Fast Casual Dining With A Slow Food Approach
Their croissants have been voted by many as the best in Singapore, now Tiong Bahru Bakery is set on making its mark with the launch of Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner, an all-day breakfast “diner” spin-off.
Young bistronomy chef Paul Albert helms both diner kitchens at Raffles City and Funan. His debut menu is a gut-friendly, plant-rich menu that’s rich in taste and exacting in technique. Recipes that require an unusual amount of dedication are rooted in the best ideas of the slow food movement – almost every element of each dish is made from scratch, with ingredients sourced from close to home and little that goes to waste, brimming with new flavours and health benefits coaxed out of wild fermentation techniques that span from days to months.
Local greens are cast in a delicious light with starters like Chayote Kimchi and Mung Bean Salad, a toss-up of slow-cooked mung beans, snake beans and an old-style Korean kimchi made using local chayote and turnip with a smattering of crispy buckwheat and toasted peanuts; and Super Green Warm Soup is a vision of health that blends Chinese spinach, bok choy, shanghai green, chye sim, kaffir lime and lady’s finger in a flavourful mushroom broth, served with a dollop of beetroot picked ricotta, toasted candle nuts, sautéed shimeiji and green parsley oil.
Dishes that sound simple peel away to reveal layers of intricacies, much like the Hot Chicken Salad and Caramelised Pumpkin. Marinated overnight in a long list of ingredients, chicken breast and kabocha pumpkin are left to slow-cook in its own goodness – the former sous-vide and finished in a pan with a good basting of house-made brown butter until golden-brown, while the latter is left to confit in the oven before being toasted à la minute over brown butter. The caramelised sweet and savoury flavours from both components are balanced out with bursts of raw diced pomelo that cuts right through, and finished with a wicked kick of acidity from a yogurt wasabi sauce with drizzles of parsley oil.
Crowd-pleasing pastas include the Miso Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Broccolini that sees miso-glazed whole wheat spaghetti, local eggplant confit, broccolini and finely grated grana padano cheese brought together with a generous dollop of basil and almond pesto; and Pulled Pork Creamy Risoni Pasta – American pulled pork is marinated for two days in its own jus and shiitake broth, then slow cooked for 24 hours before being tossed in a pan à la minute with risoni and finished like a creamy risotto with butter, broth and cheese. Raw enoki tossed in at the end brings a woody, fresh zing that keeps the decadence in check.
All-day breakfast at this diner is no shabby affair, Oeufs à la Poêle is a sunny side-up in an iron skillet with fixings of roasted cherry tomatoes, grilled sweetcorn, lady’s fingers, creamy chorizo, avocado, fresh herbs and toasted sourdough; and Organic Eggs Benedict on brown butter is a toasted brioche with wilted baby spinach, kale, and shiitake mushroom relish smothered in a zesty calamansi hollandaise sauce.
If one could only order one dish from the menu, let it be the 100% Sourdough Waffle. Using a 158-year-old starter and a two-day fermentation process that allows the natural reaction of wild bacteria between the flour, air and water to take its course, the result is a thick, gut-friendly batter with an undeniable tang, with pearl sugar added to balance out the flavours. Another dish that chef Paul has made his own is the Fluffy Brown Butter Pancakes – light, fluffy flapjacks with complex flavours from buttermilk batter that’s been fermented for 24 hours and whisked with brown butter before meeting the griddle, leaving in its trail whiffs of toasted hazelnut.
Perfect on their own, both can be enjoyed as a savoury stack; topped with a sunny side-up and crisp grilled bacon, lashings of smoked paprika-infused maple syrup, goji berries and honeyed ricotta—or with sweet ripe Thai mango, caramelised almonds and Brittany’s finest salted butter caramel sauce, complete with lemongrass-infused Chantilly and ice mint freshly plucked from the garden.
“You really can’t find another café or diner offering food with such care and attention. We’ve created the Diner to be an outlier in the construct of a shopping mall, but we can easily imagine this being exported to the suburbs and fitting in just as well. The possibilities truly excite me,” says founder Cynthia Chua.