Michelin-starred Cheek by Jowl will end its operations on the 28th of February, after 3 years in operation.
A number of Michelin restaurants in Singapore have closed in the last year alone, including Whitegrass, Joël Robuchon Restaurant, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Restaurant Andre. So perhaps this didn’t come across as too shocking.
Moreover, fans of Cheek by Jowl do not need to be too disappointed, as the current space will be converted into a casual bistro – also helmed by Chef Rishi Naleendra.
Chef Naleendra will also open another fine-dining concept in the CBD area, likely to open during the middle of 2019.
[Original Entry] Modern Australian restaurant Cheek by Jowl was awarded a Michelin star in the Singapore Michelin Guide 2017 and 2018.
Surprised, not surprised?
On one hand, the Modern Australian restaurant at Boon Tat Street presents multi-cultural influences which should appeal to inspectors; on the other it seems a lot newer compared to other more established restaurants on the list.
According to the Michelin Guide, ”… his confidence in the ingredients pays dividends in fresh tasting dishes that display a number of influences. Lunch is quite a corporate affair so come for dinner to best experience the kitchen’s ability.”
Cheek by Jowl, which means “side-by-side”, represents the restaurant’s husband-and-wife team of Head Chef Rishi Naleendra and General Manager Manuela Toniolo.
Born into a family of food professionals, he moved to Australia at the age of 18 and worked with some of the most renowned restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney (such as Tetsuya) before arriving in Singapore.
Chef Rishi is also one of the few Sri Lankan chefs to attain the Michelin status.
The restaurant is known for its constantly-evolving menu, use of natural, sustainable ingredients, and in his own words, “logical combinations of flavours, textures and aesthetics”.
I didn’t head down to the restaurant when it first opened, because I just went to Sorrel (the previous restaurant at the same venue) which opened and closed soon enough, and then wondered if Cheek would have been another experimental place.
For a Michelin starred restaurant, meals are still “well-priced”, with set menus ranging from $38++ for a 2-course lunch, $46++ for a 3-course, $58++ for a 5 course; to $88++ for a 5-course dinner.
I had the lunch course with friends, and the meal turned out to be a mixed bag.
Some dishes work, while others tasted ‘clashing’ and wasn’t as impressive as expected.
The main of Barramundi was fresh and sweet on its own, until a sauce we all described with a weird-aftertaste was added in.
It was the fermented carrot broth which turned out to be quite distracting for appreciating more of the natural taste of the fish. That could have worked better possibly in a smaller proportion, or more liquid density.
The main of Braised Beef Cheek (additional $10++) with cauliflower and Thai basil was the favourite, meltingly tender with deep, beautiful flavours.
Cheek by Jowl’s main highlight is the inventive dessert of Coconut, Laksa Leaf Ice Cream, Pomelo and Green Chilli.
It comprised of a creamy coconut semi-freddo, Laksa leaf-infused ice cream, fresh pomelo and tangy green chilli, garnished with crushed peanuts and fried Laksa leaves.
The dessert could wake you up – literally and metaphorically, with those spices within cold ice cream providing an unusual sensation.
I suspect Cheek By Jowl is one of those restaurants that diners can get divided on.
That you would either get excited about for its odd, somewhat creative pairing; or feel some dishes might need more fine-tuning in terms of balance.
Cheek By Jowl
21 Boon Tat Street, Singapore 069620 (Telok Ayer, Exit A)
Tel: +65 6221 1911
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm (Mon – Fri), Dinner 6:00pm – 10:30pm (Sat), Closed Sat Lunch, Sun