An episode of Money Heist and the occasional shuffled tracks of ‘Guantanamera’ isn’t enough to brush up my Spanish. But that doesn’t make the giant paella pans and grilled chorizo at Kulto any less tasty.
It’s not like we’re at a shortage of Spanish restaurants. Tapas Club springs to mind, where dinner comes by way of laid-back, easy-on-the-wallet bowls of gambas. Kulto, on the other hand, is a little more jazzed up, and rightfully so, having been perched on the unforgivable streets of Amoy (at least to former purveyors who have since shuttered). We seem to be scuttling around here a lot these past few months. Still, hopeful new openings are more than welcome in troubling times like these.
Yes, it’s contemporary fare, but don’t mistake it for straying too far off the plains in Spain. It is, after all, the brainchild of Chef Jose Alonso, who has sliced, grilled, and whipped up plates of croquetas equivalent to his body weight to front his very own restaurant. Binomio sits under his belt of culinary gigs, and so does Tapas Club. He’s no stranger to our little red dot by now, and dollops of fiery sambal beside his gambas only convince me of it.
Things perk up when we’re inside and tucking multicoloured cushions onto our laps. Kulto is energetic in all the right places. A little stuffy (I reckon due to Carne’s kitchen behind these walls), but lively nonetheless. Like all things Amoy, the decor comes clean, classy, and topped off with a splash of conviviality. Just have a look at the flooring that’s pinker than the sangria in my glass.
What I tried
The Chili Crab Croquettes (S$12) are carefully battered morsels of roux, paprika, and shredded crab meat. It’s teasingly spicy, which I like, but it does justice to neither local chilli crab nor Spanish croquetas. I much prefer the Jamon Ibérico Croquettes (S$12), which arrive bursting at the seams with an oozy béchamel and fiercely savoury bites of ham.
Seafood fanatics, don’t despair just yet. Kulto’s menu is one fitted with an ample selection of oceanic treats. This is, after all, Spanish dining that we’re talking about. Don’t take it from me. Have a go at the Octopus, Roasted Pork Belly with Paprika (S$28) that puts forth an impossibly tender leg of octopus. Heck, I’ve had fish that’s harder to chew.
The kitchen could very well stop there, and we’ll be kept fat and happy. But there are chunks of roasted pork belly that prove equally sublime and brimming with seasoning. It’s lip-smacking, plate-polishing goodness. Order it.
Things only get more unadulterated in the tapas section through this bowl of Ibérico Chorizo, Confit Potatoes & Soft Eggs (S$22). Well, a team of sausage, eggs, potatoes, and toast can’t possibly offend, and Kulto knows it. You get confit potatoes that are softened to melty, enchanting goodness. The josper-grilled chorizo is lovingly spiced as well, which leaves our eager selves with a rather contentious bowl. Dining tables are very much dog-eat-dog, so when it comes to enticing food like this, just spare the niceties.
We’re reeled back from the shore by the Grilled Prawn, Garlic, Chili & Homemade Sambal (S$26). Kulto doesn’t say it, but diners know this is gambas through and through. A misplaced mound of sambal paste is the only thing that protests. It’s expertly handled sambal, don’t get me wrong, but there are enough spice and seasoning on the plate elsewhere to deem its inclusion unnecessary. Still, I’d be more than happy to gorge on these till I’m blue in the face and plump at the waist.
Vegetables here are top-notch. There’s a prettily charred Roasted Australian Cauliflower, Tahini, Hazelnut & Chili (S$18) which joins the ranks of LUMO and Miznon. Is 2021 the year of the cauliflower? Maybe at Kulto, it is. We stuffed ourselves silly with slatherings of creamy tahini and hefty bites of cauliflower. Binge-eating rarely feels this guilt-free.
Our table scrambles to shift about plates and silverware for a Pork Sausage & Mushroom Paella (S$38/S$62). It’s a wide enough pan to yell at everyone else “We’ve got paella!”, and it’s all the more justified, given that this one’s proudly yummy as well. Kulto’s iteration is finished on the josper grill, so things stay crispy and smoky in all the best ways. I’m aware that a seafood-less paella is sacrilegious in some parts, but it works and we licked our spoons clean either way.
Murmurings of churros or flan are put to rest quickly with a KULTO Cheese Cake (S$12) for dessert. I loved it, we loved it, and you’ll probably love it. It’s mind-bogglingly light, and I’m certain a gust of wind could slice it clean in half. Spanish restaurants should pull off cheesecake like this all the time, or maybe I’m already spoilt. They could open up a patisserie selling these and I’ll be first in a very long line out the door.
You’d strike gold with Kulto if you have a penchant for great-tasting Spanish food. Then again, we like it anyway because great-tasting Spanish food is simply great-tasting food. There are lots to be whisked away by, and you don’t pay an arm and a leg for it. We clink our colourful glasses of sangria and gleefully pick away at our plates. It’s only lunch, but it feels properly celebratory. Methinks that Amoy Street just got a whole lot sparklier.
Expected damage: S$25 – S$50 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
87 Amoy Street, Singapore 069906
87 Amoy Street, Singapore 069906