Open Kitchens Are All the Rage in Restaurants Now—Here’s Why
On top of bringing a theatrical element to the dining experience, open kitchens also serve as a stage to showcase the chef’s inimitable skills
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck is credited to have pioneered the open kitchen concept in the ’90s with Californian restaurant Spago, located in Beverly Hills. The premise was to “see and be seen”, and until today, this idea resonates with chefs and restaurateurs who want to offer a more interactive dining experience where diners can personally interact with chefs while watching them prepare their signature dishes.
In Singapore, we have no shortage of restaurants with stylish open kitchens. Here are five to check out:
In case you missed it: 20 Stylish New Restaurants in Singapore to Visit in 2021
Nothing beats freshly cooked pasta, and it was with this in mind that the design concept of Bar Cicheti was conceived by Amsterdam-based Studio Königshausen. Inspired by the bacari that line the canals of Venice, the 42-seater wine and pasta bar features an arch made with perforated metal and a skylight that puts the spotlight on the open kitchen for dramatic effect. It is the “stage” where chef-owner Lim Yew Aun and his team prep, twirl, cook and toss handmade pasta into sumptuous dishes like pesto pasta, comprising your choice of pasta drenched in a concoction of nutty pistachio and fresh basil pesto sauce, and rigatoni alla nonna. The latter is composed of large pasta shells bathed in a fiery arrabbiata sauce and topped with eggplant and aged ricotta. The group’s restaurateur and owner Liling Ong adds: “There are a handful of counter seats at a time... thus, providing an intimate interaction with the chef himself and a unique experience no other seats in the pasta bar can afford.”
“Nigiri sushi is created at temperatures just right for eating within a few minutes, so it should be eaten immediately after the chef prepares it,” explains Simon Koh, the head chef of sushi-ya Kei Hachi. That is why the restaurant—designed internally by the team to be as minimalist as possible, using neutral wood tones and stone finishes—has only a 15-seat counter table and an open kitchen. It allows for more personable interaction with the customer throughout the meal, as Koh and his team expertly prepare seasonal appetisers, premium sashimi and pristine morsels of sushi, served as part of the ever-changing omakase menu. Koh enthuses, “The best part about this format is we also have an opportunity to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture, so they can better appreciate the food.”
Kei Hachi | 8 Keong Saik Road, S(089116) | 6518 4755
Isaac Tan, the head of culinary and product innovations at F&B group Commonwealth Concepts, understands the importance of open kitchens in “bringing guests closer to the culinary action” and adding a “layer of theatrics to the dining experience”. It is no surprise then that homegrown steakhouse Bedrock Origin’s design concept, which takes its cues from the island’s surroundings with its neutral palette accented by plum and olive hues, is anchored by a semi-open kitchen. Most of the “heavy cooking” is done away from the diners’ view, but the culinary team does the plating and final touches of dishes like the steakhouse chopped salad (a medley of greens drizzled with chimichurri sauce) and kingfish sashimi bathed in ceviche soya and lemon juice in front of diners for visual entertainment.
Bedrock Origin | Oasia Resort Sentosa Hotel, 23 Beach View #01-02, Palawan Ridge, S(098679) | 6818 3333
After five years on Amoy Street, Argentinean steakhouse Bochinche has moved to a bigger and better location on Club Street. “We had a fantastic run at our cosy corner unit, and it was a good size to create that buzzing energy, but the crowds grew bigger over time,” explains Spa Esprit Group chairman and co-founder Cynthia Chua, who wanted to offer the same fun dining experience but in a swankier and more modern space. Thus, the group’s creative director, Jerry Sparks, decked out the restaurant with tribal-inspired, colourful design elements (instead of the signature blue and white prints) and fitted the place with an open kitchen spanning the whole length of the restaurant to offer “front-row seats to the main event”. Diners may sit at the counter table for unobstructed views of prized steaks such as the “Devesa” Argentinian grain-fed OP rib and Australian Solomillo sirloin steak, which, upon order, are expertly grilled on the wood and charcoal grill.
Jeremmy Chiam understands that guests now are intrigued by the food as well as what goes on in the kitchen, the movement and the adrenaline. Thus, he and his team added an open kitchen to the restaurant design, which takes cues from the "Tokyo night feels" with its neon lights and a nine-metre hand-painted mural by local artist Tobyato, depicting swirling ocean waves. Diners will be immersed in this vibe dining as they witness the team craft modern Japanese dishes, ranging from robata-grilled specialities to signatures such as mushroom donabe and somen. More than giving the diners a view of what goes into preparing their orders, Chiam shares that open kitchen concepts go both ways as we "gain more recognition for the work and effort put in and in return, and guests appreciate their meals more".
Iko Restaurant | 65 Neil Road, S(088897) | 8866 5218