Bread sushi and doughmakase at Small's by Bjorn Shen
Small’s is quite the big experience. It is not unexpected, considering it is the brainchild of the larger-than-life chef Bjorn Shen.
The chef is no small fry: He has been at this for 17 years, clocked time in kitchens in Singapore, Australia, Denmark, Indonesia and Dubai. He runs one of the most loved restaurants, Artichoke, and of course, some will recognise him as one of the judges of Masterchef Singapore.
Small’s is his latest and could well be his greatest to date.
Shen calls this his “room of bad ideas". I will admit when I first heard he's serving “bread sushi”, it took a lot of willpower not to roll my eyes too far back.
On paper, "bread sushi" made me think “Hmmm” but the reality is that the meal was one to be experienced.
The bread is made from high hydration, long-aged dough and will be given textures and tastes with different cooking methods such as high temperature baking, low temperature baking, binchotan grilling, deep frying and steaming.
The meal is a tasting menu ($165 a person) - he named it "doughmakase" - of three snacks, up to 10 “bread sushis”, a hot pot and two desserts.
I was told Small’s is booked solid for weeks. After all, it is a 12-seater restaurant.
The meal was giant in terms of flavours, textures and sensations. The dishes come in bite-sized portions but you won’t leave hungry.
There were many things I loved.
Tenshi No Ebi is essentially prawns served with croutons, in a sauce made out of housemade almond milk, dashi, grape juice, garlic, and stale bread, then drizzled with Arbequina olive oil.
The creaminess of the sauce with the umami of the protein and the crunch of the croutons made this a star.
Small’s version of a California Roll is a fried-dough cone with crab meat, shiso leaf, cucumber strips, tobiko, nori mayonnaise and yuzu dressing. It’s a bright one-bite.
I was hesitant to try the Wasabi Peas snack because I do not like wasabi, but this worked because the wasabi is gentle but persuasive.
The menu changes because it depends on what’s available, but if you go on a night with monga ika (inspired by a Mauritian curry called vindaye) and chirashi, you’re in for an excellent time.
The food is very good but the atmosphere took it up a notch. I have a weakness for camp and kitsch, and it’s on overdrive here.
Do look out for a cheeky surprise when you get your hotpot dish. No spoilers, but if you scour Tiktok or Instagram, you’ll find it. Ironically, the hotpot was probably the weakest link on the menu (although a friend said it was the desserts). The broth was too delicate for my liking but that hunt for the surprise made up for it.
One major love for the dining experience is that if you take the first seating, you’re in at 6pm on the dot, and you can leave exactly at 8pm. That leaves you time to explore the neighbourhood and walk off your meal.
115 King George’s Ave #02-02
Reservations can be made at www.bjornshen.com/smalls
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