Last Updated: July 11, 2017
Although the distance between Singapore and Peru is 19,049km, that doesn’t stop Peruvian Chef Daniel Chavez, the co-owner and chef of OLA Cocina del Mar to bring the first-ever cevicheria into Singapore – TONO Cevicheria.
Being one of the first few restaurants located at the up-and-coming DUO Galleria, this place was only three days old when I made my visit.
We all know that most Singaporeans love their sashimi, seafood and poke bowls, and I feel that Peruvian ceviche will be the next big thing. Ever since I’ve dined at a cevicheria in San Francisco, I’ve always wondered when will Singapore ever have its own (and my dream has finally come true).
The dynamic and relatable Peruvian cuisine boasts a rich history with various influences from the ancient Inca, Spaniards, Italians, Africans, even Cantonese and Japanese (which is pretty surprising)!
We started off with the representative latino drink aka Pisco Sour ($15) that’s made with fresh lime, foamy egg white and angostura bitters; a botanically-infused South American alcoholic mixture with 44.7% abv.
If you prefer something lighter and fizzier, try the Chilcano ($14) with the same Pisco base, Ginger Ale and Amargo bitters.
The ceviche that I’ve tried elsewhere in Singapore were often thin slices of fish or scallops with some lemon juice and condiments. But at TONO, you’ll get a taste of the real deal.
For the uninitiated, Leche de Tigre or Tiger’s Milk is used a lot in Peruvian dishes, and it refers to the milky liquid you get from marinating raw fish with citrus, chillies and onions. In addition to lime juice, TONO’s version contained housemade fish stock, fish meat and garlic, which added extra tanginess to the ceviche.
We started this gastronomic adventure with Ceviche Clasico ($25), made from market fish, Tiger’s Milk, sweet potato puree and canchita, corn kernels made from air-dried Peruvian corn in the Andes mountains.
Deep-fried and salted, these air-dried corn tasted similar to airy and crunchy peanuts.
The correct way to eat ceviche is to be messy; toss them all up and wash them down with some Pisco.
A communal dish that is perfect for sharing amongst friends, Clasico tasted surprisingly similar to a mix of Thai papaya salad and a non-spicy Tom Yum Goong.
If you’ve enjoyed Hawaiian poke, Nikkei ($24) is pretty similar to that. It is made with Yellowfin tuna, pickled Japanese cucumbers, avocado puree and “nikkei” tiger’s milk.
This one had a Japanese touch thanks to the distinctive taste of soy, hon dashi (bonito stock), mirin (rice wine) and sesame oil, which added a tinge of umami taste – derived from the synergic effect of glutamate and inosinate, which resulted in a pleasant and unforgettable “fifth taste”.
The Crispy house-made shredded purple potato crisps were reminiscent of a certain Chinese new year snack that’s well-combined with the texture of the ceviche.
For most Singaporeans, deep-fried seafood will never go wrong and not to mention, the prawns were quite huge too. Although a little tough, the tapioca chips were similar to french fries and it went well with the mayo.
Try the picqueos (shared dish) of Anticuchos ($22) “A La Planca” with Panca chilli and Chalaquita sauce. Basically, the chicken skewer was marinated and grilled with aji panca, red wine vinegar, oregano and garlic for at least 24 hours.
If you enjoy a nutty, smoky tomato-based dish with a hint of red pepper, this tender chicken dish will be right up your alley.
For something soupy, try the Sudado de Pescado ($34), a Fisherman’s stew made with white wine, aji Amarillo (Capsicum baccatum), onions, tomatoes and chicha de jora (Peruvian corn cider).
This coastal dish reminded me of a seafood bisque that will go perfectly with a side of Arroz Blanco ($4), aromatic Peruvian garlic rice.
Lastly, we tried luscious Tres Leche ($12), a coconut and fresh milk-soaked sponge cake made with “three milk” (evaporated, condensed and heavy cream) and topped with a tropical compote made of zesty pineapple and passion fruit.
Overall, it’s an addictive dessert that struck the right balance of sweetness and acidity.
What can I say, Singaporeans love their food and enjoy trying new things, and I feel that Peruvian cuisine has a certain unique element that hits the right spot and for those who are unfamiliar, I would highly recommend trying the assorted ceviche platter.
Expected Damage: $35 – $45 per pax