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Palate pleasers

Michelle Zhu
Michelle Zhu • 6 min read
Palate pleasers
At a loss as to where to eat around the city area? Here are three places to try.
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At a loss as to where to eat around the city area? Here are three places to try.

Committed to the cult

Gluten-and lactose-intolerant foodies are in for a treat with Open Door Policy’s revamped 100% gluten-free and dairy-free (GFDF) menu, which features 15 new dishes whipped up by assistant head chef Freddy Ang under the direction of executive chef Ryan Clift. From arugula to pea shoots and Russian kale, many of the herbs and vegetables used are grown and harvested daily in the quaint neighbourhood bistro’s garden, which takes the farm-to-table concept to its most literal interpretation possible.

Despite the wholesome inclusion of nutrient- and fibre-rich ingredients, by no means do Chef Ang’s creations make for a waist-friendly meals. While the menu’s items abide strictly by the rules of the GFDF movement — so much that the restaurant’s owners have replaced much of the kitchen’s equipment to avoid contamination — the chef is consciously generous on flavour to compensate for the absence of trigger foods.

For starters, the Watercress Soup ($18++) exudes decadence with its velvety bisque-like texture and pops of wolfberries to sweeten the deal. It is served alongside paper-thin slices of gluten-free fried bread. Meat lovers will find themselves instantly drawn to the Vitel Toné ($25++), a summertime antipasto with thinly sliced sous vide veal loin, homemade tuna mayo, pickled purple cabbage and crispy green kale served atop GFDF fried bread boats. The Roasted Pork Rack ($38++) is a sure-fire choice marinated in five spices and accompanied by sweetand- spicy pineapple sauce, as well as a side of baked purple sweet potatoes and blanched broccolini tossed in oil and garlic. Such flavour overload washes down especially well with a refreshing Blackberry & Rose Bellini ($20++), or any of the restaurant’s other expertly crafted cocktails among its exhaustive selection of beverages such as juices, coffees, mocktails and teas.

Open Door Policy
19 Yong Siak Street
Tel: 6221 9307
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday
(lunch: Noon to11pm)
Friday (noon to midnight)
Saturday (lunch: 11am to 4pm,
dinner: 6pm to midnight)
Sunday (lunch: 11am to 4pm,
dinner: 6pm to 11pm)

Change of seasons
Zafferano head chef Marco Guccio pays tribute to summer with a kaleidoscope of imported seasonal ingredients from both land and sea in the restaurant and lounge’s new Summer menu. Marrying tradition and innovation, the dishes are inspired by Guccio’s memories of growing up exposed to the influences of both Northern and Southern Italy, given his family’s roots in Sicily and Calabria as well as his upbringing in Milan.

Sicily is a clear favourite among the regions referenced in the establishment’s new offerings. Under the Antipasti section is a refreshing ceviche made with raw red prawns from Mazara del Vallo ($32++), as well as Italian sardines prepared in traditional Sicilian beccafico style ($26++): deboned, stuffed, rolled and baked before being presented on a bed of orange and fennel salad with pomegranate. Another traditional favourite is the Calamarata pasta tossed with Sicilian pesto, paired with jumbo prawn and mint ($36++), where the chef has gone the extra mile to blend tomatoes into the pesto base as tribute to the region’s love of the vegetable.

Squid ink super fino Carnaroli Acquerello risotto served with sautéed calamari and fava bean purée ($32++) is no doubt a star menu selection. The highly sought-after Carnaroli variety of rice is grown on the famed Acquerello farm in Vercelli, Piedmont. The grains are aged for at least a year and gently processed to produce a firm al dente consistency and an exceptionally creamy texture when cooked.

The true magic lies, however, in chef Guccio’s uncanny ability to turn simple and sometimes even widely reviled ingredients into masterpieces in their own right. The cold seasonal green pea soup — available only as part of Zafferano’s five-course chef’s menu ($128++) until September — perfectly epitomises such a talent and will surely remove any preconceptions about the vegetable. A blend of fresh Italian green peas, extra virgin oil and salt is served at room temperature atop a bed of whole blanched peas, adorned with molten stracciatella heart of burrata cheese and sprinkles of trout roe. This soup dish should not be stirred, but is best eaten like a cake to be savoured in all its deliciously dense and multi-layered glory.

10 Collyer Quay Level 43,
Ocean Financial Centre
Tel: 6509 1488
Opening hours: Monday to Friday
(lunch: 11.30am to 3pm)
Monday to Wednesday
(dinner: 5.30pm to 11.45pm)
Thursday to Friday
(dinner: 5.30pm to 1am)
(dinner: 6.30pm to 1am)
Closed on Sundays

Ode to Catalonia
Hailing from the plains of Spain is Restaurant Gaig (pronounced “gatch”) — sister establishment of its Michelin-starred flagship outlet in Barcelona — which is led by fourth-generation chef Carles Gaig and managed by his daughter, Nuria Gibert. As the Gaig family’s first overseas outpost, the Singapore restaurant will delight diners with many of the traditional Catalan and Spanish gems that have brought the original Restaurant Gaig acclaim since its debut in 1869. The very essence of home cooking has been captured in every aspect imaginable in Restaurant Gaig: from the intimate space’s white-washed interiors to the unpretentious yet thoughtful presentation of each dish.

Each meal begins with a side serving of Catalonian Crystal Bread as a customary “welcome” before the diner moves on to the range of paellas, tapas, mains and classic Catalan stews on offer. Some of the recipes have been fine-tuned to suit the Singaporean palate. The garlic, paprika and nut reduction featured in Shrimp “All-i-Pebre” ($22.30++), for example, tastes oddly redolent of Asian dipping sauces. The Boneless Suckling Pig ($24.50++) would not find itself out of place at a Chinese wedding dinner banquet, save for the apple puree sauce and chopped strawberries and onions that garnish it.

Not to be missed is the Traditional Cannel loni ($14++), a time-honoured dish typically served as part of Christmas celebrations in Barcelona but makes a year-round appearance at Restaurant Gaig. Essentially pasta rolls stuffed with shredded roasted meat and bathed in a lightly truffled cream sauce, this 150-yearold recipe is said to be fiercely guarded by the Gaig family and set to be one of the most memorable courses of your meal.

Restaurant Gaig
16 Stanley Street
Tel: 6221 2134
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday
(lunch: noon to 2pm, dinner: 6pm to 9.30pm)

This article appeared in Issue 795 (Sep 4) of The Edge Singapore.

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