March 11, 2016

You’d think that, as Asians, we should be accustomed to strange meats, like livers, intestines, and brains — plus, find them delicious, as kway chap lovers would chime. Still, it was a refreshing experience dining at 5th Quarter. The highly-experienced (and award-winning, might I add) Chef Drew Nocente treated us to his culinary creations that involved his expertise with meat curing and grilling. Furthermore, we’re talking about cuts from all parts of the animal — including, yes, the sometimes not-as-popular offcuts like beef tongues and pork tails.

As its name implies, 5th Quarter does refer to those “neglected” parts, now given some good old TLC, and suddenly delicious under the chef’s seasoned hands. Of an Italian-Australian background, his influence in the contemporary menu extends to both traditional curing methods, including smoking, curing and pickling, as well as quality work on the grill.

Chef Selection of Homemade Charcuterie
Now, a visit to 5th Quarter has to include the Chef’s Selection of 5 Types of Charcuterie ($18) — it’s the best, most economical, way to taste a range of meats as the platter includes one Pâté or Terrine, a Rillette, and three types of cured meat that may include salami, lardo (yes, it’s the fat we all hate to love, now cured), pancetta and more. The blend of herbs & spices are on point, and the variety, just within these 5 types of dishes, is incredible.

What’s also interesting is that there isn’t really a “main course” — each dish is served according to the method of cooking, and meant to be shared. These come in different categories like “Salted & Hung”, “Smoked, Brined, Cured” or “Grilled, Seared, Charred”, which makes for a very spoilt-for-choice decisions. There’s even “Roasted & Green”, which is where you can find stuff like Tomato with Burrata & Basil (S$12).

Salt N Pepper Tripe with Caponata Sauce_2 Pork Tail, Confit Lemon and Cucumber
Here’s what we loved: the Salt ‘n’ Pepper Tripe ($12) that sounds deceptively simple, but is something that you can’t wait to pick up your fork for, and later on, pick at, again and again and again. FOMO should definitely apply to this sinful dish, made of ox tripe that’s sous vide and then flash-fried — this ensures that’s packing a whole lot of flavour, though balanced, and crispy on the outside while tender on the inside. None of that strong taste that’s usually associated with the cut. Other options we liked include the Beef Tongue, Onion & Wasabi ($12) that looks just like regular sliced beef, and is just as tender, and the Pork Tail, Confit Lemon & Cucumber ($12).

Pork Belly, Melon and Onion
Wait till you hear about the grilled meats. Two words: Josper grill. That’s like the holy grail of grills, and the dishes include a Short Rib with Carrot & Pomegranate (S$36) with short ribs that has been smoked for 8 hours before a 48-hour sous vide treatment. The rum-cured Pork Belly with Melon & Onion, pictured above, sounds like a strange combi, but like everything at the restaurant, works beautifully. The pork was, naturally, tender and pulled apart nicely and the melon was a welcome addition to what could be a filling dish.

When we visited, the chef had just added several seafood options too, including a Scallop with Vegetables and Citrus, as well as a Mackarel, Gin & Cucumber. Both helped cut through the richness of the meats we had. The scallop dish was generous, and delightfully light, while the Mackarel had that perfect crisp skin that we always look out for, was seasoned well and intense, while perfectly complementing the side of gin.

Chocolate Salami, Salt Caramel Ice Cream
Lastly, to complete the meal. Desserts. But hey, this cheeky one we’re about to recommend looks suspiciously like salami, until you bite into it of course. The Chocolate Salami with Salted Caramel Ice Cream ($16) is a dessert-lover’s dream, rich and sweet and intriguing, and a feast for both the eyes and the palette. We slurped up every but of the ice-cream, and even those cured tomatoes at the side.

If you can’t garner enough people to try the menu though, try their mid-day offerings. The lunch menu actually showcase bi-weekly specials, and highlights from the main menu, for just $10 a plate — a steal, really. Six plates should do for you and a partner.

5th Quarter
Address: 39 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207630
Opening Hours: Tues to Sun, Lunch: 12pm – 2.30pm (Last Order 2pm), Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.30pm (Last Order 10pm); closed on Mon

For more info, head to 5thquarter.com.sg or facebook.com/5thQuarterSG.