Sea Salt Caribbean Deli
Pasar Bella, 200 Turf Club Road, #02-06/#02-K40
Tel: 9767 8313
Opens 11am to 9pm (Weekdays),
11am to 10pm (Weekends)
THE truism that mother knows best is one that chef Ivan Agramonte, who hails from the Dominican Republic, lives by. After all, when he contemplated opening his own Caribbean deli here in Singapore, the first thing he did was to call his mother.
"I asked my mother to come here for a few months to help me fine-tune my recipes," says the 39-year-old, referring to the Sea Salt Caribbean Deli he opened in Bukit Timah last September. "I would cook, she would try the food, and tell me what to add. It was a challenging experience dealing with my mum, but that's the best way to keep the food authentic," he adds with a sheepish laugh.
Under her guidance, Chef Agramonte assembled a simple traditional menu of dishes including three main dishes and three sandwiches. One of his best-selling dishes is yaroa, a trio of beef, pork and chicken, served with either moros (rice and beans) or roasted roots ($12 for 150 grams).
Also on the menu is a pulled-pork sandwich ($14), and fish and chips served with plantain chips, yam chips and sweet potato fries ($18-20) instead of regular potatoes.
Chef Agramonte was born and raised in Santo Domingo, and came to Singapore to work in 1996. He reveals that his first time cooking was at the age of 11, when his mother was out working and he would have to stay home and cook dinners for his nine siblings.
"A typical Caribbean dish is rich in flavours, full of herbs, vegetables and spices, and everything is very natural. We have a very big mixture of cultures that developed for so many years, that's why you get a bit of the best of everything, And it's very different from what you have here," explains the chef, who is now a permanent resident and lives with his Singaporean wife.
According to him, the response to his food has been very encouraging so far, with about 70 per cent of his customers being locals who mostly visit the Pasar Bella on weekends with their families. In fact, he reveals that he was even offered a few opportunities to open outlets in the central business district area, but will probably not be doing that any time soon.
"I do want to offer my cuisine to other Singaporeans but there's not enough manpower at the moment, plus we have to focus on this outlet first. First priority is that I want to offer the best that I can, and I cannot settle for anything less than that. That's the only way I can do my food justice," says Chef Agramonte.