You may have tried these cuisines on your travels around the world, but we’ll hang our hats on the fact that you’ve not tried many of them in Singapore before.
Alpine food at Zott’s True Alps
97 Amoy Street, 6223 0913
Think the world of French food is vast? This food covers parts of France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Monaco, though the restaurant featured below leaves the latter two little guys out. The cuisine is built around blustery winters and mountainous terrain. Can it work in sweltering Singapore? Austrian chef Lorenz-Maria Griesser isn’t the least bit concerned.
Unless you were born in the silvery shadows of Mont Blanc, you’ll want to hold on to your menu during this meal. A borderless map with a trivia-packed legend guides you through the dishes and the regions, which is how we learned carpaccio d’espadon ($28) hails from the area “where the Alps shake hands with the sea” (a fancy way of saying Provence). This dish of thinly sliced swordfish adorned with an “apple creation” (a beautiful semi-frozen mousse covered in sparkling beetroot gelatin) reveals the chef’s training in molecular gastronomy (copies of Modernist Cuisine on the walls are another giveaway), while the bouillabaisse Marseillaises ($87) shows he is no slouch when it comes to old-fashioned comfort food, either. The broth of this fish soup is simply brilliant, though the tongue-twisting suedtiroler apfelsuppe ($26), a creamy apple soup with marinated char fish, is also superb – and less heavy on the wallet.
The tellerfleisch ($75) is creatively served in three courses. This Austrian-Bavarian “boiled beef” favourite may sound bland, but it’s not when served first as baked Schulterscherzl (oyster blade) with parsley dip and tartar sauce, second as homemade oxtail ravioli and third as a fabulous prime rib with carrots, leeks and freshly grated horseradish.
It takes a darn good dessert to make the first page of the menu – in this case the Kaiserschmarrn ($24), a souffled and caramelised pancake served Sisi-style (for all you Habsburg history buffs) with stewed plums and vanilla ice cream, edges out the starters for good reason. Don’t miss it.
NOLA, or New Orleans-style cuisine at Life Is Beautiful – Louisiana Kitchen & Bar
99 Duxton Road, 6423 0939
This cuisine is known for Cajun and Creole regional favourites like gumbo – a meaty soup thick with seafood, chicken, sausage or okra; po’ boys – overstuffed French bread sandwiches; crawfish étouffée and doughnut-like beignets. Cajun cuisine, incidentally, is named for the French-speaking immigrants deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to the Acadiana region of Lousiana, US. Lousiana Creole cuisine, on the other hand, blends French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Native American and African influences with elements of Southern cuisine. And arguably, this city does them better than anyone else (though don’t say that to someone from Baton Rouge).
Already, at just after 6pm on a Wednesday night, the place exudes remarkable energy. That has to be down to the Life is Beautiful team – an eclectic mix of characters, many of whom seem to have known each other for years.
Instead of NOLA’s typically soupy or rice-based one-pot dishes, this menu is tailored to be shared, and to fit in with drinks and dancing. We especially love the pulled pork knuckle with crackling ($21) and the spicy gator and fennel boudin ($28). Then we demolish a whole catfish ($38) and see off a hearty pile of three-day-buttermilk-marinated fried chicken ($38). A special feast menu is in the pipeline for Tuesdays, just because Mardi Gras means “fat Tuesday”.
It’s been claimed that cocktails were actually invented in Louisiana during Prohibition, as drinkers devised ways to make moonshine more palatable. From Virginian bar manager Tyler Hudgens’ back-to-the-classics list of cocktails (all $18), we try a rye-based Sazerac, the Louisiana version of an old-fashioned; a delicious French 75; and then a girlier Ramos Gin Fizz.
Get here early for dinner to be sure of a seat; later, some of the tables are moved for dancing. Tonight there’s a special event, Tropicália, to channel the Brazilian anti-establishment artistic movement that arose in the sixties. DJ Ramesh plays Afro-beat, dance hall, swing, jazz, funk – “nothing too commercial”, says team member Alyssa Kokilah.
This authentic, vibey place well deserves its early success.
South American at Pisco
Resorts World Sentosa, The Forum, #01-231, 6795 4720
Explain it: The cuisine is as diverse as the countries occupying this enormous continent. On the western side, Chile, Peru and Venezuela were all influenced by the native Incas, the imposing Andes Mountains and colonising Europeans. Seafood is abundant, and apparent in ceviche, a raw dish of raw seafood typically marinated in lemon juice, while beef and lamb are equally popular. Staples include corn, potato and chilli. The national drink, pisco, is a distilled grape brandy made from the leftover fermented grapes from wine production, and Pisco Day is the fourth Sunday of July.
The llama wall murals, multicoloured cascading yarn (symbolising the weaving loom and Andean textiles), colourful chairs and light fittings are a welcoming sight. Live music from Thursday to Sunday adds to the fun and relaxed atmosphere, and staff help to settle the little ones quickly with crayons and colouring-in. There’s a kids’ meal ($15) of a chicken or salmon skewer, with rice, a drink and ice-cream; nachos ($11) and quesadillas ($9.50) will appeal to the younger ones, too.
Pisco Sour ($15) – pisco, lime juice and egg white, and Caprioska – a concoction of rum, sugar and lime wedges ($18), are authentic beverages that pair nicely with ceviche pulpo, octopus in an olive and caper sauce ($13), or ceviche langostino, prawns with coconut leche and banana ($13).
Other un-challenging snacks for lunch or an easy dinner are arepas venezolanas ($15), a Venezuelan corn flat-bread sandwich filled with spicy beef; and empanadas ($14), minced beef in corn dough parcels.
Los pinchos, a combination of meat or vegetable barbecue skewers (from $9) served dramatically in the centre of the table are the main event, ideal for sharing. And to finish, who can say no to churros ($9) and hot chocolate sauce? This is uncomplicated, unpretentious food perfect for gatherings of families and friends.
Lebanese food at Cedar Grill
63 Boat Quay, 6438 7322
This food has a diverse history, taking influences from Levantine, Palestinian, Egyptian, Syrian, Roman and even French cultures. Sumptuous and healthy, Lebanese dishes are typically baked, grilled or sautéed in olive oil, herbs, garlic and lemon and use sampling serves of mezze to arouse the dining senses with an array of colours, flavours, texture and aromas.
Under a lavishly draped tent overlooking the river at Boat Quay, this restaurant has a magical charm that fits the cuisine perfectly. Even on a Monday night, Cedar Grill is fairly busy, with most other tables reserved and a consistent stream of diners arriving all night. Mezze dish after mezze dish is delivered to our table, all beautifully presented and sweet-smelling; contenders for our favourite are the muhammara ($10), a spicy red-pepper-and-lemon dip with fluffy pita bread, tabbouleh ($14), finely chopped parsley, tomato, onion, lemon juice and olive oil, and gebnea haloumi ($12), deep-fried haloumi cheese.
We’ve only just begun to relax from this initial feast when a striking mixed grill kebab ($32) is presented, a combination of kofta, shish taouk, tikka kebab and lamb chops, all hanging from skewers over a platter of Arabic rice and grilled vegetables. This delicious lineup leaves no room for dessert, only a slurp of peppermint tea with honey ($7) and a puff on a watermelon and mint sheesha ($35).
Fantastic setting and great food – perfect for a special event.
Raw food at Afterglow
24 Keong Saik Road, 6224 8921
Not just another “eco-chic” fad, this vegetable-based diet has become increasingly popular with those keen on keeping up a healthy lifestyle. Along with a focus on fresh, uncooked ingredients comes a greater interest in the quality of farm produce, which in turn encourages greater support of local farming communities.
One of the latest additions to the quirky Keong Saik Road, this new café and lifestyle concept store promotes farm-to-table food that has undergone as little processing as possible. Half of the menu offers vegetarian and raw food, as well as many vegan options made with nut-cheese and nut-yoghurt, made fresh in-house in batches each week.
And never has a plant-based diet tasted this good. We couldn’t stop picking at the raw vegan nut “cheese” platter with crackers ($16) – exceedingly tasty and moreish. Another must-try is the smooth broccoli soup ($16), blended fresh rather than boiled to maintain maximum nutritional value. For mains, the deconstructed sushi bowl ($16) with seasoned pickles, shiitake mushrooms, avocado and miso dressing is delicious and great to share. Dessert doesn’t disappoint, either. Try the tiramisu with cashew cream ($10); we vouch it may even taste better than the real thing. You can also enjoy a variety of cold-pressed juices which are pressed daily – choose from spinach- or beetroot-based ($6-12).
For Caribbean food, try Lime House
2 Jiak Chuan Road, 6222 3130
For totally gluten-free food try Jonathans
63 Brighton Crescent , 9446 7263
For Hawaiian-Japanese barbecue, try Little Hiro
1-01 Kings Arcade, 559 Bukit Timah Road, 6466 3477
For Paleo food, try Caveman Food
#B1-130 Square 2, 10 Sinaran Drive, 9690 0822
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