“Let’s go Downstairs to eat!”. “Don’t know what to eat… let’s go Downstairs.”
This is something you may say often with your colleagues, which is the premise behind the name “Downstairs” 楼下.
Downstairs is a nostalgic-themed local café located at Suntec City Fountain Court. It used to be found at Changi Business Park.
The team behind “Downstairs” also hopes to evolve the feeling of familiarity with fun, and thus put in quite a bit of effort in terms of its menu design and décor.
The centre round tables are inspired by chess tables found at the void decks; and there are also decorations of old-school items such as an orange coin phone, tear-off calendar, Good Morning towels, and a row of letter-box.
In terms of food choices, there are recognisable local favourites, but given a slight twist. Instead of the typical Nasi Lemak, you would find one added with salted egg chicken; the Mi Tai Mak soup is cooked with a home-made recipe broth to bring out the fragrance and delicate flavours.
Downstairs hopes to be the everyday go-to place, from breakfast to dinner when you are craving for local delights. Here are 10 of Downstairs’ highlights:
Nasi Lemak with Salted Egg Chicken ($8.90)
Downstairs’ version comes with salted egg chicken – crispy chicken pieces coated in a house-specialty creamy salted egg sauce and curry leaves.
The sauce is not the rich and grainy type, but tends to be smooth and buttery-milky (though some may prefer more sauce).
The rice, light and fluffy, carries that distinctive fragrance from the infusion of coconut milk.
The winner in the dish is the sambal chilli sauce, with the right level of spice and smokiness coming from the ikan billis.
Nasi Lemak with Har Cheong Gai ($7.90)
Another variant is the Nasi Lemak with Har Cheong Gai, a Singaporean fried chicken dish made with battered-then-fried chicken mid wings with fermented shrimp paste (har cheong) and other seasonings.
Mid-joint wings are used in consideration that this is a favourite among office workers, and having smaller parts allow for easier consumption and less mess (You can eat the dish without using hands).
Braised Pork Belly Rice and Lava Egg ($6.00)
The Lu Rou Fan is probably one of my favourites – as the alternating meat and fat in the strips of pork make this a succulent dish to add over a bowl of rice.
Slow braised for many hours, the pork belly achieves the right tenderness that make it fork-tender.
Order this rice bowl, which also comes with generous portion of salted pickled vegetables on the side, and a lava egg to mix with the rice.
You don’t often find pickled vegetables in Lu Rou Fan, and sweet and slightly vinegary taste helps balance out any greasiness from the braised meats.
Honey Glazed BBQ Pork Noodle with Dumplings ($6.50)
Somehow, it may not cross my mind to order Wanton Noodles from local cafe (as compared to say a hawker stall), but Downstairs version is surprisingly quite legit.
You get a serving of springy, egg noodles tossed with dark sauce, topped with tender slices of barbecued pork glazed with honey, and pieces of wanton dumplings in a bowl of accompanying soup on the side.
Instead of the usual thinly sliced char siew, you do get substantial succulent slices of the roast pork, with a beautiful char on the outside.
Honey Glazed BBQ Pork Rice with Lava Egg ($6.00)
If you are still craving for pork, try their Honey Glazed BBQ Pork served with rice then drizzled with sweet char siew sauce.
The sweet, sticky, saucy glaze of the pork inevitably blends with the rice for that added flavour.
The meat is delightfully tender and has that wonderful smoky flavour. Served with accompanying pickled veggies and the delicious ooze from a halved, runny lava egg.
Macaroni Soup ($5.00)
If you would prefer something lighter, warm yourself up with a comforting bowl of macaroni soup, prepared with a home-made recipe broth.
Predominantly seasoned with garlic and peppers, the broth adds a zing to your taste buds and some smoky notes.
The peppers used are Sarawak peppers, roasted in-house to bring out their toasty sweet flavours.
Mi Tai Mak Soup ($5.00)
Another soup you’ll slurp with gusto here is the Mi Tai Mak Soup, using rice flour noodles playfully called ‘rat tail’ noodles.
Also known as silver needle noodles as they’re rice vermicelli, these noodles are smooth, soft and lightly springy. It may be a long time since you had these Loh See Fun, and you do not have to wait till you are sick to have it. Slurp-worthy indeed.
Deep Fried Chai Tao Kueh ($2 for ala carte, $3 for set)
For a light breakfast (served from 7:30am onwards) or tea-time snack, you can get your hands on the Thick Toast Set, Toast Set, “Pau Jiak Set” with selection of Pork, Tau Sar or Vegetable Pau, Chee Cheong Fun Set, or Deep Fried Chai Tao Kueh Set.
The sets are priced affordably from $2.80 onwards, which includes a selection of drink such as Hot Kopi, Hot Teh, Ice Lemon Tea, or Lime Juice.
A popular representative of traditional Teo Chew cuisine, the Chai Tao Kueh aka fried carrot cake is made with shredded radish rice flour, and water and cut to triangular blocks.
They are first steamed first, then deep fried for a slight-crisp exterior and soft-wobbly inside. Reminds me of the old-school carrot cake sticks that are fast disappearing.
Chee Cheong Fun ($1.50 onwards for ala carte, $2.50 onwards for set)
The Chee Cheong Fun or aka steamed rice noodle rolls come with three different styles: plain with light soya sauce, Singapore-style with sweet sauce, and the Hong Kong style with peanut sauce.
Go for the Hong Kong style if you love your rice rolls full of sauces and flavours.
Suntec City #B1-132, 3 Temasek Blvd, Singapore 038983
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 9pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 9pm (Sat, Sun, PH)
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Downstairs.