CATO – Asian Fusion at South Bridge Road
Opened in August last year, CATO is a restaurant-bar serving up Asian fusion food in an edgy industrial setting. It occupies a two-storey conservation building in Chinatown that used to house the very first OCBC Bank in Singapore.
This dining establishment has a good selection of modern Asian style small plates good for two to share, and a range of main dishes. It also has a small selection of alcohol to go with the food, making it a pretty good watering hole to unwind after work.
We started with the tapas first and began with the Crispy Squid in Thai-style Glaze ($14). It is battered lightly and crispy, and I can understand why it is one of the best sellers here.
The Prawn and Spinach Wantons ($12) is a recent addition to the small plates menu. The first thing that attracted me was the fried wanton skins that were shaped like flower petal deep dishes. The wantons make good comfort food with the slightly spicy prawn and spinach fillings. Meanwhile, do try the Sizzling Hotplate Octopus ($22) and Mini Braised Beef Sandwiches ($21) too.
However, give the Korean Fried Chicken ($18) and the Mentaiko Mac and Cheese ($17) a pass for the time being. The Korean fried chicken did not have the usually thin and crisp skins, and is a little on the salty side – somewhat reminding me of our local har cheong gai instead. As for the mac and cheese, there were chunks of salmon on top but the mentaiko were perhaps unevenly spread out.
The mains however were what wowed me during this dinner, and I recommend dropping by here for a satisfying meal with your alcohol fix. Be prepared to shell out a bit though!
CATO’s signature Bangkok Lobster Risotto ($36) comes with a sous-vide lobster served on a tom yum flavoured risotto and drizzled with lobster butter. I enjoyed the tender lobster meat that came off the crustacean’s shells easily, and matched well with the comforting risotto.
The Pineapple Pork Curry with Baked Rice ($28) is an interesting new creation. Served in a pineapple, this dish comes with slow cooked pork belly in a traditional Eurasian pineapple curry and baked rice under a melted cheese layer. This dish was inspired by the culinary director’s girlfriend’s family dish, with belacan added into the curry, giving it a little savoury-sweet flavour.
The Seared Barramundi Fillet with Homemade Curry ($30) is another comforting creation. Pan-seared barramundi is served on a bed of grilled okra and eggplants, and drizzled with a flavourful traditional Indian curry. Don’t forget to mop down the remainder of the curry with the bread.
Speaking of flavourful dishes, the Tea Smoked Chicken with Spicy Japanese Noodles ($24) is one that left a strong impression. The chicken was infused in Chinese tea and had a really smoky fragrance that I enjoyed. The noodles provided another dimension – they were tossed in a ghost chilli dressing, and I loved that kick the spiciness gave.