Ta-da! The Bistro – Café With Gochuchang Pasta And Truffle Poké Bowls, At Manulife Centre
For those working and studying around Bras Basah, Ta-da! The Bistro has opened at Manulife Centre.
This may appeal to the office crowd around the area and students from Singapore Management University, School of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts – which are all a short walk away.
The bistro-cafe is said to be where you can find delicacies such as caviar and ebiko at accessible prices.
According to Ta-da! The Bistro’s Facebook page, it aims to serve classic bistro fare with a unique twist.
Apparently, the chef has “trained in France and hails from the kitchen of Joël Robuchon”. Though the branch, country and role in JR was not stated and left some ambiguity.
I was still keen to see their interpretation of our café scene’s dishes.
Aside from a modest selection of starters, pizzas, pastas, mains and drinks, there was surprisingly also a separate order chit for Poké Bowls – which did seem slightly out-of-place from the onset.
The quirky chalk drawings on the wall, done up by their own staff, was a personal touch to the otherwise plain décor.
My only gripe would be that the tables seemed to be packed a little too closely, which might cause issues with comfort and noise levels when the place gets crowded. Also, a couple of them were shaky, and thus eating could be uncomfortable unless you hold the base with a drink coaster.
At a corner, you can select songs from a “Secret DJ” Digital Jukebox touch-screen display to be played from the café’s speakers.
Alternatively, you can also download an app for the same purpose and choose your tunes from the comfort (and privacy) of your own table.
The mains served included Corn Fed Chicken ($17.90), Iberico Pork Burger ($19.90), Wagyu Burger ($21.90), Pan Fried Salmon ($21.90), Iberico Pork ($23.90), and Wagyu Striploin ($24.90) along with pasta dishes of Al Fungi ($16), Cold Pasta ($16), Salmon and Ebiko ($18) and Chicken Teriyaki ($16).
Starting off the meal was the Triple J ($12). Crispy and juicy, the wings were quite savoury on their own – albeit a little small for the price.
While the blue cheese dip was a unique twist that went well with the vegetable sticks, I thought that the chicken was already flavoursome on its own.
It would have been better if they simply included a wedge of lime, or something else to brighten the flavour profile.
Most likely to cater to the lunch crowd, Poke Bowls with flavoured mix rice ($18) and truffle pasta (18) were introduced. You can also DIY your preferred combinations here.
I had the Poké You ($16), a poké bowl that came with pineapples, ebiko (prawn roe), corn, arugula, pumpkin seeds and salmon cubes doused in truffle oil on a bed of brown rice.
Each mouthful contained a varied mix of textures from sweet pineapples, crunchy seeds and ebiko, but the otherwise passable dish was unfortunately fouled (literally) by the salmon’s odour – even the truffle oil couldn’t mask it completely.
The ingredients did not come together well, and did not help that the mixed rice was a tad dry.
My dining partner mused that the poké options seemed to be an after-thought and I couldn’t help but agree.
Thankfully, the Spicy Prawn Carbonara ($18) saved the day. The creamy and spicy gochuchang sauce base was delightful and the four large prawns were fresh, sweet and succulent.
The addition of an onsen egg was a nice touch though the yolk was unfortunately overcooked.
This meant no yolk-oozing action and no mixing it into the pasta – not that the delicious gochuchang-based sauce needed it though.
Overall, I didn’t really see as much of a twist in Ta-da! The Bistro’s menu as I would have liked. At slightly higher prices, I expected more in terms of conceptualisation and certainly execution.
Perhaps the chef’s true strengths lie in the main courses instead.
Ta-da! The Bistro
51 Bras Basah Road, Manulife Centre #01-03A Singapore 189554 (Bras Basah MRT)
Tel: +65 6560 0859
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm (Mon – Sat), Closed on Sun
* Written by Simon Koh, with input from @DanielFoodDiary. Daniel’s Food Diary paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.
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