It’s easy to mistake Catfish for a bar.
Located along Gemmill Lane, it resembles an open-air lounge. Air-conditioning (if any) is scant. The lighting, emanating from the bulbs in glass boxes strung from the ceiling, is kept deliberately dim. The music is vibey, with house tracks triumphantly reverberating from the speakers. For couples, it’s a date night spot of cocktails and canoodling; for friends, the music and mood here is made for merrymaking.
Catfish is the fifth restaurant under Cure Concepts by chef-owner Andrew Walsh, who has described the fish grill and raw bar as “making seafood exciting”.
Catfish is helmed by Head Chef Erik Gustafsson, who has sharpened his knives at Stockholm’s one-Michelin-starred F12 and other local award-winning concepts. “Each dish at Catfish is a mix of finding produce that inspires me, re-inventing my favourite Asian fare, and combining that with my Swedish influence and flair for French techniques,” says Chef Erik.
We start our meal with snacks. We have the Catfish Tacos, with shells made from crispy wanton skin. The catfish has an unusual gelatinous texture, that is saved by the crunch of hazelnuts and the tanginess of the Umeboshi mayonnaise, made with salted pickled plums.
We also enjoyed the Hasselback Potato. Cut Swedish style according to Chef Erik, the potato is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. A bed of wasabi cream is piled atop with lime marinated blue fin tuna and Ikura. It is at once indulgent and comforting. We have the mini cone selection next, which comes in a rack of three: salmon, ikura and furikake cream; raw scallop with avocado cream and uni; and wagyu beef tartare with wasabi cream and caviar. We’d recommend skipping these as none were particularly outstanding — the flavours and texture here were far too rich with a lack of acidity for balance.
We feel the same way about the Prawn Toast from the small plates selection. Here, a large king prawn and a dollop of uni is served on pan-fried bread covered in a crisp spring roll skin that sandwiches scallop mouse.
Finally, we arrive at the star dish: The Squid Ramen, which I describe to friends as a bowl of yum. The ‘noodles’ in question are made with tender strips of squid. Fried deboned chicken is placed alongside its crispy skin, an egg yolk confit, and fresh black truffle shavings in a flavoursome broth.
For a dish to round off your night, go for the Whole Sichuan BBQ Fish. It’s perfectly grilled — charred skin, edges and all — with the fish’s tender flesh oozing with the flavour-packed lobster XO laksa sauce which tastes nothing like laksa, but is undoubtedly delicious. Have it with the Tom Cat cocktail, a concoction of spiced Tom Yum, cointreau, and Chalong Bay rum, if you’re after a kick.
Catfish, 5 Gemmill Lane, #01-01, Singapore 069261
All images are courtesy of Catfish