My favourite Tiong Bahru estate continues to transform. Block 57 at the corner previously stood with Loo’s Hainanese Cury Rice (moved to 71 Seng Poh), Sum Long Teochew Braised Duck and Xian Ji Porridge (Blk 56). That is a thing of the past. Yes, there was a sense of loss.
Then came The Tiong Bahru Club Singapura. At least the new owners kept some nostalgic-inspired vibe, though some would argue these cards had been overplayed with cafes.
Even though it is relatively new, the ‘club’ has managed to attract a healthy expat crowd to support with its heritage style bistro with taproom concept, matched with retro-fitted furnishing, and upbeat service. It seeks to be a “peoples’ club where everyone is a member for free”.
Flipping through the menu, I could not help notice that the food offered was extremely diverse, a melting pot from Indian, Chinese, Malay, Eurasian to Western style dishes.
There was a little bit of everything ranging from Lamb Raan Buns ($18.80), , Club ’88’ Devil’s Chicken Curry ($16.80), Truck Stop Fried Chicken ($10.80), Thai Sausage ($10.80), Club ’88’ Claypot Rice ($14.80), Pork Knuckles ($18.80 for half) to Aglio Olio ($12.80).
The varied items on the menu intrigued me. At least it was not run on the mill. Though I suspect customers might land up with a situation where you would order a bit of everything to try, or know not what to have at all.
I knew I wanted the Devil’s Curry ($16.80), also known as Debal Galinhia, a Eurasian originated dish with Portuguese influence. Where else can you find this, other than home-cooked ones?
For those who never had this super spicy dish (thus the name ‘devil’), you could find yourself discovering assorted ingredients soaked in thick gravy- anything from chicken meat, sausages, potato chunks and vegetables. (The dish came about during the Christmas season where an assortment of ingredients would be thrown in.)
The curry was ‘devilish’ as the name suggested, and may cause some stomach-churning if spiciness is your weakness.
Other items we ordered were a mix-bag. We enjoyed the Truck Stop Fried Chicken ($10.80) especially with the house special sambal dip. The chicken parts on the other hand were deep-fried to too dark a shade of brown.
The recommended Club ‘88’ Satay ($11.80) looked okay on its surface, but when flipped over, a good half were ‘chao-tah’. Expectedly the other half tasted stick-dry. Restaurants (or clubs) should never serve food burnt till this extent.
These guys are also behind Chaiholics at Chevron House, thus serving more than 10 flavours of Chai, but no coffee. My Iced “Refreshing Lemongrass” Chai ($6.50) was surprisingly diluted, and I found its Mango Lassi ($7.2) though expensive, the more refreshing drink.
Sentimentally, I miss the good old kopitiams selling just class-acts local food. At least The Tiong Bahru Club Singapura kept its heritage style to an extent and serves different food from the rest. Food wise, some yes, some no.
The Tiong Bahru Club Singapura
57 Eng Hoon Street #01-88 Singapore 267208
Tel: +65 64380168
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 11pm (Mon-Thurs), 8:30am – 11:30pm