The new Rustica at Lavender cooks up creative fusion dishes using locally farmed produce

By Evan Mua February 27, 2024
The new Rustica at Lavender cooks up creative fusion dishes using locally farmed produce
Rustica is a charming new local-farm-to-table concept at Lavender. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Here’s something we take for granted: Local produce.

It’s all-too-easy to get your hands on premium ingredients sourced overseas — be it Japanese wagyu or French artisan butter — but did you know that Singapore actually has its own robust farm ecosystem?

If that piqued your curiosity, then you should visit the new restaurant Rustica at Lavender, a restaurant that shares the charm of our local produce through a farm-to-table concept.

Rustica supports local

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It’s found right beside brunch hotspot Tolido’s Espresso Nook. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Located at Crawford Lane, right beside popular brunch spot Tolido’s Espresso Nook, Rustica is a homey little establishment that’s decked in understated whites and wood tones.

It looks like a cafe but isn’t really— it’s run by 28-year-old chef-owner Adrian Chu, who had cut his teeth at some of Singapore’s top restaurants.

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The decor is understated but plenty cosy. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

The professionally trained chef had first gotten his first break at Morsels, a cult-favourite Asian-fusion outfit at Dempsey Hill while he was undergoing training at the Singapore chapter of the Culinary Institute of America.

Right after graduation, he joined Restaurant Labyrinth, a Michelin-starred establishment known for its memorable and unique take on modern-Singaporean cuisine.

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You can see chef-owner Adrian Chu in action in the semi-open kitchen, only separated with a glass panel. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

It was under the guidance of chef-owner Han Li Guang that Adrian learned more about farm-to-table principles and was exposed to a wealth of local farmers.

Capitalising on the insight he glimpsed at Labyrinth, Adrian then started Rustica with a vision in mind: Feature the best produce that Singapore has to offer.

Just perusing the menu, guests will notice that every dish uses at least one ingredient from a local farmer as the main focus!

Creative but nostalgic

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Shiok laksa gravy and tau pok is always a treat. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Besides just utilising local produce, the flavours at Rustica are decidedly local but given a creative twist.

For example, the starters include a laksa puff (S$15 for three pieces) that takes inspiration from tau pok — a staple ingredient in laksa that sponges up all the rich broth.

The beancurd puff is wrapped snugly around a luscious prawn paste — sourced from e-commerce platform The Local Market — before everything is doused in a deluge of fragrant and slightly spicy laksa gravy.

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Cereal dishes might be overdone but Rustica does it well. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Another noteworthy item on Rustica’s menu is its cereal fish bun (S$24 for two pieces) that fixes up a bao sandwich loaded with local greens, herb mayonnaise and a cereal fillet made with snapper from seafood wholesaler TheFishFarmer.

This gives a nice mix of textures — the heaviness of the cereal is superbly cut through by an addictively tangy herb mayonnaise.

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One of the most satisfying fish soups you’ll find in Singapore. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

Other than newfangled creations, Rustica also shows finesse in making simple elevations of classic dishes, even the humble fish soup.

We’re talking about the milk fish (S$32), made by boiling down mangrove red snapper from Ah Hua Kelong.

While the glass noodles are silky and the fish tender, it’s all about the broth — clean, but umami and finished with a kiss of Chinese cooking wine and ginger for extra depth.

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The chicken crown is surprisingly tender, despite being mostly breast meat. Photo: Evan Mua/HungryGoWhere

In a similar vein, there’s the roasted crown (S$31) that serves up a tantalising roasted chicken crown (a method of serving the chicken with the thigh and backbone removed) from Toh Thye San Farm.

Despite being mostly breast meat, the flesh is supple and tender with little dryness and best enjoyed when slathered with the punchy ginger scallion pesto. 

Ultimately, Rustica manages to pull off both the simple and creative ideas with finesse. In our view, it’s a place that would really be enjoyed by foodies who elevated local flavours or want to explore more local produce.

This was a hosted tasting.

For more ideas on what to eat, read our stories on the hottest pasta bars for your next date night and where to pig out on the most decadent zi char.

Do explore the new GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.

You can also book a ride to Rustica at Crawford Lane.

Rustica

462 Crawford Lane, 01-65
Nearest MRT station: Lavender
Open: Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday (9am to 4pm), Thursday to Saturday (9am to 8pm)

462 Crawford Lane, 01-65
Nearest MRT station: Lavender
Open: Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday (9am to 4pm), Thursday to Saturday (9am to 8pm)


Evan Mua

Author

Evan started off writing about food on Instagram, before joining outlets such as Buro and Confirm Good to pursue his passion. His best work usually comes after his first whisky shot in the morning.

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