Started in 1997, Taboo is now at Duxton, no longer at Neil Road. It’s a small space compared to the former 2-level premise. Due to COVID restrictions, the club is transformed into a cafe now.
Not sure if they will ever go back to being a club since the space is small. I guess even if restrictions are lifted, it will more likely be changed into a bar.
For lunch, Taboo collaborates with home business, Haoke, serving Hakka food. For dinner, the cafe collaborates with private dining f’ve which provides Indonesian and Peranakan cuisine.
Although the food is rather carby, and gay men have avoided carbs since 1980s, I thought the collaborations are interesting. Interesting because they serve Asian food that belong to our Singaporean heritage. #asianpride
And also because they are quite affordable. A set meal for lunch costs $12.90 and dinner at about $25. I love their affordability, please don’t increase the prices.
Since my sister (real sister, not “sister”) and I are Hakka, we went for lunch.
The physical menu is not yet ready and the items are quite limited:
– thunder rice 擂茶 + 3 pieces of yong tau foo ($12.90)
– abacus seeds 算盘子 + 3 pieces of ytf ($12.90)
– 6 pieces of ytf ($8)
We ordered all three items. You may also add tea or coffee to the set at an extra $3.50.
My entire Hakka family are not fans of Thunder Rice because, like gay men, we like meat and Thunder Rice consists mostly of vegetables. I also find it weird to eat rice soaked in tea although the Japanese eat chazuke this way.
But this rendition of Thunder Rice is delicious. The brown rice is topped with peanuts, purple cabbage, hae bee (dried shrimps), tau kwa, spring onion, etc. The green tea is a thick, grainy broth. Mint is sparingly used to give a surprising but cool sensation.
My deceased grandmother used to cook suan panzi on festive occasions. And Haoke’s version is very good.
How to tell if suan panzi is good? Commercial suan panzi usually use a lot of tapioca flour to combine with a little yam to make abacus seeds to save costs. At home, I do a 1:1 ratio of flour and yam, so that it still retains the chewy texture and you can taste the yam. At Taboo, you can taste the integrity of yam in Haoke’s abacus seeds, and there is a nice chewiness.
It’s also a nice touch to add shredded carrots—my family doesn’t do this—as it adds a good crunchiness and sweetness to the dish. There are also minced meat, shiitake mushroom, and black fungus strips. All in all, a pleasant combination.
The belachan chilli—sharp and garlicky–is especially good with the suan panzi and ytf.
The Hakka yong tau foo here has only three varieties: meatball, stuffed beancurd skin, and stuffed tau kwa. If you order the 6 piece ($8), they double on each item. The meat stuffing is good with bits of carrots and chestnut(?) to give it a crunch. But they should consider making this into a set by providing noodles or rice.
It is weird to eat in a club-like environment—in the dark with handbag music. The food selection is limited. But the food is delicious and inexpensive. If you work around the area, make this your regular lunch spot. We spent $46 for three persons.
You may be interested in…
– RAPPU, Duxton: Original Gangster Meets Sushi Bar
– Restaurant JAG, Duxton: Eat Here Before This French Fine-Dining Restaurant Gets a Michelin Star
– Monte Risaia, Duxton: New Itameshi (Japanese-Italian) Omakase by Marusaya group
– Kitchen Kumars, Duxton: Home Bakery Opens a Fantastic Restaurant with Indian Cocktails and Modern Indian Food
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.