Back to 1-Michelin-starred Cheek by Jowl for dinner this evening. It’s a small, smart and casual spot for a satisfying meal, with inventively-constructed dishes which never seemed overly-showy, yet possessing enough ‘wow’ factor to impress the diners.
The nifty little set-up is ably helmed by talented Sri Lankan-born owner-chef, Rishi Naleendra, with his wife, restaurant manager, Manuela Toniolo.
Our dinner this evening:
- Snack #1: Smoked eel & finely-chopped chives with creme fraiche on baked baby potatoes.
- Snack #2: Crisp-fried caneles with chicken liver parfait filling, on a tamarind dip. The caneles were a bit bland, but were lifted by the tamarind dip.
- Fine de Claire oysters topped with tomato granité.
- Smoked mackerel with horseradish creme and pickled cucumbers, sprinkled with burnt lemon powder.
- Pan-roasted quail, with Cep mushroom crumble and chestnut puree, topped with pickled green apple ribbon and toasted sesame seeds. What I like about Chef Rishi is his pairing of savoury, rich meat dishes with tangy pickled vegetables - a skilful blend of contrasting tastes and textures which lifted the dish out of the ordinary.
- Pan-fried barramundi, caramelised baby gem lettuce, shredded fennel, prawn bisque and prawn floss.
- Snack #3: Baby corn with millet miso. This snack happens to be my favourite part of the meal in both my visits to this restaurant.
- Snack #4: Cheese bread (pao de queijo) with Comte cheese, aged 14 months.
- Roasted kangaroo loin and heirloom carrots, carrot puree and pickled red onion. This is the tastiest kangaroo dish I’d had - I suspect the texture was obtained from sous vide cooking, as it has none of the toughness which I tend to associate with kangaroo.
- Crisp-fried zucchini flower, stuffed with spiced Sri Lankan mungbeans, served atop grilled baby zucchini and millet porridge, drizzled with sunflower emulsion. One of the most memorable dishes here.
- Black olive gel with strawberries & rhubarb compote. I enjoyed this dessert course most of all - the salty black olive gel juxtaposed against the sweet-sour tang of the creme and rhubarb resulted in a pleasant deliciousness which just has to be tasted, as it transcends mere description.
The dining room gets pretty busy and can be a bit noisy by 8.30pm. I actually rather the earlier 6pm seating.
Cheek By Jowl
21 Boon Tat Street
Tel: +65 6221 1911
Opening hours: 12 noon-2.30pm Mon-Fri, 6pm-10pm Mon-Sat, closed on Sundays