Contemporary South American fine-dining restaurant Araya takes you on a gastronomic odyssey across Chile and the rest of Latin America.

South American gastronomy is reaching new heights. The region’s culinary scene has been making news recently – World’s 50 Best Restaurants last year saw Lima’s modern Peruvian restaurant Central take the No.1 spot, leading a pack of another nine restaurants from across Latin America on the list. And while that skyrocketing progress hasn’t been evident halfway across the world here in Singapore where South American flavours still remain largely foreign, things are changing.

Especially if Francisco Araya and Fernanda Guerrero have their way.

Chefs Francisco and Fernanda head modern fine-dining South American restaurant Araya – recently opened at Mondrian Singapore Duxton – where the veteran pair look to introduce the flavours of their native Chile, as well as those of greater Latin America, to the Singaporean palate.

Chefs Francisco Araya and Fernanda Guerrero

South America is a vast continent, and one that is hardly contiguous. Its food is also largely fusion, combining indigenous ingredients with influences from all around the world brought on by colonial conquest and waves of immigration.

Word of warning to those with dietary challenges. The intimate 30-seater restaurant does offer a vegetarian menu, but are unable to accommodate guests who are purely vegan or those with seafood intolerances. You’re here to taste what the continent has to offer. And that includes seafood – Chile alone has 4,000 miles of coastline, after all – and dairy.

Each dish – including every one of your tiny little starters – is a nuanced expression to the rich culinary heritage of South America. I loved the corn flan, bursting with earthy sweetness of maize counterpointed by briny uni, while the house-fermented tepache made a refreshing start to our meal.

La Panera (with Fernanda)

I don’t often say this, but don’t skip the bread course. South America is a haven for bread, and here Chef Fernanda pulls together some of those of most iconic loaves and flavours Chile has to offer. The chewy potato-based chapalele of the Mapuche community in southern Chile, for example, or the marraqueta that you’ll want to smear merken-infused butter with. Then there were the soft brioche rolls studded with chorizo, Chef Fernanda’s take on the Chilean choripan sandwich.

Peruvian influences come in the form of a scallop ceviche, the sweet creamy shellfish marinated in shio koji Nikkei-style and served with a refreshing leche de tigre sorbet. Or the causa, which combines oca – a tuber native to the Andes – with fatty chutoro tuna and oscietra caviar for a most indulgent bite.

From Brazil? Moqueca. Here the Brazilian fish stew is presented as gently poached Japanese kinki rockfish that’s then doused with a spiced, creamy coconut milk-based sauce.

“It tastes like refined Indian fish head curry,” a dining companion whispered.

I couldn’t disagree. I mopped up every last drop with some marraqueta, and then moaned in pleasure.

Then came the empanada, those pastries brought over to the New World by the Spanish and Portuguese that the South Americans, particularly Argentina, adopted as their own. Here it’s stuffed with braised wagyu offcuts from your rump cap, better known as the picana in their part of the world.

Empanada and red wine at Araya

The actual picana comes after, grilled to such perfection that even the pickiest of Argentinean gauchos would approve.

For those who don’t take beef, there’s pigeon. In fact, I’d totally eschew the picana for the beautifully seared pigeon. I love that the bird’s slightly gamey flavours are raised and accentuated by a mole rendered from aged Ecuador cacao. Utterly sublime.

By now we’re full to bursting, but then a series of playful desserts appear. Our favourite was Antartica, a milky sweet confection of ice cream, creme anglaise, dulche de leche along with a medley of Patagonian berries. Don’t miss out on the assorted petit fours as well, particularly the South American single origin chocolates.


For the oenophiles among us, Araya offers a kick-ass wine programme that range from familiar favourites to some ridiculously rare (and pricey) unicorns such as Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanee Conti La Tache and the Screaming Eagle from Napa. Your best bet though is to opt for a specially curated wine pairing that explores varietals from across the Americas.

It’s a nigh impossible task to showcase everything that South America has to offer, but Araya tries, from the art in the restaurant’s beautifully composed dining room to its expansive degustation menu. While this latest addition to the Culinary Arts Group of restaurants – which counts modern Indian restaurant Revolver and Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Hamamoto among them – is not Singapore’s first fine-dining South American restaurant, it’s perhaps the most inclusive.

And the most ambitious.


Address 83 Neil Rd, #01-07, Singapore 089813 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 11pm Tuesdays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays and Mondays
Tel (65) 8870 0871
Facebook ArayaSingapore
Instagram @araya_singapore
Reservations book here

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