Oh that nasty word… diner. Brings images of red-pleathered booth seats, and a burly dude frying up bacon and eggs in a small town in America asking you if you’d like some fries with that.
Ok, I really should not start the review with that image. The new Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner is nothing at all like that.
Mais non, c’est très casual chic, ooh la la. 😊 I visited the outlet at Funan Mall, it’s bright, light and easy on the eye.
So is the head chef, a young French man by the name of Paul Albert. He trained at the esteemed Institut de Paul Bocuse and has since worked at a few Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris and Rio de Janeiro.
And he certainly shows his skills for it. Whenever he presented a dish, he would explain in detail the preparation and cooking methods, which is great because that’s when you realise a chicken salad at Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner isn’t just a chicken salad.
The Hot Chicken Salad and Caramelised Pumpkin ($20) is one salad I wouldn’t mind eating (I hate salads). The chicken breast is marinated overnight with a variety of ingredients such as tamarind paste, lemongrass, garlic, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon, before being sous vide at 62 degrees for 50 minutes.
After which, it’s seared in a pan with house-made brown butter, so you don’t get the usual sickly, pale result one gets with sous vide preparations. Instead, you get a lovely moist breast with well-caramelized crust.
The Kabocha pumpkin is confit in the oven and again, toasted with brown butter in the pan before serving. We were told we could eat the skin, and we did.
I really liked the mild wasabi, yoghurt and parsley oil sauce and the fresh pomelo bits that added further texture to the dish.
Taking it a couple of steps back, we had a Kimchi & Mung Bean Salad ($18). This is great for my vegan friends. There’s local snake beans mingling with the mung bean, all tossed up with in-house fermented kimchi and parsley oil. I wouldn’t order this, because well, I’m just not that healthy but, it’s great for those who are!
But this next healthy dish, the Super Green Warm Soup ($16), I would order. The amazingly bright, all-natural colour of the soup made of locally grown greens is just too bewitching.
The vegetables are cooked in a mushroom broth with potato to add thickness and almond milk for the touch of creaminess. Quite interesting is the dollop of beetroot pickled ricotta which adds more lusciousness, but if you’re vegan, you can request for it to come without.
Finally, to break the monotony of slurping just liquid, there’s toasted candle nuts and sautéed shimeji.
There were two pasta dishes I tried. I preferred the Pulled Pork Creamy Risoni Pasta ($22) to the Miso Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Broccolini.
Because, again, I am an indulgent creature so I would always go for the rich, unctuous dish over a light, fresh one.
For the spaghetti, the pasta is tossed in miso and deglazed with rice vinegar. This vegetarian dish has miso confit eggplant and broccolini, but again to me, the star was the basil and almond pesto – see what I mean about the dire need for dollops of richness?
The pork pasta, on the other hand, is right up my alley. The pork shoulder is marinated with a spice mix of smoked paprika, brown sugar, mustard seeds and garlic for two days, and with a touch of reduced pork jus and shiitake broth.
Then it’s slow-cooked for 24 hours, and again, finished in the pan upon order with the pasta, which results in the pasta absorbing all the smoky juices from the pork. This is good.
Another one for the vegans is the Portobello, Avocado and Hummus Black Sandwich ($19). The house-made dhal hummus and avocado cream lends a richness to the light spice seasoning of cumin and curry. Again, I know a lot of work went into a seemingly simple sandwich and again, too healthy for me but great for my vegan friends!
Ah, then comes the indulgence for me!
First, the chef comes by to proudly display his 158-year-old mother dough – the starter for his sourdough concoctions.
The entire process takes at least two days, from 10-12 hours of fermentation after feeding the starter, then another 6 to 7 hours after making the dough to batter, before leaving it in the fridge for 24 hours.
Then pouring it out into the waffle machine to make a Belgian-style waffle with a sourdough twist. I’m heading over later this month for brunch and I will definitely order this heady Sourdough Waffle ($23)!
The egg is fried to perfection (yes, some places can get this wrong believe it or not), and of course, topped with crispy, grilled bacon. And then you drown it in the chive and parsley-seasoned ricotta and paprika-infused maple syrup, and say bye bye to any diet!
Likewise, the Fluffy Brown Butter Pancake ($21). Another exercise in fermentation. The batter is fermented for 24 hours, and buttermilk is used to give the dough a fluffy texture.
I really enjoyed the salted butter caramel sauce and the sweet mango and caramelised almonds. The accompanying Chantilly cream has a twist featuring lemongrass.
So my conclusion about Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner – the menu sounds simple as can be, but you need to dive deeper to understand the intricacies of chef Paul Albert’s work and then you can appreciate the dishes more.
Plus it’s worth noting that about half of the dishes are suitable to vegetarians and vegans. Definitely a worthy contender for a brunch / lunch spot.
This was an invited tasting and the dishes above are part of the all-day dining menu at Tiong Bahru Bakery’s Raffles City and Funan Mall outlets.
Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner
Address: 107 North Bridge Rd #04-(22-25) Funan Singapore 179105252 North Bridge Road #B1-11 Raffles City Shopping Centre Singapore179103
Telephone: +65 6877 4866 (Funan) |+65 6333 4160 (Raffles City Shopping Centre)
Opening hours: 8.00am–9.00pm (Funan) | 8.00am–10.00pm (Raffles City Shopping Centre)