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The Scoop: New Restaurants By Aitor Jeronimo Orive And Jeremy Gillon, Fusion Brunch At Halcyon & Crane And More

A round-up of good eats and dining news from Singapore in November 2018.
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This month's round-up of good eats across the island includes where to go for a spicy, hearty brunch, a promising new contemporary Chinese restaurant in Marina Bay Sands, and artful Italian creations at Beppe De Vito's newly rebranded restaurant.
Oxtail “Bomba” Rice is braised with with Angus oxtail and onions. (Credit: Basque Kitchen By Aitor)
Oxtail “Bomba” Rice is braised with with Angus oxtail and onions. (Credit: Basque Kitchen By Aitor)

Former Iggy's Head Chef Fronts New Basque Restaurant 
After a two-year stint as head chef of one-Michelin-starred Iggy’s, Spanish-Australian Aitor Jeronimo Orive is now fronting his 40-seat restaurant, Basque Kitchen By Aitor in Amoy Street. Orive has deep links with the gastronomic region in northern Spain — his family is from Basque Country and he has also cut his teeth in the world-renowned innovative restaurant Mugaritz. 


While his dishes may not be traditional Basque, Orive has injected modern touches into them (from $38++ for 2-course lunch). Marmitako, a hearty Basque tuna and potato stew, is cooked with bonito crudo. Inspired by gyudon (Japanese beef bowls), the Oxtail “Bomba” Rice is braised with with Angus oxtail and onions until the grains turn into a creamy umami-packed risotto. Traditionalists can opt for Txuleta, the Basque classic, char-grilled Angus prime rib that has a rare and juicy meant beneath its charred exterior. 97 Amoy Street

Spanish Octopus with salsify, bonito flakes and linseed at Restaurant JAG (Pic: Restaurant JAG Facebook)
Spanish Octopus with salsify, bonito flakes and linseed at Restaurant JAG (Pic: Restaurant JAG Facebook)

Fine Dining French At Restaurant JAG
Located in a two-storey shophouse along Duxton Road, Restaurant JAG is the new classic French fine-dining restaurant helmed by Jeremy Gillon, formerly from Le Montana in the Alps where he was executive chef of three of the hotel’s restaurants, leading Restaurant L'Epicurien to one Michelin star in 2015. Gillon's produce-driven cuisine focuses on sustainability and quality expressed in a variety of degustation menus and creative cocktails. From the indigenous herbs sourced from the Savoie Mountains in France, to the custom Kimura glassware from Japan, every detail is an homage to producers and artisans all over the world. A highlight to look out for are the white-gloved Gueridons serving cheese and other courses from a polished trolley – a classic fine dining luxury. 76 Duxton Road.

HEYTEA's popular Cheezo teas. (Pic: HEYTEA)
HEYTEA's popular Cheezo teas. (Pic: HEYTEA)
1-For-1 Promotion At HEYTEA's Opening
November 10 marks the highly-anticipated opening of Chinese bubble tea chain HEYTEA at Singapore's ION Orchard mall. HEYTEA has over 100 stores in China with a cult following willing to brave the long lines and wait up to seven hours for their cuppa. The brand is the original creator of the cheese tea trend where iced tea is topped with a head of creamy, savoury cheese froth. HEYTEA also prides itself for using high quality ingredients for its crafted beverages, including premium tea leaves, fresh fruits, natural rock sugar and cheese from New Zealand. To celebrate the brand's first foray overseas, buy one cup and get another free (Limited to one redemption per receipt) for the first three days from November 10 to 12. 2 Orchard Turn, #B4-29 ION Orchard Mall.
Chicken & Mushroom Capellini at Halcyon & Crane (Pic: Halcyon & Crane)
Chicken & Mushroom Capellini at Halcyon & Crane (Pic: Halcyon & Crane)
Big And Bold Fusion Flavours At Halcyon & Crane
Here’s where to go for brunch with a punch. Halcyon & Crane, an all-day café and bar in The Paragon offers a fresh take on modern European cuisine with a Sichuan influence. Brunch staples like Eggs Benedict get the mala treatment with moreish spicy gongbao chicken, sous-vide eggs and melty cheddar cheese in the King’s Chicken Hash Benedict, while spicy Sichuan cured sausages add extra depth to good old Shakshuka. And it’s not all spice and fancy fusion brunch food. The highlights of the All-Day Dining menu are comforting noodle dishes like the Chicken And Mushroom Capellini featuring a silky vermicelli specially imported from Sichuan bathed in a nourishing chicken and mushroom broth. The Clam And Yam Noodles are a tasty take on pasta with slippery, chewy yam noodles in a rich tomato-based sauce with distinctively Asian flavours of ginger, garlic and Sichuan spices. Pastels, light-wood and rose-gold finishes make the décor decidedly soft and pretty, but the food pulls no punches in the flavour department. 290 Orchard Road, The Paragon #03-09.
Maggie Joan's Hamachi Crudo (Pic: Maggie Joan's)
Maggie Joan's Hamachi Crudo (Pic: Maggie Joan's)
Fresh Flair At Maggie Joan’s
Young Scottish chef Seumas Smith breathes new life into underground cool Maggie Joan’s at the back of Gemmil Lane. Snacks and starters are colourful and energetic; the chef pulls in Japanese inflections in the shiso leaf tempura dotted with a creamy Greek mezze-inspired sauce made with garlicky mentaiko, and hamachi crudo topped with salmon roe, pickled wakame and edamame. Ingredients from the chef’s hometown also feature on the menu: burnt Scottish Heather honey dresses an earthy beetroot salad and adds a touch of sweetness to the brown butter sauce for slices of perfectly pink duck breast while briny mussels from the Scottish coast accompany local barramundi in an herbed fish stock. Smith’s lively, fresh take on contemporary European cuisine is a juxtaposition to the rustic, industrial interiors. 110 Amoy Street #01-01.
Let chef Yohhei Sasaki design a tasting menu tailored to you at Il Cielo's Omakase Dining Experience (Pic: Hilton Singapore)
Let chef Yohhei Sasaki design a tasting menu tailored to you at Il Cielo's Omakase Dining Experience (Pic: Hilton Singapore)

Design Your Menu At Il Cielo
It’s a daring chef that leaves his menu in the hands of his guests. Upon reservation (and with preferably a day or two advanced notice) at the Hilton Singapore’s rooftop Italian restaurant, diners are invited to suggest a particular ingredient, drink, dish or even a special memory and leave it to chef Yohhei Sasaki to exercise his creativity in an omakase menu. The chef fuses Japanese flair with classic Italian cooking utilising what’s fresh and seasonal, whether it’s ayu fish or Hokkaido uni from Japan or scampi and octopus from Italy. Sasaki displays an artfulness in his creations exemplified by a starter of Hokkaido sanma fish with Kyoto eggplant bagna cauda and smoked burrata cheese sauce. The smokiness of the dish is evocative of bonfires in fall, a fitting tribute to his most recent Autumnal omakase menu. 581 Orchard Road, Level 24 Hilton Singapore.

The Roaring City is inspired by Singapore. (Credit: MO BAR)
The Roaring City is inspired by Singapore. (Credit: MO BAR)

Seafaring Cocktail Adventures At MO Bar
Bars in hotels are shedding their cookie-cutter image in a recent slate of revamps. One of them is the Axis Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore, which has been rejuvenated as the MO Bar after a two-month renovation. Embark on a nomadic seafaring journey in the Polynesian-themed bar with 14 cocktails inspired by ports across Asia such as Fiji and Hong Kong. Beneath the rustic Polynesian tattoo-like wood carvings in the 60-seat bar, sip on drinks such as The Roaring City ($24). The citrusy concoction, which is inspired by sunny Singapore, bursts with fizzy lemony notes from the sparkling pineapple tapache and vermouth jelly.

Another favourite is the Rough Waters By The Coral Sea ($26), which has cognac, vermouth and bitters stirred with a dash of barrel-aged water in salted and unsalted American oak casks that is served with a side of seaweed. Save space for the bar food such as Singdog ($26). The hotdog slider is localised with an otak sausage and tangy sambal mayonnaise and achar dressing sandwiched in a bun. Mandarin Oriental Singapore, 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square

The stir-fried strands of birds' nest retains its crunch despite being tossed in rich superior stock. (Credit: Blossom)
The stir-fried strands of birds' nest retains its crunch despite being tossed in rich superior stock. (Credit: Blossom)

Refined Chinese Classics At Blossom
After a three-month hiatus, the owners of Jin Shan Lou have overhauled the contemporary Chinese restaurant in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel lobby to Blossom. The 188-seat restaurant now mainly serves Cantonese cuisine with a sprinkling of Sichuan dishes cooked by veteran Hong Kong chef Fok Kai Yee, who used to work at Summer Pavilion and Lei Garden. Gone are the lantern-shaped booths and in their place is a more muted and wood-heavy interior. On the revamped menu, what catches the eye is the Stir-Fried Birds’ Nest And Crab Meat ($88 a person). The wok hei-infused translucent strands of wild Indonesian birds’ nest are still crunchy and slightly sweet after they are tossed in a superior stock that has been brewed for eight hours. Fok soaked the birds’ nest three times in order to achieve the right texture that can withstand the high heat in the wok.

Another signature dish is the smoked duck (from $40) that is intensely perfumed in 15-year-old aged pu erh and chrysanthemum tea leaves. The glistening duck boasts a good balance of fat and meat with a smoky flavour that lingers. If you prefer seafood, the succulent pan-fried Boston Lobster Tail ($32 a person) offers a rush of saltiness from a sprinkling of caviar. Marina Bay Sands Hotel Lobby Tower 2, 2 Bayfront Avenue

Art's Tagliolini, Oscietra Caviar, Clam Velouté and Lemon Garum (Credit: Art)
Art's Tagliolini, Oscietra Caviar, Clam Velouté and Lemon Garum (Credit: Art)

Creative Canvas For Italian Food At Art
After three years as Osteria Art, the Italian restaurant has been rebranded as just Art by chef-owner Beppe De Vito to showcase more than just classic Italian dishes. Though pasta and risotto still appear on the menu, De Vito wants to break out of the confines of Italian cuisine with more whimsical and imaginative creations. Opt for the three- or five-course tasting menus for lunch and dinner (start from $68). Highlights include the Scampi Tortelli, which is crammed with the sweet and juicy shellfish that matches the sweetness of the pumpkin puree. A visual feast is the Seabass, which arrives as a geometric-looking platter. The sea bass fillet is topped with dehydrated wafer-thin fish skin, which soaks up the flavours from the eggplant cannoli roll, creamy leek puree and pickled tomato. Most of the dishes on the tasting menus are available as a la carte dishes. 55 Market Street

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