June 10, 2016

Chow Fun Restaurant & Bar @ The Grandstand ~ A Modern Noodle Small Plates Bar

Shall we go to Chow Fun Restaurant & Bar and have some "chow fun"? Nope, I don't mean fried rice, but fried noodles!

Before anyone gets confused, please let me explain that the name, Chow Fun, is a playful nod to the ubiquitous Cantonese fried noodle dish served at Chinese restaurants in America where Singaporean chef and owner, Alicia Lin, spent 20 years of her life.

It also alludes to 'chow' or food, and the 'fun' spirit of the restaurant.

Ahh that explains it (and the kitschy deco), right? Now get prepared for over 18 Asian and Western-inspired noodles offerings!

Before we get to the noodles, the fun can begin from the array of starters. Best with a beer in hand?

Happy Hours run all day, everyday! One pint of Erdinger White is only at $12!

But if you're a teetotaler like me, beverages such as Sour Plum Soda ($4) or Homemade Ice Lemon Tea ($4) also can lah.

We started with Mom's White Radish Cake ($5.90), cubes of pan-fried radish cake with Chinese sausages, dried shrimps and shallots which aims to present homemade flavors from a family recipe. Not robust enough for us though, and the accompanying 'hae bee hiam' or dried shrimp sambal can be spicier too.

Other recommendations for starters includes Fish Roe Fish Balls ($6.90) which went pop-pop-pop with delightful roe upon each bite, crowd-pleasing Chicken Skin with Salted Egg Yolk Dip ($6.90), and the Potato, Bonito & Cheese Pancake ($5.90).

If the pancake is meant to be cross between a Swiss Rosti and Japanese Okonomiyaki, then Chow Fun has got it right with mozzarella, cheddar and grana padano cheese atop a bed of thinly-sliced crisp-fried potatoes sprinkled with bonito flakes and spring onions. Quite an interesting combination and rather fun to eat.

Our appetites were prepped for the noodles that followed.

The selection of more than 18 types of Asian and Western-inspired noodles ensures that we are spoiled for choice. Serving size is kept small and priced at $2.90 per bowl. Regular portions are available for the more popular bowls from $15.90.

Like it hot or chilled? Vermicelli, penne, spaghetti, udon, or rice noodles? You can have as many flavors and bowls as your tummy permits!

Think of it as tapas, but carbs-centric tapas.

My dining companion quipped that the concept is similar to those mini-sized Thai boat noodles where each person can easily slurp down at least 3 to 4 bowls in one go. Except that we get much more variety here.

Yes, variety would be the main draw for me. I guess a girl would know what a girl wants, thanks to the lady owner.

From the local-style breakfast bee hoon, Kung Fu Dashi Broth vermicelli, to the chilled Ginger & Scallion rice noodles tossed in a refreshing dressing of ginger, vinegar, mirin, sesame oil and mirin, and Bak Kut Teh noodle soup, each bowl pleased the palate with their distinct flavors.

It was almost as enjoyable as eating the typical versions we get elsewhere, except that there is not much "liao" or ingredients. That's where the satisfaction fell short.

My other concern is that some noodles might not be cooked ala-minute, but have been pre-prepared in larger quantity and portioned out into small bowls upon customer's order. We prefer our food to be freshly-cooked of course, but it can be quite difficult to stir-fry a few mouthful of vermicelli or Pineapple Fried Udon each time right?

While the udon's dark sweet soy sauce and mirin flavoring is similar to Malaysian Hokkein Mee, its tough and rubbery texture was an utter put-off. Being overly greasy doesn't help either.

Not all was lost, as the warm rendition of Pork Belly Bibim Guksu (inspired by Korean Bibim Guksu) hit the spot with savory and spicy "gochujang" or hot pepper paste stirred into the noodles. Certainly appetizing and that piece of sautéed soy ginger-glazed pork belly was done just about right.

Our favorites of the night turned out to be the pastas.

Wagyu Bolognese
spaghetti uses the more premium wagyu beef, grounded and slow-cooked for 12 hours in a tomato-based sauce. Luxurious in a way, and definitely comforting.

Penne for Pink Shrimp pasta, as well as Wild Mushroom & Truffle pasta was cooked to al-dente perfection. The former uses Singapore kelong-farmed fresh shrimps cooked in white wine and tomatoes, then blended with a touch of cream to render a briny seafood flavor.

The earthy notes of shiitake and dried porcini mushrooms with aromatic truffle oil is such an irresistible, classic combination! Worth busting any carbs diet and calories intake for this.

Desserts are available for two to share ($4.90 onwards), or in tasting platters of three ($16.90) and five ($22.90).

Options includes our familiar snack Deep-fried Caramelized Banana Fritters ($6.90) aka "goreng pisang", Salted Egg & Chocolate Lava Cake ($8.90), Red Bean, Peanut & Sesame Homemade Tang Yuan ($6.90) and refreshing Lychee Granita & Crystal Jelly ($4.90).

While the idea behind Chow Fun can be considered a novelty and has a broad appeal, the execution of some dishes can be better to make the travel all the way to The Grandstand (which is not easily accessible by public transport) more worthwhile.

It will perhaps make any visit more "fun" then.

Chow Fun Restaurant & Bar
Address: The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Road, #01-08, Singapore 287994
Contact: +65 6464 6900
Website: https://chowfun.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chowfunsg
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-12am

Prices stated are in Singapore dollars and subject to 10% service charge & 7% GST.

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