The Place It is easy to walk past The Nomads located right beside Amoy Hotel, and not noticing this new restaurant. Step into the two months old restaurant and I was first greeted by a bar, where the restaurant is hidden behind another door, out of sight from the main entrance. The seating layout of the restaurant is casual as diners sit around the high counter table, which overlooks the open kitchen.
If you have a big group, there is another hidden private room for the best privacy. Talk about speakeasy-style private rooms, push the book shelves back and the private room reveals itself.
The Food Now this is the exciting part, as the dishes at The Nomads are largely inspired by Central Asia cuisine, which I must confess is not familiar grounds for me. It is not solely Central Asia per se, but rather a trail along the historic Silk Road which you can imagine the kitchen here taking inspiration from Southern Italy to Western China.
There are ala carte options on the menu but if you are pretty clueless what to have for the first time, I will recommend going for one of the three tasting menus (from S$98) instead. Do note the menus require prior reservation.
I went for The Odyssey Of Fire (S$148), a 17-course menu at Nomads. It sounds overwhelming, but each course is relatively bite-size portion. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise of the full 17-course, but here are some of the highlights for me. The Caviar & Kaya comes with Kristal caviar along with homemade kaya and Argentine red shrimp. The thought of this combination excites me and the taste is surprisingly harmonious with a balance of sweet and salty.
The Lamb Samsa Cones is essentially lamb tartare in coffee soil, and the lamb is not at all gamy as it uses Mottainai Lamb which is considered the ‘wagyu’ of lamb. I like beef tartare, but lamb tartare is a first for me. There is also that tinge of coffee aroma as the cone is coated with coffee sugar.
One of my favourite course, the Nomads Nan with Hunter-Gatherer’s Butter is a traditional Kazakhstan-style bread. Freshly baked bread is my weakness, and I can’t help it if it comes with fresh butter as well. The flour for the bread here is fermented overnight with yogurt, and the piping hot bread is served with seaweed and foie gras flavoured butter, sinfully good.
The Maitake Mushrooms is a pretty unique mushroom dish as it is cooked with Suneli, a type of spice from Georgia. The flavour of the dish is not spicy at all though.
Moving on to some seafood centric dish, the Koji cured Scallops is served with spiced burnt corn on lentil cracker and I enjoyed the flavour of the scallop here. The burnt corn on cracker is just the icing on the cake.
Squid noodles? Rather, this is named Squid Laghman is actually squid noodles tossed in smoked Szechuan and paprika sauce along with capsicum and pine nuts. I like the Szechuan element here which lends it that tinge of ‘ma’ flavour.
On to meats, the Beshbarmak features wagyu cheek poured over with spiced tea broth. The name translates to “five fingers” as the nomadic tribes eat this dish with their hands, where this national dish of Kazakhstan is traditionally boiled meat with noodles. In place of noodles, this modern version comes with crispy potato sheets which I was happy to dip into the comforting tea broth.
Other meats which followed were the Beef Tongue; and Foie In Ash which is essentially chunky foie gras coated with charred breadcrumbs.
My last savoury dish was the Hunter’s Plov, a combination of Carnaroli risotto, A4 wagyu striploin, bone marrow, tea quail egg and pickled heirloom carrots. Interestingly, plov is a pretty common dish across Central Asia and is essentially rice with meats, carrots and onions which is also one of Uzbekistan’s signature dish. This version is pretty, though I find that the flavour of the risotto could be better, like a little more creaminess or cheesiness will do the trick for me.
There are two desserts at the end of this menu, where both the Almaty and Medovik are relatively light in flavour. That said, I was already quite full right before desserts, so do pace yourself. The Almaty comes with celery sorbet accompanied by Gorgonzola and cinnamon yogurt, while the Medovik is a combination of honey cake with sour cream ganache and yogurt sorbet.
Rants More explanation is needed to diners as many may not understand the Central Asia food well.
Will I Return Again? The idea of Central Asia inspired food is exotic to me, and this is probably one of the rare restaurants in Singapore with an omakase-style menu which takes a strong reference to this particular region. Come with an open mind and be surprised.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Make your reservation instantly The Nomads here.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
70 Telok Ayer Street
Tel: +65 6977 7057
Monday to Saturday: 6pm to 10pm
Closed on Sunday
Ranted by The Ranter