Hype of regal proportions scurried through the local F&B scene when Tanjong Pagar welcomed the addition of Fat Prince, a buzzy Middle Eastern restaurant and bar that Sultans would approve.
But if you often come here for your kebab and Turkish coffee fix, you would’ve probably noticed a corridor that clandestinely leads to a room in the back. Now officially in business, this cosy hideout has relaunched as The Ottomani, branded as Singapore’s new Middle Eastern supper club.
“Wait, wasn’t it called The Ottoman Room,” you ask? See, that’s what I thought too, since it’d gotten foodies chattering about it over the past few months as a higher-tier sister of the Fat Prince family. Well, scratch that.
Still helmed by The Dandy Partnership — also the honchos behind Neon Pigeon and Summerlong — The Ottomani doesn’t just usher in a new moniker, but also a new Executive Chef in Nic Philip, whose accolades include stints in the Michelin-starred Nopi in London.
It is with this new blood to The Dandy Partnership institution where The Ottomani takes flight.
While Fat Prince features more streetside Middle Eastern cuisine such as kebabs and falafels, The Ottomani — like its predecessor — ups the ante in its devotion to the culinary traditions of the region, steering closer to fine dining.
Take, for instance, the Adana “Kebab” Tartare ($19). An elevated rendition of the Middle Eastern staple, this infuses the spices used traditionally in kebabs (such as chemen paste and fermented onions) into a tartare of grain-fed beef, topped with caviar and a chilli cracker.
I have to confess that I’m not the biggest fan of tartare, given its uncooked nature and unappealing mushiness. But I would eat two of these without hesitation; the spices did a remarkable job at masking any raw taste.
For something a little less adventurous, The Ottomani Bread With Walnut And Smoked Date Butter ($6) should suit you nicely. The bread was lightly glazed with olive oil, and soft with a crunchy crust.
The butter that’s served with it resembles more of a thick, sweet jam, with a mildly nutty taste that I found irresistible.
Alternatively, the Salmon Pastirma With Nashi Pear, Pine Nut And Olive Labneh ($11) is another bite that will warm up your appetite.
While admittedly a small serving, it was a small, potent package of rich elements, enhanced by the oiliness and saltiness of the salmon.
Another bite-sized delight was the Mum’s Spinach & Cheese Triangles ($16), though the presentation of these bears a closer resemblance to miniature Cornetto cones. These were stuffed with kale and smoked manouri cheese from Greece, which made each bite a dense, creamy, and savoury experience.
I finished each ‘cone’ in about four nibbles; chances are, you’ll be taking your time savouring these too.
Your journey through The Ottomani isn’t just confined to the Middle Eastern region, however. I was exposed to a hybrid of cultures with the Hokkaido Scallops ($24), that’s also garnished with isot peppers and acuka from Greece and the Middle Eastern region respectively.
Resting atop a creamy, umami-rich uni base, these scallops were firm, succulent, and of a sizeable portion. But where The Ottomani excels in experimenting beyond its roots, it shines, even more, when it sticks to its culinary heritage.
To know what I’m talking about, you must try the Lamb Shoulder With Spiced Molasses And Sumac Gremolata ($22 per 100g).
Not only is this cooked in tangy sumac spices native to the Middle East, but the lamb is slow-roasted in a custom-designed, wood-fired earth pit given TLC by Chef Nic himself.
As a result, the lamb shoulder was impossibly tender and soft, and chock-full of flavour without any excessive gaminess you’d expect from lamb. Carnivores, make haste for this, pronto.
Vegetarians, you don’t need to sit on the bleachers. One must-try dish that’ll leave you ecstatic is the Spring & Winter ($21), a light yet flavour-packed salad with smoked mussel verde and hazelnut dukkah.
The broccoli and nuts in this salad gave this dish ample crunch, and I’m certain it’ll win the hearts of any salad sceptic — take it from me.
What on Earth are these? Believe it or not, these emerald-hued treats are Salt And Inked Potatoes ($12), served with a chemen sour cream that plays on the baked-potato-and-sour-cream formula. These potatoes left a slightly bitter after-taste and were dense and fluffy on the inside.
Lots of fine dining feasts come with a sweet finale, and what I had was no exception. Literally smoking on our table was the flamboyant Rose Mahlabi Espuma With Sago, White Chocolate, Mango And Pistachio ($16), a contemporary take on the Middle Eastern pudding.
Its taste was as subtle as its pink hue, neither overly sweet nor intrusively tart. Creamy and crunchy all at once, and a light way to round off your meal here.
It might be brandishing a new name, but The Ottomani retains the buzz that got all foodies in the scene excited in the first place. The quality you can expect here is exceptional, and it’s definitely worth the splurge.
Expected damage: $50 – $200 per pax