SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - A slowing economy is not keeping food and beverage players from stepping up.
Some are opening their second, or even third eatery.
They are also venturing beyond their existing restaurant moulds to create new dining concepts.
Here are three to look out for.
Opens June 2017
Ceviche is a dish that may be found in many parts of the world, but at Tono Cevicheria, it's specifically Peruvian-style. ''We are not a Latin American restaurant,'' insists founder Daniel Chavez.
''All kinds of ceviche have minor differences. For Peru there's a simplicity and we use tiger's milk in the marination. Here in Singapore, the concept of a cevicheria is not so clear. But for me, it's a place where people can relax because it's fun and vibrant; there's ceviche and pisco sour plus a bit of salsa music to dance to,'' explains the chef, who also runs the Spanish restaurant OLA Cocina Del Mar.
Tono is a project that has been two years in the making, as Chef Chavez was waiting for the right elements to fall into place. For instance, he noticed that more and more diners were becoming very open to eating Peruvian food, and some regularly requested it at OLA.
So while Tono's menu is still in its planning stages, Chef Chavez says it will likely serve about four or five different kinds of ceviche, as well as other Peruvian classics such as rice dishes, soups and grilled meats.
''What we're trying to show is the basic Peruvian dishes, especially with our first menu. They're the kinds of dishes you'd need to try when you visit Peru, so we are not going to be unnecessarily overly-creative,'' he explains, adding that prices will be kept ''as friendly as possible''.
Although he is the founder of Tono, the person heading the kitchen will be Mexican chef Mario Malvaez, who spent a year training in Peru just to prepare for this job.
When asked why he is not heading the restaurant, Chef Chavez says he believes in one chef heading one restaurant. However, he believes Tono will be in good hands because ''anybody can cook Peruvian food''.
''Just because you're born in a country doesn't mean you're naturally gifted in that cuisine. One of the top Peruvian restaurants in London has an Indian head chef. I run a Spanish restaurant.
Everybody has the ability to do it, all you need is to be able to come up with good flavours.''
60 Robertson Quay, 01-04
When Michael Goodman found out about a vacant outlet at 60 Robertson Quay, he immediately knew he had to have it. He called his other two business partners, and they very quickly made a decision to take up the lease and open their third outlet.
So just four months later, they opened Summerlong - the third concept started by The Dandy Partnership, which also runs the Japanese-inspired small plates eatery Neon Pigeon, and the New Middle Eastern restaurant Fat Prince.
''For all our restaurants, we as a company focus on making sure you're getting something you can't get elsewhere. The F&B scene has enough of the same things so we try to bring something new to the table every time. It's not about who can make the best version of a dish, it's about being the only place to get a particular dish,'' explains Mr Goodman.
At Summerlong, their concept is ''a beachside vibe with Mediterranean soul'', which is ''a laidback experience in the middle of the city, especially if you don't want to go all the way to Sentosa'', he explains.
Heading the kitchen will be Justin Hammond, who also heads the kitchen at Neon Pigeon.
As Mr Goodman describes: ''The cuisine is Mediterranean-inspired, but it's not exactly Mediterranean. At our heart is simplicity, freshness, bright flavours, beautiful ingredients. We're not a Greek restaurant or Lebanese restaurant, we just take influences from everywhere because there are so many good flavours to be explored there.
One highlight of the menu is a Persian fried chicken (S$25) that comes with lemon, mint sauce, harrisa, and dukkah. There's also chargrilled octopus (S$19) with parsnip, garlic and honey, and Mediterranean smoked pork ribs (S$35) with a pomegranate glaze.
As for the ambience, Mr Goodman - who designed the space - says he hopes it will allow customers to forget where they are. ''That's one of the goals of a real experience. If we can get you to lose yourself for an hour or two, it's quite a magical thing, especially with the hectic lives we lead here in Singapore.''
STEAMROOM WITH THE PILLAR AND STONES
Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, 03-08
Open: 10am to 10pm, daily
Info: Call 6592-0571 or go to www.srps.space
Food, coffee, shopping and art. It is all in one space at SRPS - Steamroom with The Pillar and Stones - a new 5,000 sq ft multi-concept space at Orchard Central.
Though its name is quite a mouthful, each part is named for a different section - The Steamroom refers to the ''kaffatea'' room which specialises in Chinese teas, The Pillar refers to a 80-odd seater restaurant, while The Stones is 2,500 sq ft worth of retail and art-jamming space.
The kitchen at The Pillar is headed by local chef Trevor Paulo, but direction comes from executive chef Stephan Zoisl, who also runs the restaurant Chef's Table By Chef Stephan in Tras Street. The 36-year-old Austrian also runs occasional private dinners called Nutopia.
''We called it The Pillar because the food needs to be good at the core, like a pillar. There will be no cuisine restrictions like French, Italian, or Chinese. We're going to get seasonal ingredients from around the world, and serve what we believe is good but also quite comforting,'' explains the chef.
While the menu is expected to change with the seasons, for now, it features dishes like a Burrata Cheese Salad (S$15) with sundried tomatoes, rocket, crispy quinoa and olive oil caviar; 48-hour Braised Beef Cheeks (S$32) with heirloom carrots and green asparagus; and a Lobster Fregola Sarda Pasta (S$28) with crab chunks and an onsen egg.
SRPS is owned by The House of Weltanschauung, a company co-founded by local artist, Wong Lip Chin, who also designed the space. There will also be art-jamming sessions, workshops and masterclasses held regularly at The Stones.
According to Chef Zoisl, even though Orchard Central has gained a bit of a bad reputation for its low foot traffic and empty shop spaces, there's a reason the founders of SRPS wanted to open their outlet there.
''For them it's a long term idea,'' explains Chef Zoisl. ''They're very young and ambitious, and for them this is only the beginning. The idea is if we can make it here, we can make it anywhere.
So we're going against the stream, and there's a lot of work to do. But it's going to be interesting.''