(THE NEW PAPER) - When Five Ten opened last July, I was a fan of its interesting take on modern Taiwanese street food, with dishes at either $5 or $10.
But nine months later, here we are with a new name and location, but the same format.
The Salted Plum's menu maintains the modern Taiwanese slant that Five Ten took but with price points expanded - there are now dishes at $15 and $20.
I am glad to say that whatever I liked about the old place, I like about the new. It is relaxed, casual and friendly, with singalong music filling the space. It takes a lot of restraint not to stand up and burst into song.
But the real draw remains the food. Not everything hits the mark but many do, or at least come really close.
One of my favourite items here is the Salted Pork ($5). It is as simple as it sounds - house-cured bacon with minced garlic. But the pork has the right amount of saltiness and tenderness, which makes it the perfect accompaniment to the Shiny Rice (50 cents, with lard and garlic oil). If you are a small eater, this combo is enough for a satisfying meal.
Another favourite is the Bamboo Shoots ($5). The shoots are braised in pork broth, resulting in a subtle but crunchy dish that grows on you. There is nothing fancy about this but the flavours and texture are so pleasing.
The Oyster Steamed Egg ($10) is like a gigantic serving of chawanmushi, which is why I love it so much. The flavours of the oysters are subtle but there is enough of a hint to perfume the egg.
Five Ten's Braised Pork Belly made it to The Salted Plum's menu ($10). I loved the first version so much that it ended up as one of my top picks of 2017.
Perhaps my memory of the first version was still too fresh because I was not seduced when I took my first bite of the second version. There was no change to the recipe, but somehow, it lacked something.
However, this bump was the exception rather than the rule.
The Taiwanese Sausage Patties ($10) remained on the menu but in another form and was as tasty as before.
Also recommended are the Burnt Chilli Chicken and Braised Pig Intestines (both $10).
There is only one choice of dessert, the Red Tea Jelly ($5). It won't win any prizes for presentation as it is a few brown and black cubes and black balls in a white cream. But its take on the ubiquitous bubble tea is fun and tasty, and it is a nice way to end the meal.