Cloudstreet Is Like Eating at Your Best Foodie Friend’s Home
There’s a new kid in town, specifically on Amoy street, a one-way street that’s slowly building an audience with some serious gastronomic appetite. There have been lots of small talk about Chef Rishi Naleendra’s newest venue, Cloudstreet which happily rolled out its red carpet to friends and family the same week of the much-lauded Worlds 50 Best Restaurant Awards in Singapore. A ballsy move given that some of the world’s most accomplished chefs were flocking in droves to our humble island—naturally spilling over into the dining room.
Anticipation gives way to a great sigh of relief the moment you tread into the dining room. It’s cavernous, it’s plush, Persian carpets below your feet and an elegant chandelier overhead. It’s as if you’re walking into the living room of a noble, and your mind starts to wonder what kind of delicious mischief the kitchen is getting up to.
Chef Rishi had closed his one-Michelin Cheek by Jowl a month prior to this and re-opened it after a short 2-week hiatus under more casual bistro settings and a condensed title—Cheek. It’s quite possible that the ‘not so’ binary fission course of action stemming from Cheek by Jowl into casual versus (what I presumed to be, from the looks of it) fine dining at Cloudstreet was a method of cleaning up the blurred lines. Cloudstreet is strictly in the game.
Having been one of the fortunate few to be appointed guinea pig of the kitchen in their pre-opening affair, I came bearing an impartial mind, albeit ravenous. In the dark, yet liking everything I’ve seen so far, it’s one of those date situations where you’ve been teased into such a convoluted position that your loins are aching. The provocative nude paintings that Chef Rishi personally painted, lining the corridor to the bathroom not aiding the lustful situation. The kitchen team makes their entrance and warms up to the set-up—it’s their first time since its installation. And, I was the first guest to get food from that kitchen.
The starters act as a magnifying glass to the concise menu served here. We get a baked beetroot paired with puffed rice snack, mussel escabeche (inedible ‘mussel’ shells), and finally coffin bay oysters draped in coconut milk topped with finger lime and graced with betel leaf oil for that extra boost of charisma. Each snack depicts a single frame, which ultimately contributes to the bigger picture of the restaurant’s ethos.
The kitchen picks up the pace with the Green pea sorbet in smoked eel broth and Kaluga caviar. It’s clever and delicious—a showcase for the kind of cross-pollination that makes Singapore’s culinary stance on a global podium ever so bright. The kohlrabi and scallop roulade with sour cream ice, nori and yuzu koshu sings with flavour. The simple presentation drumming up notes of piquancy rounded up with a familiar sesame nuttiness.
Traces of Cheek by Jowl’s modern Australian inflections surface in the next dish of New Zealand Venison Tartare with pickled cashews and zucchini. It’s a marvellous feat of incorporating sour notes to tone down the gaminess of the protein and it’s gone in a flash. Then almost immediately Chef Rishi removes you from the notion of his search for familiar ground with an introduction to his Sri Lankan heritage.
Western Australian marron is grilled on the bincho-tan till its blushing and black laced, and dished up with millet in Sri Lankan yellow curry. General manager, Gareth Burnett tilts a bottle of Domaine Gigou Jasnieres Cuvee du Paradis 2008 graciously into our vessels and the harmonious explosion of honeyed and white nectarines across the palate served as a welcome distraction to the manifestation of flavours.
Aside from the tongue-in-cheek and secular cuisine championed at Cloudstreet, the food is enhanced by a wine list featuring over 350 natural and classic style wines which pay homage to some great alongside small, independent winemakers from around the world. We sipped on sparkling Blind Corner cremant from Western Australia, clinked our glasses to Tasmanian organic cider, gushed over Loire Valley Chenin blanc and sank into raw wine guru Claus Preisinger’s Paradigm 2008. Imbibers, you’re in for a treat—the beverage pairing reflects the same amount of thought that has gone into the dishes.
Do keep an eye out for the bread course though: please note that Cloudstreet is not the place to be conservative about your non-carb eating habits. The Singapore stout and liquorice bread arrive like a knight in shining armour, dazzling in a glaze of molasses. Even on the approach, the warm scents foster memories of gingerbread at Christmas time. The partner and I donned sad puppy eyes in hopes of scoring another bonus loaf and the hospitable staff was generous enough to put it in a doggy bag for fear of ruining our appetites.
The last savoury plate of roasted lamb saddle is of perfect temperature and is teamed with jackfruit and green chili radish. Unexpected in some ways but very relatable in its malleable cross-cultural interpretations. The surprises don’t stop here. The goat’s milk cream lifted by fermented watermelon is an example of the thought-provoking cuisine dished out here: You bet other chefs will be thinking: “Why didn’t I think of this first?”. Thankfully, they haven’t, otherwise, this visage (on a personal level) wouldn’t have been so beguiling. Following closely, what looked like a mille-feuille is in fact mushroom and layers of caramelised milk skin finished off with a snowdrift of caramelised cacao nib. No prizes for guessing—it was a triumph.
Recognisable silhouettes of petit fours are served, but they are all spirited versions of the usual European mignardises. Cola and beer lollipops, wattleseed madeleines, bergamot pate de fruit and then the quintessential Aussie condiment vegemite makes head waves with a simple transmutation into a sweet-savoury ganache perched over buttery sable and showered with shaved macadamia. It’s what vegemite in a tube aspires to be when it grows up.
Cloudstreet is for intrepid diners and for those who value the genetic make-up of great service. It doesn’t spin a web of stories about making pledges to sustainability or a monogamous relationship to heritage. Its innovative food teamed with their unprecedented hospitality is exactly what we need now.