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Tamba, the spirit of West Africa in the heart of Singapore

(Above: Tamba’s intimate dining area)


28 February 2024, Singapore Tamba, an intimate and lively enclave that celebrates the vibrant spirit and rich flavours of West Africa, opens its doors in March 2024. Nestled in the heart of Singapore’s vibrant Duxton neighbourhood, Tamba transcends the traditional restaurant experience, embracing life and the cultural essence of home. 


Housed in a two-storey conserved shophouse, Tamba is evocative of African earth and terracotta, welcoming guests into a world where every detail tells a story. From its culinary offerings and cocktails to interior design, Tamba is an experience that envelopes guests in the warmth and comfort of West African hospitality. 


“Tamba has been a deeply personal journey that not only celebrates my early childhood growing up in Liberia, West Africa but also the life of my late adopted brother, after which Tamba was named,” said Kurt Wagner, founder of Tamba and Kafe Utu. “Tamba was effortlessly warm and generous, and I am proud to have created a space to celebrate his life and culture. I hope that Tamba is a place that elicits the emotion of wanting to return and where home is not a place, but rather a feeling.” 


DESIGN 

Upon stepping foot into Tamba, guests are transported into an intimate yet magical 25-seater hideaway. Led by international designer Virginia Pérez-Orive, the space reflects a two-year journey of research, curation and the utmost care and love for the essence of Tamba’s story. The walls, with their intricate and rustic texture, are redolent of the effect of wind on sand, while the wooden mural crafted by renowned French sculptor Etienne Moyat takes centre stage and resembles the soft and uneven geometric Africa. The team carefully chose every detail, from the natural elegance of the clay vessels and artefacts to the carved Tuareg-staff door handles, as a deliberate expression of Tamba’s spirit, flair, and pzazz. 


“The process of designing Tamba was a fascinating exploration into the richness of West African culture, home to hundreds of different ethnic groups, languages, and traditions,” said Virginia Pérez-Orive, lead designer. “Our goal was to create a space that captures the essence of Tamba’s life and spirit while bringing his story and authenticity to life. Tamba embraces a very particular West African joie de vivre, and we have endeavoured to recreate not just a dining space but the embodiment of community, hospitality, and warmth that are so integral to West African homes’ way of life.”


(Clockwise from left: Charred Peanuts, Cassava Flan, Cassava Chips, Jollof Rice, Akara, Tapalapa) 


FOOD 

Tamba’s culinary philosophy is a homage to West African luxury, blended skillfully with the comforting essence of home. The home and food are at the heart of West African culture, so each dish is a feast for the senses, with a promise to take guests on a flavourful journey. Housed within the cool shade of the restaurant’s thatched roof, guests can choose from beloved staples such as Jollof Rice with sofrito, Sakura chicken, and smoked pork belly; Tapalapa bread with goat’s milk ricotta, drizzled with house-smoked honey and smoked bacon butter. A house favourite of Head Chef Darren is Suya, a grilled skewer dish made of Angus tenderloin and accompanied by kachumbari (a piquant tomato and onion salad) and a crunchy smoked kuli kuli. Tamba elevates the dining experience with an ever-changing assortment of signature house specials, meats, seafood, and vegetables that are smoked to perfection, offering guests a unique experience with each visit.


(Left to right: Malta, Chouti, Dad’s Wallet, Get a Room)

DRINKS 

Helmed by award-winning bartender Joma Rivera as General Manager, Tamba’s team welcomes you into the familiar embrace of home. Joma brings over 10 years of industry experience, which have seen him win top accolades such as Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year 2014 Philippines and Singapore Champion for Campari Bartender Competition Asia 2018 and Angostura Global Cocktail Competition 2020. 


Tamba showcases an imaginative menu that harnesses the art of mixology to tell a chapter of Tamba’s story with each drink, using flavours that make up the rich tapestry of West African culture. The bar boasts a collection consisting of over 60% of African spirits, with a cocktail menu split into two parts. The first is inspired by stories from Tamba’s life growing up, and includes savoury tomato cocktail Dry Boney, a tamarind cachaca cocktail, The Next Pele and a clarified milk cocktail, Vita, made with cacao butter fat-washed Mhoba rum sourced from South Africa. The second, ‘Friends of Tamba,’ include Chouti, a cognac-based tongue-in-cheek drink and agave cocktails Smoker’s Kiss and Get A Room.





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