Pidgin – Bold and Playful Creations Inspired by Popular Southeast Asian Dishes (CLOSED)
This place is closed.
Unveiling surprisingly original creations inspired by popular dishes in Southeast Asian cuisine, Pidgin Kitchen and Bar is the newest addition on Dempsey Road. Chef-owner Adrian Ling used to own Pamplemousse Bistro and Bar, but renovated the whole restaurant with a totally different concept.
Before my dinner here, a friend had been telling me how memorable his meal at Pidgin was. So I decided to try it out myself. Combining popular Southeast Asian dishes, western cooking techniques and the team’s wicked sense of imagination, Pidgin offers a menu aimed at preserving the flavours of the former, while presenting the familiar in a whole new rendition.
Indeed, my chicken rice does not look like chicken rice anymore. And my bak kut teh does not come with soup. Why so special one!
It is a love-hate relationship for Chicken Rice Arancini ($8++). This controversial spin on the iconic national dish gets both fans and detractors in a tizzy with its combination of carnaroli rice cooked in chicken fat and an oozing scarmoza cheese centre. It is such a different presentation from our usual chicken rice and I welcome the change. The arancini is accompanied by a sweet garlic chilli jam dip, such an addictive snack.
Conceived from the traditional “otah otah”, Crab Otak Croquettes ($12++) has generous chunks of crabmeat in rempeh spice paste and coconut milk, with an intriguing chye poh remoulade sauce. Can’t really taste the chye poh in the sauce, which is a pity because I was wondering how will it fare with the Otak Croquettes.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by Pidgin’s Lamb Meatballs ($12++) which is reminiscent of “sup tulang”. The ground Australian lamb meatballs are mixed with lamb bone marrow for a meatier satisfying finish, slathered in a rich bright red bone marrow sauce. Served with freshly made yogurt from Hay’s Dairies goat milk, the meatballs don’t have a strong mutton smell. Now I don’t have to get my hands dirtied while eating the bone marrow.
Inspired by fried oyster omelette, Pidgin uses Pacific oysters with smooth scrambled egg for its Oyster2 Egg ($19++). Adding two pieces of oyster leaves, it is a truly oyter-licious meal. I thought it was too overwhelming for me, considering I am never a fan of oysters lah. But I am sure the oyster fans love it.
One of my favourite is the Razor Clams Tau Suan ($20++). My impression of tau suan is always something sweet with you tiao, but the tau suan here is savoury with clam dashi, split mung beans topped with dough fritters. It’s a nice change, I would say. Just like when a cooking instructor taught me how to cook a pot of savoury tang yuan, I totally welcome it.
By now, you should have seen how bold Pidgin’s dishes are. Pasta wise, I really like their Bak Kwa Mac & Cheese ($20++) where the classic mac and cheese is deconstrcuted in savoury-sweet penne and pork belly bak kwa, served in a delightful cocotte. The sauce is slightly sweet and truffle oil makes it more aromatic. I wished it would be bigger!
However, I didn’t quite like the Lobster Wonton Capellini ($26++), which is a westernized version of wanton mee with thin slices of chorizo Iberico (as the char siew). The skin of the wonton was thick and I could hardly taste the lobster meat within. Such a pity, because I was hoping to enjoy the premium meat from the sea. Capellini is said to be tossed in alio olio style, I wished the flavours were stronger. Having said that, I can slightly taste the subtle fragrance of the lobster oil, made painstakingly from lobster heads and garlic. But I am not sure if I would order this again.
Another dish which left an impression is the Pork. Bone. Tea ($24++). Inspired by the local bak kut teh, this dish presents two premium slices of pork ribs marinated American style, with tea-smoked beef bone marrow, sealed in with a flavourful garlic and pepper jus. The pork ribs are tender and juicy, with the bak kut teh alike jus which just reminds me of a typical bak kut teh meal.
My makan friends love the generous portion of Foie Gras with Rojak Sauce ($28++) which is sitting atop a crisped tau pok skin. The sprinkling of hazelnuts and almonds add a new fun dimension, while the rojak sauce and pineapple form an excellent acidic-sweet pairing.
Bandung Panna Cotta ($12++) is a rose syrup spin on the traditional Italian panna cotta, served with rhubarb and sesame crunch.
The ultimate winner for that night is the Kaya Bread & Butter Pudding ($15++). For those who love sitting down to teatimes of kaya toast and “teh peng”, this buttery French brioche with plump raisins, homemade kaya jam paired with a scoop of Hojicha Milk Tea ice cream will induce a playful sense of familiarity. The pandan fragrance is oooomph…
Pidgin serves a list of cocktails such as Calamansi Mai Tai, prepared from Diplomatico Reserva Rum, Kraken Spiced Rum, Calamansi, Orgeat and Orange Curacao ($28++); Masala Apple Studel, prepared from Laird’s Straight Applejack, Chai, Lemon and Egg ($20++).
I think the dishes at Pidgin are bold and creative. Go in with an open mind and you will probably be amazed at how well the chef has pulled off modern interpretations of Southeast Asian-inspired dishes brilliantly.
Pidgin Kitchen & Bar
Address: 7 Dempsey Road, 01-04
Tel: 6475 0080
Opening hours: 12pm to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays). Closed on Sundays