The people behind the Thai bbq restaurant Siam Square Mookata has opened Pocoloco at Ang Mo Kio. The concept is not unlike Concetto by Saveur, serving Italian food at pocket-friendly prices. What differs between the two is the location: Pocoloco in at the heartland while Concetto is in city.
The decor looks like what a hetero interior designer on a budget of $200 would come up with, but what they skimp on decor, they make it up for the ingredients. Many ingredients are imported from Italy, and most components made from scratch, including dressings, focaccia, tomato sauce, and stock bases.
For starter, I enjoyed the burrata salad ($16) immensely. Lousy, stale burrata oozes water and is gooey. But the burrata here is firm and creamy and when you cut into it, it retains its shape—good quality. The parma ham is slightly stiff, but since the focus is on the cheese, I didn’t mind that the ham isn’t good. On the whole, the flavors mix excellently; the bitterness of rocket leaves is counterpoised by the creaminess and richness from the cheese, and the saltiness from the ham.
For meat, the chicken ($15) caused some dispute among us. The waitress told us it came with masala sauce when we were ordering, but it didn’t. The sauce is a brown butter with mushroom—very savory that I wanted to sip it.
Unfortunately, the chicken isn’t cooked well. The waitress misinformed us it was chicken breast, but when the plate came, it was, strictly speaking, chicken fillet.
Although the chicken is cooked too hard and dry and stringy, it is the fault of the ingredient. Chicken fillets are like that. Wrong choice of chicken part. My two eating companions argued that since this dish is called “chicken” on the menu, and the chicken is cooked badly, it is a fail.
But I said that the dish should be judged as a whole, not by a part. It’s like a maths test. You can score badly in one section, but that doesn’t mean your maths is bad. You can still do well in the test if you do well in other sections. So judging this dish as a whole, not by its parts, I think it’s passable. The delicious sauce lifts up the chicken.
Our favorite dish, beetroot risotto ($11), has no meat and I’m not sure if they are using arborio rice. (If they are, the quality isn’t very good.) However, the flavors are magnificent. I don’t like the earthliness of beetroot but in the dish, the dominant flavor comes from butter, with an underlying tone of earthliness. Good al dente rice texture too.
The worst dish is, we all agree, the monthly special, uni pasta ($16). It doesn’t have a piece of sea urchin. It doesn’t have the taste of sea urchin. It tastes as if it’s merely tossed in olive oil, a very greasy olio aglio.
Because of the very terrible and extremely bad uni pasta and that they don’t serve water, my two eating companions gave Pocoloco a F grade.
I, on the other hand, have a different mindset. Although we three all share similar opinions on the dishes, my thinking varies from theirs. What is truly bad in this meal? Only the uni pasta, and that is a monthly special. It would be gone by the time this review is published, and hopefully gone forever.
If we don’t take the uni pasta into account, the meal is good. Yes, the chicken is hard and dry, but it’s not inedible and it’s only a matter of wrong choice of chicken parts; this can easily change. Besides, the other two dishes are tasty that I am sure there are some hidden gems on the menu, which we didn’t have stomach space or money to order.
Speaking of money, I don’t think it is as affordable as Pocoloco claims. We spent $60 for three persons. Although there is no gst or service charge, the portions are small; I still find it expensive because we were still hungry. (The other two wanted to cut our losses and didn’t want to order more food.) In the end, we went to the hawker centre beside Pocoloco.
Unlike my two pals, I like Pocoloco. If it is below my block, I’d return to try other pastas and risottos. But we needed to take a 20-min bus-ride from AMK central to Pocoloco and I am too lazy to go through the hassle another time. Maybe I’ll order delivery online.
Poco Loco Singapore
Blk 408 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 #01-779, Singapore 560408
T: +65 8436 3363
12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10pm
Overall rating: 3.031/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.