Where are we going?

To West Africa, via Singapore’s Duxton area. Look out for the two-storey terracotta-painted shophouse on Duxton Road with a snazzy white pattern.

Any backstory?

Founded by Kurt Wagner, owner of African-themed Kafe Utu on Jak Chua Road (kafeutu.com), Tamba is a personal journey that not only celebrates Kurt’s early childhood growing up in Liberia, West Africa, but also the life of his adopted brother who died at a young age, after whom Tamba is named. “Tamba was effortlessly warm and generous, and I am proud to have created a space to celebrate his life and culture,” Kurt says.

First impressions?

Wow, this is different! A well-designed restaurant has the power to whisk you to an entirely different place, and Tamba does just that instantly. You enter at street level and become immediately encased in warm terracotta hues and rustic textured walls, something emblematic of West African earth due to the effect of wind on sand. You feel less like you’re ascending a staircase to a restaurant, and more like you’ve entered an magical tunnel into a world of wonder.

What’s the vibe?

Once upstairs, a thick curtain reveals a cross between a cosy family home and a ridiculously stylish film set. With only 25-seats Tamba is intimate and the lighting is dark – very dark. As your eyes adjust, a decorative visual feast serves as an aperitif before the food arrives. Every detail, from the natural elegance of the clay vessels and artefacts to the carved Tuareg-staff door handles, has been meticulously handpicked. Housed within the cool shade of the restaurant’s thatched roof, the focal point is a colourful bar along the far wall. There’s a lovely photograph of Tamba at its edge and it’s one of the first things your eye is drawn to as you enter the restaurant.

From Left: Tamba lobster and sakura chicken, Tamba smoked meat and The Next Pelé

And the food?

Home, food, and a lot of chilli, spices and smoked meats lie at the heart of West African culture, so flavours are punchy and it helps to handle the heat! Each dish is robust, hearty, and in many cases, fiery. Staples include Jollof Rice with smoked pork belly and sakura chicken (savoury and smoky, like a cross between Spanish paella and Creole rice), and the Pepper Soup, a heavily spiced Liberian staple made with all kinds of meat, offal and seafood, with ample heat provided by the use of habanero.

There is a daily selection of smoked meats, seafood and vegetables, such as Australian grain-fed Angus bone-in ribeye served with palava chilli sauce. Desserts include Shuku Shuku featuring cardamom coconut yoghurt, chewy ginger and coconut ice cream, and Cassava Flan with spiced dulce de leche.

Shuku Shuku

Any stand-outs?

Bread doesn’t usually excite us that much at ANZA, but the Tapalapa, a traditional West African bread made with millet and wheat flour, served with goat’s milk ricotta, and drizzled with house-smoked honey and bacon butter, was next-level amazing.

What about the drinks?

Brother Tamba has also inspired many of the drinks here with half of the cocktail menu inspired by stories from his life. The bar boasts a collection of over 60% African spirits and award-winning bartender Joma Rivera has created wonderful concoctions as a homage. The Next Pelé (how Tamba introduced himself) is a cocktail of cachaça, tamarind, lime and long pepper inspired by the football games of Tamba’s youth.

Anything else we should know?

Book asap! Since opening, Tamba has become super-popular, so plan ahead. With the aforementioned soft and sultry lighting, it’s perfect for a romantic dinner or a special celebration with family and friends. Whatever you do, don’t leave without visiting the bathrooms. Complete with a fake crocodile languishing on the floor, they are surely the most memorable in town.

 101 Duxton Road, 089964