Newly opened in March, Nosh takes over the space of Krish restaurant at Rochester Park in the same historical black-and-white colonial bungalow.
Decor: Nestled in verdure, the restaurant has mostly al fresco sitting, done in a country style. Not the edgy hard-core country but a softer, laid-back white chairs, pink cushions. In bad weather, there is a retractable awning.
There is a bar area–air-conditioned–with outdoor billiard table, swings and sofas.
If you want air-condition, the country decor is extended indoors.
Something, however, must be done with the music; songs get interrupted and changed mid-way and the genres swing from country to pop to rock to 1940s music.
Really romantic at night huh? Good for date nights.
The affordable cocktails, all priced at $15, are made with premium spirits and fresh fruit juices. The Essential (green) consists Chinese pear, kiwi and vodka, interacting to give a refreshing and appetizing tanginess and a slight sourness, not at all bitter, while the fragrant red drink, Easy, does it with watermelon, lemongrass and gin and is sweet but stronger.
Western food with Asian dressing and sauces. Many vegetarian options. A compliment has to be paid to the beautiful plating: it has a homely, rustic charm, which matches the decor. For instance, in the Kurobuta Pork Belly dish, it appears like the mashed sweet potato is laid on first and the pork is used to shove the mash aside, as if the chef forgets that s/he has pork. It appears very random and haphazard but, on the contrary, there is careful design. A+ for aesthetics.
The Maryland crab cake ($16), which comes with cucumber-apple salad, tastes of sweet, fresh crab without any embellishment except for the crispy, thin layer of bread crumbs. The problem of its slightly over-salted-ness can be circumvented by dipping it in the red coconut curry–more coconut than heat–although it would also mask the sweetness of the crab. An accomplished but safe dish.
While Maryland crab cake is the specialty, we prefer the flavorful seared scallops ($18) that is sprinkled with candied walnut, lemon zest, garlic and herbs, giving the usually plain scallops character, texture and depth. Don’t mistake the parsnip puree for mashed; it’s like the child of carrot and potato, creamy and sweet. The Swiss chard vegetable is delicious with garlic–quite similar to a Chinese dish, spinach stir-fried with garlic–and has a pleasant bitterness and leaves an pungent, ammonia-like aftertaste, which we like. Despite the plethora of ingredients, the dish comes together beautifully, using the walnut, lemon zest, garlic to connect the scallop, parsnip puree and vegetables; this must take some skill.
While the tangy (Indian?) toppings, apple chutney and roasted nutmeg, exude a festive and playful feel, the fatty Kurobuta pork belly ($25) is crispy at the skin but dry within. We don’t quite understand the sweet potato chips flanking the sides.
Like the pork, the Indian-inspired tamarind marinated beef tenderloin ($33) can be a tad dry at medium-rare and can be warmer. However, the sauce–is it red wine-sauce?–is very sweet and delicious, tasting almost like a char siew sauce, giving much flavor to the beef. The beef comes with braised leeks–and leeks go with beef as we know from Chinese stir-fried beef-leeks–and purple potato gnocchi, which tastes, according to Chiobu, like abacus seeds. Different from gnocchi elsewhere, this one seems to be fried, giving the outside a crispiness. The fusion innovation of this dish scores points with us: we like its originality and its taste and its balance of carbs, proteins and fiber. A complete meal in itself.
The desserts are crafted in collaboration with celebrity dessert chef, Janice Wong, from 2am:dessertbar, probably the second most famous dessert chef, after Chef Pang Kok Keong of Antoinette fame.
Our expectations, however, are not met in the 70% chocolate Sacher cake ($12). While I disagree with Chiobu who finds pairing of chocolate with apricot pulp and blood orange sorbet weird, we both agree that the cake is too dry and, for 70% chocolate, isn’t intense. This is Janice Wong’s favorite, as stated on the menu.
The toffee date cake ($12) fares much better. While the cake is less dry than the chocolate cake, it cannot be considered moist. But still, the light vanilla custard and caramel add dimensions to the cake; in this case, the whole is more than sum of its parts.
The service is a bit shaky, as if they don’t know how to handle customers. That said, they are polite and prompt. And the establishment is new. They can learn and grow.
Overall, while there are some teething problems, Nosh has several winning factors: great romantic location, a decor that blends with the foliage, innovative fusion food, and affordable fruity, vitamin-loaded cocktails that you feel healthy drinking.
Sat & Sun 10.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-midnight
Closed on Mon
Rating: 3.281/5 stars
PS: Thanks Ravin and Nosh for the invite.