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Modern Asian restaurant Avenue 87 showcases a new menu inspired by hawker fare

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin • 6 min read
Modern Asian restaurant Avenue 87 showcases a new menu inspired by hawker fare
Modern Asian restaurant Avenue 87 showcases a new menu inspired by local hawker fare
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Amidst heightened alerts, dine-in restrictions and quarantines — namely for chef Glen Tay who was holed up in a hotel room for two weeks following his return from Shanghai after five years at three Michelin-starred Ultraviolet — the power duo of Avenue 87 still found the time to plan and execute a new menu for 2021 with their special brand of mod-Asian fare.

Unlike their debut menu, which delivered adaptations of well-known dishes from various parts of Asia, this current menu is unapologetically Singaporean. According to a spokesperson, Tay was craving hawker fare during his time in quarantine (this April) and used his nostalgia as the inspiration to develop contemporary renditions of his favourite tau kwa (tofu), prawn mee, carrot cake, chendol, and so on. Tay sent his recipes to co-founder and business partner Alex Phan, who then sourced for the ingredients and created the dishes, sharing notes over Zoom.

The duo is finally reunited and ready to introduce their refreshed menu which showcases distinctive flavours that are meticulously extracted using contemporary techniques. This latest lineup of culinary creations shows a bit more depth and dexterity in their planning and execution, with more boldness in their choice of ingredients and cooking methods.

An example is the Prawn Sphere — one of three snacks served be- fore the mains — which is inspired by the local prawn noodle soup. It is presented as a glazed orb that bursts in the mouth to reveal an intense prawn broth reduction. The additional topping of Avruga caviar and deep-fried sakura ebi take it to another level.

We’re saddened that it only took seconds to consume this delicious mouthful of prawny goodness because the effort required to make it is more complex than you would think. Roasted prawn shells, among other things, are combined into a chicken bone broth, reduced, strained and frozen into sphere moulds with gelatin. Then, the frozen spheres are dipped into an alginate-calcium mixture to achieve that mouth-watering glaze.

Similar to their previous menu, there is also a scrumptious Kueh Pie Tee snack. Last year’s was inspired by fish head curry, while this one is rojak-influenced, filled with cucumber, green apple, turnip, sesame seeds, and crispy shallots tossed in rojak balsamic sauce.

In their tasting menus, available in five and seven courses at $98++ and $142++ respectively, we noticed a similar line-up to the first. It starts with a fish dish followed by a vegetable, a seafood, a broth and a red meat, finally closing off with two desserts.

We begin with amberjack sashimi, akin to the raw fish served with congee, but with fresh slices of Hiramasa kingfish marinated in sesame, ponzu and soy sauce, served with kohlrabi turnip, sesame oil powder, mustard sorbet and banana shallot chips. Rather than deep-frying the shallots, they are dehydrated at 80°C for at least 12 hours.

The next dish, which looks an awful lot like yam ring, was in fact a tofu bowl fried, pressed and stuffed with Japanese cucumber, OmniMeat, shallots, garlic and topped with braised quail egg and red radish. It’s inspired by the local tau kwa pau — more specifically from Tay’s favourite stall, Say Seng Famous Tau Kwa Pau in Katong. And not only does it look pretty, it also personifies the bold and robust flavours of the real thing.

To liven things up, diners get to prepare the next dish themselves — a Do-It-Yourself Mala Hot Pot called Monkey Head. As the name suggests, the star ingredient for this broth is the monkey head mushroom, set alongside other herbal ingredients like cordyceps flowers, shark fin melon, hairy gourd and goji berries.

Next to it are two sachets: housemade mala oil, and a reduced bone broth brewed from scratch with chicken and pork bones stock, shiitake mushrooms, aromatics, goji berries and red dates. All you need to do is add all the ingredients into the hot pot and enjoy.

If we had to choose a favourite, it would be the Daikon, inspired by our local carrot cake or chai tow kway. Fried house-made radish cake is topped with XO sauce, pan-seared Hokkaido scallops, and served with mussel squid ink sauce and butter yuzu foam. We hear the daikon cake takes 35 minutes to steam and the mussel jus (which you can barely see) takes over an hour to prepare!

Garlic fried rice is served at the end of the meal together with USDA prime beef short rib cooked to taste just like succulent char siew. Perfectly caramelised with a house-blend char siew sauce and smoked with applewood chips, it is hard to even tell that this beefy dish wasn’t pork. We also sampled a plant-based version of this with Beyond Meat, and we were beyond impressed with its likeness

The two desserts are Tay and Phan’s creative take on chendol and orh nee (yam paste). While the former did taste much like chendol through a complex blending of adzuki beans, gula jawa (palm sugar), coconut risotto rice and pandan jelly, we were expecting more green in its presentation.

The Taro won us over with its colourful presentation of purple from the yam ice cream and yam puree, orange from the roasted butternut pumpkin squash, yellow from the ginko nuts and olive oil caviar, and brown from pumpkin seed financier. The textures of cold vs warm, soft vs crunchy made for a perfectly sweet ending to our ode-to-Singapore meal.

The Shatec alum, whose friendship blossomed during their days at the Tippling Club, have always dreamed of having a social space for them to kick back with friends and relax with tipples in hand. That desire is now a reality with the opening of Lounge at Avenue 87, a 26-seater speakeasy bar located just above the restaurant .

The drink menu features two cocktails specially concocted by each chef. Inspired by the Gin & Tonic, Phan’s cocktail is the refreshing Botanic ($21++), highlighting familiar Asian profiles with Rojak Gin, Melati, and Indian tonic. With Tay, the Cosmopolitan is reimagined as Jambu ($21++) — which tastes like bandung— made with butter vodka, sherry, rose apple, rose syrup, and honey. There are also classic tipples such as Gin Fizz ($19++), Mango Daiquiri ($19++), Bourbon Sour ($19++) and Boulevardier ($22++), presenting a range of timeless cocktails for every palate.

Avenue 87

47 Amoy Street Singapore 069873 | Tel: 6970 5491 Email: [email protected]
Open Mondays, Wednesdays to Saturdays Lunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm | Dinner: 5:30pm – 10pm
Closed on Tuesdays, Sundays, and public holidays

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