Hungry for pasta? Or even some fusion cuisine? For today’s Munchy Monday, we will be featuring on two uniquely located eateries. One, within a old-school coffeeshop called Ah Bong’s Italian, and the other, located at an open air carpark called Le’Park.
Ah Bong’s Italian
Positioned right at the junction of Tiong Poh Road and Eng Hoon Street is a traditional kopitiam. However, while it looks just like any other kopitiams of bygone eras, with tables and stools placed along the shopfront, it is not your typical kopitiam. While you do see independent stall-holders preparing various local cuisines, unbeknownst to most is an unassuming Italian stall hidden right in the corner.
Owner Chris, who was an accountant turned chef, Ah Bong’s Italian serves up authentic Italian pastas at pocket-friendly prices. What inspired Chris to set up this stall was the simplest plate of pasta he had ever had at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Sicily which was, in his own words, “the most mind blowing experience”.
The menu changes regularly so you can never quite know what to expect, but one thing’s for sure – you will not leave disappointed. There would be at least 3 different pasta available for choice per day.
On the day of our visit, there were only three options available – Birthday pasta, Pasta +Pepper Pesto and Warm Bath Pasta. The menu is kept small to ensure quality is maintained, and this we can vouch for.
Warm bath, or bagna cauda in Italian, is a dish made up of penne tossed in a buttery sauce of garlic and anchovies. Mixed in with crunchy long beans and topped off with a soft-boiled egg, this dish carries a good blend of textures. However, we would have preferred if capellini was used over penne to bring out the buttery goodness, as the sauce doesn’t really stick to the penne pasta.
This is, without a doubt, our favourite dish of the day. It was stronger in flavour compared to the previous dish and the spiciness also sits well with our Singaporean taste buds. The sauce carried a slight fragrance of crushed nuts (from the chilli seeds) and together with the bits of bacon added into it, there was no way anyone could deny this dish. The al dente penne which did not work so well previously was able to enhance the taste here as it packed in the goodness of the sauce in each bite.
Needless to say, the ambience here is nothing like the ones you get at high-end Italian restaurants. However, dining at Ah Bong’s has its own uniqueness. Not a lot of places allow you to enjoy a plate of restaurant-standard pasta with your Teh C. Another plus side would be the lack of obligation to dress up or dine in a dainty fashion. Wolf down your food or turn up in shorts and slippers, no one is going to judge you for that.
The dishes here are most definitely good value for money – ranging from $7 to $10. If you wish to enjoy some authentic Italian pasta without breaking the bank, Ah Bong’s Italian is the place to go.
Ah Bong’s Italian
5 Eng Hoon Street
Mon – Sat : 10am – 2pm
The word Lepark, which can mean ‘the park’ in French or ‘chilling out’ in Singlish, is also the name of a one-of-a-kind bar and bistro. Located on the rooftop of People’s Park Complex, itself a hidden gem in the heart of Chinatown, one of our oldest ethnic enclaves – most of its patrons only got wind of its existence through word-of-mouth and the social media.
Offering an extensive range of over 80 types of craft beer from all over the world, Lepark is probably one of the largest craft beer importers in Singapore.
Running with their recommendation, we began with a pint of German beer. This particular Bavarian wheat beer has a light honey colour and a fruity, clean taste. Not only is it smooth, it also leaves a refreshing aftertaste of balanced light bitter. One jug is priced at $50.
The matrimony of Singaporean’s favourite chicken rice and Japanese sushi rolls had given birth to this dish. Made up of fragrant rice and slices of steamed chicken – all rolled up and wrapped over with a thin strap of seaweed – this dish is topped off with shredded fried eggs and garlic chili sauce. Enjoying chicken rice has never been easier.
The hype over anything with salted egg yolk (SEY) is still at its peak. Many eateries are coming up with their own salted egg yolk dishes, but only a few manage to impress. This fusion dish belongs to that few. What was set up to resemble an open-face burger is actually fried soft shell crab, drizzled with a generous serving of SEY sauce, over fried mantou. The shell soft crab was crispy and meaty, and the fried crabmeat balls are made in-house with fresh ingredients which also explains why we could taste the sweetness of the crab meat.
Tweaking his family’s secret recipe, the head chef has skillfully turned the traditional Muar otah into bite-sized wantons. The wantons were fried till golden brown and the otah inside was neither too spicy nor too plain. On some bites, you could even taste small chunks of fish bits. The fried curry leaves also added to the aroma and depth to the dish.
Baked Salmon is a fusion dish made up of a generous slab of grilled salmon, topped off with fried cereal, and served with a side of chunky fries and ginger sauce. The salmon was succulent and was complimented well with the cereal’s buttery taste. However, we were not feeling the ginger sauce that much as firstly, we are not fans of ginger, and secondly, although it does tone down the fishiness of the salmon, it doesn’t blend too well with the fish as it overpowers the taste instead.
This dessert has a very local feel. Made of Milo-flavoured ice cream and layered with bananas and honey stars, it is then generously topped off with our all-time favourite Froot Loops and a piece of Khong Guan biscuit. Although the taste is nothing much to shout about, it definitely makes for an excellent comfort food – Singaporean style.
The entire place gives off a very garage rock kind of vibe with the walls filled with local-themed graffiti, like Mr Kiasu, the Sharity Elephant and Singa the Courtesy Lion. The wooden benches and tables, together with the open kitchen concept, added to the casual mood – it’s not a place where you would feel compelled to dress up.
Prices at Lepark are all displayed in net amounts – they do not charge for service or GST. Besides so, we also found the drinks and food priced very affordably. So for those of you looking to chill with your friends over a couple of drinks without busting your credit limits, this makes for an ideal option.
1 Park Road, #06-00
People’s Park Complex
Tues – Thurs: 4pm – 11pm
Fri: 4pm – 12am
Sat: 11am – 12am
Sun: 11am – 11pm