Tuesday, November 04, 2014

GRUB Noodle Bar

[Noodlebar at Rangoon Road has closed as of 28 June 2015.]

Ate nothing but noodles in Vietnam and Beijing these few weeks. Extraordinarily familiar with noodles of all kinds and fairly discerning after such an intense stint. Must be quite mad to zoom down to check out more noodles the moment I got in. GRUB Noodle Bar's menu is not vegetarian-friendly. Perfect for pescetarians. No pork, no lard. Fine with us. The menu isn't extensive, offering nine dishes with enough variety. Whatever items offered, are done well.

(20 November 2014. Addendum: It now serves chorizo noodles. There's pork in the kitchen and I'm not sure it won't be in the soup stock for other items.)

The appetizers alone make a filling meal. There're kangkong salad tossed in Nonya achar and house dressing, fried chicken drumlets and battered baby cuttlefish. We skipped those at this time. Ordered the rest. Superbly fresh juicy live Tiger prawns sourced from a supplier down the road and steamed with sake, garlic and ginger glaze, Hokkaido scallop tataki with mustard glaze and mandarin, fat and happy Venus clams sautéed in beer, toasted ginger and lemongrass broth.

Unfortunately, the two beers currently on tap are from Weihenstephan, of which I'm not fond of. There's a Rochefort 8 in a bottle I think, but also not keen on it. Ignored all the ciders. Kinda like ales and imperial stouts. Those, can also be selected to match noodles and the spices in this eatery. Looks like I won't be having alcohol here till they rotate the beer list. Chose to have...cloudy ginger beer! Hahahah. From John Crabbie & Co, one of my favorite expressions of ginger beer. There's something about the lighting that makes it great for photo-taking. Heh.

On a road lined with 'famous' stalls of bak kut teh and big prawn noodle soup, GRUB Noodle Bar's broth doesn't lose out in terms of body, texture, spices or hours. Of course the prices are different. Two of us ate S$100, not S$10. Oof. For that sort of pricing, we look at comfort of the venue, presentation, mix of ingredients, and healthy cooking. Good cuts of beef used. The beef noodles were great. Kinda of uniquely Singapore-style maybe. Uniquely GRUB. It's not exactly zhajiangmian (北京炸酱面) although it looks like that with meatballs, minced beef and mushrooms. There was also an additional bowl of soup + more meat. Loved how the different cuts of meats were offered as accompaniment to the noodles. Customers could add on whatever they like. Best. The man ordered the rib-eye and added a serving of rump. Kudos to the wait staff who took the trouble to explain that they usually mix both the cuts into the broth and asked if we were okay with that. The rib-eye was tender, normal and expected. The always-underrated cut of rump was the winner. The man didn't expect them to slice the rump this thinly. He totally loved it; slurped the bowl clean. He's going back for the rump again. The dip was a mix of chincalok, lime and chilli. Spicy enough.

The assam laksa might be controversial, depending on who you ask. It's not Penang assam laksa, that's all I will say. It didn't come out of a bibik's pot. The menu doesn't state 'Penang' either. The familiar 'stink' wasn't present in my bowl of assam laksa. This kitchen either didn't stir in petis udang (or hae ko, shrimp paste) or went really light on it. The ikan kembung and assam keping weren't thick and the tangy endnote might have been underwhelmed by rather annoying sweetness of the too-many chunks of pineapples. GRUB Noodle Bar has reinterpreted a version that might be considered more delicate and definitely lighter. Thank goodness no sardines were used. Don't mind it. I like it.

Of all Cookyn's restaurant concepts, I appreciate this Noodle Bar best, for its smooth execution of flavors and its friendly later-than-usual dining hours (currently 6pm - 12.30am) - which is perfect for us post-shows. Good food doesn't require additional synthetic MSG. Those bones and spices will provide the amount necessary to coax out all flavors. GRUB Noodle Bar promised that for their broth. They delivered. The kitchen (and I don't just mean the owners) definitely understands its food, flavors and focus. Fantastic.


D said...

sounds good! i've to remember this place to try the time i'm back!

imp said...

Yes! they should be around still!