PO at newly restored The Wardhouse Hotel at Havelock Road, can be considered a tribute to food from our “Popo” – an affectionate way we call our grannies.
Food served includes family-style dishes inspired by grannies’ recipes, and humble local classics which are given an updated twist.
The chef-consultant behind PO is no stranger to modernised local food.
Chef Willin Low behind Wild Rocket, is one of the first to introduce Mod-Sin food in Singapore in a bigger way.
Disclosure: I had this meal with Willin himself, who wanted to dine at PO as a regular customer for the first time, instead of testing food in the kitchen. Yes, he came sort of disguised, but people recognised him anyway (except me who didn’t initially.) Anyway, I told him I would be frank in this writeup – he totally understands (though not everyone does. LOL, oh well.)
The highlight at PO is interestingly the POpiah, which Willin said he ‘pursued’ a granny so hard till he got a glimpse of her secret recipe.
Popiah skin is specially ordered from Kway Guan Huat, a 3rd generation family business at Joo Chiat.
The Popiah comes in options of Classic Platter ($28), a more luxurious Prawn Platter ($38) featuring fresh tiger prawns, and Fresh Flower Crab Platter ($58) with handpicked crabmeat.
So my question to you: Dear Singaporeans, will you pay $28 to wrap 4 Popiah yourself, while knowing you can get a $2 (x4) version easily elsewhere, all wrapped?
I personally think it is about time that Singapore’s very own local street food can go upmarket, to be served on different platforms. We cannot just expect cheap-cheap-cheap as cost of living go all the way up.
Wrapping Popiah could be a way to introduce our local cultures to foreign guests as well, provided you know some history about this dish. My own Popo used to make a superb version almost every weekend, and doing it all over again brought back lovely memories.
Back to PO’s Popiah, I liked the freshness of the ingredients, especially the prawns used. Crispy shallots added gave the fillings a light crunch as you bite through.
The stewed grated turnip fillings wasn’t the usual type I was used to, and I wished it included some dried shrimps and well, pork belly or lard (That’s just me). To be objective, I thought portion of the turnip could be more, as it seemed just enough to wrap 3 sufficiently.
I also ordered a Truffle & Duck Pie Tee ($19 for 6) because I was intrigued enough.
A moment of surprise as I popped the entire shell (always eat this all in a mouthful, and not in separate bites). There was an unexpected bottom layer of mash with truffle, which provided a big contrast to the topping of savoury tasty braised pulled duck.
I suspect this would be an either-you-like-it, or you-don’t option. Let’s just say I may not order this again.
My favourite dishes were the Carabinero Prawns and Konbu Mee ($32) and Kurobuta Char Siew ($19).
The former is another ‘atas’ version of the familiar Hokkien Mee. Surprisingly with wok hei, cooked in rich prawn stock giving the noodles an intense flavour, with sakura ebi adding delightful crisp every spoonful.
The Kurobuta Char Siew ($19) was beautifully charred with caramalised finished. As the pork collar was sous-vide for 24 hours, the bite was soft and tender. (Another worthy char siew other than Char’s.)
Other highlights include the Barramundi Salad ($19) inspired by local yu sheng, Charcoal-grilled Iberico Satay ($20), PO’s Ngoh Hiang ($15) and Paper Spring Chicken ($49).
PO does some pleasing renditions and updates on our local food. It is somewhat inventive, but doesn’t go overboard. Price is on the high side, but understandably because of the ingredients used, and the type of customer base it will possibly attract.
The Warehouse Hotel, 320 Havelock Road, Robertson Quay Singapore 169628
Tel: +65 6828 0000
Opening Hours: Lunch: 11.30am – 2.30pm Last order 2.30pm, Dinner: 6:00pm – 10:00pm Last order 10:00pm