Vatos Urban Tacos has arrived to Singapore from Korea. Who knew that Korean cuisine would fit so well with Mexican food like a key to a lock?
The menu is rather ingenious. There are only several ingredients but they re-use the ingredients for starters, or sides, or tacos, or quesadillas. For instance, the pork from the kimchi carnitas fries ($16) appears in the braised carnitas tacos (2 for $10). Or the Korean pork belly tacos (2 for $10) is mirrored in the kimchi pork quesadillas ($18). Although the menu looks varied, be careful when ordering to avoid duplication of similar dishes.
Quesadillas are grilled tacos with cheese. Not really interested in quesadillas—I’m a tacos guy—although in this restaurant, quesadilla gives more bang for your buck when compared to tacos.
What I like about the tacos here is the home-made tortillas. In most tacos places in Singapore, the tortillas often have “dry,” floury spots, but Vatos’ version is pliable and moist and firm.
Out of the three variations of tacos, our favorite is the baja fish ($10 2 tacos, $14 for 3). The strong sauces—spicy chipotle mayo, apple coleslaw, and pico de gallo—bring out, not overpower, the mild sweetness of the fish. The crunch of the batter provides a textural contrast. Korean pork belly tacos ($10 for 2, $14 for 3) is slathered in ssamjang aioli—not bad, but this is something I can fix at home without much trouble.
Avoid the chimichurri chicken ($10/$14). It has an unpalatable aftertaste of soil—from the cheese, maybe?—and way too much salsa and lettuce that we couldn’t taste the chicken. Overly spicy.
Honey tequila chicken wings ($16) is priced similarly to the kimchi carnitas fries ($16)—always better value to go for the meat. Their tequila wings happen when buffalo wings and spicy Korean wings have a sweet baby, quite delicious.
Although expensive and not much of a kick, the sexy sanchez ($28), consisting of strawberry margarita with an inverted apple and strawberry cider, is sweet and easy.
Considering that tacos are Mexican streetfood, and I had it at food trucks by illegal Mexican immigrants in New York for US$2 for 2 tacos (and churros at US$1 for 3 pieces), paying $87 for two people seems extravagant. But we enjoyed ourselves immensely. The food is bold and full of flavors. This is my go-to place for tacos now, and is in the running for Best Casual Restaurants 2016.
Reservations highly encouraged. It was full house when we were there.
Vatos Urban Tacos Singapore
36 Beach Road, South Beach Quarter, Singapore 189673
M-Th 12pm-11pm, F & Sat 12pm-12am
T: +65 6385 6010 / +65 6385 6970
Overall rating: 3.063/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.