Bonding Kitchen, Orchard Gateway: “The Wagyu Beef Rendang is a struggle to resist”

It’s rare that I eat Peranakan food twice in the span of three days, but here I am, sitting in the spacious dining area of Bonding Kitchen at Orchard Gateway. The freshly minted dining room is cosy—reminiscent of the private dining concept that started this all—but still affords ample breathing space.

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The weekend before I found myself at Bonding Kitchen, I’d cosied up at Violet Oon with my family to celebrate my mother’s birthday. I thought that was my Peranakan treat to last the next six months. After all, it’s hard to find Peranakan cuisine that really hits the spot and one can’t simply frequent Violet Oon on a weekly basis.

Naturally, I had my hopes moderated with this fledgeling restaurant, run by Chef Danny Chew and his wife, Celine. At exactly one month old, a brand new, under-the-radar restaurant at such a prime location would incite some dubiety in cynics, to say the least.

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It’s like sitting in the very modern dining room of a refurbished Peranakan household. With light wood furnishings and deep blue accents, Bonding Kitchen looks like the respectable interior of your future in-laws’ ancestral home. They recently invested in a lavish redecoration, but stay long enough, and the chill of newness will feel like home to you too. 

That’s how Bonding Kitchen became a restaurant along bustling Orchard road, anyway. Before this, they ran a private dining service in their Johor Bahru home. From the get-go, their intense commitment to familial connections is unabashedly clear. It shows in the picture of the couple’s young son under the section, ‘Those behind Bonding Kitchen’, on their website.

Even guests start to feel at home in the Chef’s private kitchen and dining room. They invite him to join them in a drink, and banter becomes bonds. One afternoon, as Chef Danny paints chilli sauce on a dish with an artist’s brushstroke on his masterpiece, a guest compliments him for his immense patience. Except, everything Chef Danny makes, he treats like his masterpiece. The guest goes on to inform him that he should open a restaurant.

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Why not? Though it’s not rare for Chefs to treat their food like a fine art, it’s a necessary quality for success. It’s obvious from the precision with which Chef Danny picks his ingredients to the deft hand with which he cooks that food is a love, a passion—almost an obsession—that fuels his fire everyday. 

Still, they’ve made quite a leap from private home dining to the current larger scale restaurant. Is fire enough to survive, then? 

What I tried

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Every detail at Bonding Kitchen carries an organic human touch. The blue pea flowers are plucked from their own garden, the kaffir lime leaves are finely julienned seconds before garnishing, and the chilli sauces are hand made from scratch. Chef Danny doesn’t even have a name for some of his sauces, which come from his own recipes untouched by commercialised branding.

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I watch as Chef Danny prepares my food on the induction stove; it’s a vision of streamlined style and focus.

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Without a doubt, food at Bonding Kitchen tastes like dedication in their full-bodied aromas and flavours. The Ngoh Hiang (S$14), hand rolled to tightly packed fragrance and crunchiness, satisfies my four herbivorous years of cravings for the sausage-shaped mince pork roll in beancurd skin.

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A thick prawn, chicken and pork broth likens the Pong Tauhu (S$10 per pax) to a lobster bisque in umami flavour, thanks to fermented soybean paste. That richness exudes hours of intense labour and demands a big appetite to do it justice.

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The Sotong Masak Hitam (S$20) speaks to my affinity for tangy flavours. Against a night sky of squid ink, the bright concentrate of tamarind juices is the constellation that guides me back for more.

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For a study in contrasts, the Udang Sambal Petai (S$22) marries sour and bitter with prawns in chilli and shrimp paste. Stink beans add calculated discs of grimness against a spicy base that would otherwise fade into homogeneity alone.

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Bonding Kitchen flexes their rich, briny muscles with the Wagyu Beef Rendang (S$32). It’s a struggle to resist cleaning the plate—one I’m proud to have lost.

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In the aftermath of indulgence, the calamansi dressing in the Kacang Botol Kerabu (S$16) is a scintillating sting on the palate. Roasted cashew and a scattering of ikan bilis form a crunchy scaffold for fresh cooked prawns and young winged beans to flourish. This is another dish I happily succumb to. 

Final thoughts

Even as a restaurant, Bonding Kitchen brings the kitchen into the dining room and the dining room into the kitchen.

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From 1 December 2020, dine in absolute comfort as you put your gastronomic experience in Chef Danny’s hands with the Menu for 2 ($68++) or Menu for 4 ($118++). Chef Danny is particular to a fault, and his guests never need to worry about quality.

After your meal, linger with family and friends over Happy Hour (5.30pm to 9pm) with a selection of Red South Australian Shiraz (S$8/glass; S$32/bottle) and White South Australian Sauvignon Blanc (S$8/glass; S$32/bottle).

Of course, it’s not only extravagant indulgence at Bonding Kitchen. For a simpler pairing of blue pea rice and a dish of your choice, they have a Daily Set Lunch (S$12.90++ to S$18.90++) between 12pm and 2.30pm.

As for the fire—think of that induction stove. Passion will have them survive, but tempered with some well-deserved patronage, Bonding Kitchen will thrive. 

Expected Damage: S$18 – S$38 per pax

*This post is brought to you in partnership with Bonding Kitchen.

Price: $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Bonding Kitchen

277 Orchard Road, Orchard Gateway, #02-18, Singapore 238858

Price
Our Rating 5/5

Bonding Kitchen

277 Orchard Road, Orchard Gateway, #02-18, Singapore 238858

Telephone: +65 8860 9087
Operating Hours: 11.30am - 3pm & 5.30pm - 10.30pm (Daily)
Telephone: +65 8860 9087

Operating Hours: 11.30am - 3pm & 5.30pm - 10.30pm (Daily)
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