Testing all the new restaurants in Singapore means we have a lot on our plates (literally). So, after a year of chomping, chewing and slurping, it only seems fair for us to share 2015’s best bites with you. By TAN MIN YAN
Photography of Truffle Lobster Roll, Buta Kakuni & Pappardelle Zaphs Zhang Art Direction Shan
TRUFFLE LOBSTER ROLL, $68 A SET Pince & Pints (32-33 Duxton Road, tel: 6225-7558, www.pinceandpints.com)
How do you make a lobster roll that already packs the flesh of a whole lobster and its claws even more luxurious? By sprucing it up with truffles, of course. But no pedestrian truffle oil is used here. Instead, Pince & Pints first sears the lobster meat in butter and an in-house truffle sauce, sandwiches it between pillowy-soft buttered buns, then tops it off with chives, truffle caviar and Italian summer truffles. Yes, this is true decadence, people.
BUTA KAKUNI, $18 Kakure at Ki-sho (Level 2 Chateau TCC, 29 Scotts Road, tel: 6733-5251, www.scotts29.com
It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that this shoyu-braised Kagoshima pork belly is one of the best things we’ve eaten – ever. The pork is sweet and firm, the layer of fat is a melt-in-your-mouth dream, while a dab of mustard on the side helps cut through the richness of the dish and adds a hint of heat. We’ve got to thank the Japanese for elevating something so simple into such a sublime dish.
PAPPARDELLE WITH PORK CHEEK AND RED WINE SAUCE, $26 Osteria Art (#01-01, 55 Market Street, tel: 6877-6933, www.osteriaart.com)
Sheets of perfectly al dente pasta are mixed with a richly flavoursome braised pork cheek and red wine sauce, pieces of pork cheek and strips of crispy bacon. For a dish that looks so ordinary, it packs such surprising depth and quality that it’s our must-order on every visit.
MAINE LOBSTER AND CHICKEN POT ROAST, $56 The Disgruntled Chef at The Club (28 Ann Siang Road, tel: 6808-2184, www.disgruntledchef.com)
The Disgruntled Chef’s take on the classic surf and turf is unabashed Instagram-bait material: a plump, grilled Maine lobster paired with pot-roasted chicken, doused in porcini sauce and crowned with a couple of fried quail’s eggs. And the dish is more than just eye candy; with all its warm, earthy flavours, it is deeply delicious, which is just how comfort food should be.
SALT “N” PEPPER TRIPE, $10 5th Quarter (39 Syed Alwi Road, tel: 6291-1936, www.5thquarter.com.sg)
A sure-fire way to get anyone on board with eating oh-so-not-sexy-sounding tripe: Give it the deep-fry treatment – which 5th Quarter does with plenty of finesse. The ox tripe is first done sous vide and flash-fried, then finished with a sprinkle of salt and Sichuan pepper. The end product: a wonderfully crunchy, chewy and insanely addictive snack that you will not want to stop munching on. We know – we tried.
COAL-BAKED OMELETTE WITH SMOKED HADDOCK, TARRAGON & GRAIN MUSTARD MORNAY, $24 Open Farm Community (130E Minden Road, tel: 6471-0306, www.openfarmcommunity.com)
Who would have thought an innocuous-looking starter would be the scene-stealer on a menu? This coal-baked omelette packs a generous portion of smoked haddock and tarragon, and swathes it in a thick, luscious mustard mornay sauce. It’s rich, comforting and the perfect brunch nourishment.
GRILLED IBERICO PORK JOWL, PRUNES & CAULIFLOWER, $34 Maggie Joan’s (#01-01, 110 Amoy Street, tel: 6221-5564, www.facebook.com/maggiejoanssingapore)
A slab of iberico pork jowl is first brined and done sous vide for 12 hours, then grilled in a charcoal oven until the meat is fork-tender and smoky-sweet. It’s delicious on its own, but made even better by an excellent supporting cast of marinated prunes, pickled cauliflower, creamy-smooth cauliflower puree and fragrant fried curry leaves.
CRISPY NORI WRAPPED SALMON, $29 Raven Restaurant & Bar (#B1-01/02 Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street, tel: 8299-8736, www.raven.sg)
This proves that you can do style and substance at the same time. The Crispy Nori Wrapped Salmon not only paints a pretty picture with panko-crusted, nori-wrapped salmon rolls plated with a side of fennel salad and drizzled with ponzu sago, but also cleverly employs textures and flavours by melding sweet, savoury and umami, and contrasting the crunchy panko with the tender salmon.