Jiak Pa Lang Eating House: reinvents Singaporean cuisine

With National Day around the corner, there's always room for Singaporean fare, especially if you're not allocated a  waterfront spot to flail your arms in the air under the impressive illustrious displays made of drones in synchronised movement, oh how we've moved on from mass dance formations in the National Stadium.

Chef Nixon Low, previously of Portico group fame has moved on set up Jiak Pa Lang Eating house, a  restaurant that focuses on bringing a new edge to local dishes. Not limited to resuscitating hawker food, the improvisations extend to multi-cultural as well, speaking volumes about Singapore's expansive growth in terms of global reach over the mere 52 years of its independence Many of these renditions playing on food and its associated memories such as the Braised Beef Cheek which is a spin-off a chef's tale of after-hours with the buds - of Guinness stout and peanuts.

Still, food rears towards the safe side, with fail-proof European combinations and techniques given an extra twist till its recognisable by localised palates. On the starters menu, there's the Silken Tofu, Century Egg Sauce and Tobiko, an inverted interpretation of the Taiwanese street food, Sour Plum Vine Tomatoes and Seaweed as well as the Cream of Dried Shitake Mushroom Soup. All executed well but nothing really held my attention just yet. That was till the mains took centerstage.

My impression, marred by a truly atrocious rendition of coffee soil with beef steak in recent weeks has got me a bit skeptical about the next mash up. However, the Charcoal Katarosu Pork Collar ($16) is more dynamic than one would expect. The pork collar licked by charcoal flames, is suffused with an abstract whisper of smoke. The Kopi C jus and namely the bittersweet soil serving as the winning tricks on the plate that even instigated an excitable resemblance to 'cocaine'  by one of my accomplices. The next Assam Pulau Ubin Sea Bass confit with eggplant puree and compressed pineapples ($15) is a complete meal. The sous-vide treatment of the pineapples ensuring a consistent level of sweetness to compliment the tender yet crisp skinned sea bass. I needed to fortify my views that well-executed dishes need not be too superfluous nor expensive. It's 15 dollar price tag both easy on the wallet and very amicable on the palate.

More substantial things to eat continue in the same route of success with Chef Nixon's take on Har Cheong Prawn Paste Chicken Roulade ($13). Think chicken thigh marinated in oyster sauce, soy sauce and a myriad of other good things, then the outer layer in prawn paste for 6 hours to allow the flavours to penetrate a little deeper. These two portions are then rolled into a roulade, steamed, drained, battered and fried to produce these shatteringly crisp skin mounds with toothsome flesh that makes best buds with the accompanying calamansi mayonnaise.

Come lunch time, Jiak Pa Lang rolls out plenty of economical rice bowl options such as the Signature Sesame Soy Chicken ($6.90) rendered in portions that would put most poke rice concepts to shame. Complete with onsen egg and mesclun salad, it's a one stop shop for all the mid-day nutrition you need.

If your diet allows, make a beeline for the star dish their 'Ang Ji Kao' Stout Braised Beef Cheek ($17). The dish pooling the ultra decadent peanut butter mash; a riff on beer sessions with chums accompanied by trayfuls of roasted peanuts. Brilliant; with cubes of Nashi pear to provide an unexpected bursts of sweetness. The beef cheek, well chosen for its balanced constitution isn't overly fatty, gelatinous nor stiff. Braised till unctuous in stout and infused with an addictive bovril flavour through and through, the dish comes together like a dream team.

For desserts, there is the Milo Dinosaur ($8) - the ultra sinful supper beverage of choice reinvented in panna cotta form and 'zenged' with 'eggs'. This nest of free-formed wobbly goodness is like your 'milo-gao' on steroids - contributed by the milo crumb laced with a bit of salt to balance out the richness. Your tongue will want to get frisky with this one.

Jiak Pa Lang eating house may be a bit inconvenient to get to but rest assured as the price worthiness of its fare and thoroughly inventive approach makes the trip to Labrador Park worthwhile.

Jiak Pa Lang
456 Alexandra Road
Fragrance Empire Building Singapore 119962
t: 6266 8511

Operating Hours:
Mon-Fri: 11 30am - 10pm
Sat- Sun: Closed

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