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Salted and Hung's wagyu pastrami sandwich - with a pile of shaved cured beef - satisfying but salty - spilling out of fat toasted buttered sourdough bread.

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Signature porchetta, which requires three days' pre-order, and feeds four.

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Left: Tonkotsu from Torasho Ramen & Charcoal Bar. The rich broth and garnishes are delivered separately from the noodles. Right: Amo, the Italian restaurant in Hong Kong Street, sends its signature pizzas and pasta across the island.
DINING IN

Downtown eats head to the suburbs

Get your comfort food fix from three CBD restaurants.
Apr 10, 2020 5:50 AM

ALONG with Netflix, virtual tours, video chats and Hyun Bin - hero words that are making life bearable in our surreal, restricted existence - we'd like to add: island-wide delivery.

Once cursed with living way outside the 3km radius that Grab and Deliveroo had built around CBD restaurants - the latest no-dine-in policy has opened up a whole new continent of options for us beyond the likes of Heng Heng Herbal Soup and Mr Teh Tarik Seafood & BBQ.

Yes, we've moved up in the home delivery hierarchy, so we can now dine on downtown pizza and designer hamburgers just like prime district-living denizens.

With more options now that even Michelin-starred restaurants are adding their shine to our daily TV dinner diet, we start out slow, navigating through familiar territory for our first week of in-home nourishment.

Comfort food comes to mind and with that, so does Salted and Hung, with chef-owner Drew Nocente's emphasis on hearty, Italian-inspired cooking that leans towards cured meats and rich, pronounced flavours. While he does take the "Salted" in the restaurant name a little too seriously, the food is fundamentally sound and hits the spot. Depending on what you order, some will survive the ride better than others but a few little quick fixes will set them back on track.

A lot depends on your level of enthusiasm when it comes to takeaway food. There are some whose domestic goddess instincts kick in at the sight of aluminium foil; then there are those whose faces light up at the sight of disposable paper packaging that require no contact with dishwashing liquid after the meal.

Salted and Hung's food should suit either disposition. Its signature porchetta (S$65,three days' pre-order required) feeds four, and looks irresistible with its roasted crackling skin protecting the hefty, bouncy rolled pork belly and loin stuffed with a fennel spice mix.

The ride to your house will rob it of some of its crackling crispness. You will be rewarded with some delightful crunchy bits here and there but otherwise some jaw work will be required. But the meat itself retains bounce and marbling so it isn't dry. Dip it into a sauce of reduced chicken and pork broth, capers and hazelnuts, or a sweet prune raisin puree. The domestic goddess might want to crisp the roast up in the oven with a bit of oil rubbed on the skin.

A wagyu pastrami sandwich (S$26) has a pile of shaved cured beef - satisfying but salty - spilling out of fat toasted buttered sourdough bread that will hold its shape if you eat it without delay.

Spanner crab salad (S$20) is sweet and delicate with meaty chunks of shelled meat, slippery seaweed and shaved fennel tossed in a light mayonnaise dressing. Salt and pepper tripe (S$20) needs to be dipped in caponata sauce to combat the salt, but crunchy-tender strips of offal are quite addictive. And if you need the extra calories, creamy macaroni (S$20) gratinated with three kinds of cheese does the trick.

Chef Nocente's cooking is down-to-earth and easy to eat, but executed with an air of refinement that makes this a TV dinner worth repeating.

If the closure of restaurants means you can't get your tonkotsu fix at Torasho Ramen & Charcoal Bar, no matter. The price-friendly and casual but well-executed menu will find its way to you no matter where you live. And there's no risk of your ramen noodles arriving at your home soggy or clumpy because the rich broth and garnishes are delivered separately from the noodles. Just a quick 30-second boil and you're ready to eat.

The restaurant will also send you its ready-to-cook signature chicken wing karaage (S$9) marinated and packed with batter for you to deep-fry at home to get that same crispy, seasoned crunch and juicy meat within. But if even that is too much trouble, then order its donabe which holds up very well, particularly the wagyu donabe (S$38) - braised beef and tendons over soy-dashi claypot cooked Akita rice that's sweet, savoury, tender chewy.

There's also chewy cold tsukemen with a rich dipping broth, gyoza and more elaborate creations such as whole roasted baby chiken with truffle biryani (S$38) or grilled Kagoshima wagyu (S$28 per 100gm).

If it hasn't been easy finding good, chewy pizza with beautifully charred spots on the crust, that quest is over now that Amo - the Italian restaurant in Hong Kong Street - sends its signature pizzas and pasta across the island. And until the end of the month, it offers a 25 per cent discount off delivery orders (30 per cent if you do a takeaway from its restaurant).

While you don't expect a perfectly hot pizza after a 30-minute drive, the crust holds its texture very well and you just need to pop the slices into a toaster oven to bring it back to life and it's very good. It's not as thick or spongy as a Neapolitan style pizza but it has heft, resilience and a satisfying chew.

We stick to classics like the Margherita DOP (S$26.76) with buffalo mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes, and the prosciutto and arugula topped version (S$34.25) but you can go to town with its pork sausage or truffle and mushroom varieties.

The pasta also arrives in decent shape although it might need a bit of olive oil or some reheating to loosen the noodles. Burrata with eggplant salad (S$29.95) arrives looking as dishevelled as we do when an unexpected visitor shows up - a messy blob of white cheese surrounded by mysterious eggplant bits. But looks aside, the cheese is mild and creamy and the tomato-eggplant mixture a good savoury match. Plus with the discounts, it's a no-brainer choice.


TO ORDER: