This three-month-long pop-up eatery sees well-loved zi char joint New Ubin Seafood, which recently relocated from Sin Ming to Hillview Avenue, team up with chef Jeremy Cheok (see pic below) of now-defunct mod-Sin restaurant Slake to road-test their concept of Singapore-style barbecue. New Ubin’s boss Mr Pang Seng Meng, 62, and his family, have been friends with Jeremy for almost a decade. They teamed up for the first time in 2015, when he was a guest chef at a one-night-only stint called Truly Singaporean Makan Session. This eventually led to Jeremy joining New Ubin as their consultant chef last year. “My role is to develop the menu to help New Ubin stay appealing to Singaporeans in the years ahead,” says Jeremy. Garang Grill will run till 31 May, after which they will decide if it will continue as a permanent restaurant in the same space or at a different location, if at all.
THE LOOK: Hidden away in a small row of shops in sleepy Opera Estate, the 40-seater space where Slake used to sit for three years is appointed with no-frills wooden tables and benches and a colourful octopus mural. Its off-the-beaten-path location meant for a long time, Slake wasn’t extremely crowded. Now that it’s associated with the New Ubin name though, the space has never been busier.
WHAT’S COOKING: The ‘grill’ in Garang Grill refers to a $16,000 charcoal grill oven by Spanish brand Mibrasa, somewhat similar to the famed Josper Oven. (Garang means ‘fierce’ in Malay and is also a play on ‘arang’, the Malay word for charcoal) “I like the intense heat this enclosed grill provides,” explains Jeremy of the oven. With the Mibrasa, Jeremy and his team cook everything from braised mussels to his version of New Ubin’s signature steak.
USDA Prime Rib-Eye, $18 per 100g; minimum order of 400g (8 DAYS PICK!)
Fans of this popular New Ubin signature will be thrilled to learn that the beef here is even better than at the flagship restaurant. While New Ubin offers USDA Choice Rib-Eye for $14 per 100g, Garang Grill takes it a step further and uses USDA Bone-In Prime Rib-Eye, a better, more flavourful grade of meat (there's also a luscious Bone-In Short Rib version for $12/100g; see above pic). The charcoal grill gives it an added smokiness and char, while the Heart Attack Fried Rice cooked in beef fat that comes complimentary with every order of a steak is also better than the original. Because Garang Grill doesn’t have the fierce wok burner that New Ubin does, the kitchen presses the rice down onto their wok for an extended period of time to get that slightly crusty claypot rice-like char. The reward for this slow toasting is rice grains that are not only gently crisp around the edges, but pleasantly chewier too.
Crispy Pork Jowl with Tonkatsu Sauce, $12 (8 DAYS PICK!)
This delicate cut of pork is first cooked sous vide overnight, pan-fried and then finished in the charcoal oven. What emerges is tender meat that harbours a fine crisp crust. On the side is a sweet-salty tonkatsu-style sauce made of mirin, miso, and gula melaka.
Oyster-Uni Ikura with Ponzu Dressing, $28 for 3 pcs
All our favourite ingredients in a half-shell, but sadly, the uni gets lost in the plump brininess of the Canadian oysters. We wish we ate the tongues of Hokkaido sea urchin first to savour their earthy creaminess before sliding the fresh oyster down our throats.
BOTTOM LINE: The concept of reasonably-priced, shiok modern Singaporean-style fare kissed with charcoal fire definitely has legs. The place was slammed the evening we dined there, so expect some service hiccups like long pauses between dishes. Other than that, we hope to see a permanent Garang Grill soon. $$-$$$
15 Swan Lake Ave, S455711. Tel: 9245-0184. Open Tues-Sun 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-10.30pm. Closed Mon. Last orders 2.30pm & 10pm. www.facebook.com/garanggrill