Taiwan Railway Bento was in the making for 6 months. The boss, along with his chef, went to Taiwan to research and learn the proper way of cooking Taiwanese bentos. There are currently two outlets (the other outlet at International Plaza at Tanjong Pagar) and they have few tables and chairs. The bentos are mostly for takeaways and catering. But if you dine in, there is free, refillable soup.
Stewed belly bento
Served in wooden boxes to absorb excessive moisture so the rice remains fluffy, most bento sets come with standard sides: half a braised egg, toupok, a slice of Taiwan sausage, salted vegetables imported from Taiwan, mixed vegetables, and pearl rice (not Thai rice) drizzled with braised minced meat sauce. Comparing to the railway bentos I ate in Taiwan, the 4 bentos here were not bad, a B+/B grade.
The most visually appealing was fried chicken cutlet bento (炸鸡排便当 $6.80). You know the powder milk ad where a child slots blocks of different shapes into the respective holes correctly? The cutlet was the ad gone wrong, the cutlet bigger than the box. But no complaints here, bigger is better. It was crispy and well marinated.
The stewed pork belly bento (扣肉便当 $6.80) could be tenderer. The red yeast pork bento (红糟肉便当 $6.80, pictured above) had a strong fermented taste, which I couldn’t appreciate but the older generation may.
There are also local variations of bento, such as Hainanese chicken rice bento (breast $4.80, thigh $6.80), which was decent. Very smooth and tender meat, with a robust rice.
They also sell side dishes. Try the railway wings (豆乳鸡 $3.50), marinated in nam yu or fermented beancurd for two days. Crispy and succulent. I also enjoyed the fried intestines (炸大肠 $3.50), devoid of an unwashed stench.
An issue is the consistency of quality. But given time, TRB may sort it out.
Another issue: while the food was not bad, I felt my arteries clogging. I felt like I needed to punish myself on the treadmill for 2 hours… nah. Everything was either deep fried or pork fat. And the chicken rice was greasy.
Still, fat and oily are the ways of Taiwanese cuisine and there is no harm eating it now and then. (How do Taiwanese remain so slim?! ) Besides, the good value of the bentos adds to its attraction. I foresee it will do well with busy working executives and school children. I foresee there will be chain restaurants.
2 Kallang Ave, CT Hub #02-16, Singapore 339407
M-F: 11am-8pm, Weekends: 11am-3pm
T: 6538 0019
Rating: 3.000/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
ps: Thanks, Sg Food on Foot, for asking me along, and thanks to TRB for the tasting.