The Quarters Tasting Session 2015 & 2016

July 23, 2015 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

The Quarters Tasting Session 2015 & 2016
16 Enggor Street
#01-09 Icon Village


Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri: 8am - 10pm
Sat: 10am - 10pm
Sun: 10am - 6pm



http://www.thequarters.sg/

This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session, but I did pay the standard price during subsequent visits.
Attended with representatives from Jelly Loves Food, Shauneeie, and Chubby Botak Koala.



Passionate Owner-Chef Hand Makes Tasty Modern Singaporean Dishes

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 8
Ambience & Setting: 7
Food & Beverage: 8
Service: 8
Value for Money: 9
Budget about SGD $19 ++ per person.


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Founded by passionate, young owner-chef Chung Deming in September 2014, The Quarters is a quaint, cozy cafe in Icon Village, just a short 5 minute walk away from Tanjong Pagar MRT station. This former financial advisor and self-taught chef serves Modern Singaporean fusion cuisine in The Quarters, showcasing unique, local flavours within Western plating and presentation. Drawing inspiration from Singapore's old ethnic quarters, and creating everything painstakingly from scratch, The Quarters is a culmination of a dream that began years ago, when he first created his signature dessert, the Duraincanboleh.

The Quarters Exterior


The Quarters Interior



Ambience at The Quarters is a homage to the old dock / pier side warehouses and godowns, with trappings of corrugated metal, wood panelling, burlap sacks, and bright spotlighting. Colour themes of wood against black abound in the thoughtfully laid out 30-seater space, a cozy, yet nostalgic industrial feel. Furniture is rather comfortable, good enough for casual meals and short business talks, less ideal for long relaxing sessions. Love how open and attractive The Quarters looks, though ambient noise levels can be rather high.

The Quarters Decor



Service at The Quarters is excellent. Staff are professional and efficient, quickly seating guests, taking orders, and clearing away empty / dirty tables or plates proactively. The small sevice team here is friendly, knowledgable on the complexities of dishes, and able to make solid recommendations. The serving counter is laid out so staff can even converse with customers! Heading up the staff is owner-chef Chung Deming himself, who alternates between quality control of food in the kitchen, walking around to engage customers and get feedback, and even taking orders, serving dishes, and clearing up! However, it should also be noted that fulfilling orders takes longer than usual, at least 15 minutes or more, because they make everything from scratch. Example: A mass order of 10 drinks would take some time, because their commitment to quality means they can only prepare it 1 at a time!

The Quarters Seating



Food at The Quarters is Modern Singaporean. This means local Singaporean ingredients and flavours; Malay, Indian, Chinese, Peranakan, fused with American, British, French, and Italian plating and preparation styles. The menu may be small, but each dish is thoughtfully planned and designed, each component complementing, or contrasting, the others in taste, or in texture. These novel, innovative dishes at The Quarters are all hand crafted, using recipes self-created by the owner-chef, after long hours of fine-tuning, and searching for sustainable, honest suppliers of quality produce. This also means that flavours are unique, and may not always appeal to an individual's tastebuds. That said, each dish is uniquely Singaporean in taste. Portions are nicely sized, and prices are really affordable for the amount of effort and time in each dish. Budget about SGD $19 per person for a decent meal here.

Salted Egg Aioli (SGD $14)


Power Belachan (SGD $12)



The house signature Quarterade Mocktail (SGD $6) is a refreshing, thirst quenching concoction featuring soda, lemon juice, mint, and dill, where the fresh herbs lend a floral aftertaste. Likewise, the similarly refreshing but more punchy The Quarters Cocktail (SGD $16) features gin and vodka on top of the other ingredients, lending a nice buzz in each mouthful.

Quarterade Mocktail (SGD $6)


The Quarters Cocktail (SGD $16)



The Cafe Latte (SGD $5) here, along with the rest of the coffee on the menu, is made with the Synesso hand built espresso machine, and Papa Palheta’s Throwback blend of coffee beans. With a taste profile of dark chocolate and rich hazelnut overtones, it's heavy body means every cup is strong, straight forward, and robust.

Cafe Latte (SGD $5)



Fresh chicken chunks breaded in old-school prawn paste are deep fried for the Har Cheong Gai (SGD $9.50). The chicken is tender and juicy, with a coating that is savoury and has good shrimp flavour, yet is non-greasy. Served with a Power Belachan Dip on the side, this yummy appetizer disappeared all too quickly. Highly recommended!

Har Cheong Gai (SGD $9.50)



The Power Belachan Dip is made in-house, and truely lives up to its name. A taste profile of spicy and tangy, it's been created to kick in the middle with the heat, but quickly fades off without the burn, leaving you wanting more. Also sold in takeaway bottles, the Power Belachan (SGD $12 per bottle) is tantalizing, teasing, and completely delicious, and we discovered it goes well with just about any dish here!

Power Belachan Dip



Unlike other places, the Salted Egg Fries (SGD $9) here are served straight / plain, with a Salted Egg Aioli Dip on the side. The shoestring fries are, naturally, thin cut but crisp, not hard or greasy, still retaining a fluffy center. The large portion is best shared. Among their more popular items, it's easy to see why. Simple food, done well. Worth ordering!

Salted Egg Fries (SGD $9)



The Salted Egg Aioli Dip is made in-house, and is also sold in takeaway bottles. The Salted Egg Aioli (SGD $14 per bottle) has a delicious Chinese style salted egg sauce, thick and rich with salted egg flavour, yet floral from the scent of curry leaves and spices.

Salted Egg Aioli Dip



The Umami Babi (SGD $10.80) was the weakest dish of the evening, due to an error in execution. The sliders of pulled pork braised in Chinese wines, dark soy sauce, and spices, was tasty, but bone dry, due to being overcooked.

Umami Babi (SGD $10.80)



Loved the Calamari (SGD $13.80), which features large strips of fresh battered squid, clean tasting and meaty! Served with a Curry Aioli Dip on the side, this was simple, but executed perfectly. I felt this was among the better appetizers. Highly recommended!

Calamari (SGD $13.80)



The Curry Aioli Dip is made in-house, but currently isn't available for sale in takeaway bottles. Made from 16 secret ingredients, the heat is mild, but the taste is strong and fragrant, distinctly curry in flavour, but with a host of other spices that help to lift it!

Curry Aioli Dip



Of the salads we tried, I prefer the Samsui Chicken Salad (SGD $12.80). Meaty strips of Hainanese style white chicken (poached in-house), is laid over fresh, crunchy lettuce, juicy cherry tomatoes, strips of cucumber, and garnished with a soft, onsen egg. Finished with a house created piquant vinaigrette of garlic chili, the dish is their rendition of a healthy chicken rice, and tastes delicious! While the chicken could be a little more tender, you do get the natural, clean taste, and it works well together with the crunch of the lettuce and fragrant sauce. Worth ordering!

Samsui Chicken Salad (SGD $12.80)



The Wafu Beef Salad (SGD $14.80) features strips of grilled, tender, medium rare ribeye steak, over fresh spinach leaves, and juicy cherry tomatoes, finished with a house created caramelised ginger soy vinaigrette. Fragrant, earthy, savoury, with the taste of sesame seeds, this was quite good, though I did feel the ribeye strips were a little thin. Overall rather decent.

Wafu Beef Salad (SGD $14.80)



The house special Ma Jie's Indulgence (SGD $18), a spicy chili crab linguine pasta, has generous chunks of nicely deshelled crab, pasta which has a slight chew, and a chili crab sauce which is eggy, savoury, and sweet. I would prefer it to be slightly more spicy though, their house sauce has again been created to kick in the middle with taste, but quickly fades off without any burn. Still decent, and done much better than elsewhere.

Ma Jie's Indulgence (SGD $18)


Photoception



Why is this dish called The Great Escape (SGD $18.80)? I'm not sure either, but it features fresh fillets of pan fried barramundi, with nice flaky flesh and a crisp skin. Served over pan-roasted baby potatoes, some excellent, juicy, fresh French beans, and a colourful red yellow tomato garnish, along with a fragrant lemongrass and ginger flower cream sauce on the side. Begin by eating the dish on its own, then drizzle the sauce over the fish for a different taste profile! Worth ordering!

The Great Escape (SGD $18.80)



A house special, the signature Satay Burger (SGD $17) is incredibly flavourful. A tender, juicy chicken steak is marinated in spices for 24 hours, then grilled to perfection, and sandwiched between crisp, chewy, fragrant, hand made rice burger buns, garnished with julienned strips of fresh, crunchy cucumbers, sharp red onions, and red bell peppers / capsicum. Incredibly tasty! The house created satay sauce is served on the side, and I recommend pouring it over only in small amounts for best results. Pour too much and the burger might get soggy. Highly recommended!

Satay Burger (SGD $17)



The Duriancanboleh (SGD $8.50) was the 1st creation of owner-chef Chung Deming, and helped him achieve popularity when he sold it in various pop-up stalls at events. It even has it's own logo! The creamy, smooth, nicely wobbly durian creme brulee custard is fragrant with the aroma of Mao Shan Wang / Cat Mountain King durian. Crack through the satisfiyingly thin, caramelised crust, and you get a luscious scoop of this excellent custard, which looks normal, until you taste it. The durian taste is nicely present, without being overpowering or sour, and it's wonderful taste and texture have been known to convert even those who don't like durians! However, if you prefer the flavour of durians strong, or with some fiber from the fruit, you'll be sorely disappointed by this. Still, I say it's worth trying during your visit! Highly recommended!

Duriancanboleh (SGD $8.50)



On the surface, the Bibik's Brownie (SGD $10.80) looks like any normal brownie with chocolate ice cream. The brownie itself is pretty good, with a moist interior, a slightly crisp exterior, and holds deep, rich chocolate flavour. But the kicker here is the unadulterated buah kelauk ice cream, which has a savoury, nutty, piquant taste, rather like a mix of chocolate, nuts, and berries! Truely surprising, the unique and novel taste may not appeal to everyone, but still incredibly fun to eat! Especially the looks of surprise on fellow diners faces when they first bit into this 'chocolate' look-alike. This was the most love-or-hate dessert of the evening. But I say it's worth ordering for the experience!

Bibik's Brownie (SGD $10.80)



The Wonderffle (SGD $12.80) was named for its crisp outside, fluffy inside Belgian style waffle. I find the batter to be unusually sweet on its own, and rather tasty. Topped with 2 unique house created ice cream flavours, I prefered the lemongrass ice cream, which was floral with a refreshing finish. The pandan ice cream was fragrant, but the flavour of pandan / screwpine leaf I felt was rather muted, though still present. This could be better with more pandan / screwpine leaf essence. Overall, a pretty good dessert!

Wonderffle (SGD $12.80)



The Affogato (SGD $8.80) features their house created pandan ice cream, over which is poured their robust shot of espresso. Pure comfort in a glass, the flavours of fragrant pandan / screwpine leaf mix well with the deep chocolate and hazelnut notes of the coffee. Highly recommended!

Affogato (SGD $8.80)



Owner-Chef Chung Deming is more than happy to regale diners with his story of how he struggled to get The Quarters up and running. From spending the first few months experimenting and perfecting his own recipes, to overcoming problematic renovation and design issues, to dealing with relations who started out skeptical, his passion is evident. Truely puts his heart and soul into each dish.

With The Quarters Owner-Chef, Chung Deming



Overall, my dining experience at The Quarters is among the most memorable, and enjoyable, I've had in 2015. A winning combination all around, The Quarters truely lives up to its tagline of "Restaurant Quality, Bistro Setting, Cafe Pricing". And with an owner-chef who isn't afraid to push boundaries through trial-and-error, The Quarters looks set to climb even higher on the path to success. Their food tends to be either love-or-hate, due to its experimental, unusual taste profiles, but as a home-grown Singaporean brand, they've truely paid homage to their local roots in their dishes. I would sincerely wish them all the best!


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Update Jul-2016: Almost 1 year later, and we return to The Quarters. The ambience, service, and food options on the menu largely remain the same, as do the prices. But as a result of the constant pursuit of excellence of owner-chef Chung Deming, The Quarters has improved upon the quality of its long-standing popular dishes, and I've happy to say that those I tried this time, are definitely tastier and better executed than when I last visited.

While the hand made Har Cheong Gai (SGD $9.50) is now in a bite sized version, it still retains that intense salty savoury flavour, moist texture of the chicken, with a hint of prawn paste on the skin. Still pretty good, though it's much more salty than I remember. The Power Belachan Dip remains as sharp and fiery spicy too, just as good as before.

Har Cheong Gai (SGD $9.50)


Har Cheong Gai



The Satay Burger (SGD $17) still retains that tender, juicy chicken steak, marinated in spices for 24 hours, then grilled to perfection, sandwiched in crisp, chewy, fragrant, hand made rice burger buns. The fresh, crunchy cucumbers, and sharp red onions were previously served as a garnish, now it's served on the side. But the main difference is the improvement of the nutty savoury satay sauce / gravy, where it was previously too thin, now it's rich and thick, although pouring a thick sauce / gravy over the burger becomes slightly messy.

Satay Burger (SGD $17)


Satay Burger


Photoception



Felt the Wonderffle (SGD $12.80) was better than before. The crisp outside, fluffy inside Belgian style waffle are still good, but the lemongrass ice cream and the pandan / screwpine leaf ice cream is now more bold and intense in flavour, lifting the overall dish. Texture is also more hardy, as it takes slightly longer to melt. Improved greatly. Highly recommended!

Wonderffle (SGD $12.80)


Wonderffle



The aptly named Shiok Fries (SGD $14) are unstoppable. So good, we just kept eating and eating. The house signature salted egg yolk sauce boasts incredible flavour, intense in savoury salty taste, yet not overwhelming, cloying, or overly pungent. The home made chili crab sauce is a little thin, but has nice chunks of deshelled crab meat, and a good savoury sweet spicy taste. Luckily, the fiery heat doesn't linger too long, making this very easy to eat. Highly recommended!

Shiok Fries (SGD $14)


Shiok Fries



Inspired by the furore over sub-standard salted egg yolk burgers, customers of The Quarters suggested The Real McCoy (SGD $16). A tender, moist chicken thigh, marinated in buttermilk and spices for 24 hours, coated in a crisp crunchy cereal oat batter, sandwiched between 2 fluffy soft sesame seed burger buns along with fresh lettuce and juicy tomato, with a generous amount of the delicious house signature salted egg yolk sauce / gravy. While it seems to lack the distinct taste of curry spice for that additional kick, I find this to be quite good, as it still has solid savoury salty sweet taste. Better than other versions. Worth ordering!

The Real McCoy (SGD $16)


The Real McCoy



The Passionfruit Creme Brulee (SGD $8.50) has good texture, being creamy smooth, with the wobbly custard having a bold sweet flavour of the passionfruit. The thin, caramelised sugar crust cracks beautifully when pressure is applied, and the whole dessert is pleasing, going down smoothly. Good!

Passionfruit Creme Brulee (SGD $8.50)


Passionfruit Creme Brulee




Reserve a table now @ The Quarters









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