SAME GOOD FOOD IN NEW LOCATION
When people stress the importance of location, location, location for a home or place of business, they are not just recycling a well-worn cliche.
This is especially true for restaurants. I enjoyed the food very much at 5th Quarter, a restaurant in the Vagabond Hotel in Syed Alwi Road. Chef Drew Nocente, 35, used offal and off-cuts in delicious ways.
But the location felt wrong. The gold rhinos in the lobby, the gold trees in the cavernous restaurant, the elephant, tied up with ropes and jutting from a wall, were a bit overwrought and did not gel with the rather more down-to-earth food.
He has moved to Purvis Street and his new restaurant is called Salted & Hung. The rustic decor and the calm of the place is much more suited to his food.
You cannot go wrong with the Chef Selection Of 5 Types Of Charcuterie ($28). The selection changes and my platter has coppa, prosciutto, red wine salami, culatello and a disk of head cheese. The salami and head cheese stand out and so do the thick and juicy cucumber pickles.
Another dish I enjoyed in the old place is crisp strips of Tripe ($15). It is still as good, sprinkled with just enough Sichuan pepper to make the lips and tongue tingle without overwhelming the palate.
But the chef has new dishes too and one of them is Crab ($23), a cool and light salad of crabmeat mixed with crunchy apple and topped with lobes of sweet uni, piled up between a dam made with fat asparagus spears. It is delicate and delightful and a contrast to the more hearty offerings on the menu.
Octopus ($28), the tentacles charred in parts, is draped with thin slices of raw wagyu and this surf-and-turf dish, with its contrasting textures, is another winner.
Although Peanut Butter Tim Tams ($16) is a great dessert, what I really want to cap off the meal is the chef's Anzac biscuits with bacon and salted caramel.
It arrives. I crunch. I swoon. I vow to return.
WHERE: Salted & Hung, 12 Purvis Street MRT: Esplanade TEL: 6358-3130 OPEN: Noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm (Monday to Friday), 6 to 10.30pm (Saturday), closed on Sunday INFO: www.facebook.com/SaltedandHung
BERRY-LICIOUS KYUSHU PANCAKES
Driving past Novena Regency one night, I am startled to find that Kyushu Pancake Cafe is relatively empty. I have been wanting to try its wares since reading about its seven-grain pancakes.
So I make tracks there another day and am not disappointed. No, the pancakes are not fluffy, they are better than that go-to description for pancakes.
It is hard to find a piece of Berry-Licious Pancake ($16.90, photo) not covered in fruit sauce, berry compote, ice cream or whipped cream, but when I do, I marvel at the nutty flavour. It is airy yet pleasantly chewy in a way that makes me think I am not eating empty calories.
Karaage Chicken Waffle ($19) boasts a slab of boneless fried chicken. I have no complaints about the crunchy coating that encases the meat and keeps it juicy. The little pot of white wine honey, a house speciality, is unexpectedly good because sweet and tart play off each other so well. I cannot say the same of the ramekin of unidentifiable creamy white sauce, which has no discernible flavour. Ignore it and just enjoy the chicken.
WHERE: Kyushu Pancake Cafe, 275 Thomson Road, Novena Regency, 01-08 MRT: Novena TEL: 6352-6265 OPEN: 11am to 9pm daily, last order at 8.30pm INFO: www.kyushu-pancake.sg
HEALTHY YET SATISFYING
Taking up an entire floor in a mall in French Road is Mahota Commune, a multi-concept wellness wonderland where people can eat, have a coffee, shop for organic groceries and attend a meditation class, among other things.
It is all very earnest and New Age, but the Italian-style food at Mahota Kitchen, featuring vegetables grown in its own organic farm in Shanghai, is worth the trip there.
On a recent visit, the Five Veg pizza ($22.80, photo) disappears quickly despite the thin, biscuity crust. I prefer a more bread-like one.
The juicy eggplant, red bell pepper, zucchini, onion are a pleasure to eat. Arugula leaves sprinkled on top have a real peppery bite, nothing like the insipid rocket leaves restaurants usually use.
Meatball Penne ($25.80) is also satisfying. The beef is not ground too fine or packed too tightly and the tomato sauce is robust and rib-sticking.
A handful of chickpeas in the sauce is a good surprise.
Because everything seems so healthy, splurge on dessert and order Crispy Yam & Pumpkin Nuggets ($4.80). Mashed-up yam and pumpkin are wrapped with housemade beancurd skin coloured black with charcoal. The morsels are hot, crisp and impossible to resist.
WHERE: Mahota Kitchen, 809 French Road, Kitchener Complex, level 3 MRT: Lavender TEL: 6295-8809 OPEN: 11am to 10pm (weekdays), 10am to 10pm (weekends) INFO: www.mahota.sg
CURRY WURST WITH PLENTY OF BITE
German curry wurst is a wonderful hangover cure, but it tastes very good when stone-cold sober too.
I see it on the menu at Huber's Bistro in Dempsey Road and cannot resist ordering it.
The butchery's "Berliner" Curry Wurst ($9.90, photo) features a sausage filled with coarsely and finely ground pork. It snaps back when you take a bite and the two textures of pork give the sausage a lot of bite.
Even better is the curry ketchup slathered over the sausage, a strange hybrid that is neither curry nor ketchup but which is delicious. A pile of golden fries rounds off the meal and I drag them through the curry ketchup with glee.
You do not have to be wasted to enjoy a good curry wurst.
WHERE: Huber's Bistro, 22 Dempsey Road MRT: Orchard TEL: 6737-1488 OPEN: 11am to 10pm (Tuesday to Friday), 9.30am to 10pm (Saturday and Sunday), last order at 9.30pm, closed on Monday INFO: www.hubers.com.sg