I was gutted when I heard Taiwanese tapas pop-up Five Ten had shuttered its doors before I had the opportunity to try their delicious yet affordable Taiwanese street food, so I jumped at the chance when they rebranded as The Salted Plum and re-opened at a permanent location smack in the heart of Boat Quay.
Still following the same concept as its predecessor in offering value-for-money small plates at $5 and $10 price points(and $10 lunch bowls), The Salted Plum’s menu also sees an upgrade with more items and new premium additions such as hamachi collar and lobster.
Chef De Cuisine Shawn Koh undertook an extensive R&D trip through Taiwan, and we the diners are rewarded with the fruits of his labour in the form of authentic Taiwanese street food with his personal touch and a dash of modernity.
The vegetable plates served here more than surprisingly stand their own against their meatier counterparts. Take this hot number – Smashed Baby Potatoes ($5) . Deep-fried to shattering crispiness, the duck fat-esque baby potatoes seasoned with salted plum powder were so addictive I smashed them all in a heartbeat once I saw no one else was eyeing the plate.
Few vegetables excite me, but when they do, it has to be brussel sprouts. The Salted Plum has many tasty small plates, and their smoky, charred stir-fried Brussel Sprouts ($5) with shitake mushroom and chilli padi is amongst my favourites.
But don’t fret carnivores, because there’s plentiful meat of every stripe to be had at this fine abode. Hot off the new menu, the Burnt Chilli Chicken ($10) pleases with charred cubes of juicy chicken thigh bristling with a spicy(but not unpleasantly so) zing from burnt chillis. This is FYAH in my books.
Small in stature, but cooked with heart and big on flavour are the Chicken Hearts ($5). Pick at these soy glazed chicken hearts topped with strings of crispy fried ginger in-between sips of an ice cold Suntory. Nothing like a frosty mug and chicken parts after a hard day’s work.
Lovers of fried chicken(we are birds of a feather, you and I), take note. The Salted Plum’s Fried Chicken ($10) will give even the best karaage a run for its money. Underneath the crusty swagger of resoundingly crisp batter lies the tender core of well-seasoned sesame and soy marinated chicken chunks. Highly enjoyable with the nori mayonnaise dip or even just on its own, if you prefer.
Had enough chicken? Start the pork party with The Salted Plum’s highly popular take on “Lou Rou”. Their Braised Pork Belly ($10) contains thick slabs of fleshy pork belly with a sizeable layer of wobbly, glossy fat, braised in a deep, dark and viscuous sauce till the meat’s exterior attains an almost lacquered finish. Pair it with a bowl of Shiny Rice ($0.50) drizzled with lard and garlic oil for a sinfully unstoppable combination.
Steeped in the same rich sauce they use for their braised pork, the Braised Pig Intestines ($10) are soft, silken folds of porky deliciousness that are unlike the bouncier versions commonly found at “kway chap” stalls. The sharp pungency of freshly grated garlic cuts through the richness nicely as well. I needed another bowl of The Salted Plum’s Shiny Rice to soak up all that gravy goodness.
I’m not sure if this qualifies as “thick-cut bacon” as the menu says, but the house cured Taiwanese Salted Pork ($5) was nicely tender, charred and served with raw garlic and calamansi.
No doubt these house-made Taiwanese Sausage Patties ($10) are melt-in-your-mouth moreish, but there’s tastier and more bang for buck items on The Salted Plum’s $10 list.
Which brings me to the simply but aptly named Steak ($10). Stake your claim quick on as many of these gorgeously seared and succulent slices of sirloin as you can or you’ll find the sharing plate empty in a flash.
The Hamachi Collar ($15) is only one of two items above $10 on the menu, the other being the Slipper Lobster ($25). Simply grilled to allow the natural sweetness and tenderness of the meat to shine through, it’s served with a saucer of plum salt to season your fish with, though to be honest you won’t need it.
There’s not much choice for desserts at The Salted Plum—in fact there’s just 1 on the menu. If you’re yearning for something chill at the end of your meal to offset all the flavourful meats and vegetables, the Red Tea Jelly ($5) with tapioca pearls and thick cream goes down nicely.
The Salted Plum
10 Circular Road, Singapore 049366
Mon – Sat: 12.00pm–3.00pm(Lunch) / 6.00pm–10.00pm(Dinner)
Closed on Sundays
*** This was a hosted tasting. ***