By Jayson Moy
23 Semptember, 2013
(Continued from October 2013 issue of the Singapore American newspaper)
An exciting trend in gastronomy is that of Latin American cuisine. In Singapore, that niche is filled by Sur – Nuevo Latino Kitchen.
Alejandro Luna, former executive pastry chef at Marina Bay Sands, of Peruvian and Venezuelan descent and Venezuelan Vitelio Reyes, bring us their interpretation of Latin American food in a 70-seater, situated in a two-storey shophouse on North Canal Road. Being relative newcomers to the Latin American food scene, we asked for recommendations and quickly settled on some items.
Mix of Exciting Flavors
A must-have in Peruvian cuisine is ceviche, a combination of raw seafood, slivers of herbs, onions, peppers, tomatoes and others mixed with acidic mediums. At Sur they have five varieties on the menu and a degustation, three different kinds of your choice (S$29), is the way to go.
The first was Ceviche Clasico, a mixture of red snapper, sweet potato, red onion, cilantro and leche de tigra or “Milk of the Tiger.” The leche is an exciting mix of lime juice and vinegar, which slightly cooked the fish. Combining this with the sweet potato and it balanced the whole dish together. You have the creaminess of the fish, combined with sweetness and acidity.
The second selection was Ceviche Nikkei, an ahi tuna-based ceviche. This was mixed with avocado, jalapeno, cilantro and the leche de tigra. This combination had a slightly more citrus taste to it.
The third was Ceviche de Camaron - shrimp, jalapeno, tomato, red onion, mint and a passionfruit leche de tigra. The sweetness from the passionfruit made this one delicious bite after bite. An accompaniment of plantain chips is meant to be used to sop up the leche.
Variety of Appetizers
Arepitas ($15), a Venezuelan snack, consisting of two portions, was next. We chose the beef stew with gouda cheese, and a rumbera, shredded pork with gouda cheese. Other options are “Reina Pepiada” (Avocado and Chicken Salad) or “Domino” (Black Beans and White Cheese).
Unfortunately this was not a great hit. We thought the pork was too dry, with the consistency of canned tuna and the beef, though moist, was a little flavorless. Additionally, the cornmeal flour used was a bit doughy and after frying, left the plate and hands very greasy.
Other appetizers that are recommended are the Chicharrones ($15), a great take on pork belly and torta de maíz ($17), a vegetarian option made of a corn souffle with mushroom ragout and queso fresco.
Grilled meats are a large part of South American cuisine and Sur offers its version, Plato Parrilla ($33), consisting of skirt steak, chicken breast, pork chop, pork and blood sausages and fried yucca. A complement of sauces, spicy pepper, chimichurri and sweet garlic, are provided. Aside from a piece of chicken that was too dry, it was very standard grilled meats, similar to those found in Argentinian steakhouses and Brazilian churrascarias.
The Pollo a la Brasa ($28) was a different story, though. Marinated in a nice pepper rub and then grilled to perfection, it is set on a bed of roasted corn puree and topped with a mojo de ajo and some onion rings. The rub on the chicken sealed in the juices perfectly, giving a slightly heaty sensation, but then sweet when tasting. The corn puree balanced the dish with its earthiness. The mojo de ajo, a garlic-lime cream sauce, gave the dish the hit of acid needed to balance it all out.
Dessert has to be on your list given Luna’s pedigree. An Aljafor ($7), shortbread with dulce de leche sandwiched between, is a light bite which is not too buttery or sweet. The milhojas ($7) was a nice stack of caramelized puff pastry with vanilla crème in between. It was not too sweet and not too creamy, a perfect ending.
If this is what modern Latin American cooking is all about, I want to indulge some more.