Pinpointing the exact equilibrium of fusion cuisine is a mystery. Is it necessary for ingredients from different camps to be used equally or could one or a few assume leading roles in a dish? But one thing’s for sure, all elements must complement and leverage each other’s strengths.
The Nomads looked towards the Silk Road for clues. Focusing on Central Asian cuisine, the adventurous restaurant went on gastronomical expeditions along the historic trade route and discovered uncommon delicacies.
Conceived by Shawn Kishore of Five Ten Holdings (The Salted Plum) and Olzhas Zhiyenkulov, a Kazakhstan native, The Nomads explores the road less travelled and reimagines humble tummy-fillers into contemporary plates that celebrate the East and West union together with subtle but familiar Southeast Asian flavours.
Unconventionality also contributes to The Nomads’ main seating layout.
Every diner is seated along a U-shaped island top facing the skilful culinary masters led by executive chef Dannel Kishnan. Here, they’ll marvel at the team’s plating prowess in this open-concept kitchen, which includes a custom-built grill fired up with binchotan.
An epic course
Serving portions are comfortable on the 17-course The Odyssey of Fire. But don’t underestimate the bite-sized starters of sweet-savoury Caviar & Kaya in a Nonya-style kueh pie tee shell, and the Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan favourite, Lamb Samsa Cones. While the former melds Singaporean and Siberian flavours harmoniously together with poached Argentinean prawns, Lamb Samsa Cones boasts an enigmatic coffee-coated fresh tartare of Mottainai Lamb short loin.
Bread isn’t just basic carbs on this journey. Enter The Nomad’s Nan with hunter-gatherer’s butter—a traditional Kazakhstan-style bread that’s made using a secret family recipe whereby flour is fermented overnight with yoghurt to intensify its flavour. Chewy yet fluffy, thyme and lemon glaze aroma add depth.
Relish the thoughtfully prepared mains: Beshbarmak, Squid Laghman and Hunter’s Plov. Meaning ‘five fingers’, the comforting Beshbarmak encourages diners to consume Kazakhstan’s national dish by hand. The Nomads’ interpretation replaces noodles with crispy dehydrated potato sheets placed on tender Wagyu cheek slices doused in a spiced broth.
Also, swapping out carbs (noodles) for protein is the Squid Laghman. Lightly grilling the striped sea delicacy, this Xinjiang Uygur-originated fare provides a memorable spicy kick with capsicum and pine nuts in the hearty bone marrow and broth-based Sichuan peppercorn sauce. And the Silk Road wouldn’t be complete without Plov. Tweaking the Uzbekistan’s variant, dig into a bowl full of A4 Wagyu striploin, bone marrow and carnaroli risotto elevated by condiments of pickled heirloom carrots, tea-braised quail eggs and brandied raisins.
The final destination is Almaty, a dainty tart of smoked apple ribbons with dollops of Gorgonzola cheese and cinnamon yoghurt with a scoop of celery sorbet. Complex yet gratifying.
No ingredient is an afterthought. Even the shiso oil-dashed pomegranate and watermelon sorbet ingeniously invigorate taste buds between courses. So, purpose is achieved once fusion finds unity.
We returned to The Nomads (how could we not) and experience the 'secret' Private Dining Room (PDR). Cleverly hidden behind a floor-to-ceiling shelf, this intimate venue provides and serves guests large-format dishes, a nod at hearty and hands-on Central Asian communal dining. A maximum number of eight pax, of course.
This time, wines from Central Asia and its neighbours such as Turkey, Syria, and Morocco paired up with The Nomads' moreish dishes like Adjika-seasoned squid (with ash) and (chicken skewers), in-house dry-aged spiced duck and Margaret River Tomahawk.
How we feel about it in a gif
The Nomads is located at 70 Telok Ayer Street, #01-01. For more details and reservations, dial 6977 7057.