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Lifestyle: Communal dining

Michelle Zhu
Michelle Zhu • 4 min read
Lifestyle: Communal dining
There is nothing like sitting down for a meal with loved ones. Check out these fine establishments. 
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There is nothing like sitting down for a meal with loved ones. Check out these fine establishments.

Joys of sharing
Spanish restaurant Dehesa has shifted its menu focus from the bold nose-to-tail concept — one that embraces eating all parts of an animal — since it opened in 2015. There are bolder flavours and more generous plates now but the restaurant has maintained its ethos of communal dining. A refreshed selection of Chef’s Specials is now available, offering both new creations and all-time favourites by chef-owner Jean-Philippe Patruno, whose hallmark Crispy Pig’s Head Dehesa Signature ($28++) is still available for the adventurous eater.

Offal-avoiders can now seek solace in less provocative, yet still-punchy ingredients such as charred peppers in the Pimientos De Padron ($14++), a no-frills, appetising starter with sea salt to complement the natural sweetness of the peppers. The Dehesa Octopus ($28++, pictured above) provides plenty of thrills, as the dish of grilled octopus and potato topped with thin sheets of lard is blow-torched in front of guests before it is served. A prime choice for the mains is the Ox Cheek, Oloroso Glazed ($36++) — slow-cooked cuts of fork-tender beef drizzled with a dense and slightly viscous sherry reduction and served with bone marrow on the side.

For a gentle introduction to offal eating, Crispy Tripe ($14) is ideal, or simply as a drink accompaniment. Generous slices of beef tripe are fried to a crisp while retaining a firm yet gelatinous centre; the dish is seasoned heavily with chillies and garlic to dispel any squeamishness about internal organs. And even if you are laying off alcohol, it is hard to resist the Gin Panna Cotta ($15++), a creamy booze-infused pudding, topped with a yummy mixture of berry compote, crumble and chopped walnuts, to give the meal a happy ending.

12 North Canal Road
Singapore 048825
Tel: 6221 7790
Opening hours
11.30am to 2.30pm (lunch)
5.30pm till late (dinner)
Closed on Sundays

Imaginative cuisine
Long-time friends and former colleagues Ace Tan and David Lee have joined forces to present a New Asian fine-dining concept through their first restaurant, Ards, an acronym for “Asia, Roots, Distinct, Singular”. The 40-seater establishment on Duxton Road aims to combine the warmth of Asian hospitality with centuries-old culinary techniques, ethnic influences and regionally sourced ingredients.

The chef-owner duo have certainly let their creativity run wild with their nightly 10-course tasting menu entitled Piquant Illustration ($138++ per person), which offers fun and quirky dishes that evoke both familiar and novel sentiments. A narrowed-down range can be found in alternative menus or à la carte selections such as the Origin menu, which is priced at $98++ for seven courses.

The Fragrance Osmanthus dish in both menus brings together appetising flavours with the mouth-feel of a chilled dessert through a combination of Hokkaido oyster, osmanthus jelly, frozen cream cheese and osmanthus sauce, while the Mix Tea Mantou and Ginseng Butter is an unconventional snack that features a homemade mantou infused with the flavours of genmaicha and accompanied by butter and honey as well as green tea crisps. But the uncontested winner, in our view, was no doubt Mum’s Chicken Soup, available in both the Origin and Piquant Illustration menus. Dig deep into this rich, comforting broth to discover bite-sized portions of braised fish maw, chicken and vegetable floss and chicken-jus-infused winter melon — every spoonful is a revelation and more delightful than the last.

76 Duxton Road, Singapore 089535
Tel: 6913 7258
Opening hours
Tuesday to Friday: Noon to 2.30pm
Monday to Saturday: 6pm to 11pm
Closed on Sundays

Making an impact
There is no predicting what you might find on your table at BAM!, which recently shed its à la carte menu in its transformation into a full-fledged, omakase-only dining outlet, where executive chef Pepe Moncayo gets to call the shots. Monyaco, who is said to have introduced the concept of “Modern Shudo” (sake appreciation through food) to Singapore after meeting the restaurant’s co-owners, has designed a range of omakase menus for every breed of diner, including vegetarians, dessert fanatics and even happy hour-goers, who get to enjoy a Sake-Tapas Tastings menu every Monday from 6pm to 8pm.

True to the chef’s hallmark style of fusing sake appreciation with Spanish cuisine, each of the degustation menus (starting from $98++ for four courses) comes with the option of sake pairing led by certified sommeliers, beginning from an additional $58++ for the four-course menu. From Junmai Ginjo-shu to Honjozo-shu, a variety of sake is served up in wine glasses and lends a heady dose of oomph to each dish, which often brims with a mix of Chinese-Japanese influences and cooking techniques, enhanced with ingredients unique to Spain.

38 Tras Street, Singapore 078977
Tel: 6226 0500
Opening hours
Tuesday to Friday: Noon to 2pm
Monday to Thursday: 6pm to 10.30pm
Friday to Saturday: 6pm to 11.30pm
Closed on Sundays

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