The Wagon – Japanese French Food Pushed On Trolleys. ‘Atas’ Food Can Be Fun
It is difficult to accurately classify The Wagon at Tras Street. Though it has been said to be serving “Tapas-style French food”, there is much more to this restaurant.
It can be fun, it can be perplexing, it can be experimental.
First things first, The Wagon is opened by the team behind the hugely popular collagen hotpot restaurant Tsukada Nojo.
But The Wagon and Bijin Nabe are like chalk and cheese.
Chef Makoto Deguchi is the former sous chef of 1-star Michelin restaurant Sola from Paris, with experience working in restaurants from Kanagawa to Tokyo.
He did display some of that Michelin-flair in the dishes he created, somewhat unexpected if you just judge based on the restaurant’s casual woody setting with Katy Perry playing in the background.
The “Travelling Wagyu” concept, as what the restaurant is named after, is similar to an old-style dim sum restaurant.
A service staff will push a trolley with food to every table, and you do your picking. Food items change on a regular basis to keep customers anticipated.
My general advice is: select some items which catch your fancy from the trolley as appetizers, and order the more substantial portions from the menu.
The service recommended 3 wagon items and 1 beef dish from the menu. Customers with larger appetizers may need to order 2 instead.
Definitely not your typical ‘dim sum’ or tapas, with a level of unpredictability.
The trolley pushed over had items such as Fresh Uni ($8 for 10gm), Oyako Tamago ($5), Cheese Wanton ($8), Foie Gras Brûlée ($12), Marinated Vegetable ($5), Homemade Tofu with Seafood ($12), and Orchard with Lobster Salad ($20).
Homemade Tofu with Seafood ($12)
Probably my favourite Wagon item, perhaps I was in a mood for something light yet appetizing.
The tofu was incredibly soft and smooth, topped with uni, prawns and ikura, its subtle flavour coming from a dashi stock. You have to consume this slowly to appreciate its nuance, but I am imagine some diners finding this bland.
Oyako Tamago ($5)
I can imagine this being served as an amuse bouche in some fine-dining restaurant, but people may get thrown off for paying 5 bucks for this.
‘Oyako’ represents a parent-child dish in Japanese. This is your Oyako-don IN AN EGG. Wait till you dig to the bottom and discover some bonito-kombu dashi jelly. Quite the bomb.
Foie Gras Brûlée ($12)
Caramelised foie grass brûlée. Though The Wagon is not the first to offer this savoury-sweet appetizer, they possibly got the balance quite spot-on.
Spreading this on toast, while sipping red wine can be thoroughly pleasurable.
Cheese Wanton ($8)
”So weird!” was my first reaction after taking a piece.
Think about it: Deep fried milky-creamy CHEESE-filled wanton, with fresh tomato reduction poured in from a milk bottle, then dripped with droplets of pesto sauce.
Mind-blown or gimmicky – you can tip either side easily. (I wasn’t that a fan.)
The other part of the menu consists of different cuts of Hokkaido Beef that are made into separate dishes.
Expect Beef Consommé with Homemade Ravioli ($18), Hamburg Steak ($35), Stewed Beef with Red Wine served in Cheese Risotto ($45), Bone Marrow with Beef Tartar ($18), Cassoulet ($25), Carpaccio, and the newest addition with is a Beef Bak Kut Teh ($25).
Hamburg Steak ($35)
Japanese style Hamburg Steak with homemade demi-glace sauce. The price is considerably on the high side though.
Looked deceptively simple, but the hamburger steak was juicy and soft, rich in flavour in this full-bodied demi-glace sauce. The mash potatoes it sat on had fantastically velvety texture. I guess there is a price to pay for quality.
Beef Bak Kut Teh ($25)
Although this is labelled “Bak Kut Teh”, do not come expecting the peppery Song Fa or Ya Hua. It is not quite like the traditional BKT, except that they are both broth-based.
To describe this as a robust beef consommé is likely to be more accurate.
For desserts, there were Moelleux Au Chocolat ($15), Fluffy Crème Brûlée ($15), Milky Blanc-Manger ($13), and homemade tart with ice cream ($14).
I continue to be surprised by this meal, but they indeed saved the biggest for the end.
When I saw how the Moelleux Au Chocolat ($15) was presented, the other side of me just thought it totally looked like… (you fill in the blank).
Aesthetics aside, this is Burrata Cheese with Hot Chocolate Sauce. WOW.
So what I suggest: Slice the burrata, mix the thickened, buttery cream with the chocolate, and just take in spoonful after spoonful.
In Singapore where some restaurant openings are more or less similar or banking after trends, a concept like The Wagon is revitalising.
Go with a group of friends, keep an open-mind, and get your taste buds excited.
55 Tras Street #01-01 Singapore 078994
Tel: +65 6221 6369
Opening Hours: 12pm – 3pm last order 2pm, 6pm – 12am last order 11pm (Mon – Fri)
6pm – 12am last order 11pm (Sat), Closed Sun
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with The Wagon.
January 09, 2018