A sense of familiarity loomed upon me as I strode across Amoy Street towards my destination restaurant, Catfish. No less than a few months ago, when the world was just getting to know the true severity of Covid-19, this very road was where I prowled tirelessly every weekday during lunch and dinner hours as a food delivery driver.
The fine restaurants, as well as the hawkers around Amoy and Club Street, were a haven during the ‘Circuit Breaker’ period, and more often than not I have enjoyed merely sitting at the empty waiting tables inside, basking in dining luxury while waiting to collect my order, curious as to how the food must taste like.
How the tables have turned. Today, I am on my way to Gemmill Lane to review a new menu at an upscale restaurant that is much like those which I previously have taken orders from. I giggled to myself with a medley of gratitude and amazement, imagining how ridiculously I would’ve reacted if me in the present were to travel back in time to tell the not-so-recent me that this is what laid in store in my near future.
Needless to say, I was thrilled for the opportunity and walked with a spring, alongside my editor-in-chief who had assured me that the food at Catfish will be what a real tasting is supposed to be like. It took me a few months, but finally, the time has come for me to dine in a restaurant of this variety and boy, was I game for it.
What I tried
We sat at a table directly in front of the open kitchen, granting us front-row seats to the spectacle that made for the preparation of our food. It wasn’t long before two Japanese Catfish Tacos (S$16) appeared on our table, sitting snugly on a ridged wooden plate.
The tacos appeared diminutive to the eye, but its flavour engulfed every corner of my mouth in a manner which I certainly was not expecting. The translucent catfish meat, combined with the sweetness and tartness of the plum sauce, blended well with the salty umeboshi-mayo for an intriguing three-dimensional taste. The shell, made of crispy wanton, also provided a nice contrasting crunch to the smooth and silky catfish texture, making this dish dynamic in more ways than one.
On its own, the tacos looked small, but I found them to be the perfect size for one, big bite—enough to fill your mouth immediately, but not too much to overcrowd your taste buds. I barely had time to wipe my mouth before the next starter introduced itself to our table—the Hasselback Potato, Blue Fin Tuna and Wasabi (S$16).
The finely-ridged Hasselback potato came with a majestic headpiece made of chopped blue fin tuna and ikura, sitting atop a bed of wasabi cream. Crunchy on the outside yet delightfully creamy and soft on the inside, the potato was a solid, hearty base for the fresh tuna sashimi and ikura—a fitting complement to the mild wasabi cream, which was subtle enough to bring out the delicate flavours of the sashimi.
Elsewhere, there’s a Hamachi Sashimi, Ponzu and Nashi Pear (S$26)—a poetic mix of fresh and pickled daikon and nashi pear with a citrus dressing and shiso emulsion, immersed in ponzu sauce. The ponzu sauce was many flavours at once—sweet, salty, bitter, sour, acidic, and so terribly addictive. The freshness of the fruit and vegetable refreshed the dish, making it light on the palate.
For mains, we were served the Fish & Chips (S$32), which featured a barramundi with jalapeno tartar sauce, crushed edamame salad and sweet lemon on the side. Also, in true Australian style, a bottle of malt vinegar laid beside the fish, ready to be sprayed. The barramundi came with a sweet and buttery flavour with large flakes, whilst the jalapeno tartar sauce gave the dish a cooling and tangy presence.
Dessert came by way of Strawberry Pavlova, Fromage Blanc and Basil (S$16). The meringue-based strawberry pavlova was incredibly sweet, whilst the fromage blanc, with its tanginess, went superbly with fresh fruit—a great way to end a meal.
If you’re considering to dine here, a great choice would be their 2-course meal from the Weekday Lunch Menu (S$45), which consists of a starter followed by the main course. For a fuller experience, enjoy their 3-course (S$55) which comes with a sweet dessert.
I left Catfish with the revelation that a great meal doesn’t necessarily have to come in big portions, and sometimes, less is much, much more. This is definitely the case with Catfish, where I found every dish to be perfectly balanced in terms of portion—definitely not too much, and yet not too miniscule to leave you scratching your head.
My stomach was left full and happy, and it wasn’t the kind of full where I’d be bloated and left in a dilapidating food coma whilst booking a grab to my next destination. I walked cheerfully to the train station, noting that not only was my tummy happy, but my taste buds had a field day too. Every dish was perfectly balanced in terms of taste, and if you’re looking for a great, sumptuous meal around the Amoy Street area, Catfish is definitely one to try.
Expected Damage: S$45 – S$55 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
5 Gemmill Lane , Singapore 069261
5 Gemmill Lane , Singapore 069261