3 new meaty hotspots for the meat lovers

Filipino grilled pork skewers, bacon jam and juicy pork chops – standby for a serious pig-out session at these three eateries

1. LechónSG
1. LechónSG
14 Jul 2015

1. LechónSG

THREE OUTLETS INCLUDING 1 ROCHOR RD, S180001, Tel: 8686-0544. OPEN DAILY 9AM-10PM. LAST ORDERS AT CLOSING. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/LECHONSG

You’ve heard of Pinoy suckling pig in a kopitiam. But what about Filipino skewered pork a la satay? Just follow the heavenly aroma of charred meat roasting on a bed of charcoal to LechónSG, where both delicacies are available. Thirtysomething Filipino owners Erick Cantorna and Michael Riff Vestil, offer pork skewers (called pork inihaw in Tagalog), a popular street food back home, together with lechón at this Rochor Centre stall.

Lechón, for the uninitiated, is a Pinoy take on roasted suckling pig that originated in Spain, and is as common in the Philippines as chicken rice is here. 

1. LechónSG
1. LechónSG
14 Jul 2015

1. LechónSG

THE BOSSES ARE ACTUALLY PROFESSIONALS

“I quit my job as an architect to do this business,” shares Michael(left in pic), who’s been in Singapore for 11 years, and runs a tattoo shop in Lucky Plaza as well. His partner Erick is a full-time engineer. Both guys oversee operations while Filipino cooks man the stoves. Adds Michael: “We started our business in a coffeeshop ’cos we wanted to start small and see the response.”

“There are a lot of lechón stalls back home,” says Michael, who hails from Cebu, the “birthplace” of lechón. “Different parts of the Philippines prepare lechón differently. Cebu is famous for its lechón ’cos it’s where the Spanish first introduced it.”

This kopitiam stall opened a year ago and is one of three outlets here (the other two branches are in Clementi and Lau Pa Sat).

 

1. LechónSG
1. LechónSG
14 Jul 2015

1. LechónSG

THE FOOD

LechónSG uses pork from Australia and Spain and its lechón recipe is adapted from one used by Erick’s aunt who runs a lechón stall in the Philippines. “It’s slightly different from what you’ll find back home — we use only the belly here [instead of the whole hog] as it’s the best part of the pig,” says Erick. “She gave me the recipe on condition that I never return to the Philippines to open a stall there!” he adds.

Crammed with lemongrass, spring onions, garlic and other “secret” ingredients, each 3kg roll of pork (above right in picture, $135; feeds 12 pax) is roasted to perfection over charcoal. The slightly thick skin is crispy and the meat chunks wonderfully moist and salty. It also has just the right amount of fat for a satisfying mouth-feel. It’s flavourful enough on its own, but you could up the ante by dipping it into chilli and onion-infused vinegar or sweet and tangy mang tomas, a sauce made from chicken liver.

Each portion of Lechón and Rice (above left in picture, set meals from $6-$12) comes with a mountain of rice with a sticky, ketupat-like texture you’ll either love or hate, and zesty green papaya achar (archara in Tagalog).

The Pork and Rice ($2.50 each; $5/3 pcs), pork belly sticks, is also a winner. Tender strips of fatty belly are marinated in “a secret sauce" that tastes of soy, sugar and a dash of lime, skewered and grilled over charcoal for an amazing smoky hit. We don’t care much for the skewers of intestines called Isaw ($1.20 each; $4/2 pcs), though. Too gamey.

BOTTOM LINE: Another tasty, affordable and authentic taste of roast pig from the Philippines right in our own backyard. Yum.  

2. OMB
2. OMB
14 Jul 2015

2. OMB

7 DUNLOP ST, S209337. TEL: 6635-2633. OPEN DAILY EXCEPT MON. TUE-FRI NOON-10PM; WEEKENDS 10AM-10PM. LAST ORDERS 30 MINS BEFORE CLOSING. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/OMBSG

Sitting at the tail end of Little India, Oh My Bacon — that’s what OMB stands for — is where diets go to die. The nosh at this month-old 50-seater bacon shrine, which cost $300,000 to set up, is so sinful there should be a surgeon general’s warning slapped on it.

Bacon is the hero here, and finds its way into just about every dish. Yes, even the desserts. They may also introduce bacon-infused cocktails later. Um, yay? A collaboration between creative agency Pencil and F&B group, Basic Inspired, which distributes organic products, OMB is what happens when designers and cooks collide.

“We came up with the concept and the menu, and the kitchen crew whipped it up,” says co-owner and Pencil art director Yenni Ng, 38. “It’s meant to be a fun concept. We’re definitely not a fine-diner.” Ironically enough, her F&B partners used to run now-defunct organic café, Nothing But Green. Talk about a 180-degree turnaround. They chose to specialise in bacon as they think it’s a fun concept that hasn’t been done here before though it’s popular in the States.

THE LOOK: Bright and cheery with natural light filtering in through full-length glass windows, the spacious self-order joint exudes an unpretentious chill vibe. You may even mistake it for an interior designer's showroom at first glance. There’s a window display with OMB merchandise like pillow covers, aprons and tote bags emblazoned with cartoony bacon strips. Colourful paintings and furniture add a splash of colour to the raw concrete floors and walls. The only thing lacking is the aroma of sizzling pork fat. 

2. OMB
2. OMB
14 Jul 2015

2. OMB

THE FOOD: Ninety percent of the menu here contains bacon. Fact: Everything tastes better with bacon. Even mediocre fare gets kicked up a notch with an (un)healthy sprinkling of it (a mix of Canadian streaky, back and smoked bacon is used here).

We rather like the Bacon Jam Session ($12), a whisky-infused bacon jam served with baguette. The sticky and chunky spread is sweet, slightly smoky and reminds us of bak kwa with a bit more punch. 

2. OMB
2. OMB
14 Jul 2015

2. OMB

THE FOOD: The café is especially proud of its Carbonara ($15). Adapted from an Italian chef’s recipe, this is a cream-free version using only eggs (as authentic carbonara should be done). It’s infused with the fragrance of smoky bacon and is light and tasty, if a tad too dry.

Their signature dish, Bacon Bomb (right in picture, $28), kinda… bombed. The meatloaf of ground pork criss-crossed with bacon and filled with a cheesy centre isn’t well seasoned and tastes too porky.

2. OMB
2. OMB
14 Jul 2015

2. OMB

We like the idea of the Bacon Brownie with Bacon Ice Cream ($9), but can’t really taste any of the bacon bits sprinkled on top. The brownie itself is luscious and chocolatey, though, and the ice cream a pleasant cross between butterscotch and salted caramel.

BOTTOM LINE: While we give them points for creativity, the nosh at OMB isn’t exactly to die for. It’s a cute space with a fun concept that’s probably only novel for first-timers.
 

3. Three Little Pigs
3. Three Little Pigs
14 Jul 2015

3. Three Little Pigs

OPEN DAILY MON-THUR 11.30AM-10PM; FRI-SUN 11AM-10PM. LAST ORDERS AT 9.30PM. WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/THREELITTLEPIGSSG

Maybe it’s just us, but there’s something so wrong about having cutesy images of pigs overlooking our shoulders from the glass panels here while we tuck into pork chop. Located at the basement of Ngee Ann City, this month-old 65-seater (whose sister eatery is Thai Express), is the first of three outlets (two more will trot out next year) and hawks hogs at wallet-friendly prices.

THE LOOK: Despite the slightly disturbing illustrations of piggies here, the décor is inviting. We’re not sure which little piggy built its house with corrugated metal sheeting, but that’s the look they’ve gone with. The prices may be mid-range, but it feels and looks like a proper grown-up restaurant with soft lighting that makes everyone look good (great for selfies!). The crowd is a mixed bag of youngsters, families and executives and can get packed on weekends.

3. Three Little Pigs
3. Three Little Pigs
14 Jul 2015

3. Three Little Pigs

THE FOOD: Three Little Pigs’ signature dishes its Pork Chops (from $16.80) with a choice of six different sweet or savoury toppings. Each 200g slab is 2cm-thick and comes with a pork floss-and-cheese-topped baked potato and a smoky sauce made with rendered bacon. These are leaner loin cuts from Brazil and Holland. We know what you’re thinking: they must be dry. But they’re actually rather moist as the chops are lightly seared first, then slow cooked and seared again to retain their natural juices. For toppings, go for sweeter ones like the apricot relish and sultana pesto to bring out the pork’s sweetness.

3. Three Little Pigs
3. Three Little Pigs
14 Jul 2015

3. Three Little Pigs

THE FOOD: The Grilled Pork Skewers (left in picture, $13.80), fatty pork belly marinated Thai style, are aromatic and hearty. However, the Roasted Pork Belly Mushroom Risotto ($16.80) is a let-down. Although the risotto is fragrant and creamy, the all-important crackling on the belly, which takes 36 hours to prepare, isn’t crispy at all. Pity.

But the Pandan Panna Cotta (right in picture, $6.80) makes up for that. It’s flavoured with freshly juiced pandan leaves for a beautifully delicate aroma and topped with desiccated coconut. Scoop up the gelatinous globs with the kueh bangkit-like crispy coconut meringue for a happy ending.

BOTTOM LINE: With more hits than misses, this joint certainly has the right (pork) chops.
 

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