|Interior of Salted and Hung|
Six months after staking it out as 5th Quarter at the off-the-beaten path Hotel Vagabond, chef-owner Drew Nocente from Loh Lik Peng’s Unlisted Collection group has moved his kitchen lock, stock and barrel to Purvis Street with his curing fridge in tow.
Re-branded as Salted & Hung (“S&H”), the 50-seat restaurant is now set in a shop house space smack bang in the heart of town. In place of its former gaudy interior, the restaurant now sports a pared-down setting with bare concrete floor and a mixture of different seating arrangements including counter seats and banquettes.
At S&H, the cuisine is broadly categorized as modern Australian although, truth be told, it cannot be more different to Cheek by Jowl and/or Whitegrass. Described by chef as “food that I like to cook”, it builds on Nocente’s Italian lineage (his parents are both Australian-born Italians) and his growing up years on a farm in Australia and banks on his experience as chef de cuisine at Skirt where he’d built a solid reputation for his aged beef.
Here, Nocent cures all the charcuterie in house and the chef’s selection of five types of charcuterie (S$28) showcases the restaurant’s cured meats alongside sides of cumin-studded crackers and pickles. Top picks include slippery folds of lardo with truffled honey, the moist and tasty oxtail rillette and the umami-packed red wine salami although we are less enthusiastic about the coppa and cured kangaroo loin. (3.5/5)
We have better luck with the cured kangaroo tartare (S$18). On it’s own, the meat cured in an array of aromatics including juniper, black pepper, caraway and coriander seeds passes muster. But with pickled beetroot, dehydrated juniper crumbs and the puddle of blood orange crème on the side, the plate is elevated to a different realm. (3.75/5)
The gin-cured Norwegian mackerel is a highlight. Torched right before serving, the fish arrives with powdery nori ash, pickled vegetables (cucumber, radish and sorrel) and a smidgen of mayonnaise-like horseradish crème that can do with more kick. (4/5)
Given Nocente’s credentials with meats, a trip to S&H is not complete without a carnivorous treat.
Blackmore 9+ wagyu flank (S$48) is first smoked, sous-vide then finished in the Josper oven to lend a smoky finish. Topped with a morsel of spongy sweetbread with sides of lentils, quinoa, Australia-sourced Warrigal greens and pomegranate puree, this dish brings to mind Nocente’s days of old at Skirt, when excellent steaks were the main draw. (4/5)
But you haven’t had the best until you sink your teeth into the pork jowl (S$18). First brined, then sous-vide and seared on the pan, the fatty chunk of pork cheek arrives with poached abalone, greens and deliciously bitter braised baby radish that magically helps to cut the savouriness from the pork with a hand from the fermented apple juice that dresses the plate. (4.25/5)
If there’s one dish we wouldn’t re-order, it’s the chicken liver on toast (S$15). It’s let down by a gamey flavour and mushy texture, not to mention the way-too-thick focaccia it’s served on. No complaints with the succulent flash seared chicken hearts, these could have incredible if presented alone as the star cast. (3.25/5)
Nocente currently offers a chef’s sharing menu (S$88 per pax, minimum 2 pax). Much like an omakase, the chef will field 10 course of sharing plates from his menu based on the guests’ likes and dislikes. Do yourself this favour and make sure that the beef tongue (an old favourite from 5th Quarter), pork jowl, wagyu flank and mackerel are included in yours. The pop corn (S$12) dessert too.
12 Purvis Street, Singapore 188 591; +656358 3130 | saltedandhung.com.sg
© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published on this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.