Super Loco

I've just noticed a proliferation of Mexican restaurants on our little island. Not that a spawn of the Latin American movement was of any significance, personally, as I've never really been a fan of Mexican fare (they add cilantro in every-freaking-thing!). But I'll readily admit that I haven't really had good Mexican food...so maybe I haven't given Mexican cuisine a fair shake.

Until we came across Super Loco, sister restaurant to Duxton Hill resident Lucha Loco. We were at Robertson Quay and in desperate need of sustenance. Super Loco caught our eye, mostly because we were mighty tickled by its moniker, as "loco" also means "crazy". Yes, there's a part of me, that infantile, forever-Peter Pan part of me who laughs at childish things such as this. I'm glad our immature selves led us to Super Loco, as dinner turned out a fantastic immersion in Mexican grub.

The open-air bistro is casual and breezy, in no small part due to its riverside locale. Loud music blares out the speakers, lending to a convivial atmosphere. Service was upbeat and infectious,  inspite of the lack of a service charge. We liked our service very much, so we tipped them well.

That said, the food was ah-mazing! If Super Loco is what Mexican food is all about, I'm ready for an exchange to Acapulco. Or Cabo. Everything was just fresh, crisp and well-balanced. For Mexican food-virgins, the staff will assist in deciphering the menu.

A ubiquitous Mexican street snack, the Elotes ($8) was a whole knob of juicy corn grilled to smoky perfection, and schmeared with chipotle mayo and cotija cheese. I love corn, but this was simply sublime. A must-try.

The Quesadillas Pollo ($16), mini sandwiches of corn tortilla stuffed with spice roasted diced chicken, refried black bean, oozy Monterey jack, was flavoured with oregano for a nuanced rounded flavour. Absolutely smashing. This was sided by pico de gallo and salsa verde, both of which were laced with cilantro, so I gave them a hard pass.

A recommended main, the Cerdo en Nogada ($30) comprised luscious fillets of spice-rubbed pork set atop walnut cream flecked with nubbins of pomegranate seeds and golden tequila raisins for a fruity sweetness, spiked with slivers of poblano chiles for a subtle heat, and finished with a dusting of spicy paprika. Wonderfully harmonious, the delicate seasoning served to highlight the freshness of the pork.

Another entree we loved was the Robalo con Maiz y Mojo ($28), a trio of pan-seared seabass fillets, adorned simply with a wedge of lemon, a jalapeno & sweet corn salad, and herbed salsa. Loved the crisp of the fish, and incredible sweetness of the corn kernels.

The signature dessert, the Super Churros ($13) was coated generously with cinnamon sugar. Good on its own, I thought the tart raspberry compote was a fitter contrast than the bittersweet chocolate syrup. The Hubs disagrees, but then again, he's the chocolate lover, and I'm not.

If you get to Super Loco early enough, hit up the happy hour specials. It's pretty limited (you're restricted to the bottled beer or one type of margarita), but it's so cheap you wouldn't care anyway. The Frozen Lucha Margarita ($9 happy hour price), a zesty blend of Cimarron Bianco tequila, agave, and lime was quite the potent refresher.

Super Loco
60 Robertson Quay
The Quayside #01-13
Tel: 6235 8900
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 5pm to 12midnight;
Fridays from 5pm to 1am;
Saturdays from 10am to 1am;
Sundays from 10am to 12midnight
Website: super-loco.com


The White Rabbit

We haven't been to The White Rabbit in some time. The romantic restaurant is one of the best things about the Dempsey enclave, serving consistently exceptional food in a sleek and posh but relaxed setting. I like that it's sufficiently out of the way to feel far from the madding crowd, but its city-fringe locale makes it accessible enough for us.

The menu's been refreshed, and while the focus remains steadfastly European, there are distinct pops of Asian influence. The meat entrees are always a safe bet, but save space for the pasta dishes, these were memorably outstanding.

The Asian-inflected Alaskan King Crab Pasta ($28 appetizer sized), saw fresh tagliatelle strewn with sweet shreds of crabmeat bolstered by chewy kombu blobs, swimming in a rich but nuanced pork broth. A must-try, but a tip to those avoiding carbs, get this in the appetizer portion for sharing.

The Truffle Pasta ($25) of homemade fusilli slathered in a velvety thick mushroom cream, was punctuated by black truffle shavings, and crowned with a Parmesan crisp. This was intensely robust, especially that sauce, which was akin to a flowy oozy mushroom duxelle. I loved loved loved this.

The Dover Sole Meuniere ($48), beautifully golden and perfectly crisped, was topped with fried capers for a salty oomph, while a simple mache salad and pickled potatoes lent a bright piquancy. For those less than skilled in picking out the bones, the kitchen will offer to de-bone a fillet for you.

A must-try, the Roasted Truffle Chicken ($72) uses free-range sakura chicken for mouth-watering succulence. Just look at this dazzling creation, a gorgeous shade of brown, with hints of black truffle paste peeking through the gold of the skin.

As with the fish, the kitchen will carve and plate the entire thing up and serve it with extra lashings of white truffle, sided by an intoxicating truffle jus.

I'm ecstatic that The White Rabbit brought back the Truffled Mac & Cheese ($16). They'd taken it off the menu and I'd been so upset I actually wrote a lengthy email lamenting the loss of the best mac & cheese around. Dotted with juicy mushrooms, this was layered and balanced.

Complimentary crusty bread with a knob of softened butter for starters.

The White Rabbit
39C Harding Road
Tel: 6473 9965
Open weekdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
weekends from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
Closed on Mondays
Website: www.thewhiterabbit.com.sg


Tamarind Hill

Tamarind Hill has quickly become one of my favourite places to head to for Thai fine dining, the other 2 being good ol' Patara, and popular CBD haunt Sabai on the Bay. Here, classic Thai food is made exquisite with premium, ultra fresh ingredients and gorgeous plating.

The Hors d'oeuvres comprised a duo of springy Thai Fish Cakes with a refreshingly crisp cucumber salad, a tender chicken skewer burnished with a chili peanut coat, and a papaya salad speckled with salted eggs. The fish cakes and chicken skewer were lovely, but the hightlight was the salad, a myriad of crunchy and smooth textures and addicting in its piquancy.

A classic Thai salad, Lab Gai ($18), was a hodgepodge of minced chicken, fresh shallots, and assorted Thai herbs dressed in a savoury spicy marinade. It was just too bad (for me, at least) copious amounts of coriander leaves were weaved into this.

The Deep Fried Tofu with Kaffir Lime Salt ($15) was subtly glazed with a sour tinge, and grounded with a thick sweet peanut sauce.

The Deep Fried Butter Tiger Prawns ($47), wispy with butter strands, was spiked with hot basil and chilli nubbins. A most excellent seafood option.

The Deep Fried Grouper in Tamarind ($40), enlivened with pineapple sauce, was equal parts spicy, sweet, and sour.

A must-try, the Steamed Seabass with Thai Herbs ($59) was punched up with lime, garlic, and bird's eye chilli, which drew focus to the freshness of the fish. 

The Stir Fried Chicken with Pineapple & Cashews ($34) was a safe, if a little stodgy, option.

The Roasted Duck Breast in Red Curry ($34), sumptuous and creamy, was peppered with grapes, cherry tomatoes, and lychee for a fruity finish.

Obligatory greens were served by way of Stir Fried Asparagus ($19) in oyster sauce, was beautifully nutty and dappled in golden bits of garlic.

For those who can't eat curries without their rice, Tamarind Hill serves up a whopping 10 varietals of rice for accompaniment, and a worthwhile option, was the Chilli & Mortar Roasted Rice ($12). Imbued with a smoky essence, this was good to eat on its own.

Tamarind Hill Restaurant
30 Labrador Villa Road
Open daily from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 10.30pm for dinner
Tel: 6278 6364


Sin Huat Seafood Eating House

I've resisted going to Sin Huat for the longest time, in no small part due to the chef's reputation as a food nazi. Tales of the chef's notoriously foul moods preceded the Bib Gourmand-awardee, and while I don't expect good service at coffee shops, I draw the line at being abused. Also, I'd heard horror stories of inordinately long waits for a table and food. Both points were enough to put me off dining at Sin Huat, purportedly serving the "single best dish" notwithstanding.

Then a friend alerted me to the fact that the Anthony Bourdain favourite was relatively quiet these days, and the chef had mellowed over the years. So we trotted on down to Geylang for dinner one Friday evening, see what the fuss was all about.

Despite the tip, we were still stunned to find the coffee shop bare of diners. On a Friday night. It was so devoid of customers we actually thought, for a split second, that we hit up the wrong address. The dimly lit restaurant, obviously a supporter of the save electricity movement, was quite the gloomy sight. We kept expecting the crowds to fill in as the night went by, but by 9pm, we were convinced that this was the sad state bad reviews had gotten the restaurant to.

It didn't help that the food was terribly underwhelming, after all that hype. I dined with a fellow crab lover, and the fact that we didn't finish our crabs spoke volumes. For background, we each can polish off a 1kg crab on our own.

That said, service was surprisingly pleasant. The chef, a one-man show who doubled up as waiter taking our orders, even cracked a smile. The years have definitely cultivated some graciousness.

The Crab Bee Hoon ($168 for 2kg crabs) was the biggest disappointment, mostly because the crabs were awfully mushy and woefully lacking in sweetness. The legs, which I usually love, were mushy, and only the claws were barely passable with flaky slightly juicy meat. That said, the noodles were sublime, having soaked up all that seafresh sweetness of a crab stock, and punched up with leeks, chillis, and mushrooms. We wiped up every last strand of the noodles, but left most of the crab untouched.

The Otak ($12) was the surprise gem of the night, with fleshy chunks of fish embedded within luscious spiced paste. The best otak I've ever had, bar none.

The Garlic Steamed Prawns ($63) were excellent, if a little overpriced. Flayed in half, the prawns were bouncy, which sweetness was highlighted by the caramelised garlic.

The Scallops ($37.50) were forgettable and middling, sinewy in texture and delicate flavour overwhelmed by the rich black bean garlic sauce.

Ditto for the Stir Fried Kailan ($10), which was crunchy but missing out on an integral smoky accent.

Sin Huat Eating House
659 Geylang Road
Open daily from 6pm to 12midnight
Tel: 6744 9755



Jjimdak is a variation of dak-dori-tang, with a similar flavour profile but spiked with dried red chills, and not just fresh green chilli peppers. The spicier chicken braise also comprises similar ingredients, but with the addition of sweet potato starch noodles and mushrooms. In-all, it's a really simple low-fuss dish to whip up for a weekday dinner, and great when paired with plain white rice.

Ingredients (feeds 4-6 pax):
1 kg chicken thighs, boneless and cut into bite-sized pieces
4 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp guk kanjang (switch it out with light soy sauce)
2 tbsp mulyeot (corn syrup)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 head garlic, minced
6-7 fresh Korean green chilli peppers
4-5 dried red chillis
10 small potatoes
3 large carrots, diced to 1" cubes
15 shitake mushrooms, sliced

200 gm dangmyeon (sweet potato starch noodles)
3-4 cups water
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp canola oil
handful white sesame seeds for serving

1) Fry onions in pre-heated pan, with sesame oil and canola oil, until translucent; add garlic and fry till fragrant.

2) Add carrots, and fry till slightly softened, about 1 minute.

3) Add shitake, and fry till water released is evaporated.

4) Add green chillis, and fry for a minute.

5) Add chicken.

6) Add oyster sauce, guk kanjang, and fry until chicken cooked through.

7) Add corn syrup and sugar, and enough water to just reach the top of the mixture.

8) Add dried red chillis, and bring to a boil, before lowering it to a simmer for half an hour.

9) 10 minutes before serving, add noodles.

10) Add potatoes to cook in the last 10 minutes before serving.

11) Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.


Korat Thai Cafe

Korat Thai rounds off the trio of Thai eateries scattered in Orchard Towers, the other two being Cafe Sapunsa and Thai Tantric. We rotate between the 3, depending on whichever is the least busy. The Muslim-friendly Korat Thai doesn't do pork, but that lacuna is offset by the excellent finesse of the fresh and sweet seafood.

Straightforward and rustic, the food at Korat Thai boasts big bold flavours. The Hubs says this is like the best of Thai street food that you could possibly find in Singapore, but in air-conditioned comfort and at prices reflective of an Orchard Road tenant. That said, Korat Thai's "premium prices" are cheaper than at fine-dining Patara, Tamarind Hill or Sabai.

Like Cafe Supunsa and Thai Tantric, the tiny stall gets crazy-mobbed and service consequently choppy and dour, but who cares about good service when the fantastic food's all the draw you need.

The Deep Fried Chicken with Garlic & Pepper ($10.90), fried to a crisp and intoxicatingly aromatic (but a nightmare for those wanting a little after-dinner nookie), was a must-try.

The golden crumbed Prawn Cakes ($10.90) were beautifully crunchy on the outside, and scrumptiously juicy on the inside. A most addictive tv-snack now that all of my favourite shows have returned with the advent of fall.

The Paneang Curry Chicken ($10.90) may look like an ugly sludge, because the kitchen held off 'everything green', including the kaffir lime leaves, when I asked to hold off any parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves, but wowza, tasted heavenly. This was smooth and creamy, and boasted a robust spiced kick. A must-try.

The most surprising thing about the Seafood Fried Kway Teow ($6.50) was how well the squid was cooked. This may not have the distinctive char of 'breath of wok', but the noodles were comfortingly delicious, and the squid, while little in portion, was perfectly soft with the slightest chewy texture.

Korat Thai Cafe
Orchard Towers #03-28
Orchard Road
Tel: 6736 2282
Open daily from 6pm to 3am
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