A Singapore supper club in London? OK! Wen of Going With My Gut had told me previously that she had a good friend who was looking to start up a supper club of his own but I heard little more for a while until a few weeks ago. It looked it was all systems go and I was offered the chance to be one of attendees at his very first supper club, +(65), the country code for that tropical island. His blog had already featured photos of his cooking and it all looked mighty good. Sign me up.
Our host, and Wen’s friend, as this gentleman here, Goz. Hello, Goz! He fed us very well that night with real Singapore cuisine – no “Singapore noodles” here.
The menu emailed around prior to the night looked quite modest but when we the diners arrived at the venue last Sunday, we encountered this:
Oh, yes – kuih pai tee – little fried top hats that are filled with a braised vegetable mixture. They are seriously Singaporean and horrendously time consuming to make – it was apparent that Goz had put a lot of love into his food. Little extras like this made it quite the feast!
There were two large tables to seat us all and food was served family-style (the way it was when I grew up – I felt very much at home). The tables were already set with dishes of spiced peanuts …
… and pork crackling topped with more peanuts and fried ikan bilis, a tiny anchovy that fries up all crispy and wonderful. They’re the same fishies you get on the side of a nasi lemak.
Back to the kuih pai tee. To keep them crisp, the cases were filled with the vegetable mixture at the last minute. Usually, the vegetables are made up of jicama and bamboo shoots but Goz used turnip, which turns out to be a very acceptable substitute. With a dollop of chilli sauce on top, we were shoving these into our mouths at an alarming rate.
Soon after, a platter of chicken satay appeared, the skewers of spicy chicken and accompanying chunks of onion and cucumber slathered in a rich, peanutty satay sauce.
The appearance of coconut rice meant that the main courses were arriving. Wen appeared first with her family recipe of pork belly braised with mui choy, her little extra contribution to the night. The pork had been braised to perfect softness and it with the salty pickled vegetables was utterly moreish and so good with rice. She’s going to blog this soon and I can’t wait! I’m gonna make it and eat it with Teochew porridge…mmmmm….
The ox cheek rendang came next – what a fabulous idea to use ox cheek, a cut just perfect for stewing, in a rendang! It was amazing – the rich sauce coated the pieces of cheek that had just fallen apart due to the long cooking process.
A respite from all the meat came in the form of chap chye, a traditional dish of mixed vegetables cooked with mung bean vermicelli. Goz couldn’t leave the vegetables as they were though…there was some chicken in there!
A dish of century egg tofu then came out. Again, it was simple but tasty, cold, refreshing plateful.
A plateful of Teochew braised duck was the meaty finale; the spices bathing in the braising liquid (I definitely detected star anise) had already been perfuming the room when we entered. Hard boiled eggs, shiitake mushrooms, and tofu puffs had also been cooked alongside. There’s something supremely homey about biting into a braised shittake mushroom – it’s all juicy and succulent and it’s quite a unique texture. The rest too was fantastic – the duck was delicious and the tofu soaked in the fragrant, ducky juices.
Dessert time! First up was a teh ice-cream topped with cornflakes toasted with peanut butter and kaya, a Singaporean/Malaysian coconut custard spread. Teh is Malay for tea and the famous teh tarik is a “pulled” tea drink that’s strong, sweet and full of condensed milk. The pulling causes the drink to go all frothy and here, instead of being pulled, it was frozen into ice cream. Brilliant!
We also had a very traditional Nyonya kuih (cake) and it was my favourite – kuih bingka ubi, a soft baked kuih of tapioca and coconut. (I like the dark, caramelly, chewy edges best.) I’ve got to give it a go again at home.
As another little something extra, Goz also brought out some toasted pandan cake. We’d never had it served like this but I can say – it’s not bad. It was quite good when dipped in coffee roasted by Papa Palheta Singapore – I guess Goz must’ve brought it back to London with him (ETA – it was Wen who carried it back!). Apparently, the coffee scene in Singapore is really growing. (Reminder for next time – I couldn’t sleep that night!)
It was a fine end to a lovely night – apart from the food, which was an excellent example of Singaporean home cooking, the company was great too! Goz and his friends (who he’d roped in to help) really made us feel at home and I know he was worried about this but the pacing of the food coming to our table was very good. It sounds like Goz has plans to continue with his supper club (£25 a head, BYOB) so do watch out for future ones on his website.
All my photos from the night can be found in this Flickr photoset.