Young local chefs Alastiar Tan and Shaun See explore their vision of modern Asian cuisine at contemporary gastrobar, Rascals.

[Rascals is now officially closed.]

One can argue that modern Asian cuisine is increasingly difficult to define. This is especially true in Singapore, where culinary influences from all over the region continue to converge in cosmopolitan Singapore. In recent years we’ve seen many concepts open up that employ this great catch-all term, encompassing modern Singaporean flavours, eclectic contemporary Southeast Asian dining, to category-defying new Central Asian gastronomy.

And so it’s with a little trepidation that I visit Rascals, one of the latest openings in Singapore’s diverse dining scene to use the term.

The contemporary gastrobar is located in PSA Pass Centre in Tanjong Pagar, on the fringes of Singapore’s Central Business District that’s buttressed against the Keppel waterfront. Singapore’s supper-loving set would know the run-down building best for housing Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh, a late night eatery that normally attracts after-hour denizens that patronise the many dubious night spots in the area.

rascals interior
The raw urban chic of Rascals gives it a totally different vibe from the rest of dilapidated PSA Pass Centre.

But that’s not why it’s called Rascals.

Chef-partners Alastiar Tan and Shaun See named their gastrobar Rascals to describe their more laissez-faire approach to modern gastronomy. Most may not have heard of Tan and See, but the two young Singaporean chefs come with some pedigree and a decade of experience each. They previously worked in Michelin-starred Labyrinth and Candlenut, honing their chops on both traditional and more avant-garde approaches to local cuisines.

While Rascals offers an ala carte menu, it’s their tasting menu during dinner one should go for to fully experience its vision of modern Asian gastronomy. It’s certainly where Chefs Alastiar and Shaun have most fun.

Rascals toro tartare
Not an entirely new idea using kuih loyang, but Rascals’ toro tartare is very tasty nonetheless.

A canapé came in the form of crispy traditional kuih loyang as a base for tuna tartare, for example. Then there was charred Napa cabbage on a skewer that came topped with pork lard, and top shell grilled like satay that was as scrumptious as they were chewy.

One dish was a lovely seabass collar – also available ala carte depending on market availability – that was battered and deep fried into delicious submission; it made for messy eating but was well worth dirtying one’s hands for. There was grilled pork cheek with Thai and Vietnamese influences too, and a perfectly-seared Angus striploin that came with a buah keluak and chocolate glaze.

Rascals Angus sirloin
Nutty buah keluak and dark chocolate give the Rascals Angus sirloin earthier, more robust flavours.

An add-on that’s a must is their seaweed fries, an elevated version of the seasonal McDonalds classic using steak fries. It is served with a delectable gelato made out of roasted seaweed which, I admit, sounds absolutely bizarre, but is entirely mind-blowing.

Not everything worked seamlessly, of course. There was a sweet corn croquette that was somewhat ho-hum, and a fish dish whose tangy sauce was too strong for the pan-fried seabass it came on.

Rascals has a more contemporary approach to its beverage programme. Their small but well-curated range of wines are mostly of the natural wine bent, perfect for the modern wine drinker. But where it really shines is a selection of craft beers, including some rare and limited edition brews available on draft. Which, of course, is not surprising when you find out one of the silent partners runs a craft beer import and distribution business.

rascals beer taps
Rascals offers a range of craft beers to go along with its modern Asian grub.

The tasting menu at Rascals is likely to evolve over time as Chefs Alastiar and See work out their rhythm. What we like is that each bite of their food can challenge you to think about what modern Asian – or modern Singapore – food can mean, and where this diverse range of cuisines may be heading.

One thing for sure; these two young rascals are certainly full of promise, and Rascals makes for eclectic, madly-fun eating.

Watch this space.

[Image credits: Rascals]


Address 7 Keppel Rd, #01-08, Singapore 089053 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 10.30pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays; 12pm to 2.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays; closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Tel (65) 8189 3817
Facebook rascalssg
Instagram @rascals_sg


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