A Cosy Dining Experience at Cicada Singapore

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Check out the new chillax spot in the Clark Quay neighbourhood – Cicada! This modern Asian diner is a multi-concept dining and entertainment venue that spans two storeys. The lower floor is an all-day bistro, serving up cocktails on tap and late-night desserts, while the second floor offers a live mandarin jazz lounge that serves Asian-inspired tapas and a wide selection of whiskeys, sakes and cocktails.

The menu is developed by the Director of Operations, Chef Derek Ang, where there are familiar dishes with a twist as inspired by various Asian cuisines. Cicada Singapore has also enlisted the culinary prowess of internationally renowned Singaporean Chef Justin Quek for the opening period where Quek’s dishes will be presented alongside Cicada’s regular menu until April 2020.

Inspired by the verdant greens of a forest and the intoxicating sounds of nature, Cicada hopes to give an unforgettable customer experience through ambience, music and the little touches from the kitchen and bar. This can be clearly seen from the greenery within the restaurant and the more jazzy music played. This definitely is a more ‘quiet’ getaway from the clubs and loud music that is the staple within Clarke Quay.

The Cocktails on Tap

The bar boasts seven cocktails on tap – the most in Singapore – and fresh batches come in every week. Now, let’s go through every single cocktail since *ahem* it is my duty to review as much as I can on the menu, right?

Cicada Sling

This twist on the Singapore Sling uses Roku Gin, Benedictine D.O.M., Cherry Brandy, Pineapple Syrup, Grenadine Syrup, Cointreau, Angostura, Cherry and Ginger Meringue and Lime Juice. As a result, I found it a more refreshing cocktail compared to the traditional Singapore Sling. I think this is a good drink to pair with foods and definitely more appealing to the ladies as it is a bit sweet.

Thai Collins

There’s Hendrick’s Gin, Lemongrss syrup, Filtered Water, Lemon Juice and Thai Basil in this cocktail and I was expecting it to be very zesty with that characteristic Thai basil flavour but I tasted more lime. I guess they didn’t want it to taste like Tom Yum Goong minus the spice.

Hmm…personally, I prefer the Cicada Sling compared to this but my friend Karen preferred this.

Chocolate Mojito

The 3 of us at the table were eyeing this cocktail ever since we got our hands on the menu. As such, we were the most excited about it. Using Black Tears Spiced Rum, Homemade Mint Syrup, Filtered Water, Chocolate Bitters, Chocolate Waffles and Lime Juice, this Chocolate Mojito definitely delivered both sides of the name – Chocolate and Mojito. First sip had you with the chocolate smell and slight essence, which then made way to the lime of the mojito. However, I would’ve preferred the mint to be from fresh mint to give it more oomph. Would I order it again? Hmm…nah. I’ll stick to chocolate martinis.

Iced Kopi

Don’t be fooled by the name. There’s NO coffee in this cocktail. Much like the Long Island Tea, this cocktail has a variety of alcohol which then results in a drink that tastes like coffee. THIS IS FREAKING DELICIOUS! I normally prefer tea to coffee but comparing this to Long Island Tea, this Iced Kopi wins both hands and feet down! It was so good and yours truly had 2. Not kidding. I highly recommend this. Your tastebuds will thank me.


So I was told that Farang means ‘European’ or ‘foreigner’ in Thai and that explains the Remy Martin VSOP in this cocktail that also contains Ginger Syrup, Kaffir Lime Water, Grape Juice and Lime Juice. This tastes almost like the Thai Collins except that the Remy Martin adds in a strong alcohol percentage and a slightly more bitter taste. My friend Karen and I preferred this to the Thai Collins though. But not recommended for lightweights.


That’s Peated Whiskey in the syringe and see those chocolate candies in the background? When you order this cocktail, you’ll be given 2 chocolates and the drink with the whiskey shot. What you’re supposed to do is to eat 1 piece of chocolate, take a sip of the cocktail and then inject the whiskey into the drink, eat the second chocolate and then drink the cocktail again. Quite a fun drink that plays up on the whole medicinal name of it plus the pill-like chocs and syringe. Taste-wise, it is kinda similar to the Thai Collins and Farang as it has Lemon Juice but what makes it different is the Ginger and Homemade Fennel Honey. As such, I think this is a close second cocktail of my choice.

Each cocktail costs S$14++ (Happy Hour) or S$18++. We didn’t try the Quayside Aperol Spritz (S$14++ HH/ S$16++) as it seems quite ‘normal’ since it is made with Aperol, Prosecco and orange syrup.

The Food – To Share

Besides good drinks, you need to have good food to go along with it and most of the items on the menu is meant for sharing. This adds to the cosy gathering atmosphere where we Asians are used to sharing our food amongst family or friends.
Beer Battered White Bait
The Beer-battered White Bait (price unavailable) comes with wasabi ‘snow’ which is shaved very generously at the table. I wasn’t too enthused about this dish because of the wasabi and I was trying to tell the waitress to go light on the ‘snow’ but she said that it needs to be generous in order to get the flavour. Um…I’trying to avoid the flavour? Anyway, I did try a piece that had a bit of the wasabi snow on it and for someone who gags at the slightest bit of wasabi, I must say that this didn’t turn me off completely. I still don’t like wasabi but it’s still edible with the snow on. Of course, I avoided the wasabi mayo but Karen loved it.
Truffled Edamame
I love edamame and this dish came with a sauce that contains truffle and honeyed chicken skin. The result was kinda interesting but the truffle was overpowered by the honey and I couldn’t help but think that the crispiness of the skin was lost in this dish since we had to eat it by popping the beans one by one.

Smokin’ Dumplings

These Smokin’ Dumplings (price unavailable) are little parcels of foie gras wrapping in crepe skin and all of us at the table felt a bit at a loss of words on how to describe this dish. The presentation is definitely fun and it looks like a traditional Chinese dumpling but of course, here comes the fusion – Western crepes as the wrapper and foie gras as the filling. Now, I’m not gonna complain about foie gras since I love it but I didn’t love the texture of this dish. The foie gras is soft and the crepe is also soft. Foie gras tastes great on its own so I’m not sure how the crepe and the sauce added to the flavour profile? However, we can’t really fault it either.

Cicada’s Nori Tacos

More fusion in Cicada’s Nori Tacos (price unavailable) where you can taste East Asia and France in these 3 pieces. From left to right, we have the Salmon Belly Cubes with Japanese pickles, Korean Beef Bulgogi with Kimchi Slaw and Pan Seared Foie Gras with Peanut Sauce and pickled cucumber.

Each Nori Taco tasted like Tao Kae Noi seaweed topped with some sort of donburi bite. But if you broke down individual ingredients, the kimchi slaw was yummy and the peanut sauce was interesting but it kinda overpowered the foie gras.

Cicada’s BaoBao Trio

Cicada’s BaoBao Trio (price unavailable) is the Asian twist on sliders where instead of hamburger buns, they use the white buns that we normally would have with pork belly. From left to right, we have the Crispy Prawn Kakiage with Wasabi Mayo, Chicken Katsu with Rojak Salad, and Aubergine and Mushroom with Teriyaki Mayo.

Sliders have always been fun to eat so these BaoBaos were also quite fun to eat in a bite. The taste of the Prawn Kakiage is very familiar so I shan’t talk much about it. The Chicken Katsu was ok but the rojak was really good! You can order the Rojak Salad on its own (S$10++) but with the fried chicken, it really gave this bao a tropical and zesty crunch. I liked the Aubergine and Mushroom patty on its own and the bao was just an excuse to eat it without getting your hands dirty. Haha!

The Food – Big Plates

For the main course, you can choose to either have one dish to yourself but most of the dishes on the menu are meant to be shared.
Sakura Ebi Capellini
We talked to Chef Derek Ang and he revealed that the secret to the Sakura Ebi Capellini (S$28++) is their prawn infused oil which they do it in-house and takes hours. So subtle but it added that umami to this pasta dish that has a char-grilled king prawn and topped with sakura ebi, bonito flakes and shredded nori. It would’ve tasted very Japanese inspired except that the prawn oil somehow gave it a more Singaporean touch. 
Oriental Braised Duck Leg
The Oriental Braised Duck Leg (S$22++) is based on Chef Derek’s grandmother’s recipe but he added his own twist by cooking the duck leg by sous vide for 12 hours and he also added beets and yam balls to add a bit of crunch and texture to the dish. The result is a very refined version of this traditional Hokkein dish and the duck flesh was so tender that it simply fell off the bone. The sauce was so good that it brought out the Chinese in us and we were hankering for a bowl of rice. 
Grilled Vegetable Platter
To have a balanced meal, one needs their veggies so why not have a shared Grilled Vegetable Platter (price unavailable) which is good for 2-4 pax. Kudos to the grill master as the vegetables were all perfectly grilled and they also added a serving of Impossible Meats so that this could possibly be a main course for vegans or vegetarians. 
Char-grilled Spatchcock
Cicada’s Char-grilled Spatchcock is possibly an alternative to the Sunday Roast for those who do not eat beef. This platter serves 2-4 pax and comes with sides of Rojak Salad, grilled cherry tomatoes, potato gratin and sauteed mushrooms. Although marinated with Middle-Eastern spices, they’re not very strong and tasted like a normal roasted chicken to me. The breast meat was very moist, which only goes to show the skill of the chefs! However, I found myself eating all the sides instead. The sides were really good! Haha!

The Desserts – with the Bellini Pairing

The Bellini Group
Besides the 7 cocktails, Cicada also has 5 Bellinis (S$14++ during Happy Hour; S$17++) that pair very well with their desserts. We tried 4 out of 5 simply because all of us have tasted a Peach Bellini.

Dessert Bellini Pair Review

Sticky Date Pudding

Spiced Ginger Bellini
The Sticky Date Pudding is amayzing and I found it to be the perfect sweetness. Chef Derek said that some customers have said that it is too sweet but I disagree. If you DO find it a tad too sweet, then that’s where the Spiced Ginger Bellini will come in to wash away the sweetness. It is just like pairing Ginger Ale with Sticky Date Pudding! The spice comes across subtly with the butterscotch sauce and who doesn’t love ice cream with warm pudding?

Purple Sweet Potato Panna Cotta

South-Side Bellini
The Purple Sweet Potato Panna Cotta (S$12++) has a harder consistency than normal panna cotta and this is probably due to the sweet potato being starchy. While it wasn’t very sweet, I felt that the sweet potato taste was so subtle that it kinda got lost with the coconut milk and the fresh fruit. I would’ve preferred to eat the actual roasted sweet potatoes.
You can pair this with either the South-Side or East-Side Bellini but let’s discuss the South-Side Bellini first. Besides Procescco, it contains Botanist Islay Dry Gin, Lime Juice and Mint Syrup. It is a zesty and refreshing bubbly that naturally would go well with this subtly sweet dessert. However, the Bellini itself didn’t wow any of us.

Cicada’s Chendol

Asssam Bellini
The Chendol comes with a scoop of coconut ice cream, which isn’t very new to me because my mother has been serving traditional desserts such as Pulut Hitam with coconut ice cream instead of coconut cream. This Chendol tastes like most chendols but…where’s my atap seeds?! Yours truly will give brownie points to chendols that have a couple of atap seeds inside…especially if they’re going to charge more than $3 for each bowl.
From the name ‘Assam’, you would think that this Bellini would be a bit sour but the sour part comes from sour plum tea and lemon juice. As such, it tastes more zesty and refreshing than assam assam. I would’ve preferred a stronger plum flavour and to omit the lemon juice. Add in some of the preserved plums too! That would make it a lot more interesting.

Yam Mille Feuille

East-Side Bellini
For the Yam Mille Feuille (S$12++), yam paste is piped in between flaky pastry and served with coconut ice cream. Again, all the flavours are very subtle but I guess this is a deconstructed Orh Nee? Hmm…the Sticky Date Pudding is still my favourite.
I really really like the East-Side Bellini! It is a mix of procescco, baijiu, lemon juice and soursop puree. It was quite surprising to us because we all wondered how the baijiu would work in this cocktail since it is quite a lethal alcohol that lacks the subtle sweetness of vodka. However, this worked REALLY REALLY WELL! Now I want to go get some soursop, lemons and procescco and finally crack open my baijiu.

Cicada Singapore 
Block 3C River Valley Road
Singapore 179022
The first floor is now open everyday as follows:
Dinner 5 to 11pm
Drinks and desserts 11pm to 1am

Images: Cicada Singapore, Karen Koh and Melissa Fann

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