Hip Tiong Bahru bistro The Butcher’s Wife has an all-day dining menu that fuses Latin American and Asian influences.
Fusion cuisine can often go horribly wrong. But over at The Butcher’s Wife, head chef Mariana Campos proves that East-meets-West can work if artfully applied. She recently put together an all-day menu that blends together flavours from her native Brazil and Asian flavours with surprising ease.
If you’ve not heard of The Butcher’s Wife, it may just be that the space has evolved so many times over the years that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it offers. The Butcher’s Wife was originally Open Door Policy; the Spa Esprit Group-owned concept was one of the first places in Singapore to offer a fully gluten- and dairy-free menu when it opened in 2011. It mysteriously pivoted into The Butcher’s Wife in 2018, and its culinary offerings changed to a modern European focus albeit with some options for the dietary-challenged.
And then Mariana Campos appeared at The Butcher’s Wife. The new head chef arrived right smack at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year, and bided her time before making any major overhaul of the menu. Her debut menu was a showcase of Brazilian flavours – not entirely authentic, she’d freely admit, due to the difficulty of sourcing the right ingredients, but enough to evoke a taste of home.
In the meantime she experimented and fell in love with Asian flavours. Brazil, of course, is also a melting pot of cultures, so it wasn’t a surprise that Campos took to the region’s flavours easily. Her latest menu – which coincided with The Butcher’s Wife amending its hours to all-day dining – bravely melds together flavours from Latin America and Asia.
There’s the Pão de Queijo, a South American snack that are essentially moreish cheese puffs you’ll find hard to resist. There’s no messing here with the classic aside from having it served with an unorthodox – yet totally welcome – tomato and chilli sambal. The Sago and Coconut Prawns sees the frittered shrimp in a crunchy sago and coconut coating, a tribute to two ingredients commonly used in both Asia and Latin America. We did enjoy the Bacalhau Mantecato; here Campos eschews the usual polenta toast for fermented chickpea toast instead, but it’s really the creamy whipped dried cod that’s culinarily captivating.
We’re not too sure about the Roots Salad. Here you have crunchy slivers of root vegetables that are dressed in tangy green chilli-inflected sauce and then topped with cashew nuts. Or the “Land Tuna” Salad, an extremely healthy grain bowl that’s part poke bowl and part Korean bibimbap liberally strewn with all sorts of greens on brown rice. Both are probably on the menu as a throwback to the days of Open Door Policy, for its legion of regulars who have certain dietary needs.
Her Marinated Chicken Thigh Dosa is phenomenal. Think chicken tacos, but instead of tortillas these are encased in crispy Indian-style fermented rice pancakes instead. The chunks of chicken thigh are beautifully seasoned and charred on the grill for a smoky note, while cashew cream sauce and pickled chayote add texture and complexity. Dipped into the accompanying chilli sauce? Absolutely divine.
Another winner is Campos’ take on the classic Moqueca. This ubiquitous Brazilian fish stew varies from state to state so we can’t vouch for authenticity, but we love its flavours – almost like a fresher, healthier take on Indian fish head curry.
If you’re looking for something authentically Brazilian, The Butcher’s Wife all-day dining menu is unlikely to be it. But as a showcase of how the flavours of East and West can co-exist – and excite palates – on the same plate, many of the new dishes here tick all the right boxes.
The Butcher’s Wife
Address 19 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168650 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 311.30am to 9.30pm Tuesdays to Sundays; closed on Mondays