Food Picks: Meta, Ah Ho Teochew Kway Teow Mee, Crystal Jade Golden Palace, Tambuah Mas

Creamy Irish oyster with a lemon-ginger dressing, chive oil, and a spoonful fiery gochujang at Meta.
Creamy Irish oyster with a lemon-ginger dressing, chive oil, and a spoonful fiery gochujang at Meta.PHOTO: META

META'S AUTUMN MENU

Meta, a contemporary restaurant that serves dishes with an Asian influence, was awarded a Michelin star a few months ago.

It has received mixed reviews in the two years it has been open, but the meal I had there earlier this week certainly made me sit up and pay attention. It was exciting and I haven't felt that way about a restaurant in Singapore for quite a while.

The vibe is great and the service, excellent. The food is thoughtful with a bold Asian bent, especially for its seafood items. Head chef Sun Kim's seafood dishes not only showcased the produce, but also had a good balance of umami and acidity.

I had the seven-course menu ($148, the five-course menu costs $108), which starts with snacks and includes dishes such as aged shima aji, barbecued quail and Japanese persimmon with walnut, sponge and crumble for dessert.

The stand-out dishes for me include the Korean Abalone - slow-cooked abalone with an elegant smokiness, served atop a century egg porridge with seaweed; and the Butternut Squash - a large prawn on a smooth butternut squash puree that has been incorporated with a robust seafood bisque, sprinkled with crisp bits of garlic for flavour and a hint of bitterness, and freshly shorn kernels of charred corn add texture.

The prawn is topped with thin butternut squash noodles and fine julienned kaffir lime leaves which give the dish extra lift.

Be sure to also order the plump, creamy Irish oyster ($10) with a lemon-ginger dressing, chive oil, and a spoonful fiery gochujang. Love the zing in the dressing.

Time to give Meta another chance.

WHERE: Meta, 9 Keong Saik Road MRT: Outram OPEN: Noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), 6 to 11pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays TEL: 6513-0898 INFO: Go to www.metarestaurant.sg or e-mail reservations@metarestaurant.sg


BAK CHOR MEE FIX


Bak chor mee at Ah Ho Teochew Kway Teow Mee, Verdun House. PHOTO: REBECCA LYNNE TAN

 

Bak chor mee is one of my comfort foods. There are plenty of bak chor mee stalls in Singapore and while the question of which is the best will always remain contentious among foodies, here is one I like - Ah Ho Teochew Kway Teow Mee in Verdun Road.

Here, springy noodles (from $3) are tossed in a heady, deep-flavoured, mildly-spicy sambal and topped with lean slices of pork, stewed mushrooms, fried flat fish for a touch of saltiness and texture, and a generous amount of crispy cubes of lard. The no-frills stall also has good her keow or fish dumplings, which are smooth and not rubbery or overly chewy.

WHERE: Ah Ho Teochew Kway Teow Mee, Verdun House, 12 Verdun Road, where Verdun and Sam Leong roads intersect MRT: Rochor OPEN: 7am to about 4pm (Thursdays to Tuesdays), closed on Wednesdays


THE BEST OF TEOCHEW AND CANTONESE CUISINE


Wobbly cubes of radish cake fried with egg, preserved radish, bean sprouts in an aromatic X.O. chilli sauce; and chilled Teochew-style yellow cream crab at Crystal Jade Golden Palace. PHOTO: CRYSTAL JADE GOLDEN PALACE

In a sea of new restaurants with mediocre offerings, everyone needs to have a list of eateries he can fall back on for a good, satisfying meal.

Last week, I tried four new spots for this column, but I could not bring myself to write about any of them. In fact, I needed to have second meals after trying each place. These are what I call "redemption meals" - meals where I know I will leave happy and full.

Places such as Crystal Jade Golden Palace at Paragon fall nicely into this category.

My must-order dishes here include the Teochew-style sliced fresh pomfret porridge ($14) - fluffy grains of rice in a light, flavourful fish broth with slices of pomfret; sauteed carrot cake in X.O. sauce ($11.80), wobbly cubes of radish cake fried with egg, preserved radish, bean sprouts in an aromatic X.O. chilli sauce; and chilled Teochew-style yellow cream crab (right, $11 for 100g) - sweet and refreshing.

There are plenty of other good items here, from suckling pig to shark's fin soup, but if you want something less traditional, try the rack of lamb with red wine and black pepper ($18).

WHERE: Crystal Jade Golden Palace, 05-22 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: 11.30am to 3pm (weekdays), 11am to 3pm (Saturdays), 10.30am to 3pm (Sundays and public holidays), 6 to 10.30pm daily TEL: 6734-6866 or 9177-2091 INFO: www.crystaljade.com/goldenpalace


WINNING TAHU TOWER


Tahu telor at Tambuah Mas. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

My exposure to chilli and spicy fare as a child began at Indonesian restaurants that included Tambuah Mas, which started 36 years ago.

The one dish that always got me excited was the tahu telor. Back then, from my low vantage point, it seemed like a tall and massive tower of tofu and crispy egg, waiting to topple over.

It doesn’t look as big anymore, but it is still a winner.

At Tambuah Mas, which has outlets at Tanglin Shopping Centre and Paragon, the tahu telor ($11.50) comprises flash-fried cubes of tofu with pillowy centres areheld in place with an crispy, airy egg batter drizzled with a sweet, sticky and mildly spicy kecap and topped with shredded cucumber.

Have it with rice and an extra dollop of punchy sambal belachan.

WHERE: Tambuah Mas, two outlets – 04-10/13 Tanglin Shopping Centre, 19 Tanglin Road; and B1-44 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: Both outlets are open from 11am to 10pm daily TEL: 6733-3333 (Tanglin), 6733-2220 (Paragon) INFO: tambuahmas.com.sg

Book a meal at Meta, Crystal Jade Golden Palace and Tambuah Mas with Chope.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2017, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe