A firm believer and an active advocate of eating well, I prepare my own meals, load up on the greens, opt for natural ingredients whenever possible and observe a low carb, low sugar diet.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am as much of a glutton as any typical food-obsessed Malaysian/Singaporean. I’m not a goat nor a rabbit!
Trust me, I enjoy our local hawker dishes but I’ve always believed in moderation.
There is only that much grease and carb-heavy dishes one can enjoy before bearing the consequences.
BELOW: I keep trim with a low carb, low sugar, eat-as-clean-as-possible dietary habit.
If you wish to feel good and stay healthy, make informed choices of your food intake.
Since I’m particular about ingredients, textures, preparation methods and cost, I’ve never objected to forking out good money when I dine out. Understandably, such dishes won’t come cheap.
But that is a tall order isn’t it?
Reasonable prices, premium ingredients, prepared with respect and care coupled with a nice dining ambience – where in Malaysia can I find such a gem?
Well, in Singapore Open Door Policy ticked all the boxes for me.
Noticing a gap in the Singaporean gourmet scene for hearty and delicious fare that is gluten and
dairy-free, and inspired by her overseas travels, Cynthia Chua, the dynamo behind the Spa Esprit Group, ODP went on an overhaul recently.
While previously ODP fits into the category of ‘cafe/brunch venue’, the current ODP can now claim to be a pioneer in the niche of 100% gluten and dairy-free eateries.
The menu came together under the capable hands of Executive Chef Ryan Clift and Chef Daniele Sperindio and both has made scrumptious, 100% gluten-free and dairy-free fare accessible and affordable.
Trust me, the food is delicious and contemporary dishes without sacrificing an ounce of taste.
If you had entertained doubts that gluten and dairy-free food can appetizing, a meal at ODP should lay those fears to rest.
Thanks to Open Door Policy, I can now claim to have had great gluten free, dairy free pasta, mains, soups and desserts!
In addition to that, read on to understand how these delicious dishes were prepared and the amazing substitutions made to maintain its original taste.
Celery & Almond Soup ($24)
hokkaido scallop, cauliflower
All cream based soups are in need of, well, cream.
However ODP is dairy-free, thus there is not dairy cream or cheese in any of its dishes.
So how did creamy soups came about then?
Simple, Chef Ryan had said.
“All cream and milk based dishes are cooked/prepared using healthy almond milk instead. “
Try as I might to detect the lack of creaminess to this, it was faultless.
The texture is just as creamy due to the fat content of nut milk, but with no adverse alterations to the taste or texture.
I’ve tried making soups with almond milk before and I’m amazed by this soup for mine certainly wasn’t as rich.
Then again, I’m no Chef Ryan Clift nor Chef Daniele Sperindio. If they were to conduct cooking classes for dairy/gluten free dishes, I’ll be signing up in a jiffy! 🙂
Next was the salads.
The quinoa salad consisted of fermented root vegetables (carrot, turnip plus golden and purple beets) tossed with quinoa and garlic soil with a flurry of garden herbs on top.
No heavy dressing was needed as the whole ensemble was both tasty and healthy and not to mention pretty too.
For the octopus salad, I was picking out the tender and chewy octopus shamelessly. It was so soft and sweet!
This salad was heavier on flavours as it was a cooked version with added sauces.
Enjoy its components with the accompanying flatbread and it could very well pass off as a meal for a small eater.
Warm Chorizo & Octopus Salad ($25)
baby spinach, rosemary thin grilled bread
I’ve never tasted gluten-free bread this remarkably similar to any flatbread in the market.
The problem with gluten-free bread is that they taste like cardboard. I kid you not.
I’ve tried baking them, I’ve bought expensive GF loaves but really, I’ll rather do without bread.
Each bite yielded a chewy softness with no unappealing resemblance of the usual dry crumb structure and grainy texture gluten-free bread are notorious for.
Quinoa Salad ($20)
fermented root vegetables, garlic soil, garden herbs
Slow Cooked Celeriac ($24)
watercress sauce, swiss cured ham “speck”
This was another ‘wow‘ dish for me.
Celeriac, otherwise known as celery root isn’t a vegetable you see on dinner plates often.
Well, other than in its mashed, buttered foam that is.
For this dish both chefs had given it due respect, serving it as it is and allowing diners to taste its natural flavours and appreciate its texture.
Earthy and sweet, I enjoyed this very much though it paled in comparison to the other dishes that graced our tables.
Then again, I’m the sort who prefer light flavours. Rest assured though that it is not entirely plain, as the mild flavours were balanced with the savoury nuances of swiss cured ham “Speck”.
Endive Gratin ($22)
premium cooked ham, red apples, veal jus
Endives is another vegetable often overlooked.
In this dish, it was livened up with dairy-free cheese and the baking process left it with a crisp texture plus a sweet, nutty flavor. Served with premium cooked ham, red apples and veal jus, the ham’s savoury notes are heightened with tangy vinegar.
At this stage I must say I was pleased to see dishes that made use of the least common greens which is another USP of ODP.
In addition to the usual mustard leaves, tomatoes, carrots and spinach, diners would be exposed to new greens, new flavours and new ways of enjoying healthy yet tasty food.
If you don’t already know, ODP took green fingered cues from the success of its sister eatery, Open Farm Community who had tremendous success of transforming urban spaces into micro-gardens to meet food needs.
Currently ODP is embarking on its own sustainable food journey.
With the help of Edible Garden City, ODP tapped into the same ‘growing is possible’ philosophy to
establish its own indoor garden in the bistro itself.
Its walls were converted into vertical green gardens and is already producing results. Diners dined amidst rows of fresh watercress and vegetables sprouting, which more often than not, are ingredients on their plates at that very moment.
Yes, these are harvested daily by ODP’s chefs for salads and cooked dishes!
Pistachio & Mortadella Ham Ravioli ($26)
served in a tasty hen’s broth
Fans of pasta will be thrilled to know that there are many amazingly delicious gluten-free pasta dishes to indulge in.
Take your pick from ravioli in broth to bolognese-like pasta to aglio and cream based versions, as each of the pasta dishes we sampled lacked not in flavour or textures.
Yes, I’ll like to assure you again that the pasta dishes tasted like its original versions.
Vegan Maccheroni Pasta ($24)
hokkaido scallop, cauliflower
Using fermentation techniques to achieve a rich, cheesy flavour, this freshly homemade macaroni pasta is your gluten-free, dairy-free substitute for the beloved bolognese.
Ingredients include hearty Portobello Bolognese gratin and béchamel (dairy-free of course).
Fresh Spaghetti ($28)
artichoke hearts, mountain asparagus, smoked mackerel
All pasta are gluten free and made fresh in- house.
The simplest is this – spaghetti tossed with artichoke hearts, mountain asparagus, and smoked mackerel; a vibrant chorus of nutty, smoky and tart flavours.
King Crab Orecchiette ($29)
saffron and corn sauce, sugar snap peas
Hankering for something creamy?
This luxurious King Crab orecchiette pasta is coated with a thick saffron and corn sauce.
The sweet, light creaminess of the sauce satisfies minus the guilt.
King Paiche ($36)
homemade green curry, sweet potatoes, cauliflower
Sustainable produce forms majority of the ingredients used here.
For example is this sustainably-farmed King Paiche (boneless freshwater fish) served with creamy homemade green curry, sweet potatoes and cauliflower.
It is my first time sampling King Paiche and I fell in love with its firm, meaty texture and elegant sweet flavour.
As I’ve mentioned before, I like how ODP integrated less familiar but premium ingredients into its menu.
I mean, enough of salmon already!!
Eating clean doesn’t have to be a bore of chicken breast, eggs and salmon.
Pan Seared Crispy Quail ($34)
turnips and chickpeas casserole, banana shallot
Speaking of chicken breast, for fowl choices, the crispy savoury quail served with pickled turnips, nutty
chickpeas casserole and banana shallots is recommended.
I’ve never enjoyed quail due to its gamey taste but this dish was excellent – no pungency and the chickpeas casserole was definitely deliciously unique.
With all these dishes, how could gluten-free, dairy-free and healthy eating be boring at all?
Braised Veal Ossobuco ($32)
carrot risotto and smoked paprika, watercress
Braised to sublime tenderness and fork-tender, this veal ossobuco sat on top full-bodied carrot risotto and smoked paprika. Crunchy watercress, harvested in-house crowned this dish.
Feeling like a stuffed hen by now, I still made space for desserts, telling myself that after such amazing dishes, I won’t miss the desserts by these 2 capable chefs!
Rich, dairy-free ice cream had me licking my spoon (nearly the bowl too) while the marvelous dairy-free, RAW, gluten-free cheesecake surpassed expectations.
The cheesecake stood out in particular as it was the best raw and dairy-free cheesecake I’ve ever had.
My issue with raw cakes and cheesewannabes is that cashew nut cheese is at its best, a yucky coarse, wet meal.
It was like being delusional; trying to convince yourself that cashew nuts can somehow mimic cheese.
My maid and I have wasted much resources in our many attempts to make dairy-free cheese and you wouldn’t want to know the kilograms of cashew nuts we had wasted.
Our conclusion was – the recipes online sucks and the people who actually claim that cashew nut made-cheese is like real cheese are delusional!
However, after eating this cheesecake by ODP, I had to admit that it possible, but obviously only if it is done by an expert.
Sago & Coconut ($16)
fresh mango, black sesame ice cream
This is an Asian inspired dessert of homemade sago in creamy coconut sauce, served with fresh mango, and black sesame ice cream.
I’m guessing that the sago is supposed to mimic glutinous rice.
Why Sundae ($16)
soy and palm sugar gelato with all the trimmings!
This soy and palm sugar gelato with peanut butter brittle and honeycomb will satisfy any ice cream lover.
Dates & Walnut Cheesecake ($16)
I love this so much.
The bottom crust is made from dates and walnut and though it wasn’t oily like the common digestive version, it held up well as a firm base.
Created from alternative ingredients and precise fermentation techniques, you won’t be missing your usual cheesecake unless you are the sort who prefers your cheesecake overly rich.
I love Open Door Policy!
The food, the service, the ambiance and the very philosophy of their cuisine are perfectly in line with my lifestyle and dietary beliefs.
Immersed as I am in the fitness and health culture, I’ve had my share of disastrous raw, GF and DF creations.
Thus I had utmost respect for both chefs to have achieved such heights with gluten-free and dairy-free food.
Back in Malaysia, the few “raw” and “clean eating” cafes had not managed to impress me at all.
ODP is certainly a place I’ll eagerly and confidently recommend to friends (both Malaysians and Singaporeans) in addition to ODP’s sister outlet Open Farm Community near Dempsey in town.
You can check out my review of OFC HERE. The site is beautiful and the food is wonderful. Do visit!
Open Door Policy
19 Yong Siak Street
Tel: +65 6221 9307
Waze: “Open Door Policy”.
Mon – Fri: Lunch: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm.
Dinner: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm.