Food Friday: Garang Grill – where zi char meets fine dining

Food Friday: Garang Grill – where zi char meets fine dining
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Review & photos by Cheryl Teo of Freshgrads.sg

New Ubin Seafood is no stranger in the world of Singapore zi char. Its hearty communal grub of local favorites, fresh seafood, and fusion cuisine has captured the hearts of both young and old through their stomachs. So it is no surprise that when New Ubin Seafood introduced a deluxe pop-up, Garang Grill, it threw Singaporeans into a feeding frenzy.

Garang Grill is a project launched in collaboration with New Ubin Seafood and Chef Jeremy Cheok of Slake. The pop-up restaurant located in the landed residential area of Swan Lake Avenue, between Kembangan and Bedok MRT stations, is scheduled to operate for only three months, until 25th June 2017.

“Garang” means “fierce” or “powerful”, whereas “arang” means charcoal. These two Malay words aptly portray the strong and bold flavors of Garang Grill’s Singapore-styled dishes created by the raging fire of a traditional Spanish Mibrasa charcoal oven. The enclosed steel oven reaches temperatures of up to 500 degrees celsius, optimal for charring meat, locking in its juices and bringing out its flavors.

The items on the menu are constantly changing and evolving, so returning customers can always be treated to something new and exciting. Garang Grill carries Guinness and Kirin on tap with a few curated bottles of craft beers and some soft drinks.

Smoked Pork Egg with Rendang Oil, $7

Simple dishes are notorious for being extremely difficult to perfect. Chefs who regularly deal with eggs will tell you exactly that, especially soft boiled ones. To achieve the perfect onsen egg, an exact ratio of boiled water to cold water needs to be measured accordingly before an egg is put into the pot for an “onsen bath” for a couple of minutes to achieve the highly viscous state of the onsen egg.
Rendang oil is added to the onsen egg for a rich and hearty flavor. It is best eaten whole with the intact yolk, silky egg white and smoked pork belly. The yolk bursts forth like a raptured dam and flooded our entire mouths with the rich and gooey eggy goodness with the salty and smoky pork belly bits adding an intense hit of flavors.

Foie Gras Satay with Pomegranate Molasses, $9/stick

Hands down, this is one of the best foie gras I have ever had. Foie gras by itself is already simply divine by nature, but because it is so expensive, some restaurants try to justify its hefty price tag by over-complicating the dish, which takes all the focus off the naturally melty, rich and buttery texture of the foie gras.

Garang Grill’s foie gras satay is grilled over its state-of-the-art steel oven so that it is charred and beautifully caramelized in some places. The foie gras has a melting point of the average human body temperature and it disintegrates into a rich, creamy, and umami goodness immediately as it touches the tongue, with a hint of sweet smokiness from the seared marks. The pomegranate molasses gives the foie gras a sweet and sharp flavor that wonderfully complements the heavy density of the liver.

For those crying foul (or fowl, geddit geddit, heuheuheu) over how eating foie gras is extremely cruel, please do yourself a favor and read our article titled: Why I Don’t Feel Guilty Eating Foie Gras, And You Shouldn’t Either

Lemak Mussels with Charred Ciabatta, $17

For $17, this generous pot of blue mussels submerged in a bath of coconut milk, white wine and spices, served with ciabatta bread by the side to mop up all that lip-smacking sauce, is an absolute steal. The sauce is light and delicate, yet robust, rich, and full of flavor with a slightly spicy kick. The mussels are naturally sweet with a faint breezy taste of the sea and packed with succulency.

Pork Rendang Macho Nachos, $15

Crunchy thin nachos are topped with a colorful plethora of delicious toppings in the perfect rendition of east-meets-west. The curried pork rendang is extremely tender, the thick gravy is creamy and spicy, the cherry tomatoes add a touch of zest, the edamame peas are sweet and a tad bit grassy, and the red pomegranate jewels are sugary sweet. Nacho cheese is also liberally drizzled over for that burst of cheesiness.

Crispy Pork Jowl with Tonkatsu Sauce, $12

The crispy skin crackles with a slightly charred flavor as it easily shatters into tiny crumbles with barely a chew. The lovely crunchy texture of the crackling skin is wonderfully juxtaposed against the gelatinous and succulent meat, slightly viscous and sticky from the abundance of collagen found in the cheek portion. The tonkatsu sauce however was extremely sweet and thick which over-powered the taste of the pork jowl. We preferred eating it without the sauce, but perhaps Garang Grill can find a way to tone down and lighten the intensity of the sauce.

Smoked Pork Cabonara, $18 (200 grams)

Creamy, silky and rich, the Smoked Pork Cabonara is a dish for those who can appreciate heavy textures and hearty meals. The pasta is cooked perfectly al dente and the sauce is immensely creamy despite sitting out in the open for 30 minutes as we dutifully snapped photos of all the food. The smoked pork bits give a salty, meaty and oily burst of flavor to the cabonara. It is served with an onsen egg to further enhance the lusciousness of this rich dish.

BBQ Tiger Prawns, $28/250 grams

These tiger prawns are butterflied and grilled on high intense heat in their shells for bigger flavor and to retain all its juices. Due to the massive size of tiger prawns, the prawns do not dry out on the grill, instead, they cook in their own lovely juices as they achieve a gorgeous sear. The grilling process has managed to successfully capture the coveted sweet and salty nuances of the prawns and they are huge, fat, succulent, springy, deliciously charred and smoky.

USDA Prime Rib Eye, $18/100 grams

The US Black Angus Rib Eye is one of New Ubin Seafood’s signatures but when it is brought over to Garang Grill, it gets a huge upgrade in quality. Garang Grill sources for prime cuts, superior to the one that New Ubin Seafood imports in. The fatty slab of steak is served on a wooden chopping board, dripping wet in all its savory beefy juices. The steak further secretes juices all over the board as you stab your fork into a bite-sized piece. It is grilled perfectly medium-rare and outlined with a thick layer of sinful fat that has just melted slightly from the heat of the grill and disintegrates into a rich, beefy viscosity upon touching your tongue. The rib eye is delicious enough by itself that all it needs to complement it is simply a little sprinkling of sea salt and some mustard for a sharp flavor profile.

Whenever you order New Ubin Seafood’s signature steak, it is served with a portion of the Heart Attack rice, fried in beef fat (cut off from your steak) and french butter. Garang Grill’s rendition is its Garang Rice, which is also fried in beef fat but also tossed with rendang oil, chili oil, and fresh chili padi for a more impactful oomph of flavor.

Garang Grill

Address: 15 Swan Lake Ave, Singapore 455711
Hours: Tues 6pm – 10.30pm, Wed – Sun 11.30am – 3pm & 6pm – 10.30pm (Closed Mon)
Tel.: +65 9245 0184

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garanggrill