CATO Tasting Session

November 01, 2015 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

CATO Tasting Session
237 South Bridge Road

Opening Hours:
Tue - Sat: 6pm - 12am,
Closed Sun & Mon



http://catosingapore.com/

This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session, but I did pay the standard price during subsequent visits.
Attended with representatives from OpenRice, The Arctic Star, Elphin Yeo, Hazel Diary, Hannah Chia Food Trail, Carine Chua, Amie Hu, FelEATS, Of Reveries, and Shauneeie.



Modern Asian Bar With Excellent Craft Beers

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 8
Ambience & Setting: 9
Food & Beverage: 7
Service: 8
Value for Money: 6
Budget about SGD $47 ++ per person.


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Housed within the former shophouse premises of the very 1st OCBC bank in Singapore, CATO is a modern Asian restaurant and bar with an extensive list of craft beers, spirits, and quirky tapas / bar bites. Opening their doors in July 2015, CATO has gained some traction with its novel and creative Modern Singaporean cuisine, though it remains to be seen how successful they can be when the hype wanes.

CATO Signage



Ambience at CATO has an old-world, bespoke allure. The rustic historic facade, rough brick walls, distressed steel beams, dark stained wood flooring, and low ambient lighting call to mind the sailing ships of old. Along with the tongue-in-cheek posters, jumping music beats from the resident disc jockey, and comfortable lounge / bar / restaurant furniture, the overall atmosphere is very inviting, the sort of place where you linger while time just slips away. Excellent!

CATO Exterior


CATO Interior


CATO Lounge



Service at CATO is unobstrusive, professional, but slightly forgettable. Staff are efficient, quietly and quickly going about their duties, be it taking orders, clearing empty / dirty tables, or arranging the table to serve dishes. However, beyond the marketing team, I personally had very little engagement with the staff, though I note that they did come around to check on other diners. While I have nothing to fault with the good service, there is very little rapport, and thus, little to tie diners to making a connection with CATO.

Safety First


Smoking Area



Food at CATO is modern Asian / modern Singaporean, with a small menu that changes regularly to keep repeat visits interesting. The culinary team behind the kitchen has over 30 years of experience, and serves up contemporary food, combining international flavours on the plate. This also means that taste can be hit or miss, depending on personal preference. Portions are decently sized, and may be shared. Prices are reflective of most other restaurants, budget about SGD $47 per person for a meal here.

The extensive list of craft beers and spirits at CATO is their main highlight. The eclectic beer selection varies seasonally, with edgy labels such as Crew Republic, Modern Times, or Schlenkerla, and includes 14 curated selections on taps. Artisinal spirits from over 20 renowned boutique distilleries are available as well, featuring labels such as KOVAL, or High West. Drinkers won't lack choice here, but I notice they don't have cocktails. On our return visit on Halloween night, we were informed that still water / tap water isn't served at all. However, it seems that on regular days, you apparently can order still water / tap water. In addition, their non-alcoholic drinks menu is largely limited to soft drinks or juices.

Music DJ Console



The Beer Duchesse De Bourgogne (SGD $16) is a red ale brewed by Verhaeghe Brewery in Vichte, West Flanders, Belgium. Named for the Duchess Mary Of Burgundy, this ruby-red fruity lambic beer is matured in oak casks, which results in a full, sweet, refreshing taste. It has a unique low bitterness that tastes like balsamic vinegar, which broadens to the tastes of strawberry, and cherries. Excellent, highly recommended!

Beer Duchesse De Bourgogne (SGD $16)



The Beer Modern Times - Black House (SGD $16) is an oatmeal coffee stout brewed by Modern Times Brewery in San Diego, California, United States Of America. Brewed along with coffee beans that are roasted on-site, this black ale / beer with a brown foam head has a robust, complex taste. It starts out with a toasted grain and caramel notes, which leads into a coffee / espresso, chocolate, and hazelnut taste. Unique and creative! Highly recommended!

Beer Modern Times - Black House (SGD $16)



The Beer Crew Republic - Drunken Sailor (SGD $16) is a pale ale brewed by CREW Republic Brewery in Unterschleißheim, Bavaria, Germany. This hazy golden amber beer with a dense white foam head has a full fruity aroma and taste. Front notes are of caramel and pineapple, back notes are of mango and grapefruit, with a long bitter finish. Very fruity, sweet, malty, and hoppy, medium creamy mouthfeel, pretty good!

Beer Crew Republic - Drunken Sailor (SGD $16)



The Beer St. Bernardus Abbot 12 (SGD $18) is a quadrupel ale brewed by St. Bernardus Brewery in Watou, West Flanders, Belgium. Brewed by the Trappist monks, this dark brown beer with a fluffy white head has a balanced fruity, earthy, and malty taste. This medium full body ale has taste notes of caramel, cherry, plum, bread, malt, grain, honey, and grapes, with a silky smooth, velvet mouthful. Good!

Beer St. Bernardus Abbot 12 (SGD $18)



The Prawn Bisque With Home Made Cod Fish Ball & Coriander Leaf (SGD $12) has a medium intensity to the crustacean soup / broth, with a medium thickness in terms of texture. Decent enough, I understand it can be ordered as either a soup / broth course, or as a shot. More interesting was the cod fish ball, tasty with the aroma of spices, slightly crunchy outside yet soft inside. I would totally order this on its own as a bar snack!

Prawn Bisque With Home Made Cod Fish Ball & Coriander Leaf (SGD $12)


Prawn Bisque With Home Made Cod Fish Ball & Coriander Leaf



The Garlic Fries (SGD $8) are honestly named, for its strong, intense flavour of garlic that acts as a topping for these medium sized, shoe string fries. Piping hot outside with a slight crisp exterior, yet soft inside with a slight fluffy interior, the fries are quite addictive with the savoury salty taste of the garlic topping. Worth ordering, unless you're conscious about having garlic breath!

Garlic Fries (SGD $8)


Garlic Fries



The Acai Cured Salmon (SGD $18) features chilled Tasmanian salmon fillet rounds, cured with acai berry, which gives it a vibrant purple pink colour hue. Served with marinated starfruit ceviche, a zesty calamansi creme fraiche, spft acai berry jelly cubes, and olive infused caviar. This rather healthy dish has a myrid range of flavours; sweet, zesty, sour, earthy, sharp, and a range of textures; chewy, juicy, tender, creamy, crunchy, soft. Complex, but it work well together, making this unique and creative dish stand out. Personally, I would order this again.

Acai Cured Salmon (SGD $18)


Acai Cured Salmon



The Chicken Noodle Salad (SGD $16) is served with fresh, crunchy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, savoury Chinese tea smoked chicken slices that border between moist and dry, and green tea infused soba noodles / buckwheat noodles. Looks innocent enough... until the staff warn you that the strands of noodles are seasoned with ghost chili, also known as bhut jolokia, or the world's hottest chili (Guinness World Records 2007), or Help I'm On Fire. At least I can now say I've eaten ghost chili, though a single strand of noodle makes your mouth go numb, and the burning sensation lasts a good while. Ghost chili ranks at over 1 million Scoville heat units, which is about 20 times hotter than chili padi / bird's eye chili. I recommend that only the brave / foolhardy eat the full strength dish, I personally managed to get partially though it, and loved the pain. However, staff tell me that it's possible to request for a less spicy version, or a non-spicy version.

Chicken Noodle Salad (SGD $16)


Chicken Noodle Salad



The Crispy Squid In Thai Style Glaze (SGD $12) is possibly the best bar snack I've eaten here. Fresh, whole baby squid, coated in a savoury flour and spice batter, seasoned with fish sauce, then deep fried till crisp and golden brown on the outside, yet still tender and meaty inside. Excellent, completely unstoppable. Highly recommended!

Crispy Squid In Thai Style Glaze (SGD $12)


Crispy Squid In Thai Style Glaze



The CATO Wings In Home Made Chili Glaze (SGD $15) are above average. The chicken wings have a crisp, savoury exterior, which carries a sweet and spicy chili glaze that sticks well to the skin. Wish the sauce could have been either more salty, or more spicy, for greater taste pleasure. The interior has moist, tender chicken meat, which comes off easily from the bone, but not clean off. Worth ordering as a bar snack, along with beer.

CATO Wings In Home Made Chili Glaze (SGD $15)


CATO Wings In Home Made Chili Glaze



The Lamb Skewers With Onions Served With A Chili & Peanut Gravy (SGD $16) feature chunks of smoky, savoury grilled lamb that is tender and moist, though with a slight gamey taste. This is offset by the crunch and sharpness of the onions, as well as the thick, savoury sweet peanut gravy. The dish resembles mutton satay, but better! The crisp crostini on the side also works as a scoop for the delicious gravy.

Lamb Skewers With Onions Served With A Chili & Peanut Gravy (SGD $16)


Lamb Skewers With Onions Served With A Chili & Peanut Gravy



Loved the Beer Beef Chili & Cheese Fries (SGD $12), which has minced beef chili infused with beer, coated with gooey melted cheese over piping hot fries. Pure indulgent, comfort food, best eaten when hot! Worth ordering!

Beer Beef Chili & Cheese Fries (SGD $12)


Beer Beef Chili & Cheese Fries



The house special is Aunty Jasmine's Fish Curry (SGD $25), featuring tender, flaky, milky-white New Zealand Ling fish, surrounded by okra / lady's finger, eggplant / aubergine, carrots, yellow squash, olive infused caviar, chunks of bread, and garnished with fried onions. The star is the secret family recipe fish curry, thick in texture with a solid savoury spicy hit, when poured over the dish, enhances the entire flavour. The only let-down in this dish for me was the rather tasteless bread, though it's meant to be dipped in the flavourful curry, so it still balances out. Likely the standout main dish here, highly recommended!

Aunty Jasmine's Fish Curry (SGD $25)


Aunty Jasmine's Fish Curry


Aunty Jasmine's Fish Curry



The Steam Baked Pork Cheek (SGD $28) has nicely tender strips of slow cooked pork cheek, very lovely in texture! Along with seasonal vegetables (tomatoes, carrot, yellow squash, lettuce, potatoes), the dish is steam baked in a 'fata' cooking foil (a type of clear plastic cooking film) which helps to lock in moisture and flavour. It's served with a port wine mustard sauce, which I found to be too thin in texture, though it does lend some slight flavour. Wish the sauce could be thicker. Still, it's a decent enough dish, rather light overall, but still worth ordering.

Steam Baked Pork Cheek (SGD $28)


Steam Baked Pork Cheek


Steam Baked Pork Cheek



The Papaya Nougat Glace (SGD $14) features soft chunks of home made nougat studded with fresh papaya chunks, in a sweet wine and papaya juice reduction, along with blueberries, orange slices, raspberries, and micro greens. The combination of tart, sharp, zesty, sour, and sweet tastes complement well, but the dish will get messy while eating. Pretty good!

Papaya Nougat Glace (SGD $14)


Papaya Nougat Glace



The Valrhona Warm Pistachio Chocolate Cake (SGD $14) has a texture which is nicely crumbly, deep and rich with chocolate flavour, but toes the line between moist and dry. I like that the rich chocolate within oozes out when cut, and I find it on par with most decent chocolate lava cakes. But I'm unsure how pistachio nuts feature in this, as I can't see or taste it at all. It's served with raspberries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, and a scoop of ice cream (either vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry). Not the best chocolate lava cake I've had, but it's worth ordering!

Valrhona Warm Pistachio Chocolate Cake (SGD $14)


Valrhona Warm Pistachio Chocolate Cake



Overall, I loved the ambience, appetizers, and bar snacks at CATO, the service was decent enough, and the menu was creative. The extensive and unique list of alcohol here make CATO worth visiting on its own. However, their main dishes and desserts could been improved upon further in terms of taste.


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Reserve a table now @ CATO









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