In our Foodie Whatsapp group, Daniel Food Diary informed us excitedly that GastroSmiths was excellent. When Big Brother decrees, Small Brother obeys. I was there immediately that night.
I was at first apprehensive about the unassuming small restaurant, allowing perhaps 20-30 customers, because the decor appeared to be a cheap knockoff of tapas bars. But the excellent service put us at ease immediately. The female server was polite, helpful, and attentive. A roving chef, Jovin, walked among customers, saying hello, and answering questions. From him, I learnt that many of the kitchen staff are formerly from Gattopardo, a fine-dining Italian restaurant.
The food is a fusion of East and West. Our favorite that night was unquestionably the 200g Hokubee Ribeye ($28.50, additional $2 for 63 degree egg). Should be more accurately described as a beef donburi bowl. It was oralgasmic! Rich with umami! The Japanese rice was sprinkled with furikake (Japanese seasoning of bonito flakes, sesame seeds, seaweed, and sweet vinegar). The medium-rare beef, charred and rough on the surface, and wonderfully chewy, and smooth inside, was placed on top of the rice, so that juices flowed down, and got absorbed by the rice. MUST add the egg, to enhance the richness and complexity of the dish.
I liked it that the restaurant dared to use salt liberally, almost to the point it was too much, but fortunately didn’t cross the line. Like the Basque seafood ($21, above), comprising Atlantic cod and deep-fried squid, was daringly salty, teasing out the flavors of the fish. The specialty, Not So Humble Eggs ($9.50, below), an appetizer, was so-so to us. The eggs were slow-cooked for 50 minutes at 63 degrees, and paired with jamon serrano, pickled onion, onion soubise, and house-made toast. On retrospect, I should have gone for a gorgeous Atlantic cod fried mee sua ($24.50) that every table ordered, instead of the Basque seafood.
For desserts, I wanted a deconstructed apple “crumble”($12.50) made from ginger crumbs, but as Ms Atas doesn’t like ginger, we went for strawberry “shortcake” ($12.50), a deconstructed version with sicilian pistachio ice cream. Very pretty, and tasted not bad. But I couldn’t help but to think we should have gone for the more special apple crumble.
Including a glass of white wine ($16), we two spent $105. A little overpriced. $80 would have been more reasonable, but we enjoyed the food, and the service. Definitely a gem.
103 Beach Road, Singapore 189704
(The restaurant is along Tan Quee Lan Street.)
T: 6336 3689
SMS: 9772 9511 (for reservations, text your name, no. of pax, time, and date.)
T-Sat: 11.30am-9.30pm, Sun: 11am-3pm
Rating: 3.469/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.