The East Coast Plan is all the more stronger with In Bad Company’s relocation from Kim Yan Road to Katong. Cafes and hawkers the area has in abundance, but as a die-hard Eastie, I’ve been waiting for just this type of leftfield F&B establishment to open up in my ‘hood, and I’m happy to report their brand of Asian fusion food and wide yet thoughtful range of craft beers and natural wines has been a “it feels good to be bad” influence on me, so much so that I’ve already patronised it thrice in the span of 2 months.
Hidden in a far-flung corner, at the end of a very long corridor of an obscure shopping mall, In Bad Company’s hard-to-find location and industrial concrete, metal and glass interior exudes cool. Head up the mezzanine level to watch the night lights out of the floor to ceiling glass windows, or kick back on the sofas with a potent Old Fashioned while waiting for dinner(they only open in the evenings) to commence.
A shining example of In Bad Company’s Japanese inflected mod-fusion cuisine, the Bincho Grilled Ehire ($15) is first dehydrated before spending time cooking over the bincho grill, resulting in moreish, chewy shards of jerky-esque meat seasoned with spent kombu and shiitake that imparts deep umami flavour. The creamy tartar sauce on the side goes well with just about every side on the menu too.
Best eaten fresh out of the fryer, these shatteringly crisp Deep Fried Renkon Chips ($10) seasoned with Aonori salt come with a blazingly biting chilli dip inspired by the Peranakan owner’s grandma’s chilli sauce recipe. You’ll definitely want one of In Bad Company’s many fine craft beers to quench the fire with.
Of course, it would be remiss if we did not try at least one specialty craft beer from In Bad Company’s extensive selection. Hailing from Germany’s Frau Gruber brewery, the Dojo of Bankerness is a New England style IPA that’s flavour-forward with bright hoppiness and hints of sweet citrusy-ness. This golden bad boy clocks in at a slay-tanic 6.66% ABV, so you’ll definitely be feeling the buzz after knocking it back.
Pillowy soft nuggets sheathed in a delicate crumbed coating, these Deep Fried Sake Poached Tofu Nuggets ($10) veritably melt in your mouth. They’re paired with a funky, citrusy fermented habanero chilli dip that will hit the back of your mouth with an explosive heat that lingers.
Flirting with the norms, In Bad Company’s re-imagined Chicken Liver Paté ($15) excites both the eyes and the palate. In the center, a glistening golden shoyu pickled egg yolk in-lieu of the typical raw yolk is surrounded by paper-thin circles of strikingly vermillion-coloured rosemary beetroot chips. Beneath, layered rings of chicken pate and house-baked crouton rings alternate creaminess and crunch with each bite. I only wish there were more of it.
One of my favourites here, the Bincho Grilled Octopus Tentacle ($22) is sweet, smoky and succulent. What stands out as well are the very complementary garnishes – a pleasantly mild and silky cauliflower puree enriched with smoked duck, sugary fermented heirloom cherry tomato, rendered beef fat sweet confit shallots, salty pops of ikura roe, and the crowd favourite of shatteringly crisp kale shards(which I think deserve to be a dish on its own).
Pure comfort in a bowl, the Zosui Style Vegetable Risotto ($30) is cooked in the style of Japanese rice soup, so it’s more runny than your traditional risotto. Every grain of rice is infused with the sweetness of root vegetables and the texture of the rice is more akin to Zosui than risotto, veering toward more soft and silky than chewy. The centerpiece of course, is the grilled Boston lobster tail, which is well-cooked, sweet, tender and crowned with orange wood chip-smoked lumpfish caviar. A flourish of cured quail yolk shavings finishes off the dish, lending a subtle umami to the rice.
Saving the best for last, the picanha is an underused cut that’s gaining popularity, and in the right hands can taste just as good as more premium cuts. Thankfully here the Aburi Wagyu Rump Cap ($32) is done justice. The thick cap of fat at the end of each slice is melt-in-your-mouth, and lends a wonderful depth of flavour to the meat. With all that meat, you’d need the proper sides to cut through the richness. Plentiful vegetables in the form of well-executed salted baked purple cabbage, heirloom carrots and celeriac horseradish mash provide a panoply of interesting flavours and textures as counterpoints to the protein. If I had to nitpick though, the foie gras in the foie gras honey mustard was not discernable at all.
It’s been a long time coming for a restaurant of this ilk with a solid bar programme to hit the East Side, but I’m more than happy to not have to travel all the way to the CBD to go to town.
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In Bad Company
*** This was a hosted tasting. ***