Chinatown is obviously well-known for the multitude of fantastic Chinese food that is dotted across the area. But within the region of the Chinese food hub lies a restaurant that offers something decidedly more Western. Enter Lime House, a restaurant housed in an unassuming but distinct light green shophouse that serves food from the Caribbean, a big contrast to its very Singaporean facade.
Opened in 2013, Lime House proclaims to be Singapore’s only Caribbean bar and restaurant, aiming to be the one destination for authentic Caribbean culture, food and tropical drinks. Headed by owner Chris Morris, a native from Trinidad and Tobago, the idea for the restaurant was to be a celebration of the region and its lifestyle through its interpretations of Caribbean cocktails, rum offerings and signature dishes.
In fact, the name Lime House has two meanings. Other than being an allusion to the restaurant’s exterior colour, the word lime is in reference to “liming”, a sort of slang that the Caribbeans use that is akin to our lepak. Indeed, Mr Morris wants all patrons to sit back and relax while they partake in the dining experience.
That is plain to see as you enter the restaurant, with the decor evoking the tropic essence of the region and Caribbean music lightly serenading your ears.
Inside, there is also a bar stocked to the brim with all manner of alcohols where the friendly bartender will be whipping up drinks.
Part of the reason why the menu was revamped was because customers enjoyed sharing certain main courses with their friends and family as they ate and the new starters were introduced to cater to that sharing culture.
Carribean Couscous Salad ($12)
The Carribean Couscous Salad is at first very modest, both in looks and taste, as you scoop up the first few bites. Once you start to mix in the various ingredients like the feta cheese and pineapple, the flavour starts coming in. There is a good crunch element as well with the okra that is hiding within the couscous.
Curried Potted Crab ($16)
As a fan of curry, the presentation of the Curried Potted Crab surprised me. Rather than the soupy incarnations of the Asian versions of curry, this one from Lime House came out to be more paste-like. Indeed, this was made so that the curry itself could be spread onto the toast rather than dipped. The curry itself was not spicy though it still had tons of flavour packed into each bite, with the sweetness of the crab going well with the cumin and coriander, and the crunch of the toast brought about a satisfying combination. Such was the flavour of the curry that I could not waste the leftover curry even when the toast bites was finished and ate the spread on its own.
Mac Ball ($12)
Next up was a vegetarian offering in the form of the Mac Ball. Within the breaded morsel is macaroni packed with cheese and under it lies the tomato dipping sauce. The macaroni and cheese filling itself is a delight and is akin to having bite-sized Mac N’ Cheese balls. The sourness from the tomato dipping sauce is subtle and also adds a little more depth to the flavour, though frankly, it’ll be better if more was on the plate.
Oxtail & Eggplant ($16)
Certainly a exotic combination, the Oxtail & Eggplant is a simple dish that belies its ingredients. The oxtail – which has been slowly braised – is rested upon a breaded slice of eggplant and is topped off with a bit of tomato. The oxtail itself is delicately soft and melts in your mouth, bringing about the strong gamy flavour which dances in your mouth with every chew. The breaded eggplant is also fried to perfection with a good balance of crunch and softness.
Pork ‘n’ Roll ($22)
Another meat starter, premium iberico pork collar is used as the main ingredient of the Pork ‘n’ Roll, with the dish finished off with cheddar cheese and ripe plantain topped with tomato salsa. The dish, while nice, is not as good as the Oxtail & Eggplant. The pork lives up to the premium moniker and is soft and chewy but sadly the rest of the ingredients do not hit the same standard, with the cheese and salsa not adding enough flavour into the dish.
Carnival Market ($18)
The name Carnival Market brings out a myriad of expectations and it certainly does not disappoint. Visually on its own, it looks like a work of art but it actually tastes even better. The pan-seared snapper is as fresh as it comes and is mixed well with the peppers, butternut and onions that have been cooked with it. There is a subtle curry taste as well with each bite that accentuates the ingredients’ flavour on the dish and elevates it to a new level.
Signature Jerk Chicken ($29)
Finally, the main course. The Signature Jerk Chicken was described to be the end product of marinating a boneless chicken thigh with the blend of secret spices made by the owner for a whole day, finished off with vegetables, plantains and puree. The taste from the chicken comes off strong and is reminiscent of the same smoky, charred taste you get from barbecues as the juices from the skin seep into your taste buds. It will probably take some time to get used to.
The chicken itself is cooked perfectly moist and tender. The puree given is also sweet and accompanies well with the chicken’s flavour. The plantains share the same charred taste, though it is much more subtle and also pairs well with the chicken. The accompanying brocolli are also cooked nicely, packing in the flavour soaked up from the juices of the chicken.
Of course, what’s food without drinks? On the menu is Lime House’s alcoholic drinks which has their own Carribean twist to them.
This is Lime House’s Caribbean rendition of the French 25, with the AirMail using dark rum instead of gin as the ingredient. It is then mixed in with honey, lime, and champagne to create the final product that is on display here.
The Kingston Duo ($23)
Named as the unofficial drink of Jamaica, Lime House’s version of The Kingston Duo uses additional lime juice in combination with the strong Jamaican rum to boost the acidity profile of the drink, making it more manageable on the palate. The drink itself has a bitter taste to it, making it complementary to the flavourful dishes on offer.
Willemstad Collins ($21)
This is a cocktail that uses cardamon and dry curaçao, a liqueur made with a bitter orange called the lahara. This drink is meant to be a palate cleanser for the next dish due to the acidic properties inside.
Planter’s Punch ($20)
Probably the most eye-catching drink with its cranberry-purple colour and floral arrangement, Lime House’s Planter’s Punch uses a hibiscus-infused grenadine syrup in addition to lemon, orange and pineapple juices, Angostura bitters, as well as dark rum, making for a floral flare.
Experiencing Caribbean food was indeed quite the experience to be had. After surrounding myself with Asian cuisine as part of my main diet, it is nice to try something different for a change. If you also want to take a break from the dim sums, ramens or KBBQs, you may want to consider Lime House for next meal.
Address: 2 Jiak Chuan Rd, Singapore 089260
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, from 5pm to 12am. Closed Mondays, Sundays and Public Holidays.
For more information and reservations, visit https://limehouse.asia/.
Image of Chris Morris courtesy of Lime House. Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.