SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - When the poke trend exploded in Singapore, A Poke Theory (by the Tandem Collective group, owned by siblings Joey and Vannessa Lee) was one of those who propelled the craze.
Now with Alter Ego, the group's latest venture, the Lees have caught on to another emerging trend: Hearty vegan options.
Though it does not have many vegan items on the menu, whatever they have will please many. The healthy choices are balanced by the many cheese-centric dishes, too.
This is vital because Alter Ego becomes a trendy inclusive space for all to grab a bite.
The Lees - who are in their early 20s - designed the restaurant to be gritty, artsy and (purposefully) unpretentious.
The space seems determined to be laid back. And when there are performances at the Esplanade's outdoor theatre, you get free entertainment too.
One of the most delicious bowls at Alter Ego is the vegan option, Poke & Chips (from $10). It's basically pieces of avocado with a shoyu marinade. The creaminess of the avocado and the saltiness of the marinade made this dish addictive. It looks unassuming but it'll fill you up.
Another must-try is the Grilled Cheese with Short Rib ($11, add $3 for short rib). It's that mix of flavours and textures again that made this work: The cheeses - a mix of grated gruyere and taleggio - worked so well with the savoury beef, making it such a pleasurable experience.
Another cheesy option is the Pizza Fries ($14 ). This has three cheeses and is served with a house-made bacon ketchup. It's an elevated fries experience and eating it was as thrilling as the first time I tried truffle fries.
When faced with any version of Fried Chicken Skin ($8), I am hopeless. This version is slightly spicy and aromatic, but crispy. It's a sinful treat that you should just give in to.
The Cacaoholic Smoothie Bowl ($8 ) has a whole banana blended with soy milk and raw cacao powder. It's a healthy indulgence but doesn't look it. For those with a sweet tooth, this may be too subtle for you. I just wish for a bit more texture, though.