Five-Ten: Taiwanese inspired Pop-Up

In place of the late CATO along South Bridge Road comes Five Ten, a trendy spot sporting homely Taiwanese inspired eats. Judging from the long queues snaking out the door every weekday night, its popularity amongst the young and voguish is unmistakable. A major home-run, evidently seeing that its name is based off a beloved pre-drinking game enjoyed by most Singaporeans (preferably equipped with adequate counting skills); conceptualised by the Kishore brothers most known for helming the 90s themed club FRESH!; their appeal preceding over the same audience in their latest establishment.

To categorise FIVE-TEN as being pure Taiwanese would be a travesty. That's because it isn't. It's home cooked fare at best with a mother's comforting touch and the prospect of free flow rice. Whatever it is, abandon all will power, all ye people who venture through the doors of FIVE-TEN. The Braised Pork belly alone will have you breaking all the elementary rules of dieting.

To exercise portion control, come before 5 30pm for their rice bowl selection. Steak bowl, Fried Chicken Bowl, Ma Po Dou Fu Bowl amidst a fine array of side dishes to satiate the mid-noon munchies. We can't say no to that.

FIVE-TEN takes the casual dining space and raises the conceptual stakes, yes, it's a good looking space with a dark stage-set bedecked with eccentric lighting, tiled floors and moody wooden furniture. The no-frills approach that's a little rough around the edges, forces one to warm the stools a little longer, especially so after braving the queues in the blazing sun (alas! be prepared for that).

The Fried Chicken with Seaweed Mayonnaise ($5) is nigh on perfect, let's also pause to appreciate the friendly five-dollar for a sizable serve of crispy browned succulent nuggets sided with a green-speckled dollop of mayonnaise that you'll ration with extreme austerity. The contemporary approach carries on into the Fried Smashed Potatoes with Chili Pepper Sauce ($5), the crisped edges of baby potatoes roughened up in the colander resulting in bounteous surface area for the chili pepper and plum seasoning to adhere to. Sweetly fragrant, and perhaps a little too candied for some, I push this aside in favour of the Grilled Squid with House Glaze and Kalamansi ($10). Tender hunks of char-grilled squid jazzed up with a sweet salty sauce, spring onions and a good squeeze of lime overhead bears recollections of a beach side holiday. Another worthy mention on the dinner menu is the Brussels sprouts with Shitake ($5) graced with sautéed shiitake mushrooms and chili padi.

The people have spoken and they want meat. If you fall within that carnivorous bracket, get the Sirloin Steak ($10). It's great. The caramel crust is a tribute to the Maillard reaction, the blush pink flesh full of beefy flavour, the crispy garlic on top, all the garnish it needs. So, maybe a serve of pickled Chinese cabbage below the gorgeous fan could come along for the ride.. if only there was more of it.

A play on the usual Taiwanese dish, tofu and century egg; the Tau Kwa ($5) is born to be wild. Deep fried tofu meets deep fried century egg and a robust saucy special sauce that's perfect drizzled over rice.

So, the star of the show is the Lu Rou ($10). Worst thing to say about it is that there never seems to be enough. Stingy, they are not, but with such good measures of fat and tender meat steeped in pure classical comfort, you'll be craving for more. The big-fisted flavour of pork belly is matched with a rich and sticky house sauce that's subtly spiced to induce nostalgia. Not much of a textural statement is conjured here, the unctuous braised fats, of which no good can come except making you very, very happy.

Don't stop there. Round up the meal with the Deep Fried Milk ($5). The normalised street side snack reduced to cocktail sausage size to maximise crunch and then drizzled with homemade dulce de leech to sweeten the deal. The innards, prepared using whole milk and flour cooked to a roux is mixed in with egg whites for a devilishly light texture, a tad different from the overly sweet renditions you get on the streets of Taiwan. Wash it all down with Principal Barista Tim Chew's Cold Brew Lemonade ($5), the floral and acidic touch of their in-house cold brew raised to party-drink status with the interception of fizzy lemonade.

FIVE-TEN being run by kitchen wizards have recently taken to putting some new-fangled dishes to their solid menu including Steamed Live Lobster ($15) and Poached Cod in Soy Sauce ($15); fantastic for those who love affordable luxuries. Do check out their Facebook Page for menu updates!

237 South Bridge Road

Operating Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10am - 3pm; 6pm - 10pm

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