Brought to us by the Loco group that houses Super Loco and Lucha Loco, Chico Loco is a new “fast food concept that does not compromise on nutrition, ingredients or techniques” situated along bustling Amoy St. And by fast casual, we mean orders are placed at the counter and the food is brought to you at the table.
The focus remains on what really counts – the food. Frankly, I can live without the white table cloth and sommelier service. I like to be able to come in shorts and still enjoy food well-prepared by a chef and his team.
Chico Loco’s shining star, is undoubtedly, its spit-roasted chicken. Sourced from an ethical farm just 40 minute outside of Singapore, the birds are cage-free, hormone-free, antibiotics-free and organic-fed. They are brined for 10 hours, in a secret herb blend that includes a touch of agave nectar, and slow-roasted for an hour over flames for a smokey finish.
The Chicken quarter ($9) is fork-tender and flavourful to the bone, i.e., if you pick up a bone and suck on it, you would pick up the flavours that go into the marinade. Unfortunately this means that I neglect on sampling the selection of house-made sauces. There are not just two or three, but five.
While the chicken is set to headline, it’s the Lamb (250g, $23) that stole my heart quite unexpectedly. Perfectly balanced fibrous bite and tenderness. Very smokey with little top fat that melts in your mouth. Don’t even look at the 125g, just order the 250g.
The Mexican Prawn Toast ($13) is a little sweet and very crispy. Kind of like a deep-fried prawn ball (made from tiger prawns no-less) on toast. The pickle gives it a sexy twist and differentiates it from the ones they serve in Thai restaurants.
Chico Slaw ($6) is a Thai Som Tam-inspired creation. It’s crunchy, tart, spicy, nutty and a little minty all at the same time. Evidently, not a salad included on the menu as an afterthought or to pacify vegans. It’s well-considered, balanced and executed with pride. No wet puddles of excess dressing at the bottom of the bowl.
The rice ($4) tastes just like local Hainanese chicken rice, just lighter.
The Nacho Fries ($13) with chicken chorizo (+$7) is a crowd-pleaser. By my estimate, you should order one for every three people you have at your table. Seems like a lot to pay for ‘fries’ but consider the quality toppings. Use your hands and don’t be afraid to make a mess. It’s part of the fun.
I imagine the Huge Chicken Taco ($14) makes a perfect lunch order for the busy executive. Pulled from the same chicken on the rotisserie, plus pickles, guacamole and cheese. Very tasty, filling & nutritious. Also, the tortilla is made fresh in-house daily.
Sampled a few drinks. Happy to report that Tulum Summer Ale ($13) (Apple Ale) is my favourite. I’m partial to girly light beers. This one has a nice floral note. It’s so light I forget it’s alcoholic. I don’t know anything about cocktails. I said, “Give me your most photogenic cocktail!” and was introduced to the Dirty Negroni ($16), already fast becoming a favourite at Chico Loco. This one here is special because they add Mezcal that gives it its signature dark smokey finish.
The Super Natural Coconut Soft Serve ($6) is lovely and light on its own and pretty guilt-free but there’s no good reason to have it topless. If you like nutty, go with Salted butterscotch and activated pepitas (+$1). The Raspberry, anise and dark chocolate (+$1) makes me think of black forest cake.
If you work in the Telok Ayer area, you’d be pleased to know that Chico Loco opens bright and early for breakfast (8am to 11am) and stays open till late. I like the bright and airy courtyard with all the natural light pouring in through the huge skylight framed by planter beams and hanging greens. And out of nowhere, suddenly a disco ball!
For too long, eating healthy has been synonymous with low-calorie. But why should it be?! Chico Loco’s brand of #dirtyhealthy is music to my ears. According to co-owner and Chef Jason Jones, it’s about ‘quality produce, avoiding unnecessary chemicals, and making sure food is as nutritious as it is delicious.’ Now, this is a programme I can get behind.
102 Amoy St, Singapore 069922
Mon-Thu: 8am – 10pm
Fri: 8am – 12am
Sat: 5pm – 12am
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Written by Pierre Goh.