Climb Dempsey Hill, not Machu Picchu, for a taste of Peru
Mention Peru and the 15th century Incan archeological site Machu Picchu comes to mind. Since we can’t fly 18,630 km to the South American country, why not let our palate passports do the traveling.
Nestled in Dempsey Hill surrounded by greenery is Canchita, a Peruvian restaurant owned and run by Peruvian chef Tamara Chavez Lopez. She trained under Chef Rafael Osterling, whose restaurant placed 29th on the Latin America 50 Best Restaurants listing of 2020.
Peruvian food is believed to be from many different nationalities — Chinese, Japanese, Africans, Italians — who made their homes in Peru and found nothing they wanted to eat there. The range of food is available at Canchita.
For entree, have a Nikkei Tiradito, a traditional ceviche with a Japanese touch. The dish comprises sliced white fish with Nikkei tiger’s milk, Japanese cucumber and crispy red quinoa.
Order the Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian-Cantonese stir fried beef tenderloin with tomatoes, onions, green peas and fires, or the Arroz Chaufa, a Cantonese-Peruvian fried rice with pork, scallops, asparagus, vegetable tempura, and achiote mayo.
To quench your thirst, never miss out on the Pisco sour which is a combination of Pisco Quebranta, fresh lime, bitters and foamee.
Canchita Peruvian Cuisine
9A/9B Dempsey Road, Singapore 247698
Tuesday to Friday: 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10.30pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12pm – 10pm
Limin’ in the Caribbean
Hanging out and unwinding with friends over great food and drinks or simply limin’ — a Caribbean slang. You can do just that at Lime House, hidden in the precinct of Keong Saik.
The restaurant, with its deck chairs in slanted blue and white strips, hanging lights covered with rattan, and its array of rum from Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Anguilla, Puerto Rico, and the Cayman Islands, gives the restaurant a tropical Caribbean beach vibe.
If you are there to just while away time, go for the seafood tapas — try the pan-seared freshly caught shrimps with habanero and topped with warm salsa on a plantain coracle, or simply go for the delicacy of tender octopus and okra cooked in the restaurant’s own tomato and mango chutney, drizzled with dark rum and olive oil.
Not into seafood? They have vegetarian tapas too. The are dhal mushroom tapas, curried chickpea and tamarind tapas with mango chutney, and fried eggplant tapas topped with the in-house mango chutney and spices.
But if you are really hungry, you should not miss out on the Signature Jerk Chicken. This is a classic Jamaican dish of boneless chicken thigh, seasoned with a blend of jerk spices such as spring onion, jerk, soy sauce and berries. Grilled plantains are placed on top to complete the dish.
Lime House Caribbean
2 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089260
Tuesday to Friday: 4pm – 9.30pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12pm – 9pm
Go on a gourmet trip around the African continent
Just a few steps down the same row is Africa. Step into the continent at Kafe UTU and you are transported into a world of bold colours and diverse flavours.
The cafe and lounge, opened and owned by Mr Kurt Wagner who grew up in different African countries, draws inspiration from the culinary traditions, influences and local produce of these various places.
You can taste Liberia in its peanut chicken stew where Sakura chicken thigh is served in peanut butter sauce with smoked fish and habanero. But if you like something more spicy, “travel” to Nigeria for the fiery peppered pork stew. Indulge in the black angus pork belly, charred peppers, habanero and smoked fish.
And as curry is a hearty African staple, the Swahili Fish Curry is not to be missed.
12 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089265
Wednesday to Friday: 10am – 5pm, 6pm – 10.30pm
Saturday and Sunday: 9am – 5pm, 6pm – 10.30pm
Monday and Tuesday: Closed
A taste of Lebanon
Lebanese food is said to play with all your senses — from the aroma of cinnamon, cumin, thyme, and roasting meat to the bright colours of the leafy green herbs, citrus sumac, earthy za’atar and golden honey.
So what is Lebanese cuisine? It may feature a great deal of meat, mainly lamb and chicken, but occasionally there is beef and fish. It also has an array of fresh vegetables and grains.
At Tabbouleh Lebanese Cafe and Restaurant, there is no want for these. It serves up ample fresh salads and dips with warm bread, grilled meat and fish on skewers and rice. But the portions are large and are meant for family or communal sharing.
For starters, either have the chilled hummus which is a creamy blend of mashed chickpeas, tahini or toasted ground hulled sesame seeds, lemon juice and olive oil, served with Khubz, fresh from the oven. Khubz is a round leavened flatbread that is soft and chewy and usually served to pair with most mezze.
Or if you prefer fresh greens, then have the classic Lebanese salad that the restaurant is named after. It is made with finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint, onion and durum wheat bulgur and seasoned with lemon juice, salt, black pepper and olive oil and served cold with pita.
But if you are into soups, why not go for the shorbat adas or red lentil soup? It is made with pureed red lentils, white onions, basmati rice, and carrots, and seasoned with cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil.
Its signature dish, lamb mandi, is a must try. It comprises a large spice marinated lamb shank that has the most savoury spice-flavoured succulent moist and tender meat, fluffy mandi rice garnished with caramelised onions, golden raisins, crunchy green capsicum, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce.
Tabbouleh Lebanese Cafe and Restaurant
54 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199470
Monday to Friday: 9am – 11pm
Saturday and Sunday: 9am – 4am
Mussels from Brussels
Take a stroll along the Singapore River to Robertson Quay to where “Europe” and the Kingdom of Belgians (KOB) is located. A casual dining place opened by Michelin-starred Chef Emmanuel Stroobant, the restaurant serves up hearty Belgian fare to diners.
If you are there, you shouldn’t give the classic Belgian Moules a miss. The mussels in the savoury mussel-in-broth buckets are impeccably juicy and plump and KOB offers an array of broth choices to pair with them.
These range from the KOB Special that comprises bacon, Hoegaarden white, wild herb and garlic to Mariniere that has white wine, celery, onion and parsley. But if you prefer your broth to be of a local flavour, then you may ask for laksa, chili crab or kam heong, which is steamed mussels in a sauce of dried shrimp, dried chilli, and curry leaf. According to a friend who had lived in Belgium, the art of eating mussels is to use the shell to retrieve the flesh from other mussels.
Another Belgian classic are fries. That same friend says while the French discovered the cut, it is the Belgians who perfected the art of fries — by double-frying. So go ahead and order the fries under Beer Bites.
But should you be looking for something more filling, then go for the Boulet Liegeois which is braised pork-beef meatballs with shallot, raisin and beef jus or the Pork Schnitzel which comes with fries.
You can always round off your lavish feast with the selection of Belgium Bottled Beers.
Kingdom of Belgians (KOB)
8 Rodyk Street, #01-05/06, Singapore 238216
Tuesday to Thursday: 5pm – 10pm
Friday: 5pm – 12am
Saturday: 11am – 12am
Sunday: 11am – 10pm