Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, these new restaurants are braving the odds and throwing light on local flavours and produce. We round up three of the best and brightest.
Despite Allium’s low-key opening late last year—their first meal service was on 20 December 2019—and the unfortunate pause and restrictions the ongoing COVID-19 situation has placed on their operations, husband-wife duo helming the restaurant Chefs Dillon Ng and Lusiana Hendrika have been creating quite the buzz among discerning local foodies. If the name of the former seems to strike a bell, Ng was the previous chef behind GastroSmiths and The Humble Loaf.
The 16-seater Allium is tucked in a nondescript corner of the quiet Kensington Square and this latest venture of Ng and Hendrika sees the couple taking an environmentally conscious focus in their food. Their belief in cooking and eating sustainably means Allium serves up an evolving menu that features the best of sustainably and ethically sourced seasonal ingredients, often from local farms and producers. There’s a commitment to create as little waste as possible, which means an ingredient is fully utilised over various courses. While their dishes employ modern techniques and tap on international influences, there’s an unmistakable local thread that ties their dishes together. The prix fixe lunch and nine-course dinner menus change monthly.
From its name laut, which means “sea” in Bahasa Melayu, one can easily deduce that this months-old cocktail bar and restaurant on Stanley Street is heavily nautical inspired. For founders Frank Shen and Leon Tan, laut is an ode to the South East Asian’s region’s sea-faring heritage and the natural richness of her seas. Both the cocktail and food menus are influenced by seafood and Straits Chinese cooking. Produce and ingredients are sourced locally, wherever possible: seafood is hand-picked from Ah Hua Kelong, other ingredients and spices are brought in fresh from nearby wet markets and a local spice maker; and cocktail spirits are made by Compendium, a local distillery and meadery, with an emphasis on local flavours.
A concise food menu feature playful takes on local dishes. The Oyster Eggs of steam egg custard and poached local oysters is a refined rendition of orh luak, oyster omelette, while the deep fried frog legs coated with cereal crumbs and curry leaves takes a cue from the zichar favourite cereal prawns. Other dishes of note include the Squid Gado, seared whole squid with gado gado peanut sauce; and the Prawn Raja, where plump perfectly-charred King prawns top a mound of risotto-like simmered rice studded with century eggs and petai, and flavoured with a melange of Asian herbs. For drinks, order up the appetising Grass, comprising Rojak Gin, ginger flower, pickle brine, three-grass kombucha (wheatgrass, lemongrass and pandan) and rice foam; or a pint of laut’s collaboration beer with Pink Blossom Brewery, the Lemongrass Bentong Ginger Pale Ale.
From the kitchens of 1 Michelin star Restaurant Labyrinth, comes Miss Vanda, chef LG Han’s take on casual Singaporean street food. According to Han, “Miss Vanda by Labyrinth (a play on the name of SG’s national flower) was originally conceptualised to provide a consistent level of quality Singaporean street food across all dishes, located under one roof as an expansion of Restaurant Labyrinth, with a great edgy ambience. But given the current crisis, we have decided to launch it online to feed everyone from the comforts of your home.”
From Miss Vanda’s starting menu, diners can enjoy dishes such as Labyrinth’s now signature Ang Moh Chicken Rice, the recipe of which was left to Han by his late grandmother; the rich Laksa chockfull with local green lipped mussels stuffed with homemade fish paste, crab meat dumpling and grilled Argentinean red prawns; and Deep-fried Boneless Har Cheong (prawn paste) Chicken Wings. Don’t forget to order the traditional Hainanese style Kaya made with fresh coconut milk from the market and local free range eggs and pandan leaves.