Moosehead Kitchen-Bar @ Telok Ayer – Casual Dining with Excellent Seasonal Ingredients
Opened in July 2013, Moosehead Kitchen-Bar, located at Telok Ayer Street, is something of an insider’s secret. Founded by Glen and Daniel Ballis with Chef Manel Valero, Moosehead is edgy and hyper-wired, connecting with its guests through music, art, pop culture, and most vividly, through its food.
Stepping into Moosehead feel like I went into an underground concept restaurant in America – where old shophouse architecture meets shabby chic furnishings and underground art. The furniture is an eclectic mix-and-match with many recycled objects. Tables sport quirky cast-iron sewing-machine legs; wardrobe doors are recycled to become gargantuan wall mirrors; a flea-market wall rack holds wine glasses.
On the walls are the collage-like murals of Singaporean street-artist, Samantha Lo. The murals’ stylized motifs of Peranakan tiles and closed circuit TVs (shades of Big Brother), along with a moose head painted by Chef Manel, lend a cool counter-cultural subtext to the interior.
Moosehead serves cuisine with ‘edge’ in the sense that it is non-mainstream, freestyle and global, with a core of Mediterranean flavors and influences from around the world.
Chef Manel came to Singapore in 2012 and helped open FoodBar Dada (the now defunct tapas bar on Robertson Quay), Prive Grill, as well as research at 2am:Lab, before setting up Moosehead. His dishes drew influences from Japanese and South-east Asian cuisines, producing combinations of flavor and texture that seem improvisational.
We had a few starters including Bacon wrapped chargrilled dates, roast garlic aioli and pine nuts ($8), Crispy spiced pig ears ($16), Asparagus with leeks and garlic miso ($14); and Grilled avocado with ajoblanco, quinoa and salmon roe ($18). The boy loves the bacon as the sweet dates kinda soften the savoury bacon. I love the refreshing avocado which chef has grated some fresh green apple with.
To be honest, pig ears aren’t popular in mainstream Singaporean culture yet. The idea of eating it already puts me off. But, I have to admit that it is a good choice to order that. The crunch outer layers contrasted well with the chewy cartilage. It has a sweet and rich porkiness. If you’ve never tried them, you should.
As you can see from the starters, charcoal grill remains Moosehead’s piece de resistance. You can’t really find any sophisticated cooking methods here. Many of the dishes are grilled and chef believes to let the ingredients speak on its own.
Take for example, a simple plate of Maitake served with smoked cauliflower cream and soy based sago ($22). Maitake mushroom is a favorite of those who prefer a meaty, rich-flavored mushroom. Because they are so rich and flavorful, they can be served as a dish itself.
Don’t be surprised to find Chicken Bulgogi ($18) here. Served with pickled shitake and horseradish, it is pretty spicy.
Grilled octopus ($35) is first stewed in sea water before grilling. Even though it was tender and smoky to the bite, I thought it was slightly to salty for my liking.
Beef Onglet ($34) is a gorgeous plate of medium rare beef with teriyaki mushrooms, sweet potatoes and bonito. While I enjoyed the crunchy bits of sweet potatoes, I felt there were too many different elements trying to snatch the attention away from the beautifully grilled beef.
What blew us away, was the Secreto iberico ($28). Grilled to achieve a smoky flavour, the pork was sooooo juicy and tender that it tasted great even without the tangy tomato wasabi.
These days, it’s really about casual dining places with excellent, seasonal ingredients. I thoroughly enjoyed the dishes created by Chef Manel as I like how he challenges standards and conventions. It has a abit of rustic yet stylised, and traditional yet avant-garde.
Besides the menu, the bar doesn’t disappoint as well. There is a fine selection of beverages including new world — especially Australian – wines and many other boutique and less well-known labels. Just let your hair down and enjoy your night with some in-house play-mix of jazz, reggae, funk, hip-hop, techno music.
Address: 110 Telok Ayer Street
Tel: 6636 8055
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 11am to 12am. Closed on Sun.