Ready, get set, eat - new restaurant openings

Several restaurants will open in the next few months, offering quality food at affordable prices

Despite talk of the economic slowdown and decrease in consumer spending, the first quarter of the year has already seen plenty of new restaurants entering the scene.

Notable ones include The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar by French celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Como Dempsey, Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill at Clarke Quay by cooking doyenne Violet Oon, as well as others attracting long queues such as Teppanyaki Hamburg Nihonbashi Keisuke Bettei - specialising in Japanese hamburg - in Peck Seah Street.

There have also been closures, such as Kite restaurant at Craig Road; Hive by Wala Wala at Holland Village; and Kki Sweets at the School of the Arts, which all closed in January.

But the number of restaurant openings will be picking up pace in the coming months.

Casual is the keyword for restaurateurs, who say that diners prefer buzzy restaurants offering quality food at affordable prices.

Mr Beppe de Vito, 44, founder of the ilLido Group of restaurants, says: "The restaurant business this year is a continuation of last year's, perhaps just slower.

"Customers will be even savvier with their spending, so operators will stay conservative with their prices or they'll choose to combine high-quality food with approachable prices to create value for customers."

Next month, he will open Italian restaurant Amo at 33 HongKong Street. The menu focuses on pizza and large sharing plates.

Other restaurants under the group include &Sons in Cross Street, Osteria Art in Market Street and Southbridge at Boat Quay.

And just two doors down from Amo, another Italian restaurant, Bottega, is also in the works. It is also likely to open next month.

The first Bottega restaurant, a gastrobar in Tanjong Katong Road also sells Italian groceries.

Restaurateur Loh Lik Peng of the Unlisted Collection group adds two more restaurants to his empire of food and beverage establishments.

Nouri in Amoy Street - slated to open this month - will be helmed by chef Ivan Brehm, formerly of the one-Michelin-starred The Kitchen at Bacchanalia in HongKong Street.

Mr Loh, 44, has also re-opened Restaurant Ember at Keong Saik Road, a tie-up with Australian chef John-Paul Fiechtner and sommelier Sally Humble of the nowdefunct Thirteen Duxton Hill restaurant. It is now called Bistro November and will run until November.

Other restaurants under the group include Salted And Hung in Purvis Street, Cheek By Jowl in Boon Tat Street and The Market Grill in Telok Ayer Street.

Another opening to look forward to is Yardbird Southern Table & Bar at Marina Bay Sands. It serves Southern food from the United States and is slated to open the first half of this year.

Other upcoming ventures that are still under wraps feature cuisines from modern Singaporean to Peruvian.

Business owners such as Mr Dylan Ong, 30, of the soon-to- open The Masses in Beach Road, is prudent in the current dining landscape.

He says: "Everything has to be planned strategically - from location to rental. While people like to see new trends in the market, we need to remember that price is a big factor. The Masses has to cater to that."

•Follow Eunice Quek on Twitter @STEuniceQ


The Masses


Saveur's founder Dylan Ong is opening a new restaurant called The Masses in Beach Road. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Where: 85 Beach Road

Opening date: April 15

Open: Noon to 9.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), noon to 9pm (Sundays)

Info: www.facebook.com/themassessg

He may no longer own the Saveur chain of restaurants, but that has not stopped Mr Dylan Ong, 30, from sticking to his mission of serving affordable food.

The casual 45-seat restaurant called The Masses features a "contemporary, happy menu" that uses seasonal produce, housemade ingredients such as pickled lotus root and fruit enzyme for dessert items.

Starters include chicken collagen veloute ($8); burrata with pickled Japanese daikon, basil oil and wholemeal chips ($14); and char-grilled corn ($7), with parmesan, chipotle aioli and caramel popcorn.

For mains, options include duck leg confit ($12.90); Duroc pork loin ($15), with truffle scrambled egg, plums and chicharron; and US Black Angus striploin ($22.90), with potato mille feuille and organic watercress salad .

Dessert offerings include deep-fried camembert ($8.90), with yogurt ice cream, gula melaka granola and fruit enzyme; housemade banana cake with rum and raisin ice cream ($9.90); and old-school ice pops ($6 each) made with fermented juice and lavender honey.

Classic cocktails such as whisky sours and cosmopolitans are priced between $12 and $15 each.

Mr Ong picked the location in Beach Road as he observes that there are not many Western food options along Liang Seah Street. The area is also frequented by young diners.

On offering reasonable prices, he adds: "Singapore is considered the most expensive country in the world. But does that mean that the food has to be expensive too?

"As the name suggests, we want to cater to the masses."


Deliciae Hospitality Management


Deliciae hospitality management. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Where: Robinsons The Heeren, 260 Orchard Road

Opening date: Second week of next month

Info: www.dhm.com.sg

Get the best of four worlds at Robinsons The Heeren, as Deliciae Hospitality Management brings three of its concepts - L'Entrecote The Steak & Fries Bistro, Sabio Tapas Bar and &Made Burger Bistro - to join Angela May Food Chapters restaurant at the mall.

Diners can order across the four concepts at the outdoor duplex.

This is also a new chapter for Thai-American television personality and chef May, 41, who will introduce a new menu focusing on "healthy Asian classics".

She will also use locally farmed herbs and vegetables as well as sustainable seafood.

One of her new dishes is truffled Asian dumplings, with a tofu and oyster mushroom filling, served with water chestnuts, coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves.

The foodie cluster also marks the return of &Made Burger Bistro, which first opened in 2012 at Pacific Plaza, followed by Quayside Isle.

Deliciae's founder Olivier Bendel, 46, is also in talks with the Robinsons Group to take the same model to different locations in Asia and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, it is business as usual at the group's other restaurants, including Forlino at One Fullerton and Sabio by the Sea at Quayside Isle.

While plenty of local and international chefs are opening restaurants in Singapore, Mr Bendel believes things will slow down soon.

He says: "Singaporeans are not as interested in 'flashy' concepts. They are now looking for variety and value and casual spaces offering high value-for-money classics. That's the direction for the scene this year."


Amo  


Amo. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Where: 33 HongKong Street

Opening date: Late next month

Open: Noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), 6 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays


Mr Beppe de Vito. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Call it a labour of love. The 90-seat restaurant Amo - short for "Amore" (love in Italian) - has been in the works for three years, says Mr Beppe de Vito, 44, founder of the ilLido Group of restaurants.

The Italian restaurant's highlight is its pizza.

"There's a whole science behind making really good pizza - that is not emphasised by many today - which we have developed and want to bring to the table," he says.

Besides sending two Italian chefs for pizza-training in Italy, he spent the past two years growing the mother yeast to create the "perfect" pizza dough.

Amo took shape even before he opened Aura restaurant at the National Gallery Singapore.

Expect classic pizzas such as Romana ($28++), with mozzarella, anchovies, capers as well as tomatoes imported from Mount Vesuvius in Campania, Italy.

Other options include friarielli (or broccoli rabe), pancetta, pumpkin and smoked mozzarella ($28++); and bone marrow, pesto, anchovy and salsa verde ($29++).

Main courses that are good for sharing include spaghettoni with whole Boston lobster and tarragon ($78++); grilled octopus with friggitelli peppers and Calabrian chilli vinaigrette ($35++); and butter-roasted whole chicken with grilled corn custard ($58++).

His other ventures in the future will be casual, says Mr de Vito, who hopes to open Mediterranean- or Mexican-influenced restaurants.

On how Amo fits in with the current dining landscape, he says: "It's what people want - a casual joint that allows customers to relax and have fun while having a real culinary experience with top-notch food."


63


Westholme wagyu “chef’s cut” steak. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Where: 04-09/04-K1 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road

Open: 9am to 9.30pm (last order) daily

Info: www.facebook.com/63Paragon

Three years after opening 63Celsius restaurant at Asia Square, owner Joseph Wong has branched out into Orchard Road, with a sister outlet called 63 at Paragon mall. Mr Wong, 50, who opened the now-defunct tapas bar Foodbar DaDa at Robertson Quay, says this second outlet caters to loyal diners who asked for a branch of the restaurant in town.

The laid-back bistro-style eatery seats 40 diners and has an external bar counter for drinks and coffee, with beans from Allpress Espresso in Auckland, New Zealand.

In contrast, the Asia Square outlet is a bigger restaurant and post-work watering hole for professionals in the Central Business District. The menu has a variety of small-plate options to go with the wide selection of drinks.

At 63, the menu also features hearty mains. There is a section dedicated to beef dishes such as Toriyama A5 chuck roll ($48), with baby gem lettuce, soya, yuzu and wasabi; and Westholme wagyu "chef's cut" steak ($33) with beef jus, cauliflower and horseradish.

Other dishes include Spanish Duroc pork chop ($28); prawn and oysters linguine ($25) tossed with kombu, chilli and lemon and topped with fried egg; and tuna tartare ($20 or $10 as a side dish).

A small selection of brunch items (9am to 4pm daily) include 63French Toast ($15); 63Breakfast ($20), with wagyu sausage, mushrooms, eggs, bacon and brioche; and scrambled eggs on truffled toast ($20) with mushrooms.

With this second venture, he hopes to keep prices friendly, but stresses that the food and beverage scene "isn't about a blind price war with no focus on value and quality".

Noting that there are other cafes in the mall such as PS Cafe and Greyhound Cafe, he says: "Our food is not just 'cafe food'. Plus, the menu is different from the Asia Square outlet, so that those who dine at both branches won't be eating the same thing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline 'New eats'. Print Edition | Subscribe