The Place Peruvian cuisine may be foreign to us in a faraway land like Singapore, miles away from the South America country. We were excited to check out TONO Cevicheria at one of the newest and coolest architectural building in Singapore, DUO Galleria. TONO is a Peruvian slang for party, and the restaurant is helmed by Peruvian Chef-owner Daniel Chavez who also runs OLA Cocina del Mar at Marina Bay Financial Centre. Expect a lively service crew, salsa music and a chilled-vibe at the ground level restaurant.
The Food We are no experts in Peruvian cuisine, neither have we been to Peru. We came to TONO Cevicheria with an open mind, and true enough we were surprised by the food we tried given the strong kitchen ensemble of Mexican Executive Chef Mario Malvaez (who trained in Peru previously) and his team of Lima-trained Latin American chefs. We knew we were in good hands right from the start. Start with the Pisco Sour (S$15), an alcoholic drink with citrus, egg white and Angostura bitters, with a foamy head. This is the official beverage which go well with cevicheria dishes.
We started with the Nikkei Ceviche (S$24), a Japanese inspired raw yellowfin tuna marinated with tiger’s milk, served with in-house purple potato chips and avocado. Tiger’s milk is a generic term in Peruvian cuisine, and a loose translation of Leche de Tigre, the Peruvian citrus-based marinade used to cure seafood in ceviches. I enjoyed the chilli and lime elements in this Nikkei tiger’s mill which added the delicious punchy notes to the refreshing yellowfin tuna.
Comparatively, the Tono Ceviche (S$28) plays with our palate with the crispy baby calamari and fish, marinated with an equally appetising smoked aji amarillo tiger’s milk. Interestingly, as we dined through the night, we learnt that Aji means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow in Spanish, and this special Capsicum is grown all over Peru.
Moving on to Tiraditos, which showcases thinly sliced sashimi cuts, we tried the Yellow Pituco (S$24), an appetising raw yellowfin tuna dressed with chilli vinaigrette.
Causas is a Peruvian dish of whipped potatoes, ají pepper, limes, where we had the Escabeche (S$22), which consists of two types of chicken served with potato mash and escabeche sauce – chicken shreds mixed with mayo, and grilled chicken with panca chilli sauce. The escabeche sauce has elements of aji panca, garlic, tomatoes, onions and red chilli, which I enjoyed along with the chicken as the sauce played a really good role in bring out the full flavours of the tender chicken.
Piqueos are the shared dishes in Peruvian world. For instance, the Jalea (S$32) is a good seafood mix of crispy calamari, fish, prawn, octopus, with tapioca chips, salsa criollo, and smoked chilli mayo. I realised along the way that the seasoning and marination of every dish is generally quite similar, with very appetising and punchy notes to the dishes.
Skewers sound like an Asian dish but at TONO, there is the Anticuchos, available as Chicken (S$22) or Beef (S$23).
What’s a visit to a Peruvian restaurant without trying some Peruvian specialties? The Arroz con Mariscos (S$34), a seafood rice with crabmeat, achiote oil, panca and Amarillo chilli can’t go very wrong. I like the wet texture of the long grain rice, which absorbed the essence of the sauces and seafood very well. If you are a fan of Paella, chances are you will love this dish.
The other Peruvian specialty we had was the Lomo Saltado (S$40), a traditional stir-fried beef with onions, tomatoes, and crispy potatoes. Served with french fries and rice, this dish is the most remote dish on the menu here which I could link to our Chinese version of fried beef.
For desserts, it is nothing like what I have had before either. The Alfajores (S$12) is a sweet butter cookie with ‘Dulce de Leche’ filling and mango mousse. It tasted like a sweet combination of biscuit and macaron, something familiar yet vastly different and new.
Alternatively, the Combinado (S$12) is a unique mix of Vanilla rice pudding and purple corn ‘mazamorra’. The desserts are interesting and different in general, though I find it too sweet for my liking, and it probably takes a few more rounds and tries to get used to the flavours.
Rants Truth is that the prices here are steep for its portions, but we were not surprised given the fact that this is quite possibly the only Peruvian restaurant in Singapore right now. There is also huge emphasis placed in sourcing the freshest ingredients, so be prepared to budget at least S$80 per pax for a decent spread.
Will I Return Again? The novelty of Peruvian food was a draw to us initially, and we were glad we tried TONO Cevicheria. The cuisine is very hearty and the dining atmosphere a fun and relaxed one, and while the cuisine does sound exotic and distant, there are very familiar elements such as Japanese and other Asian touches in the dishes. This is the restaurant to check out if you are out for some gourmet adventures, or even to impress your foodie date whom we are confident will be impressed by your choice.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
7 Fraser Street #01-49/50
Tel: +65 6702 7320 / 9452 1008
Monday to Friday: Lunch: 12pm to 2.30 pm (last order); Dinner : 6pm to 10pm (last order)
Saturday Dinner: 6pm to 10 pm (last order)
Closed on Saturday lunch & all day Sunday
Ranted by The Ranter