FOOD FOR THOUGHT AT KAUSMO
As many food and beverage outlets are making the effort to reduce waste, it is encouraging to see a restaurant like Kausmo going a step further- by elevating and repurposing "ugly food" into a tasty meal.
The cosy 16-seat restaurant by the Les Amis Group is helmed by co-founders Lisa Tang, 24, and Kuah Chew Shian. They turn overstocked, over-ripened, and oddly shaped and sized into a six-course dinner menu ($75++, add $20 for kombucha tasting).
The duo go direct to suppliers who may discard baby radishes that are deemed "too big" or Brussels sprouts that are more oval than nicely round. Such produce, they say, are unlikely to make it to the supermarkets, so it is up to chef Tang to work her magic.
Like in nose-to-tail concepts, an ingredient is used in as many ways possible. For example, the belly of local trevally is used for making snacks, and its roe is smoked and incorporated into butter. Its flesh is used to whip up a comforting bowl of congee, while the fish fats and bones go into making broth.
The menu is largely based on seasonal ingredients or produce that the duo can get their hands on, so diners can always look out for surprises.
For my main, I have a chipotle-berry glazed wagyu beef d-rump with vegetable jus and smoked pumpkin. While the cut of beef is less popular, the meat is tender and packed with flavour.
Dessert is a crowd-pleasing banana cake with marigold and Mexican tarragon. Some small crisp pieces of cake turn out to be repurposed from a previous failed baking attempt. What a good idea.
Follow the restaurant on Instagram (@kausmosg), where the owners share recipes and cooking tips. Also , look out for its pop-up fruit market on Wednesdays and buy house-made goodies such as apple butter sauce, Kausmo hot sauce and mushroom pate.
WHERE: 03-07 Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road
OPEN: Two seatings at 6.30 and 8.30pm, closed on Mondays and alternate Sundays
Dashi (Japanese soup stock) is the star at MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya. The one-month-old restaurant is by Japanese katsuobushi (dried bonito) wholesaler Marusaya, which also runs Dashi Master Marusaya and Ten Sushi & Bar - both at Robertson Quay.
The brand takes pride in its Satsuma hongare-honbushi, which is made from skipjack tuna that is dried and fermented for more than two years. This draws out almost all the moisture and leaves a concentrated umami flavour. The aged bonito is cooked with Rishiri kelp for more than an hour to produce a delicious dashi.
This dashi is used as the base for the restaurant's dishes such as shabu shabu, toban yaki (hot plate), and donabe (claypot).
Lunch sets start at $29++ for US Black Angus Beef shabu shabu and Hokkaido pork loin shabu shabu. They include chawanmushi, miso soup, and condiments to complement the meats and rice. Seafood lovers can go for the Prawn, Scallop & Oyster Toban Yaki set ($32++), where the ingredients are seasoned with shoyu, sake, mirin and yuzu juice.
MAI also offers omakase lunches from $68++ and dinners from $88++.
WHERE: MAI by Dashi Master Marusaya, 46 Bukit Pasoh Road
MRT: Outram Park
OPEN: Noon to 3pm, 6 to 11pm, Mondays to Saturdays, closed on Sundays
LEVEL33 LEVELS UP
I first tried LeVeL33's executive chef ArChan Chan's food at a recent chef collaboration series, and it left me wanting more. So I head to LeVeL33, which has reopened after a six-week revamp.
The microbrewery-restaurant has carved out three spaces - LeVeL33 Dining Room, LeVeL33 Social with a live oyster counter, and Terrace with stunning views of the bay area.
While the latter two spaces are more casual, buzzy sections for drinking, The Dining Room is where you can savour chef Chan's cuisine that incorporates beer-brewing elements.
Prices start from $68++ for a two-course meal. I suggest starting with appetisers such as lager-cured kingfish sashimi, and fresh ricotta with house-smoked tomatoes.
Mains highlights include aged duck breast glazed with LeVeL33's IPA and orange juice, and served with grilled endives and duck jus; and wagyu tri-tip with burnt eggplant puree, veal and stout jus.
I'm not too big a fan of the sheep milk yogurt, although the dragon fruit granita and pomelo is good as a palate cleanser. Save space for the spent grain chocolate tart ($15) with a rich stout ganache and strawberry jam.
WHERE: 33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, 8 Marina Boulevard
OPEN: 11.30am to midnight (Mondays to Thursdays), 11.30 to 2am (Fridays), noon to 2am (Saturdays), noon to midnight (Sundays)
UNAGI MEETS TENDON
Two Japanese brands must have read my mind to come up with this collaboration. At The Central in Clarke Quay, unagi specialist Man Man Unagi and tendon restaurant chain Tendon Kohaku have opened next to each other.
Both brands operate independently so you cannot order across the restaurants. However, they will each present special collaborative dishes.
Tendon Kohaku offers a kaisen tendon ($26.50++), which sees fresh cubes of raw fish paired with tempura on Japanese rice. The kaisen don recipe is by chef Teppei Yamashita of Man Man Unagi, who also runs his famous Teppei restaurant and Teppei Syokudo chain.
Other exclusive items include jumbo unagi tendon ($29++), crispy unagi dragon roll ($9++), and premium chawanmushi with unagi and ikura ($6.50++).
Over at Man Man Unagi, its special dish is the Kaisen x Hitsumabushi ($32.50++), with grilled unagi and cubed raw fish served on Japanese rice. Have it with wasabi and green onions, or mix the ingredients with soup.
WHERE: B1-52/53 Clarke Quay Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street
MRT: Clarke Quay
OPEN: 11.30am to 4pm, 5 to 10pm daily