesting is that while they remain separate businesses, IB HQ and Restaurant JAG’s Chef Jeremy Gillon will working very closely together on their individual menus to create as much gastronomic synergy as they possibly can.
While some of IB HQ’s crowd favourites – such as the Dusty Pickle, made with Japanese single grain whisky and an ume reduction – are likely to remain on the menu, we’re also looking forward to trying some new cocktails from IB HQ bartender-owner Kamil Foltan using the Savioe herbs Restaurant JAG is known for. But keep our favourite Gimlet on the menu, please?
What happens when you combine an effervescent (former) whisky ambassador and a rambunctious bar proprietor? Boozy good times, that’s what you get, and in this case you also start a new cocktail bar. Former Monkey Shoulder ambassador for Southeast Asia Jay Gray has partnered with The Spiffy Dapper’s Abhishek Cherian George, along with Desiree Jane Silva, to open Sago House along Sago Street in Chinatown.
Unfortunate for them the timing couldn’t be worse, with the bar only ready in the height of the current health pandemic. But they’ve gamely soldiered on to offer deliveries of their cutely-named cocktails such as the gin-based Make Tiki Torches Great Again or the spiced up Ay Caramba. We’ll have to settle for these to drink at home while we wait for news of their official opening.
Wildfire Chicken & Burgers.
Casual burger joint Wildfire Chicken & Burgers once boasted a number of outlets – an original flagship at Evans Road, another at 313@Somerset, and a more recent one at Global Kitchens along Science Park Drive – but shuttered them all by the end of last year. It just announced a return, this time under new (and young) ownership.
And while we’re sure Wildfire Chicken & Burgers’ current menu – tweaked to be delivery-friendly during this enforced stay-at-home period – won’t be exactly the one we’ll see when the dine-in restrictions are lifted and the restaurant is finally open to the public, it holds plenty of promise. We’re rather impressed with the Classic 001 Cheeseburger with its juicy beef patty and sweet brioche-style buns, while the Shabu Burger is also delectable with its sliced boneless short rib that’s smothered in a yakiniku sauce.
Also a must order – their Basque-style Burnt Cheesecake, which is one of the best versions we’ve had across town.