With tropical wallpapered walls, an open kitchen, overhang pendant lights and cosy booth seats, Don Ho is an Instagrammable dining space. Were the restaurant’s photogenic features the reason why it was packed on a Tuesday night when I visited? When trying to lock in a reservation, I was surprised at how the dinner-only restaurant was fully booked at least a week in advance, even though they offer two seatings every night (6.30pm and 8.30pm).
The menu is categorised into creations of the Land, Earth and Sea; Big Sharing plates; and Happy End desserts. Start with dishes from Earth, such as the Smoked Sweet Potato Hummus ($14) slathered over fluffy, homemade focaccia (that could be more fragrant), and Pimientos de Padrón ($12) peppers, which we loved for its char. The Crispy Eggplant ($10), slathered in a mildly piquant sauce, was addictive.
Similarly moreish was the Ash Cured Ocean Trout Pastrami ($14) when topped with English mustard cream and trout roe, though the ‘ash cured’ element was too subtle. The Flower Clams ($16) enticed with its ingredients – clams, ibérico, and zucchini in chicken broth cooked with white wine, chilli, garlic and mint. It didn’t disappoint, but the ‘soup’ could’ve been reduced a little further for a more concentrated flavour.
I would not recommend the Smoked Ox Tongue Sliders ($20 for two) – the tongue was sliced too thinly to make an impression and was overwhelmed by cabbage slaw and chipotle mayo. Instead, order the Roasted Ibérico Pork Jowl ($16), a pleasing combination of Iberian pork’s fatty oils, slow-cooked egg, miso and burnt onions. Another must-try was the Beef Short Rib 600g ($38), which was fall-off-the-bone tender and layered with melt-in-your mouth chunks of flavourful fat.
Desserts, however, seemed like an afterthought. The Passion Fruit Marshmallow ($10) was stiff and too saccharine, and the accompanying citrus segments and lemon curd were jawachingly tart. The uninspired Self-saucing Chocolate Pudding ($10) fared a little better as molten chocolate oozed over vanilla bean ice cream, but the hazelnut praline bits sprinkled on top were overly sticky.
On the cocktails front, there’s a bevy of unique creations that wouldn’t be out of place at a beachfront bar. The Yuzu Mule ($20) is a refreshing and balanced concoction of Reyka Icelandic vodka, ginger beer and homemade yuzu honey; while the crowd-pleasing Berry Bramble ($22) mixes Hendrick’s with Aperol, lemon, blueberry syrup and egg white. These fail-safe offerings are good enough to satiate the palate. #01-05, The Working Capitol Building, Keong Siak Road 1. Tel: 6223 5001.
Average dinner bill for two, with drinks: $160 with drinks
Must-tries: Ibérico pork jowl, Smoked sweet potato hummus and Crispy eggplant