Cha chaan teng by day, modern Chinese bar by night, Pi Food is situated at UBS Business Hub (formerly known as Park Mall), a stone’s throw from Dhoby Ghaut MRT. The casual Hong Kong restaurant is founded by two Hong Kongers and the kitchen helmed by Chef Tsang Tak Ching who served as a sous chef at the Hong Kong outlet of Lei Garden for seven years.
Available for Lunch Only
Fried drumstick ($5.80) has a nostalgic factor in Hong Kongers’ hearts because they eat it during school recess or as an afternoon snack. I brought my Hong Konger friend along for this tasting and she said that the drumstick tastes exactly the same as her school canteen’s version, bringing back many fond memories. Unfortunately, the fried chicken doesn’t possess similar cultural memory for me. Although the drumstick is crispy and tender and slightly over salted, I as a Singaporean find it just ok. Given the price, I would rather eat Old Chang Kee’s chicken wing.
The other dish available only for lunch, French toast ($5.80), comes in bite-sized quarters, not only making it easier to eat but also increases the surface area for a crispier exterior. But it is supposed to contain peanut butter and there is too little of it.
Available for Dinner Only
The braised beef short ribs with carrot puree ($26) is an original dish, not found in HK, but it seems out of place in a restaurant touted for its authenticity and adherence to traditional flavours. Both elements individually are ordinary without any surprise but even when paired together, they exist as standalone and don’t mix well. Skip this dish.
Their roast meat platter ($16.80) dishes out good value and allows customers to choose 3 out of 5 options: roast duck, Iberico char siew, Gui Fei chicken, siew yok, and soy chicken. We tried the first three meats. The roast duck and char siew are run of the mill, however the steamed Gui Fei chicken is smooth and tender and plump. Cantonese are known for their roast meats so this is rather disappointing.
The sweet-and-sour pork ($15.80) is not crispy enough.
The restaurant is really best for its carb dishes and we tried three: stir-fried beef noodles ($13.80), lotus leaf rice with roasted duck ($16.80), and HK fresh shrimp wanton noodles ($10.80). The stir-fried beef noodles is the best among the three, the smokey char of wok hei fills the mouth and the hor fun has a nice playful bite but isn’t oily. This was the star dish of the night.
People at my table remarked that they were disappointed with the lotus leaf rice ($16.80) with little fragrance infused, but perhaps I have a more sensitive palate and quite enjoyed it. The rice has a good balance of sweetness and earthiness from the leaf; and saltiness from the seasoning.
Singaporeans often dislike the alkaline taste found in HK wanton noodles, and I’m happy to report that the alkaline is kept to a minimum here. The bowl of noodles comes with four big balls of wanton wrapped around silky, thin skins. Size matters in this case and the meaty mouthfeel is pleasing to a carnivore.
The cute factor of Pi Food lies in its quirkiness and irrelevance. The owners named the restaurant π as a metaphor for the infinite innovation of the food; and they decorated the restaurant with a train theme. Look up towards the ceiling and there are toy trains making infinite loops. While the concept is fun, the food is just okay. Go without expectations.
UBS Singapore Business Hub (Park Mall) #01-18, 9 Penang Road, Singapore 238459
11am – 10pm daily
t: +65 8932 0632
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This was a tasting. Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.