With a new menu of elegant Asian-inspired creations from Chef Desmond Shen, restaurant-cafe Curious Palette invites you to expand your palate and tantalise your tastebuds.
Formerly of Magic Square Chef Desmond Shen helms the kitchen at this restaurant-cafe on Prinsep Street, run by the team behind popular cafe Strangers’ Reunion. In contrast to its sister establishment, Curious Palette offers different menus throughout the day: an all-day selection of starters and sweets (available from 9am – 10pm), brunch (9am – 3pm), lunch (12 – 10pm), and dinner (6 – 10pm); so it’s not just your run-of-the-mill cafe foods!
Expect seasonal ingredients combined with house-made sauces and dips to form inventive and robustly-flavoured creations that will have you longing for more; be it as a snack, or a main course.
One such dish would be the Tomato, Tamarind Ponzu ($10.90), a wonderfully palate-cleansing starter consisting of tangy confit tomatoes, local belimbing and pickled lemon. Citrusy, juicy orbs that burst in your mouth with refreshing flavour, this is what every starter should be like, we think.
Coming in a group, or even as a pair? We recommend getting the Fried Cauliflower, Fish Sauce Caramel ($11.90), Chef Desmond’s sophisticated version of curried cauliflower, and a highly addictive snack! Lightly-battered and fried cauliflower florets are dusted with curry powder, and served with a fragrant lemon emulsion, as well as a house-made savoury-sweet fish sauce caramel – it may sound strange, but fish sauce caramel is actually quite commonplace a condiment in other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam. Trust us – you and your tastebuds won’t regret this absolute snack of a dish.
Onto the mains! Don’t look down on the humble-sounding Sugarloaf Cabbage, Seaweed Butter ($12.90): this is one of our favourite mains at Curious Palette! Roasted sugarloaf cabbage is served with a generous sprinkling of toasted nuts, seeds and buckwheat; aromatic fried curry leaves, and the very best part – a creamy emulsion of butter and seaweed, plus a perfectly-poached egg to top it all off. Sweet, juicy cabbage charred at the edges paired with the crunchiness of the nuts and hit of spice from the curry leaves, held together by the umami creaminess of the seaweed butter… We fell in love at first bite.
If you’d prefer something a little carbier, Curious Palette’s new menu also offers buns, pastas, and meaty plates with an Asian flair – thanks to the use of ingredients like belacan (fermented shrimp paste), mentaiko (spicy cod roe), and soy sauce!
Seafood-lovers, go for the cheerfully-orange Prawn, Mentaiko Belacan Pasta ($18.90): al dente pasta tossed in a rich sauce of prawn and shallot oil, butter, and a hint of belacan; topped with three fresh charcoal-grilled tiger prawns and a sprinkling of chilli powder.
Vegetarians, you’re not left out either! The Seaweed Pasta ($17.50) is a delectable delight of spaghetti tossed in a creamy and umami seaweed sauce (the very same one used with the sugarloaf cabbage), and topped with pickled wakame and hijiki, a squeeze of lemon, spring onions, leek chiffonade, and wakame powder.
Another stand-out dish was the Cray Roll ($19.90), where tender chunks of crayfish and ebikko are tucked into a toasty brioche roll, topped with a lip-smackingly delish prawn mayonnaise and fried capers and served with shoestring fries that every single fast-food restaurant should have. While we loved the crayfish and the fries, let us just say: the brioche was absolutely divine. Fragrant, fluffy and worthy of a place on a bread shrine; this made the roll experience for us – and at under twenty bucks for an almost lobster roll, we’re pretty darn satisfied.
Carnivorous diners would find delight in the meatier plates like the Slow Cooked Shortrib, Burnt Soy ($29.90). Much like the Korean ssam, this dish consists of tender sous vide beef short ribs marinaded with soy sauce, mirin, burnt onions, and apple juice, and finished off with a caramelised burnt soy and brown butter layer. Don’t forget your veggies: have your meat with the fresh lettuce, pickles and fiery yuzu kosho!
Of course, let’s not forget dessert! While pancakes and waffles may be all well and good, Curious Palette offers a delicious and nostalgic Kaya, Coffee Butter ($9.50), where kopitiam-style buttered and toasted white bread is generously-spread with kaya, and layered with a thick slice of cold coffee butter. Dip your kaya toast in the accompanying saucer of sous vide egg and espresso shoyu for the perfect coffeeshop experience! We loved the coffee-scented butter and delicious gula melaka headiness of the kaya!
Savour your meal with a cuppa – Curious Palette’s barista team will serve your caffeine needs well, as they include the World Siphon Coffee Champion 2015, three-time Singapore National Barista Champion, three-time Singapore Latte Art Champion, and ASEAN Barista Champion 2013.
For those who need an afternoon pick-me-up, go for the Magic ($5.50); a smooth brew of double ristretto and milk. Need something more refreshing? Try the Coconut Cold Brew ($6.90), a refreshing blend of cold-pressed coconut juice, coconut water, and filtered coffee.
If you’re not a coffee person, take your pick from a wide array of beverages like tea lattes, specialty teas from local tea label A.muse Projects, fresh juices, smoothies, craft beers, and wines.
64 Prinsep Street, Singapore 188667
Opening Hours: 9am – 10pm (Mon – Sun); Closed on Tues