We scour the island’s restaurant scene to bring you the new and the noteworthy – it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Here, Katie Roberts visits the newly opened Tono Cevicheria and uncovers Asia’s first Peruvian eatery of its kind.
Tono Cevicheria is one of the first restaurants to open on the ground floor of the newly opened Duo Galleria, the two glittering buildings on Beach Road, opposite Parkview Square (the “Batman Building”). Tono has that laid-back vibe that South America is known for, and the friendly staff led by Celvin Chiang and chef Mario Malvaez made us feel instantly at home. There’s indoor and outdoor seating and the atmosphere is jovial and casual, in keeping with the word “tono” in the title – it’s a Peruvian slang word for “party”.
Mario is a protégé of Peruvian chef Daniel Chavez and worked with him at the acclaimed OLA Cocina del Mar before the pair opened Tono, with a mission to showcase Peru’s authentic ceviche. Mario has lived in Singapore for nine years and has some serious restaurant cred, with stints at successful Latin American restaurants including Piedra Negra and Lucha Loco under his belt.
Grub on this:
Where to start? In true South American fashion, these brilliant chefs put their heart and soul into Tono. The result is a unique menu of Peruvian favourites, headlined by national dish, ceviche – which has its origins in Peru’s coastal regions. It’s very simple: fish, sustainably sourced from New Zealand, is marinated in “Tiger’s Milk”, a heavenly mix of chilli, lime and red onions. We tried the signature dish, Tono Ceviche ($28), which embellishes the traditional recipe with a topping of crispy baby calamari. It’s impossible not to drink the delicious tiger’s milk afterwards – it even has a reputation as a hangover cure.
All dishes are for sharing; we also tucked into Escabeche ($22) a Peruvian potato-based salad, fired up by a chicken, panca chilli, smoked mayonnaise and hard-boiled eggs. Next up, Mario recommended the Jalea ($34), an authentic seafood basket topped with tapioca chips, salsa and the more-ish smoked chilli mayo. Rice and seafood dish Arroz con Mariscos ($34) lies somewhere between a risotto and a paella. The air-flown Peruvian chillies really make this dish sing – though the heat factor is sweet and comfortable, not unbearable.
We shared one Tres Leches ($12) between us. A traditional dish of sponge cake made with cream, evaporated and condensed milk. Later the cake is soaked in fresh milk, coconut milk and condensed milk – hence it’s moist texture – and served with a passionfruit and pineapple compote. It’s a delicious and decadent way to end a meal!
Wash it down:
Ceviche is typically accompanied by Pisco Sour ($15) – a zingy drink of white spirit Pisco, egg white, lime and angostura bitters. It really deserves more attention than it tends to get, and we would be more than happy for the ubiquitous Margarita to get a shove aside in favour of this delicious sweet-and-sour combination. Equally good – and refreshing – is the Chilcano ($14), a mix of Pisco, ginger ale, lime and Amargo bitters. While we would have been fine to stick to the cocktails all night, we switched to two quaffable house red wines – Orube Crianza Rioja ($15 glass; $75 bottle) and Argentinian Andeluna Malbec ($13/$65). Ole!
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