Takeaway Rice Bowls at Tanjong Pagar Centre: Chalong and Makai Poke 

Most tenants of Tanjong Pagar Centre are F&B establishments, and there are some very interesting and/or delicious food here: Food Anatomy presents food like nasi lemak in cubes; Guzman y Gomez is one of my favorite Mexican fastfood in BrisbaneHattendo serves good cream buns (the custard bun is better than the matcha); Imakatsu is my favorite tonkatsu in Singapore; not a gimmick, Japan Rail Cafe is opened by Japan Rail; Kelly’s Cape Bop gets a mention in Hong Kong Michelin Guide street food edition;  Kuro Maguro is by the acclaimed Maguro DonyaSBCD Korean Tofu House serves set menus with tofu as a main; with 3 outlets in Malaysia, The Little Island dishes out Penang cuisine.

As you can tell, I’m excited and will definitely be back to try the rest of the food. But yesterday, I was alone, and it was best to eat rice bowls.

Chalong Singapore
7 Wallich Street, Tanjong Pagar Centre B2-21 Singapore 078884
M-F 11.30am-2pm, 5.30pm-7.30pm, Sat 12pm-3pm

img_2499If I have money, I’d franchise Chalong immediately. It is OMG good.

Elin Boh, only 26 years old, is the mastermind behind Chalong, and has two culinary diplomas, one from Le Cordon Bleu (Paris), and the other from Oliver Bajard International School of Patisserie (Perpignan, France).

The takeaway kiosk, with 4 seats by the side, serves charcoal-grilled meat with rice, inspired by Thai flavors. The meats are grilled in a Josper oven and smoked with applewood to give depth. They are also sous vide to give consistency, and a tenderness while maintaining the juices. They use other atas ingredients like Himalayan salt and Denmark butter.

img_2504On the menu, there are only 3 rice bowls which come with an onsen egg: Iberico jowl ($12), gai (Thai basil chiclen leg, $9), and black angus sirloin ($14). You may add asparagus  ($1), cherry tomatoes on vine ($1), and mushroom ($1.50). If the meat is not enough, you may also add on chicken ($3), pork ($4), and beef ($5).

img_2509WOW. The pork jowl is fantastic. It is imported from Spain and sous vide for 18 hours. It is supposedly marinated in Thai aromatics, but I definitely tasted some French flavors, some uplifting herbs, elevating it. It’s succulent and tender, but there is still a nice bite, pleasing people who like tender food and people who like a bite. After eating this, the whole mouth is full of a sweet smokiness from apple wood.

img_2510I added the grass-fed black angus sirloin (+$5), which is air-flown from New Zealand. Although I think they slice it too thinly, there is an umami coming from the fats inherent in the meat. The red wine sauce is fantastic, even better than fine-dining restaurants’ versions.

img_2511There are two areas that could be improved: (1) I don’t like the texture of Japanese Yamagata rice because it is too starchy and has the texture of glutinous rice; a fluffier and looser rice would be able to absorb the sauce better; and (2) Eating through halfway, I thought the meat were heavy, and needed to add asparagus ($1) to undercut the heaviness. Maybe they could have included a complimentary vegetable in the bowl.

I paid $18 for the bowl ($12 pork bowl+$5 beef+$1 veg).

Makai Poke
7 Wallich Street, Tanjong Pagar Centre B1-08 Singapore 078884

img_2460For the uninitiated, a poke bowl, a Hawaiian dish, is marinated raw fish (usually tuna or salmon) over rice or salad. And the poke bowl game is strong in Singapore. There must be 15 or 20 shops in Singapore serving the poke bowl.

img_2468Makai, a takeaway store, just opened yesterday, and I might be their first customer. Priced at $9.90, the poke bowl includes avocado, Japanese cucumber, carrots, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, salmon roe, a choice of rice or salad, and a choice of marinated fish. You may, of course, add on more ingredients at a price. I didn’t and paid $9.90 for the bowl.

img_2469I’m not a rabbit, so I didn’t choose the salad; I got a mix of sushi rice, red and brown rice. For the “poke,” it was the Makai original shoyu salmon for me. I always order the dish with the shop name in it.

It is a nice mix of flavors. The rice is still warm, and the salmon and avocado are cool, so it is a funblast in the mouth.

You may be interested in…
Eat Chicken Rice
Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant
Lean Bento
The Daily Cut

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