Can’t deny I’m terribly late to the game. After a few failed attempts at reservations and more recently with Covid19 lurking about in the shadows, it has been zero luck for me getting anywhere close to dining at Bakalaki. Nevertheless, patience paid off and the long wait was finally over last week.
Despite being a Monday, it was a busy evening at Bakalaki. However, thanks to social distancing requirements, it didn’t feel too cramped nor boisterous. In fact, the ambience, the set up and the vibes were nothing but pleasant. The casual, bright and cheerful atmosphere is matched with friendly service amidst warm wooden furnishings, cozy booth seats, rustic stone flooring and cushy throw pillows. The menu, though small, covers probably everything you might need to taste, if in Greece. I was particularly impressed by the many starters and would be happy to nibble on those the entire evening!
To start, we ordered 3 dips to go with some pita bread. Mind you, they weren’t cheap given the small servings, but they sure were delicious!
I haven’t met anyone who didn’t love a Tzatziki. Bakalaki’s was chilled properly (can’t stand room temperature Tzatziki!) and came generously with shreds of crunchy cucumber. The yogurt is smooth and creamy; the amount of lemon juice was spot on. The very first bite of the cool dip on warm pita will send a happy little sensation to your taste buds and your heart right away!
The Melitzanosalata Agioritiki, better known (to us non-Greeks) as Greek Eggplant Dip was just as lovely. The mushy aubergine carried a smokey garlicky finish in the mouth, all in such a good way I didn’t mind a little garlic breath to bring home with me. The flavors were subtle but by no means, underwhelming. The bits of red capsicum lent a soft peppery bite and it has just the right amount of zing that lifts the aubergine so nicely.
Let not the pale and lumpy appearance of the Taramosalata deceive you. It was quite the powerhouse! The combination of salty cod roe, lemon juice and pickled kritamos (a plant that grows on the rocks by the sea) bound with breadcrumbs made a pasty spread that sends a refreshing oceanic taste onto your tongue. If that sounded yummy to you, I’m telling ya, it’s way better than it sounds.
We had 2 portions of Pita bread which went so well with the dips. They were lightly spiced, aromatic, soft and most importantly warm and snug in a lil basket. When the pitas were devoured, we spared not the complimentary bread either.. just so we could wipe down every bit of what’s left of the dip!
It hardly is Greek if there’s no feta on the table. I remembered the next dish fondly when I was in Athens and was super excited to see it on the menu. Feta Saganaki stuck with me after that one time I had it. A brick of Feta cheese is coated in sesame seeds and deep fried to a crisp. Honey is then drizzled all over it and more roasted sesame seeds are thrown in. Bite into sweet salty surprisingly-un-crumbly feta filled with toasty sesame nuttiness. Don’t be taken aback by the amount of honey on this.. its not too much at all! This was a party in the mouth … so, screw diabetes for now. The contrasting flavors stand out individually. No, they don’t quite meld! You bite through the crunchy sesame seed “skin” into soft sourish cheese while honey roll around in your mouth! The unlikely combo intrigues me… you go figure!
Spanakopita is basically feta cheese and spinach wrapped up in filo pastry and baked to a crisp. The baking was executed perfectly. I like how the feta gives a strong salty kick to the bitter-ish spinach. And that crispy filo pastry… I mean, c’mon, I’d wrap everything in filo if I could!
If I had my way, I would happily carry forward the meal with more starters. But Bakalaki’s seafood has given me drool and hunger alerts way too many times on social media, I can’t imagine leaving without tasting them. Bakalaki serves individual portions of their main dishes and some of their specialties in sharing platters which come in 3 different sizes. We were 4 hungry women and our 400g Fish & Seafood Platter filled us nicely. As they had sold out their prawns that evening, we ended up with extra Octopus which none of us minded since it is the restaurant’s number one seafood after all.
First, the fish. Regretfully, it didn’t scream “Whoa! Holy Fish! Fantastico!” I mean, it was a decent fish still. Decently seasoned. Decently grilled. Decently sized. My friend did bite into a piece of indecently bitter fish gut which was unfortunate. But as decent as it was, it did not deliver a ‘wow!” Just a mediocre fish which I wouldn’t miss. So, I might give fish a miss next time.
The rest of the platter included fried calamari and grilled octopus. Both delicious. The calamari well seasoned and well fried. Crunchy goodness but don’t let it sit out too long cuz it did get a teeny bit chewy when we were down to the last pieces. So I’d say, dig in quick.
The Octopus was as delicious as I have heard and seen it to be. I loved that the thick tentacles are charred nice and black without compromising tenderness in the meat. It has a good bite that springs back gently between your teeth. In Asia, we call this texture “QQ”! So yes, I do prefer the octopus over the calamari, and the calamari over the fish.
We wrapped up the meal with 2 desserts though we clearly had 3 in mind! Since they sold out on the Loukoumades (Greek doughnuts), we went with a Baklava (Filo Pastry Stuffed with Walnuts, cinnamon cloves and Greek Honey syrup) and a Yiaouti (Greek Yogurt), and received some complimentary Mosaiko cookies.
Now, I know I said I’d Filo pastry everything, but I tend to steer away from Baklava simply cuz it’s just overly sweet for my liking. But if you have a sweet tooth, knock yourself out with the one from Bakalaki! It is generously filled with crushed walnuts and smells beautifully of cinnamon (one of my favorite spices ever!). The pastry is crisp and light and of course, the honey smells (and tastes) lovingly sweet!
Greek yogurt is definitely more up my alley. I have to stress it must be Greek Yogurt and NOT Greek Style Yogurt! A drizzle of Greek honey for sweetness and toasted walnuts for crunch. Sounds almost too easy to be yummy, but its totally Nóstimo!!
Bakalaki is ideal if you need a Greek fix. Its got pretty much everything you need plus a good selection of Greek wines. Service is good and quick but do call in advance for a table as they do get very crowded especially over the weekends. I personally find it a little pricey; which the quality justifies but not the quantity. Having said that, I’m still quite willing to return for more of those lovely dips, and explore the rest of the starters we didn’t get to try.
BAKALAKI @ 3 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168891 Phone: : +65 6836 3688
Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post.