The Snack Culture Company is located in unusual location, right smack in an industrial estate and challenging for an F&B establishment that is doing what it is doing now. Around the World in 9 Small Plates Degustation Menu has drawn both scepticism and interest when I got to know about it from a friend. Started by Tat Hon, a medical doctor among other professions, the setting up of the restaurant encountered several challenges which the owner has shared on his blog.
Nonetheless, my friend and I, out of curiosity decided to head to try out the food for ourselves. What struck me for The Snack Culture Company is its unique atmosphere. The owner would go around and chat with every diner. At times, he would introduce the inspiration of the dish or an off-menu item in the works. This is quite unlike what one would experience in a conventional restaurant. It felt like attending a dinner party by a friend.
The meal started off on a bumpy note when I found out they only sell water by the bottle and the first couple of dishes in the Around the World in 9 Small Plates weren't impressive.
Japanese Edamame with Thai Tom Yum Espuma | So-so
At least they were honest about it in the dish description, which they give out with every dish served. They wanted to use the espuma machine for this. My friend and I thought the tom yum was too strong for the edamame. While it is an interesting combination of textures and way of eating it, it felt gimmicky.
Korean Mandu in Chilled Bak Kut Teh Consommé | So-so
The soup was nice but I think the temperature was also a compromise for the flavours of what would be a robust consommé to pair with the mandu. The chilled temperature meant it became more monotonous and come across as gimmicky as well. The cilantro garnish helps a bit.
Chilled Black Fungus and Mushroom Salad in Nonya Belachan Mayo Dressing | Excellent!
"why don’t I start with what vegetable dish my Peranakan wife likes most?"
- Tat Hon
Inspired by the Nonya Chap Chye, this dish has a story behind it. The owner’s wife is a Peranakan and this dish has been inspired by her cultural roots. Perhaps because of this depth in its inspiration, it is reflected in the execution of the dish. Both my friend and I agreed that things started picking up with this dish. I simply adore this salad, the mixture of flavours and textures made this my favourite among the 9 dishes.
Beef Bulgogi Spring Roll, Nonya Ayam Buah Keluak Wanton, Singapore Laksa Prawn with Haebee Hiam Cookie | Decent
A trio of appetizers, I am impressed by the Singapore Laksa Prawn with Haebee Hiam Cookie, like the mix of sweet and savoury flavours, the succulent prawn paired with crispy cookie. It is on the salty side though.
‘Pen Cai’ Parcel | Good
Based on the Pen Cai served during Chinese New Year, it is a vegetable parcel of 3 key ingredients of the pen cai served in a soup : scallops, abalone and shitake mushroom. I like this very much. The addition of strips of dried scallop within the soup is a nice touch.
Singapore Sotong Roll | Excellent
Battered squid with buttered bread served with a tasty salted egg yolk sauce. This is my second favourite dish among the 9 dishes. The crispy battered squid, sandwiched between a crusty, fragrant toasted bun which you can also use to mop up the savoury salted yolk sauce like a mantou worked very well. Liked the addition of the laksa? leaves which impart both a fragrance and bitterness, giving this dish some depth.
The Quinoa Fan Choy | Good
Another of our favourites is this dish. It might be a bit on the dry side compare to the conventional fan choy or fried rice but the mix of textures from the quinoa and other ingredients like spring onions, pineapple and assorted grains turned out pretty well.
Louisiana Cajun Seafood en Papillote | Okay. Great Gravy
I thought it was strange that this is the last dish instead of the Quinoa Fan Choy given that this is a very heavy dish. This is seafood cooked in a parchment parcel. The serving of this has a theatrical element to it. Thus, it reminds me of the moment in a dinner party when the host serves the star dish like a roasted chicken etc. Lousiana Cajun Seafood en Papillote felt like that in the order and way it was served. I enjoyed Cajun gravy very much which you could mop up with the filo pastry served alongside. The seafood is a mix of prawns, mussels and manila clams. Not bad.
Chendol Panna Cotta | Good
We were pretty full by this point but we just couldn't give this Chendol Panna Cotta a miss. I loved gula melaka and this went well with the delicate panna cotta.
Overall, The Snack Culture Company’s degustation menu is imperfect with hits and misses, and that is what makes this place interesting and beautiful. It reminded me of the interesting dinner parties I used to have, coming up with strange combinations and little plates for such parties where friends could gather and chill. The Snack Culture Company has that kind of atmosphere.
The food is experimental but interesting, gimmicky but playful, raw but meticulous like what a good host would serve in a party. Therefore, the Snack Culture Company should not be compared to the conventional restaurants, it is in its own league and I hope it stays playful and continues to keep that unique atmosphere.
The nearest MRT station is Lavender MRT Station which is a short walk away via Lavender Street. If you are still hungry after the meal or prefer to have coffee, opposite CT Hub is the area of Jalan Besar, known for its cafes such as the Bravery and Chye Seng Huat Hardware. They serve bento lunch as well on Mondays to Fridays from 11am to 3pm where you can find some of the items in the degustation menu.
Other options are Boon Keng MRT Station and Farrer Park MRT Station on the North-East Line.
The Snack Culture Company
#02-17, CT Hub
2 Kallang Avenue
For more information, you can visit snackculture.com