Undergraduates from NUS would know where to hunt for supper nearby – Fong Seng Nasi Lemak, Fei Fei Wan Tan Mee, Al Amaan Restaurant (Oh, my good old uni days were so long ago).
However, there is a relatively new, revamped, and under-the-radar bistro café that you (NUS students and Westies) should know about.
Cheng’s Gourmet Food Bar & Bistro BBQ is a hipster café (okay, maybe not so hipster) meets wholesome food bistro, opened by model Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw and her mum. (Didn’t get to see the chio boss though. Pic from her Facebook.)
So, do not be surprised if you see a tall British-Chinese model serving you at Cheng’s. It’s da boss.
I thought to myself, “The chicken leg confit is very delicious, sold in a commercial setting yet also feels like what a skilled mum would cook at home.”
Turned out that the friendly, bespectacled Auntie Cheng was in the kitchen that day.
The menu consists of café favourites such as Pulled Pork Toast with Poached Eggs ($14.90), The Big Breakfast ($18.90), Truffles Scramble ($17.90), Croque Madame ($16.90); and munchies of Truffle Snow Fries ($13), Yuan Yang Fries ($13), Spam Fries ($12) and Fire-Crackle Squid ($17).
Mains include the recommended signature Cajun Chicken Leg Confit ($19.90), The Wagyu Charcoal Burger ($22.50), Baby Baby Ribs ($22.90), Seabass ($23.90) and Pasta such as Spaghetti seafood Tom Yum ($18.90) and Fettuccine alla Carbonara ($16.90).
My experience was, and I would be frank about it, was that the non-so-photogenic food items actually turned out to be the best tasting ones.
So don’t just judge (café) food by its look.
Cajun Chicken Leg Confit ($19.90)
A chicken leg slow-cooked in Cajun marinate and served with sweet potato fries and seasonal vegetables.
This is a tender and juicy chicken leg quarter with a delicately crisp skin, well marinated and sufficient in flavours. I could imagine many gym-going guys liking this dish (sans the carbs) – looked simple, no-fuss, but pleasingly tasty.
Lightly seared seabass with lemon butter, accompanied with signature brown rice and fresh seasonable vegetables.
My dining partner enjoyed this the most. I can understand why. The fish was fresh, cooked until lightly brown, easily flaked with a fork, with a sparkle of tanginess.
It is actually not easy to cook brown rice well, and Cheng’s does a decently delectable rendition. Drizzle some lemon butter over, and health conscious diners would find this satisfying.
Spaghetti Seafood Tom Yum ($18.90)
I have read mixed reviews about this dish, though I did fairly enjoy this pasta dish.
Actually, it is quite challenging to find the right balance of being hot, sour, spicy yet not over powering the base taste of the pasta – bearing in mind it is still a ‘Western’ dish.
Five-Finger Stuffed Chicken Wings ($10)
This is for the lazy people. Just kidding. The deep fried chicken wings are actually deboned, and stuffed full with minced chicken. No bones!
Moist and juicy, best with a dip of sweet Thai chilli sauce. Pretty affordable at 10 bucks considering the effort.
The Wagyu Charcoal Burger ($22.50)
A juicy wagyu patty tucked in between black charcoal buns with cheddar, tomato, onions, gherkins and arugula. Add $2 for a sunny side-up.
Yeah for the succulent patty, not so for the soggier buns.
Pulled Pork ($14.90)
Slow-cooked smoky pulled pork served on toast with red cabbage and poached eggs.
I wished there was so sauce on the poached eggs, otherwise it would be quite plain-tasting on its own. Otherwise, liked that there were ample greens, or more correctly said purples, for a more balanced meal.
Yuan Yang Fries ($14)
Have the best of both worlds – half truffle fries, half sweet potato, with aioli on the side to drizzle over or dip.
Gula Melaka Hotcakes ($14.50)
Between the two desserts, I would say go for the fluffy pancakes topped with tropical coconut ice cream and browned Gula Melaka.
I wonder why it was called “pancakes” though, since the texture and shape was closer to a bundt cake. Fluffy and filling, super filling in fact, which reminded me of a cross between hotcakes and Peranakan kueh kueh.
The Tower of Belgium ($14.50)
Belgain waffles stacked and topped with coconut ice cream and fresh strawberries. Personal preference, I would have liked the outer layer to be more crisp and buttery, and less doughy on the inside.
Ultraviolet Floral Cooler ($6.20)
Have seen a similar drink served at Bangkok’s café, made using butterfly pea flower. Squeezing lemon over would change the acidity level of the drink, from blue to purple.
My impression with the NUS prior to this was still nasi lemak and prata. Cheng’s Gourmet Food Bar & Bistro BBQ is quite the hidden find, with homely comforting food (possibly) served by a model. Hopefully Cheng’s can open later into the night once they have enough support.
Cheng’s Gourmet Food Bar & Bistro BBQ
28 Clementi Road Singapore 129758
Tel: +65 6464 0617
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 5pm, 5:30pm – 11:45pm Daily
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Cheng’s Gourmet Food Bar & Bistro BBQ.