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Food

Curious Palette: Mentaiko Belacan Pasta & More At Insta-Worthy Cafe On Prinsep Street

Last Updated: July 2, 2019

Written by Gillian Lim

 

Tucked away at the end of Prinsep StreetCurious Palette is a quaint cafe-restaurant that’s helmed by the same team behind other cosy brunch spots like Strangers’ Reunion and Wakey Wakey.

However, Curious Palette sets itself apart with its new menu and seeks to pique your palate (as its name suggests). It offers more than just regular cafe fare and includes more atas restaurant dishes too.

This time, Curious Palette brought on Chef Desmond Shen, who has worked in award-winning restaurants like Odette and The White Rabbit, to create its latest menu which is available from 20 June 2019.

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Even though I’ve been to Prinsep Street before, it took me a while to find Curious Palette because it had no distinctive storefront.

However, knowing that Curious Palette was a brunch cafe-restaurant, I made a wild guess that this pair of minimalist glass doors led to the cafe-restaurant, and I was right. It was then that I spotted its inconspicuous signboard — a cardboard board placed on a chair next to the glass doors.

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Curious Palette’s interior was absolutely stunning. It was just the right mix between minimalist and Scandinavian, with a good mix of rustic, heavy wooden furniture, lush greenery, cement flooring and hanging light bulbs.

With natural light streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling doors and windows, and the paintings and art installations littering the place, the cafe-restaurant almost resembled a cosy furniture showroom.

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As a coffee lover, I especially loved the long narrow corridor leading up to the larger seating area of the cafe-restaurant.

The walkway was lined with plush, red carpets, and you can see busy baristas bustling around brewing piping hot cups of coffee. It was a really inviting and cosy space, especially with the heavy scent of roasted coffee beans in the air.

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We started off the meal with the Burnt Leek (S$10.90). It’s an entire stalk of leek marinated in brown butter and lemon juice, which is then slow-roasted over a charcoal fire.

It had a gorgeous char and was accompanied by a buttermilk sauce with spring onion oil.

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The leek was soft and crunchy, just like blanched cabbage, and it was acidic and sour.

However, there was a creaminess to each bite because of the buttermilk sauce and brown sugar, and it was tangy and appetising because of the lemon juice.

Though it was definitely well-executed, with a good balance of texture and flavour, my only gripe would be that the portion was only four or five pieces and it cost S$10.90, which is considerably costly.

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When this dish was first served, I couldn’t identify what it was and thought it was a fish because of its shape. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was actually a sugarloaf cabbage.

The Sugarloaf Cabbage, Seaweed Butter (S$12.90) came topped with a generous amount of toasted nuts, seeds, buckwheat and crispy curry leaves. The dish was accompanied by a poached egg and a butter and seaweed cream sauce.

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The sugarloaf cabbage fell apart like thin rice paper and while it had a natural sweetness to it, the golden brown charred exterior and toasted nuts gave it a nutty and smoky aftertaste.

The butter and seaweed sauce was one of my favourites. It was creamy and slightly oily, but with a burst of umami and salty flavours in my mouth. The crispy curry leaves also added a touch of spice which left me wanting more.

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The Mentaiko Belacan Pasta (S$18.90) came with three charcoal grilled tiger prawns, sakura ebi, and a pile of pasta tossed in a creamy mentaiko and butter sauce.

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The mentaiko butter sauce was so rich that it coated my lips the minute I slurped it up. It had a briny seafood and umami taste, just like prawn noodles, with a rich creaminess from the mentaiko and slight heat from belacan and chilli powder.

What I absolutely loved about this dish was the creaminess of the sauce, as well as how generous it was with the large lumps of mentaiko that sat underneath the tiger prawns. While the prawns themselves were impressive and tender, I thought that the hero of the dish was the sauce. It was 100% slurp-worthy, heady and delicious.

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The Slow Cooked Short Rib, Burnt Soy (S$29.90) was sous vide in soy sauce, mirin, burnt onions and apple juice for 30 hours, resulting in fork-tender beef short ribs.

It was glazed with burnt soy and browned butter sauce, and accompanied with large leaves of lettuce, pickles and yuzu paste.

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The best way to eat this dish is as if you’re dining at a Korean barbecue and wrapping each piece of short rib in a piece of fresh lettuce.

Because of the apple juice and burnt onion marinade, the short ribs were surprisingly tangy and sour, which went super well with the fresh crunchy lettuce leaves and pickles.

The short ribs were incredibly tender and juicy, and for the copious amount of meat per serving, it was actually pretty appetising thanks to the yuzu paste, lemon and soy.

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Ending off the meal was Curious Palette’s inventive take on a local classic – Kaya, Coffee Butter (S$9.50).

While it looks inconspicuously simple in the outside, this dish was really complex. Tucked between two layers of toasted white bread were rectangular chunks of fridge-cold espresso butter, as well as a generous spread of kaya made with gula melaka.

It was accompanied with a sous vide egg and an espresso shoyu sauce.

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I can’t even begin to describe the multitude of flavours and textures that went on in my mouth the minute I took a bite from this kaya toast.

First, I got a honeyed sweetness from the gula melaka kaya, and then the bitterness from the espresso butter hit me. After that, the cold slab of butter melted in my mouth into creamy goodness

The gula melaka kaya reminded me of tiramisu in the way that the distinct layers of bread, butter and kaya melded together in a deliciously creamy mess.

Dipping it in the espresso shoyu was just like dipping biscuits in milo. It made the bread soggy, but left an umami and smooth finish to each bite.


Curious Palette certainly left my tummy happy and satisfied, the kind of fullness that made me want to collapse on a sofa and let the food coma overwhelm me.

Though it’s certainly a little pricier than any other brunch cafe, the dishes were exquisite and well-thought through, with a good combination of flavours and ingredients that made me think of this place more as a restaurant than a cafe.

Expected Damage: S$10 – S$30 per pax

Price: $ $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Curious Palette

64 Prinsep Street, Singapore 188667

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Curious Palette

64 Prinsep Street, Singapore 188667

Operating Hours: 9am - 10pm (Wed to Mon)

Operating Hours: 9am - 10pm (Wed to Mon)
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