Embark on a 17-course culinary odyssey at The Nomads
Those seeking new culinary adventures should head to The Nomads at Far East Square. It has been open since November and features food from central Asia.
It describes itself as a reimagination of The Silk Road's gastronomic trail. Be sure to skip lunch if you intend to have dinner there.
The space is intimate, with some hidden nooks. Some may consider it gimmicky - one room is behind a bookshelf - but if you take the nomadic theme of the restaurant to heart, you will be wandering around looking for an adventure.
I tried the 17-course Odyssey of Fire menu ($148). The items were bite-sized but by the end of the meal, I was stretched beyond belief.
For the less adventurous, there is an 11-course Trail Ablaze menu ($98), and if you are ravenous and can handle up to 22 dishes, the Nirvana Omakase menu ($188) is for you.
Some of the dishes are available on the a la carte menu, so if you just want to focus on one dish, you have that option.
Caviar & Kaya is one of the early items on the menu.
The eyebrow-raising combination of Kristal caviar and housemade kaya is perfect - a mouthful of salty and sweet, with a crispy shell.
One bite seems too prudent but this may not fare as well as a bigger portion.
There were moments when I didn't feel like even tasting a dish when I was told what it was. The Foie in Ash was one.
Foie gras is easy enough to stomach, but the blackened crumbs with the red peeking through gave me pause. But it turned out to be a multi-textural party in my mouth.
BRAISED FOR 48 HOURS
Another one of my favourites is Beef Tongue.
The tongue is braised for 48 hours in a master broth, served on bread with burnt whole grain mustard cream, spiced beef jus and shaved almonds.
It is buttery in texture, with a hint of heat, and the creamy bite feels luxurious.
One of the stars of the meal is Beshbarmak. The name translates to "five fingers", because the dish with boiled meat is typically eaten with hands.
The Nomads' version of this popular offering in Kazakh cuisine features pieces of tender wagyu cheek in a spiced broth, pickled shallots and garlic. In place of noodles, there are dehydrated potato sheets.
The meat is beautifully tender but it is the broth - deep, tasty and comforting - that won me over.
With the Odyssey of Fire menu, the pace of how the flavours and textures builds up is good. Course after course, it gets more flavourful, although by the time one reaches the Plov, it feels like the journey comes to an abrupt end.
The rice dish (carnaroli risotto) comes with A4 wagyu striploin, bone marrow and tea-braised quail eggs, and it is gorgeous. But it just feels heavy and unadventurous, after all the delightful surprises earlier.
I guess you can't win with every dish.
As we were leaving the restaurant, my friends and I discussed our meal.
One thought there was a lack of focus due to too many influences, while another decided that since it was a culinary journey, variety was important.
I liked my meal. The variety - what texture/flavour/sensation will I get next? - keeps it interesting and that meant I was mostly engaged.
A 17-course meal sounds intimidating, but give it a chance.