Curiosity killed my palate at a ​hipster cafe, Curious Palette.

Aug 25, 2019

Recently visited a cafe at Prinsep Street, Singapore, called Curious Palette. Apparently, it had a menu refresh, from rising star in the Singapore chef world known as Desmond Shen.

Articles were popping up left and right from what I assume to be invited media tastings. One of the main dishes that caught my eye was their crayfish roll, which instantly left me salivating, thinking back to that amazing shrimp roll I had in Shanghai last year. I had to visit the Curious Palette and visit I did.

Small food menu at the Curious Palette.
Young crowd, maybe I’m too old for this shit…

The decor of the Curious Palette resembles that of those in western cities like Melbourne and San Francisco, wooden furniture, minimalistic concrete walls and lightbulbs, lots of lightbulbs.

Very decent flat white.
Fried cauliflower, fish sauce caramel, curry powder, lemon emulsion, curry leaves. ($11.90)

The fried cauliflower starter was likely inspired from the Indian Gobi 65 dish, except the one at Curious Palette incorporated a fish-sauce sauce, which unfortunately made the overall dish very and overly salty. Texture-wise the fritters were flavorful with curry spices and crispy.

Smashed potato, mala dressing, lao gan ma creme fraiche. ($10.90)

Again, very salty. Not very ma (numbing) nor very spicy. The smashed potatoes tasted as they looked; Par-cooked potatoes, smashed and then pan-fried until their skin is crispy. The combination just didn’t work for me.

Cray Roll, ebikko, prawn mayo, fried capers & fries. ($19.90)

The main reason why I was there. A soft roll with a light crust, encasing 4 crayfish, scattered with scallions and fried capers. Didn’t really detect the ebikko, now that I see it on the menu.

Anyway, the crayfish were nicely cooked, tender. I didn’t taste the prawn element of the mayo since the crayfish’s flavor was very dominating in a good way. The capers, however, were a letdown, I don’t understand why some chefs like to fry up capers and drain them of their lovely flavors. Fried capers are bland as opposed to raw or lightly cooked capers, which are salty and tart flavor bombs. Why take that away from them?

All that said, this was a nice cross between a prawn roll and lobster roll, and quite delicious. I probably would get it again for a light snack when I’m in the neighborhood.

Prawn, Mentaiko Belacan Pasta with Grilled Tiger Prawns. ($18.90)

Grilled tiger prawns paired with capellini aka Angel Hair. Belacan technically means a type of dried prawn paste block or sometimes loosely refers to sambal belacan, a type of chilli sauce. In the case of this dish at the Curious Palette, I think the name refered to the former, since there was literally zero heat in the dish.

The prawns were well cooked, bouncy and neither mushy nor rubbery. The pasta sauce tasted more like some sort of lobster bisque than anything else. A bit salty, a recurring theme in the dishes at the Curious Palette, but bearable in this case.

Kuhlbarra Barramundi, curry leaf cream, grilled romaine hearts, pickled lemon, fine herbs. ($24.50)

The fish was actually nicely cooked, evenly seared, lightly crisp skin and tender flesh. However there were way too many herbs on the fish and on the grilled romaine lettuce. Unless one removed all the herbs, the dish was barely edible, especially in the case of my friend who belonged to the type of person who doesn’t eat coriander and spring onions. This was a monstrosity for him.

My suggestion? Lose the little herb garden and incorporate it into a sauce instead.

In conclusion, there were hits and misses, overall a bit salty. It would be a good choice to drop by for a coffee and snack if in the area, but at the moment, I wouldn’t yet consider it as a dining destination.

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