The Place Located along Keong Saik, Wine & Chef is another new restaurant (the other being the nearby Don Ho Social) which opened this March by the team behind the online wine shop, SG Wine Cellar. These guys are serious about their wines, with the concept of Wine & Chef being a combination of a retail wine space, or if you fancy, enjoy the wines along with the specially curated food menu at wallet-friendly prices. SG Wine Cellar boasts one of the largest collection of Italian wines from boutique family-owned wineries in Italy, so you can expect some rare finds here.
The Food Most of the dishes on the food menu are Mod-Sin inspired as the owner feels that many of their wines works really well with Asian dishes. The head Chef is Chef Wilson Ang, who had previous stints at DB Bistro, Spruce and Fordham & Grand. For the wines, we feel that the prices are very competitive in Singapore’s context, with monthly-changing house-pour wines starting from S$6 per glass, whereas wine bottles start from just S$25. The prices of the wines here can probably rival that of Ginett, except that the latter focuses on French wines.
The Tofu & Century Egg (S$6) is different from the usual as it uses organic soy milk along with “pok chui” crackers. The cold dish was a good start to the meal, just make sure you get a good mix of all the ingredients, especially the century egg – otherwise the soy milk pudding might come across slightly bland.
The other small bite we tried was the Steamed Black Mussels (S$18), which uses fresh Chilean Mussels cooked in a rich broth of Chinese ‘Hua Diao’ wine, chicken broth and garlic. We strongly recommend this dish, a good twist from the usual white-wine mussel broth we have became used to.
From the Fillers section of the menu, the Salmon Confit Risotto (S$18) is inspired from local Fish Porridge, but a much more luxe version no less. Served with Norwegian salmon, the dish was paired with the Barolo wine one of the big four wines in Italy – the other three being the Chianti, Brunello and Amarone. Instead of rice, barley is used and the dish is topped with ikuro to enhance the overall flavour. Another dish we strongly recommend you to have while at Wine & Chef.
Alternatively, the more obvious Mod-Sing dish is the Crab Meat “Hokkien Mee” (S$26). Chef Wilson uses dark soya sauce for the mee, hence the colour leans towards the dark side as opposed to the yellow noodles we are more accustomed to in Singapore. We enjoyed the rich flavour of this dish all thanks to the seafood broth it was cooked in and the addition of pork lard, even though the price is on the high end. Seafood elements such as the blue swimmer crab, tiger prawns and black mussels are added to glam up this local dish.
This is one of our favourite dish, the Curry Pork Knuckle (S$20). The pork knuckle is first sous vide for 24hours, before being deep fried to intensify its flavours. The combination of the homemade curry and tender pork knuckle is divine. Who would have thought that curry goes so well with pork knuckle? In addition, homemade achar is served alongside to balance the richness of the pork knuckle.
For desserts, we had the Venere Rice Pudding (S$8), which is akin to ‘Pulut Hitam’ cooked with slight tinge of Pistachio paste and Gula Melaka, topped with Vanilla ice cream and coconut crumble.
While at Wine & Chef, make sure you enjoy your meal with some wine. If in doubt, just ask the service staff around, am sure they will be happy to recommend some. And yes, the house-pours are really affordable anyway, so make sure you get to sip the selections on offer.
Rants The dining space at Wine & Chef is not huge partially due to the retail space, hence the tables can be cramped. We also feel that the prices of some of the dishes are not very consistent. For instance, the Crab Meat Hokkien Mee is priced at S$26 while the Curry Pork Knuckle is S$20. The latter is extremely good value for money, while the former feels slightly overpriced.
Will I Return Again? The pandas ain’t the expert on wine, but getting to sip on some drinks after a day at work and knowing you are in the safe hands of the knowledgeable service crew here, doesn’t sound at all a bad idea. And yes, some affordable Mod-Sin mains to go with it will definitely assure you of a good night out.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Make your reservations instantly at Wine & Chef here.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Monday to Saturday: 10am to 11pm
Ranted by The Ranter