Chef Willin Low has been busy. While the man is famous for his mod Sin bites at his restaurants Wild Rocket, Relish and Wild Oats, he has branched out with his own &Will brand of ready-to-eat food such as chicken pies, curry puffs and nasi lemak that are sold at selected Esso petrol stations. He partners Singapore-based investment company Commonwealth Capital (the same co-owners of Pastamania, Baker & Cook, The Soup Spoon and Udders) for this venture. Chef Willin is also working with the company under its Souperfood arm — a partnership between Commonwealth Capital and The Soup Spoon — to produce the well-loved Roxy Laksa’s paste. Oh, and Willin also found time to team up with Creamier Handcrafted Ice Cream & Coffee to create ice cream in his limited-edition signature flavour: the Chocolate Tau Yew Tempeh Crunch. Is he planning to build a food empire a la Jamie Oliver? Responds Willin with a laugh: "What empire? I just have a lot of fun celebrating local food on different platforms."
Nasi Lemak, $4.80
“This looks like astronaut food,” our colleague remarks. Indeed, the sleek little vacuum-sealed tray wouldn’t look out of place on Mars. Just pop it in the microwave oven for two minutes and it’s ready to eat. We admit, the tray’s contents — a slab of chicken thigh meat, a slice of omelette, peanuts, fried ikan bilis and sambal chilli — look rather dry and unpromising as we peel the plastic cover off. But surprisingly, the fried chicken (marinated in a turmeric, ginger and onion spice rub) is juicy and flavourful. The crepe-like omelette tastes better slathered with some of the feisty sambal. However, we left most of the chewy ikan bilis and rice with barely a hint of coconut milk untouched. Willin says more quick local bites like bak kut teh, laksa and mee siam may be in the pipeline. He adds, "I'm also thinking of buns with traditional fillings, like shredded coconut and gula melaka.”
Curry Puff, $2.30 (8 DAYS PICK!)
We toasted this palm-sized puff for about three minutes to enjoy it hot. The crackly puff pastry shell is passable, but the filling — spicy potato and chicken chunks tossed in a blend of onions, spices and, according to Willin, "a special touch" — is pretty sedap. We wish there’s more of that tasty filling, though.
Chicken Pie, $2.80
A plump, flaky puff pastry pie disc filled with creamy, tender chicken breast cubes, onions, carrots and peas. Comforting, and hearty enough to make a light meal.
Nasi lemak, curry puff and pie available at seven Esso petrol service stations including 50 Choa Chu Kang Ave 3, S689858 and 255 East Coast Rd, S428932.
Chocolate Tau Yew Tempeh Crunch, $4.50 a scoop; $16 a 473ml tub (8 DAYS PICK!)
Willin collaborates with popular local ice cream cafe Creamier to celebrate its fifth anniversary, and his mod dark choc flavour ticks all the boxes required of good chocolate ice cream: unapologetically rich and sweet with a tinge of bitterness. The smooth ice cream is cut with a salty hit of aged dark soy sauce from local sauce maker Kwong Woh Hing. Charming. It’s kinda like salted caramel, but more umami and with an Asian twist, of course. We don’t really fancy tempeh (fermented soybean blocks) on its own, but the earthy chunks here are pretty yummy as they lend the dessert a nice, chewy texture. All proceeds from sales of the ice cream go to charity.
Available till Feb 28 at Creamier’s two outlets including #01-835, 128 Toa Payoh Lor 1, S310128, www.creamier.com.sg, and from Mar 1 at Wild Rocket, 10A Upper Wilkie Rd, S228119, www.wildrocket.com.sg