Food Picks: Eric's Bistro reprises Italian classics and Cantonese pastries from Wan Hao Pop-Up

Grilled Squid at Eric’s Bistro.
Grilled Squid at Eric’s Bistro.ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO
Spring Chicken at Eric’s Bistro.
Spring Chicken at Eric’s Bistro.ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO
Panna Cotta at Eric’s Bistro.
Panna Cotta at Eric’s Bistro.ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Reprising Modesto's favourites

Old classics and new dishes

Those who miss the wood-fired pizzas at the now-closed Modesto's can savour those Italian flavours once more at Eric's Bistro in Hoe Chiang Road.

After Modesto's closed in July, its group head chef, Mr Eric Cheah, 48, teamed up with other former colleagues to start a new venture, Eric's Bistro which opened in September 2020.

Most of the items on its menu would be familiar to Modesto's regulars. The main difference is that the pizzas at Eric's Bistro are cooked in an electric - not an wood-fired, one.

I find the Misto Carne ($23.50+) pizza satisfying. The thin crust is crispy and the topping of pork salami, cooked pork ham, chicken sausage and slices of in-house marinated chicken thigh is tender and tasty.

A standout hit is the off-menu Grilled Calamari ($17.50+). Forget the deep-fried Calamari, listed on the menu under appetisers. Insist on the grilled version.

The bistro uses fresh squid which is seasoned with spices inspired by the grilled skewers of Dongbei cuisine. Cumin and chilli powder give the squid aroma, flavour and just enough heat. It does not need any condiments, but the dish comes with the housemade garlic chilli dip that was a hit at Modesto's.

The recipe came from Chef Cheah who was inspired by his Hainanese maternal grandmother's recipe for chicken rice chilli.

Misto Carne pizza at Eric’s Bistro. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Another dish that is new to the bistro is the Spring Chicken ($24+). Instead of the pan-fried version at Modesto's, the spring chicken here is marinated overnight in spices such as fresh ginger, garlic, onion and curry powder. The curry powder is dusted off before deep-frying, which prevents the bird's skin from getting burnt. The spices thoroughly permeate the meat which is juicy.

The portions here are good for sharing and offer value-for-money.

Other dishes to try are the Zuppetta Pesce ($16.50+), a tomato-based soup with seafood. The venus clams are fresh, not frozen and the bistro makes its own clam stock.

Zuppetta Pesce at Eric’s Bistro. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

A good dessert offering is the house-made Panna Cotta ($10+), made with vanilla seeds handscraped from the pod.

The restaurant currently offers an opening promotion of 20 per cent off food items for dinner (3pm to 11pm) and 30 per cent off food items for lunch (11.30am to 3pm). The promotion ends Feb 28.

WHERE: 7 Hoe Chiang Road

MRT: Tanjong Pagar

OPEN: 11.30am to 11pm daily

TEL: 6592-4329

Sweet treats

Handcrafted Cantonese pastries

Wan Hao Pop-Up which features a range of handmade Cantonese pastries baked fresh daily by the Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant’s culinary team. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

With egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery and Joy Luck Teahouse, do we need another contender on the egg tart market?

Yes, if they are from Wan Hao Pop-Up which retails hand-crafted Cantonese pastries made by Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant's culinary team.

The egg tarts are made with free-range eggs and especially interesting are the Yam Egg Tart ($3.50 a piece) and the Red Bean Egg Tart ($3.50).

The yam egg tart has a layer of orh nee-like filling - Thai yam cooked with corn oil and sugar - under the egg custard.

Japanese red beans - cooked for over an hour until they are tender - are used in the red bean version.

The Coconut Egg Tart ($3.50) is not bad too, with shredded coconut lending a crunchy texture that complements the creamy egg custard.

Sadly, the Gula Melaka Egg Tart ($3.50) did not quite cut it as the aroma and taste of gula melaka were faint. The filling tasted faintly of caramel more than rich gula melaka.

The cookie crust of the egg tarts is thin yet it holds up remarkably well. It is possible to use a knife to section each egg tart without it collapsing.

Other items worth trying are the Baked Char Siew Bun ($3 a piece) and Wife Cake (Lao Po Bing, $3 a piece). Both come with generous fillings. The char siew filling for the bun, and the winter melon filling or the Wife Cake are prepared in-house.

The Chinese Walnut Cookies (200g, $18 a jar) and Almond Cookies (200g, $18 a jar) are crispy. The almond cookies are paricularly addictive as they have a melt-in-the-mouth texture.

Best of all, the pastries are not overly sweet.

The pop-up started on Jan 2 and ends on Feb 20.

WHERE: Java+, Level 1, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel

MRT: Orchard

OPEN: Jan 2 to Feb 20, 11am to 5pm. Available for walk-in purchases for takeaway only. No pre-orders available

TEL: Call 6831-4605 for enquiries

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