From modern Japanese omakase restaurant Wagatomo’s recently-introduced flame-forward dishes and the fun contemporary fusion bites at LUMO to the family-friendly eats at Little Farms Table & Bistro and Da Paolo Dempsey Restaurant & Bar, we check out some of the places that should be on your to-eat list this month in this July 2023 edition of Spirited Eats.
We love modern izakaya bar Neon Pigeon for its iconoclastic fusion Japanese eats. But the recent appointment of Head Chef Sean Mell – previously of Nobu – has taken its elevated bar-friendly bites to even greater heights.
We absolutely loved Roasted Amela Tomato, a combination of miso-cured tofu and oven-roasted sweet Japanese Amela tomatoes doused in a parmigiano-flavoured broth that, when eaten together with the accompanying kombu toast, tasted bizarrely like grilled cheese sandwich. Sushi lovers will enjoy Skull Island Prawn Roll, a California maki rolled around a massive battered prawn, while the Nobu-inspired Enoki Tempura comes highly-recommended for vegetarians. Also fun is Shime Iwashi, what is effectively a Mamee-style crunchy mess of crispy ramen tossed with various savoury condiments.
Don’t forget the cocktails. New Neon Pigeon head bartender Mario la Pietra has put together an entirely new cocktail menu with Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai vibes. The vodka-based She No Lychee is a flavourful take on the lychee martini without the use of lychee, while Kanbei’s Anger is a smoky, spirit-forward Mezcal twist on the Boulevardier.
CÉ LA VI
Rooftop multi-concept lifestyle destination CÉ LA VI may be better known for offering some of the best views of Singapore’s waterfront skyline, but its restaurant’s modern Asian eats are nothing to sniff at either. Executive Chef Maksym Chukanov recently introduced a refreshed menu that leverages on sustainably-sourced produce but also draws on various Asian cuisines for inspiration.
The Japanese Amela Tomato, for example, makes for a refreshing starter, the small intensely sweet tomatoes from Shizuoka dressed simply in tomato consommé and basil oil, while the Hamachi Crudo – with the yellowtail cured in yellow miso overnight – offers savoury and smoky notes balanced by the piquancy of yuzu ponzu.
Vegetarians are likely to go gaga over Ravioli, the pumpkin-filled little wanton parcels doused in a delectable curry foam. For carnivores, the perfectly-grilled Stanbroke Black Angus Striploin, with its rich and robust beefiness, will definitely serve.
Be sure to end off your meal here with Ice Cream Sandwich, an elevated riff of the traditional local street side snack that “kiaps” mango-rippled coconut ice cream between crunchy tuile.
LUMO Bar & Restaurant
It’s been awhile since we’ve visited contemporary bar and restaurant LUMO along South Bridge Road, and we’re glad we did. The food and drinks offerings have been utterly revamped the last time we were there. What was once an innovative take on modern European cuisine is now a playful yet cutting-edge fusion gastronomic exploration that flirts with culinary influences from all over.
Tapas-style bites such as its Smoked Cod Fish Liver Taramasalata, Baba Ghanoush and the beautifully-seared Atlantic Octopus are all fabulous with a glass of wine, while larger sharing plates like the perfectly grilled Canadian Prime Rose Pork Rack and Australian Prime Angus Sirloin are absolutely-scrumptious and well-suited for those who are more than a little peckish.
The cocktails have been changed up as well. Head bartender Aaron Lancelot puts together cheekily fun cocktails such as Manakin, an invigorating Margarita spiced up with bird’s eye chilli, Let The Man Go, a dirty Martini-like tipple inspired by Nonya achar pickles, or the eponymous The Lumo, a fruity gin sour bursting with grape flavours.
Stay long enough, and happy hour kicks back in at 9.30pm. That’s when the real party starts.
LUMO Bar & Restaurant | 50 South Bridge Rd, #01-00, Singapore 058682 (Google Maps link) | 12.30pm to 3pm and 5pm to 12am on Tuesdays to Fridays; 6pm to 1am on Saturdays; 6pm to 10.30pm on Sundays; closed on Mondays | www.lumo.sg | 8921 3818
We’ve always enjoyed Wagatomo for chef-owner Tomoyuki Kiga’s fun contemporary flourishes on Japanese cuisine, and recently-installed Head Chef Masashi Asai continues Tomo-san’s fine tradition of delivering bold flame-kissed creations with a refreshed produce-driven menu that challenge our perceptions around Japanese food.
The exquisite Beef Tataki, for example, sees Wagatomo’s prized Kamichiku 4% Miracle Gyu beef cut slightly seared on the outside while retaining all its tenderness before sliced into delectable slices, and likewise the Iberico Pork Belly, grilled to perfection to bring out the pork’s sweetness. Wagatomo’s new donabe creations – the Japanese version of our claypot rice – are great for sharing, such as the seafood-based Kaisen Donabe that sees rice that’s topped with hamachi, ebi, hotate and uni.
Special mention goes to the Organic Brown Rice Chicken, a roast chook dish inspired by Singapore’s classic chicken rice but here is stuffed with truffled rice and a bit of uni before it is roasted to delectably juicy goodness.
Da Paolo Dempsey Restaurant & Bar
For those of you whose family craves some Italian but you also need your evening aperitivo hour to wash off the heat of the day, the expansive food and drink menu at Da Paolo Dempsey Restaurant & Bar will be sure to please.
There’s something for everyone. Pizzas like the classic Margherita or the funky 8 Cheese for the kids? Check. Entire sharing platters such as the Italian Salumi & Cheese Board or Burrata & Salumi Platter to peck over while you parents sip on some wine? Check.
And don’t forget their cocktails. Da Paolo Dempsey recently unveiled a new lineup of tipples inspired by its Italian heritage, as well as a hat tip to Italy’s favourite aperitivo hour. You have, for example, the refreshingly fruity Melone – a melon twist on the classic Bellini – or the Mandorla, with its breakfast notes of coffee, orange juice, and almond. For something stronger, the Uvetta is a mezcal twist on the Old Fashioned with notes of raisin, while earthy and nutty Chinotto will enrapture those who have a penchant for chocolate and orange.
Da Paolo Dempsey Restaurant & Bar | #01-13 Dempsey Rd, Blk 8, Singapore 247696 (Google Maps link) | 8am to 11.30pm Sundays to Thursdays; 8am to 12am on Fridays and Saturdays | www.dapaolo.com.sg/dempsey | 6261 3128 | online reservations
Little Farms Table & Bistro (Tanglin Mall)
Another lovely spot suitable to bring the young ones, if you’re looking to drink as well? Little Farms Table & Bistro, which sits within the sprawling Australian specialty grocery Little Farms store in Tanglin Mall.
This restaurant cafe is where Australian bistro classics take centre stage. You’ll find many of your Aussie favourites reprised (and reimagined) here; from your classic and dependable Fish & Chips and hippy Avocado, Quinoa & Feta Bowl to a fancy Crispy Pork Jowl Tagliatelle or the funky Truffle & Bleu D’Avergne Cheese sourdough pizza. Those who love their fish definitely must try the newly-introduced Seared Akaroa Salmon, which is fork-tender and bursting with ocean goodness while carnivores should find the grilled Lamb Rack or dry-aged O’Connor Sirloin a treat.
As for tipples, we love the good selection of affordably-priced wines by the bottle here; you can’t wrong with a bottle of Margaret River’s Snake + Herring, for example.
Little Farms Table & Bistro (Tanglin Mall) | 163 Tanglin Rd, #02-138, Singapore 247933 (Google Maps link) | 7.30am to 9.30pm Sundays to Thursdays; 7.30am to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays | littlefarms.com | 3163 6344
If you get deep-fried Japanese tonkatsu pork cutlet cravings like we do, recently-opened Tonkatsu ENbiton by EN Group may be your thing.
There are now a number of Tonkatsu ENbiton outlets, but we visited the one at VivoCity.
Unlike other tonkatsu restaurants, Tonkatsu ENbiton specialises in “yuzu pork” tonkatsu. The restaurant chain sources Kagoshima pork from pigs that have been fed a diet that includes local yuzu, which is supposed to improve the meat’s nutritional benefits. Pick between two specific cuts – hire (loin) or rosu (filet) – and three different preparation methods, but they all feature fabulously tender pork that’s been battered in panko crumbs and then deep fried into perfection. We recommend the Miso Tonkatsu, which sees your pork cutlet smothered with a red miso Nagoya-style, but if you prefer a more refreshing take the Oroshi Tonkatsu has grated daikon radish and a tangy yuzu ponzu dressing to help cut through the richness. Or order a refreshing Yuzu Highball to accompany your meal, which does the same trick.
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