Singapore may be small, but we are inundated with choice when it comes to eating out. Sometimes, this can lead to the first-world problem of CHOICE(!) ANXIETY(!!) If, like us, this leads you to becoming a sad creature of habit who keeps eating at the same old places, check out our bite-sized JUNK food reviews for what you should be eating next.
After finding success in his previous venture, ‘Rice and Fries’, Chef Ken Chia – silver quiff of hair, you can’t miss him – moved on from running a large(r) restaurant and scouted around for a new place to set up shop. That search led to a hole-in-the-wall in a “mixed use development” on Rangoon Road, and Tie Fun Wan (tee-air-fan-wan) was his speculative response to the lack of affordable, straightforward everyday dining in the neighbourhood. For what it’s worth, the chef’s gut instinct seems to have paid off; lunches and dinners have been busy with regulars.
With the slimmest of menus, we decided to order everything available. The toppings ranged from braised beef skirt, to lor bak, spicy pork belly and the ubiquitous teriyaki chicken.
Straight off the bat, the quality ingredients and cheffy technique were apparent - the Japanese rice had appetizing bite and Chef Ken was confident enough with the quality of his meats that their marinades weren’t dialled to 11 to cheekily try to disguise any cheap nastiness.
The 72-hour Braised Beef took the lead in likes at the table with its collapsing tenderness and beefy, smoky flavour – the result of a lengthy process that starts with fire roasting Australian Angus beef skirt for a sophisticated burnt crust and then sous vide-ing it to oblivion. We like.
The pork dishes held the middle ground; the Lor Bak and Sweet & Sour Pork Belly were infused with nostalgic vibes that made it feel like comforting home-cooked food. The Teriyaki Chicken alas, came up a bit short in dazzle or context, maybe Teriyaki being Japanese threw us... or maybe a deeper sear on the skin would have helped... or maybe that’s it's just chicken lah. Chicken is chicken is chicken is chicken. Buk buk buk bukkah!
All bowls can optionally be topped with a wobbly, gif-worthy, 63 degree egg and we did just that. This addition bolstered each dish in the rich, gratifyingly way only a soft boiled ‘Jia Tan’ can… so jia for $1.50, don’t jia stupid. Also, another CRUCIAL thing : eat all the dishes with the pickled radish and carrots served on the table, it went a long way in cutting through the richness and cradling all the flavours together.
But it wasn't over yet. The stand-out dish of the evening arrived in the form of the daily special. It was a noodle version of the Sweet and Sour Pork Belly, and in this iteration, the deep, tangy sauce shone through, with the sour, appetising tamarind drenching the plump, QQ, carby white Shanghai noodles with flavour. Definitely ask for this if you're there. It's gobbling food.
Okay, perhaps this review is a bit too long for what is a neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall, but if you find yourself in that part of Singapore, (like maybe you were at City Square mall buying cheap equestrian gear from Decathlon and you then had a craving for some beef because the saddle triggered your appetite)... Then do pop round and have a meal. And with their plans to serve alcohol and meat-based bar snacks, we're sure that, in time to come, Tie Fun Wan will comfortably become a destination in its own right.