Redpan at Marina Square is a collaboration between two homegrown companies, GRUB and DP Architects, the largest architecture firm in Singapore and 12th largest in the world. It’s a restaurant where design meets food. A private room (12-14 people) is available without minimum spending.
Lup cheong Mac N Cheese ($14)
Cookyn, a corporate event space for companies to cook and bond as team, started Grub cafe at Bishan Park. And then they grew into Grub Noodle Bar (now defunct); Fix Cafe and Fix Grill (now collectively known as Fix), and Redpan.
I’ve been following their growth, eaten at all their eateries, and with each new restaurant, they grow from strength to strength. Experience serves them well. Their newest concept is always the most delicious among their eateries. And Redpan is the best of all.
Their calling card remains the same for all their concepts: they only serve food they would serve their families. Most dishes are sous vide; have a “clean” feel; and are a fusion of Western and Singapore cuisines, known as Mod Sin cuisine. The prices are pocket friendly with most mains below $20, and the average spending of a guest is about $20 (without alcohol).
The must order starter is indubitably pork pops ($9, above). It is first sous vide to tenderize it while retaining moisture; coated thinly with a batter; and flash deep-fried. As a result, it’s tender, juicy, crispy, with a sweetness and fragrance of 5-spice, and without any greasiness. I didn’t care for the mango dip (almost like an Indian mango chutney) that comes along with the pork strips but it does serve to undercut the fat of the pork if any.
The must order main, prawn and hae bee hiam pasta ($16, above), is a perfectly al dente tagliatelle tossed in a housemade spicy shrimp paste which is a traditional recipe from Chef Mervyn Phan’s grandmother. It is slightly too spicy for me, and not spicy enough for Mr Fitness. But we both agree that it is so addictive, so delicious that we had to snatch for it. Survival of the Fastest Eater.
The other main that I like is the pork belly bak kut teh (160g, $21, above). I’ve eaten at several Mod Sin restaurants that attempt to modernize this street food classic. They all fail because they attempt to reproduce the flavorful broth; how can they compete with hawkers? Redpan solves the problem of the broth by thickening and intensifying the watery broth into a thick sauce. The tender seared pork belly, dipped in the flavorful sauce, reminds us of bak ku teh, but it doesn’t try to be bak ku teh. The dish is same same but different from bak ku teh.
Who knew turmeric would go so well with salmon? The salmon kuning ($24) has the shock of turmeric which mellows into the characteristic fatty taste of the fish. The exciting, creamy kaffir lime aioli on the fish is a play on the classic pairing of smoked salmon with creme fraiche. Unfortunately, the salmon is overcooked and dry, but there is much potential for this dish to shine.
Beef short rib satay (400g, $32)
Mr Fitness didn’t like the steak and chinchalok (250g, $22) but I think it’s a good and inexpensive alternative if you want Western food without Mod Sin influence. This dish tastes like steak with black pepper sauce. Not a bad thing.
Desserts, not Redpan’s strongest suit, seem difficult to reproduce mod sin elements. The red date butter cake ($8) tastes similar to sticky date pudding, but when I compare the two, I find the cake dry. (Mr Fitness likes it only because dates remind him of his childhood when he snuck into the kitchen to steal dates while his mother made chng tng.)
The banana donut milo dinosaur ($7, above) is closer to banana fritters drizzled with milo crumbs. It was ok. To me, the best dessert is teh halia creme brulee ($7), strong with ginger fragrance.
After the dinner, as we were grocery shopping at Emporium Shokuhin, which is just a floor below Redpan, we discussed about the meal. I think Mr Fitness said it best: “The meal is so outstanding because you cannot find any other restaurants in Singapore that serve the same food. They took Singaporean flavors and made them their own. Not all Mod Sin restaurants work because it’s tricky to incorporate Singapore flavors into Western food, but Redpan manages to do it well.”
For me, I’m very proud to be a Singaporean when I suddenly realize that one of the most delicious food I ate this year arose from the collaboration of two Singaporean companies. Singapore got talent. (I didn’t know I’m so patriotic until now.)
Redpan will most probably make it to the “Best Meals $20-$50 in 2016” when I write the list in December.
6, Raffles Boulevard #02-03/04 Marina Square, Singapore 039594
T: +65 6255 5850
M-F: 9am-10pm, Weekends & PH: 11am-10pm
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.