Stories have always been shared over a good meal, but now chefs are using the food itself to spin yarns, from ancient cooking methods to family memories. With Nana Asia editors dining out sometimes several times a day, we come across a lot of standout dishes and we don’t want to keep any secrets. Add these restaurants to your “post-isolation” dining list.
Sautéed Potato Gnocchi at Arcane
“With these gnocchi, it was initially inspired by a few local favourites (e.g. dumplings) and incorporates the classical pairings of Madeira and morels,” shares Australian chef and restaurateur Shane Osborn of Michelin-starred Arcane.
These are delicate sautéed potato gnocchi pillows in a rich Madeira creamy sauce that is further brought to the surface with the charred Cevenne onions. The Shiitake mushrooms add a velvety smooth texture while the Parmesan and black truffle adding a burst of flavour to this already unforgettable dish. There’s no surprise why it’s been on Arcane’s menu since the restaurant’s opening in 2014.
Satay Sampler at Poem
Rest assured that you’ll follow the aroma of every table that’s ordered the satay sampler upon entering Poem. Satays always remind Chef Denny Sumarko of his Balinese childhood memories. The house-made chicken satays are made from local free-range chicken thighs and marinated for at least a night with sweet soya sauce, cashew nut paste and their homemade chili sauce making the dish both flavourful and aromatic. The beef is marinated with coriander, while the pork is marinated with 13 spices and sambal matah.
And for the best part: the sauce in which you dip your satay skewers! It, too, is completely house-made, as are all of their sauces! At Poem, instead of using peanuts, they use cashew nuts resulting in a sauce that is both creamier and bolder. For diners who are allergic to nuts, there’s a choice of “sambal kecap” or “sambal colo-colo” (a sauce made from sweet soya sauce, kafir lime leaf, red chili, shallots and kafir lime juice).
Keema Anda Pau at Rajasthan Rifles
Origins of this dish date back centuries, with the soft-baked bread rolls stemming from a period of colonial exploration that brought Western baking techniques to the East. Chef Palash of Rajasthan Rifles highlights, “These buttery, soft milk buns, or Pau, are served alongside Keema, a slow-cooked mutton dish, were once historically served as a good source of protein for the British Indian Army but evolved to become an Indian street food staple.”
Honouring traditional roadside eateries from the region, the restaurant tops the dish with crumbled boiled eggs, also known as Anda. We relished these mouth-watering bites with our hands!
Roasted Sustainable Salmon in red curry paste at Sip Song
We were immediately drawn to the New Zealand method of cooking this dish reflective of Sip Song; although they serve Thai food, they’re not afraid to be a little non-traditional. Executive Chef, Sebastián Comerso, divulges, “We had some samples of Stewart Island salmon, so we decided to experiment and cover the salmon in our curry paste and prepare it by creating a ‘Hāngi’, which is a traditional Maori method of cooking food buried in a pit using heated rocks. So, we created a ‘fake’ version of this that we can prepare in our kitchen.”
By covering the salmon in a piece of banana leaf and roasting it at a medium heat in the oven, the fat of the salmon helps the spices of the curry paste develop beautifully, packing each bite with a punch. The steam created inside the banana leaf pocket also ensures the fish retains plenty of moisture and tenderness. This melt-in-your dish should be enjoyed with either brown rice or roti.
Just Ceviche at Tokyolima
We heard that a trip to Tokyolima is incomplete without ordering the ceviche, a classic Nikkei dish, which combines seabass marinated in aji amarillo tiger’s milk with Peruvian choclo corn that’s garnished with nori, onion and coriander. The citrus-based marinade was perfect, and we thoroughly enjoyed the crunch from the choclo which added just the right amount of texture and saltiness to the dish.
Chef Arturo Melendez isn’t just about encapsulating the flavours of his hometown, he is inspired by the cherished moments spent with family and friends back in Peru. This dish originally served across a bed of ice has made it into his Henko collection – in a refreshed approach – now in a coffee cup. To him, this interpretation of house style ceviche actually symbolises closeness back home.
Cacciuccio at Nicholini’s
“If you’ve never been to Tuscany, this is as close as you’d get!’ is the best compliment I’ve ever received,” reveals Chef Riccardo Catarsi. Traditionally, cacciucco is said to have five different types of fish and seafood in it — one for each “C” in its name!Paragraph
However, Chef Riccardo Catarsi uses calamari, octopus, cuttlefish, mussels and scorpionfish along with Chianti wine; each of the ingredients is flown in daily creating an extremely fresh dish. The base of the soup takes an entire day with the non-stop simmering and blending.
We loved the sweet and creaminess of the Hokkaido scallops, the intense flavoured mussels from South of Tuscany in addition to the sustainable toothfish, red prawns from Sicily and scampi from the Mediterranean Sea topped with caviar, garlic croutons and fried sage for texture. This traditional fisherman’s stew from the port town of Livorno in Tuscany is a seafood-lover’s dream!