Having interacted with Chef Mervyn Phan at a cooking event at Cooklyn, where colleagues and friends can gather for a cook-off, I more or less know his philosophy on food: responsible eating. This means the food has no MSG or artificial preservatives and the meat come from free-range, hormone-free, antibiotics-free animals. Together with 3 other friends, Chef Phan built this beautiful modern chic bistro with clean lines from scratch.
In general, the wallet-friendly food has light, bright flavors and is a mixture of East and West influences, or we can call it “uniquely Singapore.” For example, the mentaiko fries ($9), or shoestring fries drizzled generously with marinated roe of pollock and cod and topped with nori seaweed, was innovative, and didn’t feel heavy. So addictive I could finish it by myself. I suggest changing the name of the dish to “There is no ‘us’ in MEntaiko fries” or “mentaiko is the new truffle fries.”
The aroma truffle egg cocotte ($7) was so mouthwatering I almost forgot to take a photo. Dip the toasted focaccia, give it a good mix to break the yolks and enjoy what should be called “yakun to the power of ten.”
The mains were equally wonderful. Inspired by gu lou yok (sweet and sour pork), the slow roast pork belly ($15) is first sous vide for 24 hours, then crusted and deep fried. As a result, the beautifully striated belly was succulent and crispy, tangy with mango sauce.
Although the pork belly was good, we preferred the tender and more savory grilled chicken leg ($15) that was made into a crusted roulade with sun-dried tomatoes at its center.
If you order the mentaiko fries, remember to change the fries of the burgers to either salad or mash. If you’re getting a burger, pick the photogenic crispy fish burger ($14, above) over the pork steak burger ($13, below). Although the 24-hour-sous-vide pork was glazed with a sweet soy sauce, giving it an Asian twist, we thought the flavors were light and might not come through the bun. The fish burger is best consumed when hot and still crispy, and the hake fillet had a nice bite, indicative of its freshness.
Among the three desserts, the winner was definitely the chocolate pot ($8). It is called a pudding on the menu, but I think it resembled more like a very, very smooth chocolate mousse, dark, intense, sexy and mysterious. And if you sprinkle some spicy chewy praline crumble, it adds a crunchy texture and a little heat and sweetness, leaving a pleasant bitter aftertaste of chocolate. This dessert should be called, “One last spoon then I’ll stop, I promise, really!” or “Willpower 0, Chocolate 1.”
The other two desserts were not bad too, but a little safe. The churros ($8.50) were as what churros should be; and Chiobu was delighted at the fluffiness of the waffle ($6.50), although the ice cream (additional $1.50) was a tad bland for the waffle.
As of healthy, delicious, good quality food that is super value-for-money, there will always be a queue. We Singaporeans are awesome, we know a good deal when we see one. What you should do is to key in your mobile number at a high-tech machine at the counter, go settle your food guilt first by exercising in the park or using eyepower to watch your kids exercise, and then the machine will call you when a table is available.
How to Get to Grub
We had some difficulty finding the place. If you’re driving, look for Blk 408 Sin Ming Ave, and park at the Bishan Park carpark opposite the block. If you’re taking bus #132, #165, #166 and #169, stop along Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, Blk 246. Or Bus #262 (from Ang Mo Kio bus interchange), stop at Blk 223 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1.
510 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, Bishan Park 1, Singapore 569983
T: 6459 5743 (no reservations)
Sat, Sun, PH: 9am-2.30pm, 5.30-10.30pm
Rating: 3.650/5 stars
ps: Thanks Amanda for the invite.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.