El Mero Mero, the Mexican restaurant in Chijmes was established out of a gap that used to exist in Singapore for authentic Mexican fare. Going strong for a number of years now, El Mero Mero traces its origins just after the global financial crisis when a Mexican expat lawyer saw his company withdrawing its representative office in Singapore. What followed was a string of F&B concepts. Aside from El Mero Mero, the group also owns the Señor Taco next door.
El Mero Mero is literally a Mexican slang for “the main man” and with this name, the restaurant aims to be the go-to place for Mexican dining where Singapore is concerned. Make no mistake about it, this is not a taco joint. The experience here aims to be authentically Mexican – coming with the range that this cuisine isn’t always given due credit for.
I was recently invited to dine at El Mero Mero. To be honest, I do not know much about Mexican cuisine aside from tacos and tortillas so I was quite curious about it, especially when it comes to the Singapore context where the cuisine of a place more than 7,000 miles away may seem hard to come by.
Ceviche is a relatively popular dish in Latin America. Another place that does it well in Singapore is Tono Cevicheria in Duo Bugis. El Mero Mero’s version – the Hamachi and Coconut Ceviche (S$21) comes in a coconut. The aim here is to mix the whole thing and peel off as much of the coconut flesh as possible. This creates a bit of a soup in the ceviche which I enjoyed immensely – sour and encapsulating the agachile marination (combination of jalapeno, serrano and guero chili peppers).
The Tostadas de Atun (S$17) is one of El Mero Mero’s signature dishes. In it, sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna cubes are used alongside chipotle mayo, avocado puree and tempura banana shallots. All these are placed on a crispy corn tortilla with a cylindrical shape. It makes for a great appetizer – I love the contrast between the crispy tortilla chips and the succulent tuna cubes.
The Wagyu Volcan (S$15) follows a similar concept – a canape with tortilla at the bottom with the meat on top. The star here is the melted cheese.
The Baja Fish (S$14) is another winner with its Patagonian toothfish fillet deep-fried to a crisp. It reminds me a bit of McDonald’s Fillet-o-fish with its tender meat within. The fish fillet pieces rest on soft flour tortillas which are made in their own tortilla factory, La Mexicana, which is also located within Singapore.
The Tortilla Soup (S$14) is a take on the classic Mexican dish where leftover tortilla chips are turned into soup. This is actually a vegetarian dish but there’s something about the fragrant combination of chili peppers, onion, garlic and tomatoes alongside the succulent flesh of avocadoes that render it almost “meaty” in terms of flavor.
Another vegetarian option, the Gordita (S$28) which literally means “chubby,” is a likewise staple of Mexican cuisine. In the traditional sense, gorditas are prepared with a pastry made of corn dough and stuffed with cheese, meat and other fillings. El Mero Mero’s version is purely vegetarian with black beans, tomato sauce and heirloom vegetables. Another difference with the restaurant version is that the gordita already comes served open rather than stuffed inside a pastry.
In contrast to the other mains which I thoroughly enjoyed, I did not feel the same for the El Mero Mero Fajita. Here, you have oyster blade steak with a creamy sauce and eaten while wrapped in flour tortilla. While I appreciated the texture of the tortilla, the creamy sauce and the done-ness of the meat, I thought the beef itself was a bit too salty for my liking.
A must-try in El Mero Mero are the desserts. Any self-respecting Mexican restaurant will of course, have churros and El Mero Mero’s Red Velvet Churros (S$14) does the trick with its delightfully thick chocolate mousse.
The Tequila Pecan Pie (S$14) was another crowd favorite with its mild cinnamon flavor and nutty exterior.
But the most interesting dessert I had that evening has got to be the Braised Pineapple (S$14). What’s so interesting about pineapples as dessert, one may ask? To be honest, when I saw the plate in front of me, I thought it was char siew. The pineapples here are actually grilled on a josper oven, giving it a smokey flavor that really doesn’t deviate too much from a char siew. Think eating something sweet, with a lingering smokey aftertaste! This contrasted nicely with the vanilla ice cream.
El Mero Mero
30 Victoria Street
+65 9722 8171