Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: Winning charred pork from The Burning Oak

The Combo, a rice bowl with an onsen egg and slices of wagyu rump cap and Iberico pork cheek.
The Combo, a rice bowl with an onsen egg and slices of wagyu rump cap and Iberico pork cheek. ST PHOTO: REBECCA LYNNE TAN

Let's face it, Singapore's hawker scene is changing. And so are our taste buds.

While we love our traditional street foods from char kway teow to lor mee, we have also developed an appetite for new-fangled Singapore style street fare such as donburi bowls, salads, pastas and ramen, which are fast becoming mainstays at hawker centres.

And as we worry about the next generation of hawkers that will wield the spatulas of our heritage foods, let us also embrace the "hipster hawker", a term coined by celebrity television host Anthony Bourdain at the World Street Food Congress in 2013.

Mr Jeremy Han, 25, chef and owner of The Burning Oak at the Bedok Marketplace in Simpang Bedok, is an example of a hipster hawker - an innovative food vendor who offers his interpretation of street food.

The Temasek Polytechnic alumnus, who has a diploma in catering and culinary management, offers Japanese rice bowls topped with chargrilled meat and pickles, and a bowl of miso soup. Prices start at $12 at this two-year-old stall.

I tried the Truffle Wagyu bowl ($16) - slices of chargrilled Australian rump cap wagyu, minced beef with a dash of truffle oil, topped with an onsen egg; and The Combo ($16), a rice bowl with an onsen egg and slices of wagyu rump cap and Iberico pork cheek.

The stall's beef and foie gras bowl ($20) was not available the day I dined there.

At night, the stall also offers grassfed Angus short rib skewers ($6).

I have said this before, but I will say it again - I have a small obsession with beef bowls.

Here, I appreciate that the slices of beef have not been slathered in sauce. At many stalls (restaurants included), the beef is swimming in sauce, which I dislike.

I also like that the flavours are more muted, not too sweet or so overwhelming that you cannot taste the well-seasoned beef.

But what truly stands out for me at The Burning Oak is the Iberico pork cheek. You can order just the pork (without rice) for $12 for 140g.

It is marinated with soya sauce and honey, and sous vide for 10 hours before it is chargrilled to order. The pork is supple and has a gorgeous blackened char with a pleasant crunch.

I like beef, but I would order this Iberico pork bowl in a heart beat.

Perhaps, my taste buds are changing too.

• Follow Rebecca Lynne Tan on Twitter @STrebeccatan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 23, 2017, with the headline 'Winning charred pork'. Print Edition | Subscribe