There is certainly room for Singapore restaurants and cafes to have a stronger local touch, to incorporate flavours from our unique cultures into Western food items. In Bangkok, it is commonplace to find dishes such as Tom Yum pasta served in upmarket bistros, which often turn out to be considerably hip.
I have been hoping to see more of that happening. Redpan, a newly set up restaurant at Marina Square (Level 2 above Emporium Shokuhin) which brands themselves as “local fun dining” is very promising.
This is a unique collaboration, between home-grown architecture practice DP Architects (whose works include Esplanade, Resorts World Sentosa, Republic Polytechnic) and The Food Explorer Group behind Cookyn Inc and Grub.
Design + Food. This is also how the name “redpan” came about: Red representing the passion behind design, and pan an instrument for cooking.
With architects having a hand in the appearance and setting of the place, you would notice many design elements incorporated, some rather subtle, but certainly classy.
The furnishing is not seen anywhere else. Yes, you could be sitting on some expensive designer chair. And the menu, instead of the typical food photos, comprised of food illustrations by local architect Lee Xin Li (I figured he probably work with DP as well.)
As for the food…
Prawn & Hae Bi Hiam Pasta ($15)
My grandma used to have a mean recipe of hae bee hiam (spicy dried shrimp paste) which I would sprinkle abundantly on fried noodles to add that magical sweet-spicy touch.
Imagine my surprise when I saw a Hae Bi Hiam Tagliatelle, with house-made paste from Chef Mervyn Phan’s (from Cookyn) grandmother’s recipe.
This pasta was tossed with sakura ebi and sautéed prawns, had that same effect which I fondly remember.
Redpan’s version was scrupulously spicy on the first few mouthfuls. Shiok, if you must say, and to a certain extent very addictive.
Char Siew Chilli Fries ($7)
You can’t stop eating this. Truly a type of fries I won’t mind having again and again. I imagined drier form of char siew when I saw this on the menu.
Fortunately, the fries was covered with a moist saucy chew siew ragout, with sour cream and jalapeño salsa, which to me was an improved version of fries with meat sauce.
Truffle Floss Fries ($8)
Floss and sweet mayonnaise made a particular brand’s signature bread very famous. This fries had sweet-mayonnaise like drizzled over, which was adequately coated by chicken floss.
Wait, there was also truffle aioli which would satisfy truffle-fries fan.
Truffle fries? This is one level up.
Hainanese Pork Cutlet ($13)
A childhood favourite. I was glad the Hainanese Pork Cutlet was deep fried with soda biscuit crumbs (and not just ordinary bread crumbs), meaty yet tender. More onions in the gravy and green peas would complete the picture.
Pork Pops ($7)
Half-inch thick pieces of golden brown pork belly, with light-crisp skin and tender interior. Yums.
I wished that the accompanying sauce was less fruity-sweet and with more spicy-kick, though the Pork Pops were good enough to eat on their own.
Cornfed Magret Duck Breast ($24) Available during dinner 6pm onwards
“Actually, where to find French duck served in a restaurant at this price?”
It’s true. The picture shows the duck plated on a rectangular white marble slab, with cherry compote, pomegranate, and kechap manis glaze.
The duck was superbly tender, without that usual gamy aftertaste.
Lup Cheong, Macaroni & Cheese ($12)
The comfort food of macaroni and cheesy béchamel with an additional ingredient – Chinese sausage which gave that sweet-salty bite.
I thought there could be more ‘Asian-ness’ to this dish though, perhaps an added Hoisin-sauce would help.
Tuckshop Fried Chicken Wings ($7)
Lightly coated chicken wings deep-fried till crispy, coated with honey tamarind. The standard item to go with drinks – which by the way, are quite affordably-priced (in Singapore’s context).
Steak & Chinchalok ($21)
Grilled sirloin steak (250G) with house-made spicy chinchalok, pickled onions and smashed potatoes.
The steak pieces had a pleasant pinkish colour and some fat marbling, topped with condiment of chichalok made with chills, shallots and lime juice.
Flavours could have been tone down for better balance with the meat, so I was divided on this decision.
Roti John ($9) Available during breakfast 9am – 11am
Grilled local baguette sandwiched with omelette, curry minced lamb ragout, pickled onions and mayo, served with potato chips.
Matcha Soft Roll ($4)
Assorted sliced cakes such as Rainbow, Ondeh Ondeh and Red Velvet are available. Let your choice be the Matcha Soft Roll.
Coconut Panna Cotta ($7)
Coconut Panna Cotta with grilled pineapple compote. Good stuff, liked the coconuty-flavour.
Googey Banana Donuts “Milo Dinosaur” ($7)
This was said to be the item which took the kitchen the longest time to get it right. Handmade fluffy banana donuts with layers of condensed milk, sprinkled with hazelnut and Milo crumb.
I liked the soft doughy banana donuts which reminded me of old-school banana balls. A layer less condensed milk would make the milo flavour more pronounced.
One thing to note is the prices at Redpan has been kept reasonably wallet-friendly – breakfast items are below $10, with an option of $2 top-up for speciality coffee; lunch main courses mostly a range from $10 to $16.
Only in its opening week, Redpan is already showing much potential in terms of design, branding to the locally-inspired food. I am certain the kitchen will be experimental enough to deliver more excitement in days to come.
One of my favourite new openings this year.
6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square #02-03/04 Singapore 039593 (City Hall MRT)
Tel: +65 6255 5850
Opening Hours: 12pm – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Redpan is opened! @redpansg This is an interesting concept, started by DP Architects x GRUB. So expect a good design in the restaurant (with expensive furniture) and some creative twists in familiar favourites. I am so going back for the Hae Bi Hiam (spicy dried shrimp) Pasta, Truffle Floss Fries and Char Siew Fries and the Hainanese Pork Chop. Check out some of the food in the video. Opens from breakfast till dinner, at Marina Square right above Emporium Shokuhin. #redpansg
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Redpan.