Sio Bak & Char Siu at 88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist, Singapore

Pork is my least favourite meat. I can easily pass up on the holiday lechon (roasted suckling pig) and coffee pork ribs—and I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. Blame it on childhood trauma when I’d always find pork fat cubes with pig’s hair still sticking out of them floating inside the evening’s menudo. Gross! Growing up, my dad also suffered from physical ailments because of his health (he was a heavy drinker, smoker, and meat-eater), so we needed to lessen our porcine intake as a family.

BUT. I still get my cravings every now and then, especially liempo (grilled pork belly), sisig (pig’s mask aka beer’s best friend), and crunchy lechon kawali (deep-fried suckling pig) violently drowned in vinegar from my university’s famed eatery, Manang’s. Ahhh! Thinking about it now makes me want to book a flight to Manila and satisfy my yearning. But I must resist.

And, of course, I can’t forget Hong Kong and it’s street-side eateries selling roasted goose, ducks, slabs of crispy roast pork belly, and shiny char siu (barbecued pork). I spent a lot of childhood mornings eating fish congee with you tiao (deep-fried dough) and bo lo (pineapple shaped) buns dipped in condensed milk with my grandpa, but I’d always get my secret fix of roast meat plates accompanied by double servings of Hong Kong Milk Tea (made with Black & White evaporated milk!), too.

88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist at Tyrwhitt Road makes the case for awesome, awesome roasted meats here in Singapore. While I am not much of a fan of crispy roast pork belly (or sio bak, as the locals here call it) and char siu, I find myself riding a bus just to curb my craving. It also helps that it’s a stone’s throw away from my fiancé office. But seriously, the man making these delectable porcine creations is serious about his shit.

The crispy roast pork belly doesn’t feel like it came from a reused vat of oil; rather, each bite is consistently clean and crisp. The crackling skin gives way to a juicy, super-tender chunk of pork that has a trimming of fat, but not so much that it overwhelms. What’s great about it is that it has the right balance of crunch, fat, and soft, flavourful pork.

The char siu is caramelised to a dark, sweet perfection, but keeping the meat smoky and soft. I hear he uses malt sugar, which makes the surface nicely sticky. The sweetness from the sugar seeps into the meat, providing a nice, saccharine quality to the meat.

And please, don’t forget the chilli. I always both the wet orange type (that’s vinegar based) and the dry, burning type (I’d like to think it’s his version of sambal). Roast duck is also part of 88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist’s offerings, but I catch myself ordering a loaded plate of pork every damn time. And extra rice, when I’m in the mood.

88 HONG KONG ROAST ROAST MEAT SPECIALIST
153 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207566
P: +65 8225-2495

(All meals are paid for myself unless stated otherwise.)

Restaurant Locavore, Bali

I literally jumped out of my bed and cheered as I was scrolling through Instagram and found out Restaurant Locavore’s leap from No. 49 to No. 22 in the recent San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards, making it the recipient of the Highest Climber Award, and, also, Best Restaurant in Indonesia for 2017.

I was in Bali last December for the holidays, and getting a seat at Locavore was the top priority as we planned the itinerary. The only date with available seats was on 30 December, which I thought would be a great way to wrap up the year.

When booking on Locavore’s website, you are presented with two menus—vegetarian and the omnivorous Locavore menu, with an option to have five or all seven dishes, with or without a cocktail pairing. After a ludicrous amount of contemplation, my partner and I decided to both have the Locavore menu (one of us was supposed to have the vegetarian menu, but maybe next time). We chose the 7-course menu (but were served a total of almost 17+ dishes!), and instead of doing the cocktail pairing, we decided to head over to Night Rooster opposite Restaurant Locavore (also by the same folks) for some pre-dinner drinks.

Apart from the beaches at Nusa Dua and lighting sparklers on New Year’s Eve, dining at Restaurant Locavore was probably the highlight of my Bali trip. Aside from the food, there is so much good and contagious energy in the space, and you can tell that Chef Eelke Plasmeijer and Chef Ray Adriansyah train and lead a very inspiring culinary team.

Here you have two opposing backgrounds that complement rather than clash—Chef Eelke trained in modern French cuisine in Holland and Chef Ray, coming from Sumatran background, did his training in New Zealand. Locavore has fostered its own signature approach to food as it uses contemporary techniques as a catalyst to bring out the fullest flavours of Indonesia’s local ingredients—from spices to seafood.

Amuse Bouche: Candied young fruit with ginger and cashew nut gel with chilli powder. Restaurant Locavore’s version of a “rojak”.
Amuse Bouche: Candied young fruit with ginger and cashew nut gel with chilli powder. Restaurant Locavore’s version of a “rojak”.
Seaweed pillow bread, tamarind emulsion
Seaweed pillow bread, tamarind emulsion
Black rice blini with smoked egg emulsion and crispy black rice
Black rice blini with smoked egg emulsion and crispy black rice
Bloody Mary sorbet with tomato consomme
Bloody Mary sorbet with tomato consommé
Cauliflower and coconut with elderberry vinaigrette
Homemade rote with peanut oil, nuts (dukkha), and sambal matah

And here come the mains!

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