Dig In: Backyard Kitchen

On Dig In, we give you the lowdown on great restaurants and cafes in the city worth checking out.

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The Rundown
Expectations are high for this new venture by chef Muhammad Haikal Johari, of one-Michelin-starred modern European restaurant Alma fame. Inspired by Singapore’s food-loving Muslim community, Backyard Kitchen serves smart, Asian-flecked modern European fare free from pork and lard. The restaurant is currently pending official Halal certification from MUIS.

The Vibe
There are lounge seats in the outdoor garden but like us, most customers opted to sit in the air-conditioned indoors, where the seats are cushy and comfortable. We did wish the tables were spaced out more, and while they describe themselves to be fine-dining, the black paper placemats and paper napkins make this place smart casual, at best — it’s good to dress well, but there also isn’t a need to don your Sunday’s best for a meal here. Service is attentive and friendly, but as the menu is not exactly descriptive, we found ourselves wishing that the servers could have provided more details when recommending dishes. A little heads up on the spice levels would have been nice, especially for the fiery black pepper crab pasta.

What’s Good
The meal starts with complimentary amuse bouche (chicken skin cracker with passion fruit cream and toasted spiced coconut on our visit) and tomato focaccia slices, which was a lovely touch.

For appetisers, the Yellow Fin Tuna ($14) is in our opinion a must order! Fresh lean tuna and soft beetroot cubes come tossed in a punchy Thai dressing (think fish sauce, palm sugar, lime and chilli), with smooth avocado puree to relieve the heat and crisp green apple slivers for freshness. The tomato water rounded up the umami nicely, while the edible yellow flowers had an unexpected anise-y bite.

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For mains, the Australian Lamb Rack ($38) was well cooked and came with interesting components. We liked it with the tamarind jus, or with a dab each of garlic cream and curry leaf oil. The Whole Sea Crab Spaghetti ($38) came highly recommended, but we don’t suggest ordering it, especially if you’re on a date. The dish sees a spicy whole black pepper crab, served sans wet tissue and crab picker, so it’s really challenging to extract the meat. The smart setting also held us back from really going at it with our hands. You’d do better to stick with the steaks (from $28) — chef Amri Alama of now defunct Le Steak is a partner here, so your beef’s in good hands.


Photo by Burppler Muriel A

For dessert, the Valrhona Chocolate Fondant ($18) with vanilla ice cream is a safe choice, but for something more exciting, consider the Calamansi ($14) panna cotta with lychee granita, coconut gelato, calamansi cracker and candied almonds. There are classic mocktails like Shirley Temple on the drinks list, but we were a tad disappointed that alcohol-free wines are not part of their offerings. In short, while there were times we wished they would do better, Backyard Kitchen has definitely raised the bar for Muslim-friendly dining and is no doubt still an exciting addition to our list of special occasion restaurants.

Read what the Burpple community has to say about Backyard Kitchen here, and check out this guide here for more Halal-friendly dining inspiration.