This hip 32-seat River Valley gastrobar is part-owned by Teng Ei Liang, the chef behind the magical chocolate house of Truffs – so we entered the bright wood-and-brick space with high expectations.
The first surprise is that there are only three desserts on the clipboard menu, of which the you tiao (deep-fried doughstick) churros ($10) sticks out. The four toasted dry, chewy halves are stacked on a round sushi board laid with pretty Five & Dime paper. Sadly, we needed the help of the smooth vanilla-bean ice cream and deep dips of warm chocolate fudge to get it down. The ice cream sundae ($12), which buries caramelised, deep-fried bananas under our choice of honey and fig ice cream is a much more redeeming option.
Of the main courses, the fish and chips ($24) is one of the better versions in town – petite but thick strips of big-flaked Japanese sutchi (shark catfish) held by spongy batter with a crisp dry shell, and rounded off with a not-so-tart home-made tartar sauce. The rest of the menu, however, falls disappointingly short – the humdrum Wagyu pasta ($24) and muted Cajun chicken (dinner only, $22) both call to mind hawker-stall approximations of Western dishes, down to the plating. We loved chef Andy Ang at The Naked Finn pop-up, and can’t understand why he’s shelving his clean, seafood-savvy Japanese techniques.
Familiarity arrives too little, too late. The Gin & Jade ($18) – a lychee liqueur, lemon juice, gin and pandan syrup creation – has a sweet, nostalgic quality that lingers on the back of the tongue.
There’s no question that this stylish eatery will be full on most nights – there’s no place quite as well presented in the area. But given the calibre of the team behind it, we’d hoped for more. Celine Asril
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