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Review: Aniba goes magically large on modern Middle Eastern dishes

To dine at Aniba, a contemporary Middle Eastern restaurant in Raffles Place, is to be hit with a masterful sleight of hand.

A private lift ascends into a deep sea lounge with shimmering scales for walls, driftwood for partitions, and views of Singapore’s sparkly skyline. Vitello tonnato presents the requisite flat sheets of red meat, but done with bluefin tuna instead of veal, then dressed with capers, endives, olives, and smooth tuna aioli. Jaffa’s Shore-line recalls bouillabaisse, and is a fantastic example of one too, but there is not a single shellfish in sight, even though the 1980 Bouillabaisse Charter – yes, it is a thing – demands the inclusion of lobster.

It is also easy to marvel at the size of Aniba’s dishes. Back to Jaffa’s Shore-line, which is ladened with sage butter, creamy hummus, fiery shushke peppers confit, fennel barigoule salsa, and roasted grouper with a crackly skin. It also comes with couscous and a carrot pureé called tershi. Together, the dish is so filling that it should be renamed Jaffa’s Expanding Waistline. The oval-shaped Jerusalem bagel, which is encrusted with sesame seeds and drizzled with za’atar, is thicker and longer than a gym rat’s forearm, and served with spreads of lima bean massabacha and labneh. If the dips run out before the fluffy bread does, which they will, why not get the pizza-sized eggplant carpaccio too, which is roasted until gooey, and sprinkled with dried rose, pistachio, date molasses, feta, olive oil, and thyme.

Eggplant carpaccio (Image credit: Aniba)

Aniba’s largess reflects the sharing style of Middle Eastern cuisine, said executive chef Ido Zarmi, but the presentation points to a specific part of the region. Opened by Foragers, the same group behind Israeli restaurants Miznon and North Miznon, together with Moroccan-born Israeli chef Meir Adoni, the flavours reflect the cultures that straddle the Mediterranean coast, while peeking into North Africa and Southern Europe.

“It’s a lot of vegetables, a lot of olive oil, a lot of herbs,” Zarmi said. “And when you take the part of the Middle East that is closer to the Mediterranean, it becomes less meat, more fish, less legumes, more vegetables. It’s light and refreshing, but also full of flavour.”

There are also dishes that place Aniba firmly in Southeast Asia. Brittle shells of pani puri are filled with salty hamachi, oven-dried tomatoes, curry leaves, coriander, and a tingly yoghurt-yuzu foam. Okras are stuffed with fish kebabs, and paired with a curry-scented tomato sauce reminiscent of butter chicken, together with charred leek powder, Thai basil, coriander, and crispy shallot. A large side of basmati rice with coconut chips reminds you that you are still contenting with Middle Eastern portions.

Jerusalem hills (Image credit: Aniba)

For drinks, Aniba worked with bar consultant Proof & Company on cocktails that references the same places, and the bracing Sirocco is deepened by date-infused vermouth and enriched by a garnish of creme fraiche- and pistachio-stuffed date. With dark rum, basil, and mixed berries, Basilikos evokes a sun drenched day.

Among the desserts, Jerusalem Hills turns chocolate-tahini mousse, sage mousse, sunchoke chips, cardamom truffles, fig and wine marmalade, yoghurt dust, and cocoa tuile into a plate of pebbles and leaves. It looks like the forest floor, and is another trick Aniba has up its sleeves.

Aniba is located at 6 Battery Road #05-03, Singapore 049909.

(Hero and feature images credit: Aniba)

Review: Aniba goes magically large on modern Middle Eastern dishes

Jethro enjoys wine, biking, and climbing, and he's terrible at all three. In between them, he drinks commercial lagers, and eats dumplings and gelati.

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