It has been almost exactly a year since I first visited Avenue 87. The Amoy Street restaurant with a nice back story helmed by two chefs who both hail from Hougang made quite an impression on me back then. Time flies and the restaurant has rolled out a new menu to keep diners coming back.
There have been quite a few changes aside from the new menu. For a start, one of the chefs behind the duo, Chef Glen Tay, has returned to Singapore after years working in Shanghai. The upstairs bar called Lounge at Avenue 87 is now open as well and serves a number of classic cocktails as well as two special ones that were formulated by the two chefs themselves. I had the Botanic (S$21), a refreshing drink concocted by Chef Alex (the other chef behind the duo) that highlights Asian profiles with Rojak Gin, Melati and Indian tonic.
Avenue 87 has two types of dinner sets. The 5-course set goes for S$98++ while the 7-course set goes for S$142++. Beverage pairings are also available. During this particular occasion, I tried the 7-course set.
A trio of Snacks graced our table to whet the appetite. Some, like the kueh pie tee, invoked memories of the excellent one from their 2020 menu. This time, the kueh pie tee is stuffed with rojak – a mix of cucumber, apple, turnip, shallots and vinegar – and indeed felt like downing rojak in one bite-sized serving. The other snacks like the camembert and prawn sphere also provided for a worthy start to the meal.
As with the previous menu, we get a sashimi course as well. The Amberjack (kingfish) came marinated in sesame, ponzu and soy sauce.
The Tofu course pays homage to quite a rare hawker dish. Say Seng in Dunman Food Centre has this dish called “Tau Kwa Pau” or essentially a tau kwa made into the shape of a box in order to contain some meat fillings. To be frank, I never heard of tau kwa pau before so I was quite intrigued by this dish. In Avenue 87’s version, the tau kwa pau is filled with OmniMeat, shallots, garlic and cucumber, topped with onsen-style quail egg and comes with dark caramel soy sauce. The flavors here are quite robust, especially after putting in the soy sauce as the tart-like tau kwa successfully absorbs everything.
Chef Glen thought of the Monkey Head as a mala style soup after reminiscing about his days searching for the perfect mala hot pot in Shanghai. Since mala has also entered the mainstream here in Singapore, it makes sense to introduce the heaty and peppery dish at Avenue 87 as well.
The main ingredients are all kept aside upon presentation to allow for a degree of customization. After pouring in the monkey head mushroom, shark fin melon, cordyceps, hairy gourd and goji berries; the diner then opens the accompanying packet that contains the stock and another packet that contains the mala oil to pour into the bowl. The soup itself was quite a satisfying break from the bold flavors of the preceding dish. As for the spiciness level, the mala itself does not hit you immediately. It starts to sink in after a couple of sips but I still found the spice level quite tolerable overall.
The Daikon is the chef’s interpretation of carrot cake. This is an atas version of carrot cake, if you will and even comes with a plump piece of Hokkaido scallop and butter yuzu foam. I love a good piece of carrot cake and what struck me about the one at Avenue 87 was how they managed to achieve the perfect balance where this staple is concerned – and that’s having a crispy exterior and delightfully soft and moist interior.
My favorite dish of the evening has got to be the Beef Short Ribs. Succulent pieces of beef, made tender from 14 hours of sous vide, is roasted char siew style complete with a caramelized edge and distinct smokiness. The meat is made to lie on a bed of garlic rice and topped with spring onion. Without having to result to any formal description of how this dish tasted, I can truly say that this was so good.
For Pre-Dessert, we were served an appetizing osmanthus jelly with pomelo, goji berries and plum powder.
The first dessert, the Coconut, is a thoughtful reinterpretation of chendol. Now, chendol is probably one of the most frequently reinterpeted local desserts out there but I have to say I quite like how they did it here. The main reason is because of all the different textures present. There’s soft risotto rice and azuki beans at the bottom-most layer, jelly in the middle and as an added surprise – puffed rice that is only added upon serving. Achieving the chendol taste aside, it was the contrast between the crispy and soft rice that made this dessert, in my opinion.
Hougang is generally thought of as the epicenter of the Teochew community in Singapore so it is perhaps an apt ending for the duo to showcase a quintessential Teochew dessert, albeit in a different way. The Taro course shows how “orh nee” can take on various textures and elements. Familiar ingredients like yam, gingko nuts and pumpkin are present but here, they take the form of ice cream and financier or are roasted to produce a degree of caramelization.
Judging from the buzz I heard during Avenue 87’s first year, it seems like reception was quite positive during their debut so expectations are probably high for the restaurant’s second chapter this year. I am happy to say that Avenue 87’s 2021 menu did not disappoint. Dishes were new to their repertoire but they don’t stray from their core as an establishment offering imaginative versions of local and regional cuisine.
47 Amoy Street
+65 6970 5491
Daily except Tuesdays and Sundays
Lunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm – 10pm