FOOD REVIEW: Kulto is Chef José Alonso’s obeisance to Spanish cuisine

·Lifestyle Contributor
·4 min read
Chef José Alonso (PHOTO: Kulto)
Chef José Alonso (PHOTO: Kulto)

SINGAPORE — Since we can’t fly out and tease our taste buds with international cuisine the way we’re used to, we wanderlusters turn to Singapore’s burgeoning and dynamic F&B scene to travel the world. With the nation’s signature blend of ease in allowing businesses to set up shop quickly, it’s not an arduous task to hop from the Mediterranean to Paris, Calcutta to Catalonia through the medium of food. These are exciting times indeed, evident from my conversations with chefs and owners, gleeful in sharing stories of full restaurant bookings on both weekends and weekdays.

Keen to get a slice of the hodophile-centric market is Spanish restaurant Kulto that has recently set up shop along famed Amoy Street and is next-door neighbour to new burger mecca Carne. Here, the mise-en-scene aims to mimic the interiors of a Barcelona home with dramatic wooden shutters that line the restaurant’s perimeter on one side and fairy lights chandeliers that run the length of the space. At the end of this is an open kitchen where high seats accord diners a front-row view of chef-owner José Alonso and his team of merry men and women tirelessly churning out authentic dishes of the Spanish persuasion.

Chilli Crab croquettes (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Chilli Crab croquettes (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

Chef José Alonso brings a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry, having worked at places such as Santi Restaurant at MBS, Restaurant Andre, and Binomio. Kulto is his obeisance to Spanish cuisine, apropos, given that its moniker translates loosely to devotion and paying homage. Though born and bred in Rioja, Spain, having stayed in Singapore for as long as he has meant a certain synergy of local and Spanish flavours, evident in his Chilli Crab croquettes (S$12++) that pack a bomb of flavour in such a small package. Have this with his original iteration, the Jamon Iberico Ham Croquette (S$12++), with a bold filling of ham and cheese that I downed without so much of a restraint.

Iberico Chorizo (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Iberico Chorizo (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

A profoundly comforting plate of Iberico Chorizo (S$22++) served with confit potatoes and soft eggs round up the tapas section of the menu with its overtones of savouriness. It’s a tremendous flavourful trifecta of eggs, potatoes, and cured meats that contribute all manners of saltiness and fattiness in one huge serving. I wonder if the chorizo could have been better presented rather than simply being roughly chopped and strewn.

Grilled Prawns (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Grilled Prawns (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

Other pleasures lurk on the menu that will put to rest all doubt that this is a temple for all things Spanish. There’s a Gambas (S$26++) of grilled prawns that have been heroically salted almost to the point of being too excessive but not quite. Elsewhere a plate of octopus and roasted pork belly—a Spain-inspired surf and turf if you may—comes with an octopus leg that is beautifully tender and a pork belly that could have been better seasoned. I much prefer the prawns between the two plates though nothing beats Ola Cocina’s iteration.

Paella (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Paella (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

Would it be Spanish cuisine without the mandatory serving of Paella (S$38++ or S$62++)? Here it is a huge, show-stopping number that I felt should rightfully be accompanied by a chorus of trumpets and trombones proudly announcing its presence. Cooked in a paella pan, this huge pan guarantees delightfully frangible edges all around, contrasted by a beautifully cooked bomba rice, a sofrito of caramelised onions, and subtle tomato flavours that don’t fight with your chosen proteins. Mine came with pork sausage and mushroom, a combination that renders a moreish mouthfeel through and through.

Cheesecake (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Cheesecake (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

Since you’ve come all the way here to Kulto for a touch of Spain, why not end the meal with the house Cheesecake (S$12++), easily one of the most intriguing things I’ve eaten and the best dish to grace the table today. Eschewing the more commonly used Blue Cheese like that at Lolla and Persea, Chef Jose instead uses Manchego cheese for its bright zest and to good effect. It’s soft, not at all overwhelming, and, more importantly, friendly to the fussy diner, unlike a Blue that tends to sow division. The cheesecake is best eaten warm and, in some ways, emblematic of what Kulto wants to achieve—communal dining that brings all diners together in enjoyment of the best of what Spain has to offer and at a price that’s wallet-friendly.

Instagram | 87 Amoy St, Singapore 069906

Mon to Fri: 12pm – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 10:30pm
Sat: 5:30pm – 10:30pm

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