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Tiong Bahru

tiong bahru chic

tiong bahru’s seriously becoming chic you guys, what with popular cafes and restaurants like forty hands and open door policy sprouting up, along with curio shops like strangelets (that sold popaganda!) and cool bakeries like drips. mark my words, tiong bahru’s your next duxton/ann siang. already, i noticed an increasing number of foreigners and well-dressed singaporeans strolling around roads with names like tiong poh road and such, so its a matter of time. anyways, ODP is sited along yong siak street, directly across forty hands. its not exactly easy to get there — you’d have to walk for about 10 minutes to get into the old estate area from tiong bahru MRT, but i guess that’s what gives it its tranquil charms. the place is still relatively under-developed and primarily an old residential estate, so when night falls, there’s a certain tranquility that settles within the area. parking isn’t an issue because there’s a relatively big open air carpark within the estate.

the interior of ODP gives off a very industrial, sleekly designed feel that feels like some up and coming restaurant in NYC, say within the meat packing district. you do get the feeling of being transported to another world, one where tired executives head to artsy restaurants like these to unwind from the days work alongside well-dressed socialites quietly sharing the latest gossips with each other. one must mention the furniture within the restaurant, which has largely adopted the “olden days” theme, with tables converted from old classroom desks, and many chairs being those old, rusty metallic chairs in classrooms. the furniture, whilst fitting with the theme, wasn’t exactly too comfortable as the chairs were kind of hard and my mom stared at the rust worried she would get tetanus (lol.. kidding). ok food talk.

steak tartare with truffle mayo and potato chips, $19

yummy! i recently commented to a friend that i found truffle fries to be the next big overhyped dish of singaporean cafes but these truffle potato chips made me literally swoon upon first bite — crispy and amazingly flavored with truffle sauce. i could order an entire bowl to finish if I had the chance. =) the steak tartare was well made and paired well the toasted bread. i suspect we were supposed to eat the chips with the tartare, but the chips were too good to need any further flavor inject. mind you, for people who don’t know, tartare refers to raw meat, usually used for spreads for toast. (this is essentially the thing mr bean ordered and hated, and proceeded to try hiding chunks of them in the most ridiculous places ever. but don’t worry this tastes good.) so yeah, if you get squeamish about eating raw stuff, then don’t order this — though to be honest, it tasted really great and had no such slimy/raw feel to it.

48 hour cooked braised beef cheek with mochi potatoes, carrot puree, and snow pea lendrils , $29

didn’t exactly like the snow pea lendrils, but besides that this dish was perfect — something that can literally send you to gastronomie heaven. the beef cheek is so soft that it really melts in your mouth as you savour it. the sauce for it is well balanced, and the carrot puree formed a perfect complement to the beef cheeks. mochi potatoes was something new to me and they likewise went really really well with the dish, and made me actually hanker for more of such carbs. my only other complain would be that the sauce wasn’t enough and I ended up eating a little portion of the beef cheeks without the sauce. but besides that, seriously guys, go try this rendition of beef cheeks. yummz.

pork belly with parsnip puree, braised quinoa and celery, $29

tried some portions of this — the crisps stacked on top of the pork belly were really good and the pork belly was one slab of crispy goodness as well. my companions who ate this gave quite high reviews as well, besides for the fact that it was slightly small.

i didn’t try the desserts. why? to be honest, I realised just how expensive some of the dishes were – desserts were roughly $15 each, which is kind of exorbitant. and likewise, a quick calculation in my mind made me realise that we had already spent upwards of 30+ for a shared appetizer and mains each. haha.. i’m quite the calculative cheapskate nowadays perhaps, but i think the atas food trips is taking a tolling on my wallet. =(

overall? a really cool place with an exciting menu and food that has some serious flavor and goodness in time. it’s more pricey that your usual cafes (a spaghetti bolognaise went for $22) but in return, you get good ambience, interesting food arrangements (there was a tendency to use chopping boards and stone pots for various dishes) and good, solid food. come at least once to try it out, then take a stroll round the estate to discover this part of singapore, eh? 8.0/10

open door policy | 19 yong siak street | contemporary, western

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for old times sake.

headed for brunch with vic, shihao, maryanne and co for some major catching up. and just in time, considering how shihao was jetsetting off to beijing the next day. the thing about studying overseas is that farewell with your friends really means farewell for a damn long time. =( anyways, vic suggested forty hands, which has been on my eating list for awhile. the location is kinda interesting – nestled within one of the oldest housing areas in Singapore which is really so far quite untouched by any foreign/western elements. and i know this area well – my mom’s old house is like right down the street and we used to visit my grandma here every weekend. i still remember the mama shop stacked high with crates of tiger beer. that’s how untouched it is.

so yeah, hidden find is the right description for it for now. but not so for long as I spy new, similar styled establishments sprouting up like that of orange thimble and open door policy.  the tiong bahru area is starting to become hip. anyways, i really like the way forty hands has essentially used the original layout and feel of the area as an inspiration, and has created an establishment that blends well into its surroundings. i particularly liked the use of paper rolls as the menu decorating the walls, and also how the yellow pipes and walls replete with peeling paint are left untouched as part of the design element. its not a big place i must say with patrons having to squeeze quite a bit to get in queue amidst the bar counter and other tables, and it isn’t your chill, laid back, quiet experience — this is like the liminal zone, part kopi-tiam part western cafe. the theme translates well into the crockery as well — food is served in old school basin-like dishes that harken back to the past.

mocha, $8.50 (large)

im wincing as I type the price, not realizing i spent $8.50!! for a mocha. damnit. im not a fan of coffee so I was inclined to get hot chocolate. however, considering that this place is well known for their coffee, I decided to go with the flow and order a weak mocha as per the server’s recommendation. it’s good, but kinda wasted on a coffee noob like me. and i still think $8.50 is daylight robbery for coffee.

truffle fries, $8

we ordered truffle fries to share — they’re shoe-string style – absolutely crispy and dry, with the delicious hint of the truffle oil. its good stuff, though I wish the truffle flavor was more pronounced. methinks barracks@dempsey did a better job.

eggs cocotte, $13.50

victoria ordered the eggs cocotte, which was 2 slices of toast with eggs served with spinach. she said it tasted good. i liked the plate =)

eggs benedict, $14.50

it’s pretty common brunch fare all around, and hence the requisite eggs benedict which maryanne ordered. i note the inclusion of a large piece of sundried tomato. looks yummy.

big boy breakfast, $18.50

i got meself the big boy breakfast because I was starving after completing dragonboat training. this one had a sunnyside up, pita bread, bacon, sausages, sauteed mushrooms – basically the works. I thought this was a pretty decent rendition of the big breakfast – the flavors of each component was very pronounced and flavorful (for lack of a better term). the tomatoes were particularly good and so were the sausages. the pita felt a little incongruous though in this mix – i suspect they tried to be creative with the carbs option and swapped toast for pita. however, the issue with the pita is that it was slightly too oily and well, not flaky and freshly baked enough and hence just felt like a drag to get through. there wasn’t any good condiment to pair it with. overall, i detected a certain mediterranean slant to the dish, with stronger flavors than your normal big breakfasts.

hmm all in all, a chill place that might unfortunately be slightly over-hyped. its worth a visit i suppose, and the big breakfast is better than say riders cafe, but well.. i’m still in search for that creative and delicious brunch place. 6.0/10

forty hands | blk 78 yong siak st, #01-12 | brunch, coffee, contemporary