Another year of gastronomic gluttony has ensued, and at the end of it all, let me say that 2017 has been slightly underwhelming in this aspect.
Sorry, I know it isn’t what most food guides out there would say. Most would probably spout glorious words of praise for all the new places that have opened up.
For me, I am so tired of paying much for not much at all.
So, this year’s Masala Guide focuses on my favourite “value-for-money” fine dining experiences. Great for when you want to treat yourself but don’t want to walk away feeling like you’ve been robbed. Enjoy and have a great new year ahead!
Sorry non-eastsiders – you will have to trek your way to the hidden hood of Kembangan to find out why this gem remains my favourite. You’re almost 100% guaranteed a good meal, the reasonable $10 corkage makes it all the better and the service is warm. Chef Terence and team’s dedication to putting out solid and satisfying meals is not to be sniffed at. They have started breakfast service now, and I am pretty sure this is the only place I am willing to dish out cash for a bowl of oats!
Try: Chicken Liver Pate, Poached Salmon ($26), Seared Prawn and Carrot Risotto ($26) and any breakfast dish
Best Weekday Lunch Deal:
Took me a while to reach this place but am I glad I made it before the year ended. Located at the Wanderlust Hotel in Little India, Audace has taken over the spot previously occupied by Cocotte. For the price of just $28, you’re treated to a 2-course meal based on what the restaurant dubs “French bistronomy”, but it might as well be fine dining; the ever-changing lunch sets feature beautifully-plated, delicious concoctions.
Try: The set lunch, naturally!
Another Good Weekday Lunch Deal:
$25 for a 3-course at a fancy, schmancy new hotel? Well, I am not sure how long this will last, but drop in while you can. Alley on 25 sees a motley selection of restaurants, all offering up a $25 lunch set, which banks hard on serving you a substantial main course.
Try: The Burger at Smoke and Pepper, the Lamb Shank at The Green Oven.
Another Really Good Weekday Lunch Deal:
I featured this last year, and one year down the road, they are still going strong, serving up ridiculously delicious and innovative fare at brilliant prices. A 2-course that could well feature a Smoked Beef Tartare and a Porchetta for just $25 is simply unbeatable.
Try: The menu changes frequently but try anything. You’re bound to be satisfied.
Best Weekend Brunch:
A recent re-visit did not disappoint. Portions and quality remain great and the Italian treats will make you feel like you’ve over-indulged. Which is what anyone should aim for during a weekend brunch. $48 for a 3-course spread.
Best Baba Weekend Brunch:
Another place to over-indulge in. This Peranakan/Straits Malaccan restaurant gives you the best of both ala carte and buffet worlds, with an “ala carte buffet menu”, essentially meaning that you can order as many items and repeats off the menu as you wish. Unlimited laksa, nasi lemak, kueh pie tee and durian pengat? Check. At $38 per head.
Not overly experimental, unlike most typical fusion places, this Japanese-Italian hybrid at Tanjong Pagar is one place I dared to try the Tripe at and even enjoyed! Friends I have recommended Luka to have started swearing by it too.
Try: Whipped Bottarga Cream and Pretzel ($10), Trippa ($16), Uni Aglio Olio ($26)
Best Newbie For a Fine Degustation Menu:
This Mod-Oz (oh how I love Mod Oz, not being sarcastic, I really do!) joint from Clayton Wells of Sydney’s top restaurant, Automata, shines in its exploration of pairing unique ingredients from around the world to tease your tastebuds into trying new sensations.
And at $115 for a 5-course degustation, it’s reasonable as compared with other restaurants of similar calibre. I would choose the degustation over the pricy a la carte though.
Try: The Degustation Menu.
Best Place to Slurp Oysters:
Juicy, plump, sweet says it all about the selection of oysters here. Mostly featuring bi-valves from the Pacific Northwest of the USA, the oyster happy hours ($2-$3 a piece) make it all the better. That said, the food options are not to be dismissed either. Whether from the regular or brunch menu, the mostly seafood-based menu does not disappoint.
Try: Hama Hama, Kumamoto, Coromandel
Best place for a Burrata:
The creamy ball of cheese is the equivalent of a lava cake in the cheese world. And while you’d normally have to fork out over $40 to enjoy this treat, at Cibo, you can get it for around $24. The small space allows for eat-ins too, the menu featuring antipasti, pastas and pizza.
Try: Burrata, Lobster and Crab Ravioli.
Best Ooh La La Happy Hours:
Why this place when happy hours are a dime a dozen in tipple-crazy Singapore? Because the French bistro setting, the wines that start from $6 a glass, the open bar area that sees patrons casually spilling out onto the sidewalk, and the accompanying good food make Ginett an all-in-one winner.
Try: The wines (of course), Fish Quenelles ($28), Beef Cheek ($32)
Best Small Plates That Aren’t That Small:
Here, the prices and the plates measure up. In fact, more than measure up. There are some dishes that at first glance may not appear to be cheap, but for the quality, it is worth it. Conversely some dishes are priced so low, you might think it’s for 1 person, but they are enough to share. It’s generous tapas at this izakaya.
Try: Grilled Iberico Pork Jowl ($12), Miso Ginger Grilled Chicken ($24), Lamb Rack ($38)
(Still) the Best Spanish:
The restaurant has 2 sections – the outer bar area that’s more for casual tapas fare, and the inside area for the best fine dining Spanish in Singapore. Seeing as how this year’s list is focused on value-for-money, I’ll just highlight this part here. There’s a set option that can be easily shared between 2 people for just $69 and $86 that will fill you up with your choice of 6 or 8 tapas, respectively.
Try: Char-grilled Chorizo with Manchego cheese, Salmon Tartare with Avocado, Whiskey and Vanilla Tart
That’s my favourite value-for-money fine dining in Singapore! What’s yours? Would love to hear your thoughts, leave your comments below and… have a fabulous 2018 ahead!!