A recent visit to The Snack Culture Company revived the faith that food offered by a café can be inspiring, appealing and gratifying too, all at once.
The small outfit at CT Hub is helmed by a husband and wife team. Dr Chan runs the kitchen while Janice bakes and assists with the operations. Yes, the man himself is a doctor by training but no longer in medical practice. He now practices his culinary chops instead, and hopes to encourage the sharing of good food through his creations.
I wonder if it would be apt to describe The Snack Culture Company as Dr Chan's "playground", for this is where interesting buns like Nonya Chicken Buah Keluak Bun are freshly baked in-store daily, various snacks as well as cookies in flavors such as Yuzu and Laksa can be selected and customized into personalized gifts.
Local favorites including Healthy Harvest Rice (inspired by Hakka's Thunder Tea Rice) and Singapore Bak Kut Teh (with Korean Mandu) takes on a different profile as they are being re-interpreted for their lunch menu.
But what sealed the deal for The Snack Culture Company as a promising establishment to look out for has to be their "Around The World In 9 Small Plates" Omakase Degustation Menu. It is offered at a mere price of $49 (+10% service charge, minimum 2 person to dine), available only from Thursday to Saturdays (strictly by reservations) for dinner.
Some labelled the cuisine served as "Mod-Sin", Dr Chan calls it "Fun-Dining", I thought it to be a wondrous transcendence of cultures. How else would you describe the marriage of Japanese Edamame with Thai Tom Yum Espuma or Chilled Korean Mandu in Singapore Bak Kut Teh Consomme? These two dishes that started off our evening delighted us with familiarity in flavors, yet originality in pairing of tastes.
Taking its inspiration from the well-loved Nonya chap chye is the Chilled Black Fungus & Mushroom Salad. Its soft and crunchy contrasting textures were attractive in every chomp, tied harmoniously together by a mildly spicy Nonya belachan mayo dressing. We were all raving about it.
I was greedy for more, but glad the portion was kept manageable and paced us well in coming dishes such as the Ter Kar Chor Scotch, a Chinese vinegared pork knuckle dish with egg and ginger elements masquerading as a British scotch egg..... or is it the other way round? Haha in any case, it was a welcomed "confusion" of deliciousness.
Good stuff comes in trio and parcel lol! Asian Trio features beef bulgogi wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper roll, deep-fried wanton filled with piquant ayam buah keluak, and laksa crostini ~ laksa prawn on haebe hiam cookie! The Pen Cai Parcel did not lose out in terms of bounties too, luxuriating with mini abalone, shiitake mushroom and scallop encased in sweetness of cabbage and steamed in a full-bodied broth enhanced with a secret ingredient (which I shall not mentioned). Have fun guessing!
The one dish which failed to impress was the Kaffir Tomato Capellini & Cantonese Har Jeong Soft Shell Crab, as the pasta was a tad overcooked and the shrimp paste flavor for the soft shell crab could be bolder. It is suggested to have the dish with some chilli padi for added oomph, but still it could not redeem the lacklustre execution.
But all was well again as the Seafood En Papillote opened up to whiffs of Cajun spices and buttery garlic aroma, satisfying our senses and filled whatever that's left of our tummy space with delectable servings of succulent prawns and plump clams. The around the world adventure then finally ended on a high note with silky creaminess of Chendol Panna Cotta.
Overall, the dishes were not the most sophisticated in gastronomic sense, nor most exquisite when it comes to plating, but I was certainly most impressed that all of it were conjured up by a home chef who had no formal training in cooking. The pairings were straightforward yet brilliant, you'd probably also go, "why didn't I think of this before?" Amazing!
What I feel is, the locational disadvantage could be the main drawback of The Snack Culture Company (being situated within a non-exciting commercial building that serves mainly offices, but with reasonable rental costs). The nearest mrt station or bus stop is quite a walking distance away (for "wearing-high-heels" me), and there was not much dining ambience to speak of. "Who would come here specially to have dinner?", I thought to myself as I made my way over. Perhaps I answered my own question as the evening closed. Those who appreciate a well-thought meal will concur the endeavor is worth it.
The Snack Culture Company
Address: 2 Kallang Avenue, #02-17 CT Hub, Singapore 339407
Contact: +65 6443 2006
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-7pm / Thu-Sat 7pm-10pm (by reservations only) / Closed on Sun