COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Happy Hour just got a little happier with a new name on Keong Saik Road: Wine & Chef. Founded by the people behind SG Wine Cellar (and in partnership with Italian wine distributor Papawines), the cosy restaurant/bar/wine shop proclaims itself to host Singapore’s biggest collection of Italian wines from boutique, family-owned wineries.
Take a peek on the wine list and you’ll find over 250 varieties from 42 wineries — and the best part is, bottles start from $25. Even better, the ever-changing roster of house pour red, white, sparkling and sweet wines comes at an affordable starting price of $6 per glass — basically, that means you can pop by the restaurant for Happy Hour all day, everyday.
Step into the wine room by the entrance and you’ll find price tags that tell you Wine & Chef’s price versus what you would pay for the same bottle from an outside retailer. (Hint: The restaurant’s offers are considerably lower). Bottles to try include the medium-bodied Cavalier Bartolomeo Altenasso Barolo DOCG ($59); the full-bodied Azienda Viviani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG ($69), a blend of three types of grapes: Corvina, Rondinella and Monlinara; and Tenuta Uccellina Rambela Bianca Ravenna IGT Famoso ($32), a medium-bodied white wine made from the Famoso grape variety.
If your stomach starts grumbling in the middle of your post-work drinks sesh, don’t despair. Wine & Chef doesn’t only concentrate its efforts on honing a well-curated wine list (unlike some other specialty wine places) — it also offers cheese, charcuterie and grilled meat plates, as well as a tasty menu of Mod-Sin dishes created by executive chef Wilson Ang, formerly from the kitchens of DB Bistro and Spruce.
For small nibbles, order a plate of tofu and century egg ($6) or steamed black mussels ($18). The former is a steamed mix of organic soya milk, eggs and soya sauce served cold and sprinkled with dollops of century egg yolk sauce, sesame dressing, extra virgin sesame oil and crunchy ‘pok chui’ (fried flour) crackers; while the latter serves up a bowl of Chilean mussels steeped in an aromatic blend of chicken broth, Chinese rice wine, minced ginger and garlic.
To pad your stomach with more substantial bites, try the salmon confit ‘risotto’ ($18), the chef’s interpretation of the humble fish porridge. It’s out with the rice and in with the mascarpone barley, which is then topped with a 24-hour cured Norwegian salmon that’s sous vide and surrounded with ikura (salmon roe), tobiko (flying fish roe) and celery leaves. Each spoonful of the dish is reminiscent of its inspiration, but in an elevated, more flavorful way.
For the Hokkien Mee fans, try the restaurant’s rendition ($26) that features linguine, blue swimmer crab, tiger prawns, black mussels, and generous doses of pork lard. It’s not exactly similar in taste to the hawker dish — more like a vague nod to Hokkien Mee — but it works well on its own, especially with a glass of red.
We’ve saved the best for last, because it’s a colossal made-for-sharing dish that the kitchen team only prepares a limited number of each day. Their curry pork knuckle ($20), which takes three entire days to prepare, is a definite must-try. First cured for 12 hours in a spice mix, the meat is then sous vide for 24 hours, deep fried, and deboned. The result? Tender and crispy slivers of pork that are generously drenched in a spicy curry sauce and served with a zesty side of achar. And to think the recipe came about by chance when someone accidentally spilled a glob of curry on leftover pork knuckle.
To complement your glass of sweet wine, try the venere rice pudding ($8), Wine & Chef’s version of pulut hitam that’s made with pistachio paste, a dash of gula melaka, coconut crumble and vanilla ice cream. Alternatively, if you’re staying away from alcohol for the night, treat yourself to durian panna cotta ($12), a soy milk panna cotta with Mao Shan Wang purée.
Wine & Chef is at 7 Keong Saik Rd, 6221-9279. Mon-Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 10am-5pm.