NUVO Restaurant + Lounge @ Marina Square

NUVO sitauted at The Dining Edition in Marina Square has recently refreshed its menu, opening up its doors to a whole league of inquisitive diners looking for something a little out of the norm. 

Due to space constraints and location, I cannot vouch to NUVO having a very attractive setup, deco-wise, they fail to get the chops. Brief touches of Japanese influences mar the naked walls and elaborate archways in the center of the darkened restaurant entrance intimidates; this opens up to an open dining area with booth seating that kisses the passageway, the absence of a partition resulting in a lack of privacy. Fortunately, for whatever NUVO lacks in the design savvy department, it makes up for ten-fold in terms of flavor.

Pulling its punches as a contemporary Italian & Japanese restaurant, Chef Mark Richards (previously of Keystone Restaurant)  impresses with his starter of  Warm Japanese Mushroom Salad ($18) featuring 2 types of mushrooms with a delicate mix of pine nuts, baby spinach, asparagus and tossed in a mouthwatering butter truffle oil shoyu dressing. The contrast in textures and flavors making this one of the most innovative salads I've had this year.

Equally impressive is the Angus Osso Buco Stew ($28), with a refined version of the passe 'surf & turf' combination. Here, a stew made from roasted bone marrow meets Tsukiji oyster fritters. To further accentuate the collaboration, oven roasted Hijiki and porcini mushrooms are pulled into the portrait along with a reduction of veal jus, parmiggiano-reggiano and that little nuggets of pickled crumbled to bring acidity to the dish. 

The Crispy Calamari ($18) is another of Chef Mark's attempt to inject artfulness into the Japanese and Italian infusion. Freshly fried calamari is sprinkled with togarashi (a peppery Japanese condiment) and this is served alongside compressed watermelon, cooked sous vide with yuzu. Unfortunately this did not pan out for me as the calamari itself was a bit on the chewy side. 

The next offering sees two dishes on a platter, the Kurobuta Pork Belly ($32) and Angel Hair Wakame ($18/$24) lying awkwardly beside each other. The former, is a slab of delicately sliced pork belly glazed with a sheen of honeyed fats; cooked kakuni style, braised in dashi and soy sauce; this bared resemblance to the Chinese style braised pork but with an air of sophistication. The Angel Hair Wakame is an expertly prepared dish highlighting the clean un-fussed approach of Japanese cooking methods using Italian ingredients. Al dente pasta is tossed in lobster essence, rayu oil and sprinkled with tamago fukikake.  

When the Baked Olive Black Cod ($35) arrived at the table, we were fazed with a flurry of shots attempting to capture the life and vibrancy of the dish. Here, the supple black cod rest above a pool of bisque style gravy. Pepperoni, hon shimeiji, baby potatoes and leek in the sauce resonating a picturesque background for the oily baked cod peppered with a espresso bean paste for that slight unexpected edge of bitterness.

The Japones Australian Lamb Shank ($38) cooked sous vide in Limoncello had a subtle tang that was barely noticeable to most others, the crispy kale with yuzu salt providing a fresh coat of cheer in the dish. A blanket of fregola sarda rest below the hunk of meat, like pearls of barley, this Sardanian pasta had a strange texture that I did not care much for. . 

The next dish was an fair example of a mundane dish that has been elevated by the use of extraordinary ingredients and meticulous attention to detail. Smoked Uni Carbonara ($38): the velvety creaminess of the sauce, the sweet onerous teasing of the crayfish, the earthy crunch of the truffle soil; all this relegates the usual versions to stepchild status; all if not for the accompanying price tag.

Desserts bend traditions a little more. The Wild Honey Panna Cotta ($16) had a soy pudding like texture that dissolved quickly due to the lack of setting agent, this allowed the robust flavors of the wild honey to be better translated. The crisp whole pieces of dehydrated mandarin and lychee bringing a touch of whimsical to the dish. The next sweet ending, the Fuji Apple and Parmigiano Reggiano Torta ($14) impresses with its more traditional approach to a classic Italian dessert with a warm apple tart served with ice cream. The thing about NUVO is that you never quite get what you expect; and indeed, this version has a mild case of weirdness with the use of the savoury parmigiano-reggiano cheese in the cake batter itself and that served alongside a sweet fig and honey ice cream. Truly a smack down of flavors.

For those seeking something a little more adventurous, NUVO may just provide the gateway to extraordinary dining without the spectacular price tags. Lunch sets are affordable and portion sizes navigable. Creative plates with a big emphases on quality of ingredients are the order of the day at NUVO, so do not hesitate to visit soon!

NUVO Restaurant and Lounge
6 Raffles Boulevard #02-100
Marina Square Shopping Mall, Singapore 039594
t: 6822 2098

Opening Hours:
Daily 11 30am - 3 00 pm
5pm - 11pm

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