[Singapore] Dinner at 1-Michelin-star Cheek by Jowl.

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:

  1. Snack #1: Smoked eel & finely-chopped chives with creme fraiche on baked baby potatoes.

  1. 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.

  1. Fine de Claire oysters topped with tomato granité.

  1. Smoked mackerel with horseradish creme and pickled cucumbers, sprinkled with burnt lemon powder.

  1. 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.

  1. Pan-fried barramundi, caramelised baby gem lettuce, shredded fennel, prawn bisque and prawn floss.

  1. 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.

  1. Snack #4: Cheese bread (pao de queijo) with Comte cheese, aged 14 months.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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
Singapore 069620
Tel: +65 6221 1911
Opening hours: 12 noon-2.30pm Mon-Fri, 6pm-10pm Mon-Sat, closed on Sundays


Wonderful meal, as usual.

Black olive gel, looks like squid ink. I wonder how they could get that, so black! Guess it’s some kind of molecular cuisine.

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Dessert sounds and looks an absolute killer.

I love this trend of incorporating savoury items into desserts.

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Which are your favourite savoury items in desserts?

Celeriac. It just seems to work so well

I particularly remember it as it was the first time I’d had savoury in dessert - back in 2010 at Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus in London (now closed). It was a Granny Smith apple sorbet with a dice of celeriac alongside and a cumin flavoured crisp.

I suppose it’s along the same idea as, say, carrot cake. The most recent take on that was a gingerbread dessert incorporating parsnip (at Moor Hall, here in the northwest in November.

It does, doesn’t it? Looked more like a savoury squid’s ink pasta. :grin:

My first “savoury” dessert was at HK’s Bo Innovation back in the mid-2000s when molecular gastronomy held sway. It was a deconstructed HK “lap mei fun”.

Remember Ferran Adria’s “deconstructed Spanish omelette” served at El Bulli, which had egg-yolk emulsion on onion confit, topped with potato foam and cheese (?) dust-crumbs - all served in a martini glass? It had none of the textures one associated with a Spanish omelette, yet retained its essential flavours. As one sipped Adria’s liquidised version, all the associated aromas and tastes of a Spanish omelette came alive on one’s palate.

Bo Innovation’s Chef Alvin Leung was similarly inspired by Adria. So, he took one of HK’s most common food item: “lap mei fun” - steamed rice topped with waxed meats & Chinese sausages. His deconstructed “lap mei fun” consisted of a rice-crust cone, filled with a savoury ice-cream flavoured with Chinese waxed meats & sausage.