By: Verne Maree
321 Orchard Road, Orchard Shopping Centre, Level 2
First impressions: Reached by swish private escalator from the ground floor lobby of Orchard Shopping Centre (opposite Singapore Visitors Centre), KUVO is something of a hidden gem. Four separate areas offer a sophisticated “lifestyle concept” comprising Elixir bar, Ambrosia restaurant, the elegant Vine Lounge and a high-end gift shop. Japanese-inspired wooden screens work to open up spaces for bigger parties or close them off for private dining.
The Chosen One: Bespoke cocktails ($23 to $26) in the Elixir Bar are prepared according to your taste profile, which is rapidly identified by mixologist Yutaka Nakashima: our immaculately dry martini and smoky Vida mescal and Cointreau over a single solid sphere of ice were mind-blowing. From the standard cocktail menu (all $21), we also tried the Cutty Sark whisky-based Celebritea, and the Solare, with Antica Fratta sparkling wine, Aperol and Cointreau. These are on the sweeter side, perhaps tailored for the Japanese following built up by Nakashima-san at his previous gig, Coffee Bar K at UE Square.
The Cheapskate: Err… you’ve come to the wrong place.
Bite on this: Phenomenal coffee hot wings ($14) with baby carrot crudités and creamy blue cheese dip, impeccable duck rillettes ($15) and tender duck foie gras ($21). The Caesar 63°C ($17) with slow-cooked egg and crispy prosciutto was the best we’d ever had; neither have we tried a better wagyu Portobello cheeseburger ($31) or a sticky-softer crispy Íberico pork belly confit ($26).
Last but not least: Of the 140 wine labels, a commendable 19 are available by the glass. The esoteric collection starts from $14.50 per glass and goes up to $5,900 for the bottle of Napa Valley Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 reverentially brought out for our amazed inspection.