Buscando Buena Comida, Ese?

Buscando Buena Comida, Ese?

It's only recently that Mexican food has started to have a notable presence in Singapore, but it's not quite mainstream yet. Here's where to get your spicy Latin urges satisfied.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

As far as I’m aware, @beerbasketkatong is the outlet with tacos on the menu, while the Kovan outlet doesn’t serve tacos. Beer Basket is a decent enough place for a casual #thirstythursday watering hole, and #tacothursday is always a solid companion to frosty pints of beer. Just like many of the finer things in life, Beer Basket’s tacos come in pairs.⠀

The Baja Fish tacos ($12++) features strips of deep fried, beer battered haddock spiffed up with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and a meagre drizzle of chipotle mayonnaise. While the fish was fantastic, with the moist, flaky haddock encased in a charmingly crunchy & light batter, the taco as a whole could be improved. The common thread amongst all the tacos was that the tortillas should’ve been toasted for a lot longer, and they could’ve been a lot bolder with the application of the sauces.

Once again, thanks for having us @beerbasketkatong & @burpple!

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Finally, we’ve got the hearty Beef Cheek tacos ($16++). The maddeningly tender beef cheeks were slow cooked for four hours for maximum mouth melting, and these chunks of bovine were divine. Felicitously fatty, stunningly sapid, and ravishingly rich, the beef cheeks should star in their own solo show. I couldn’t taste the sambal mayo that’s supposedly applied to every beef cheek taco, so that was definitely a missteak there. Geddit? Beef? Steak? Mistake? Mis-STEAK? Oh I’m such a comedian!⠀

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The Grilled Korean Chicken tacos ($12++) are stuffed with chunks of chicken thigh marinated in what is probably gochujang. The deeply sapid, slightly spicy Korean bean paste empowers the taco with it’s superb savoury qualities, and is dressed with lettuce, kimchi & sriracha mayo. These were a little disappointing, as the tortillas masked a good deal of the umami gochujang, and it could’ve been made spicier for a truly lively taco.

As for the interesting sounding Mojito chicken, what really sold us on it was the promised addition of mango salsa on the side. Well, we’ve been tricked, we’ve been backstabbed and we’ve been quite possibly, bamboozled. Yep, the promised mango salsa was conspicuously absent. Still, the braised chicken thigh was moist, juicy and rather enjoyable despite its uninspiring aesthetics. The mojito sauce, which is actually a dark rum reduction, tasted a lot like mango concentrate at first. As wrong as it sounds, however, the sauce rapidly grew on me, and I quite enjoyed the sweet, fruity sauce with the tender thighs.

One universal problem that both dishes shared were the vegetables. I was actually rather pumped to find that @cubalibre.cq had put in a decent bit of effort & arrayed a marvellous medley of veg on the plate. There’s broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, asparagus, squash, cauliflowers & cucumbers coexisting on both plates, and that’s quite the rainbow of vegetables. Unfortunately, the effort ended up half baked, as the vegetables weren’t dressed at all. Heck, they weren’t even seasoned, unfortunately.

Still, despite unseasoned, undressed vegetables, Cuba Libre’s mains aren’t too shabby for the price of admission. Besides, Cuba Libre’s on #burpplebeyond, and two of these for the price of one? Consider me convinced!

Thanks for having us, @cubalibre.cq & @burpple!

Next up are the same same but different Crispy Cuban Roast Pork bites ($13++), which simply swap the beef for roasted pork belly. Now, calling it crispy roast pork is overselling it a fair bit, but it’s still a pleasant portion porcine to pig out on. The slow roasted pork belly doesn’t have the earth shattering rind we’ve come to expect from to our local roast pork (siobak), but the rind is instead charmingly chewy without getting frustrating. The fat has been very competently cooked, and a good deal of it has been rendered out, leaving behind just enough to lusciously lubricate the piquant pork.

Thanks for having us, Cuba Libre & Burpple!

This is the last tapas post, I swear. Yes, @cubalibre.sg really DOES have THAT many tapas options, and that’s a swell thing when you also have a $35++ all you can drink alcohol buffet going on from Mondays to Thursdays. It’s almost like they plan on everyone getting alcohol munchies...⠀

First up are the Ropa Vieja Bites ($15++), which is a traditional Cuban dish that’s been turned into a tantalising tapas by Head Chef Alex Moreno. Yep, it’s shredded, slow cooked beef. Chef Moreno is quite the bovine expert, and it is definitely evident with these beefy bites. The salty, sumptuous & tender beef is perched upon a decent dollop of guacamole, and the bedrock of this entire tasty tango is a deep fried plaintain.⠀

I like to call it the Caribbean banana, because that’s essentially what it is. It is actually kind of bland, which works here as it doesn’t obfuscate the savouriness of the pulled beef, and has a texture akin to a Chinese fish cracker that’s gotten slightly stale. It doesn’t sound that great, but the soft crunch just before it all falls apart is pretty pleasant. It works mainly because tapas is intended to be a one-biter, and these Ropa Vieja Bites fold in on themselves to make it more manageable to manoeuvre into your maw.

Chase one of these babies down with a glass of wine & thank me later.

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If it weren’t for our very amiable & helpful waiter, we would’ve never learned of the existence of quesadillas on @cubalibre.sg secret menu. They get the same variety of meaty (or veg if you’re so inclined) toppings as the nachos & tacos do.

Chicken quesadillas don’t sound exciting, but you’ve got meat, melted cheese, and a smattering of diced capsicums pressed between two tastefully toasted tortillas. It was always gonna be real decent eating, and of course it gets exponentially more exquisite with alcohol on hand. The slices of chicken within are unremarkable, but they are decently moist unlike other places which throw in shards of rock masquerading as poultry.⠀

The three ramekins of dip on the side really elevate this toasty, cheesy disc of deliciousness. The spicy orange dip kicks a tantalising amount of spiciness into the quesadillas without ruining any other flavours, while the queso cheese is creamy, salty and pure cheese perfection. The green dip was the undisputed MVP though, even though I can’t confirm if it’s actually salsa verde. It’s herby, rich & utterly uplifting to the quesadillas. ⠀

If I ever get quesadillas at @cubalibre.cq again, I’m definitely going for the phenomenal pulled pork option. The chicken quesadillas were decent, but I’d bet good money that the pulled pork quesadillas are gonna be outta sight.⠀

Thanks for your generosity, @cubalibre.sg & @burpple!

It’s Friday, and it’s time to drink excessively again. And you know what complements booze? That’s right, NACHOS. And ain’t nobody do nachos like @cubalibre.sg, especially not their patently palatable pulled pork ones ($18++).⠀

These corn chips are nacho normal nachos, nossir. I want to believe (cue the X-Files theme) that these are freshly made in house, and I have reason to believe due to its unique texture distribution. Think of it as a mini slice of pizza: charmingly crunchy on the outer rim, while the tip is seductively soft & slightly chewy.⠀

Of course, unique nachos don’t mean diddly squat if you ain’t got any terrific toppings. Calm your pretty lil head down sweetheart, cause Cuba Libre has that on lock. The menu states that the pork ‘carnitas is so tender that it melts in your mouth’, and they weren’t joking. The marvellously melty pulled pork did as advertised, and whatever it was stewing in for hours has irreversibly impregnated the meat with deliriously delicious sapidity.⠀

There’s an ample amount of ravishingly rich melted cheese all over, and it ain’t that cheap fake nacho cheese gloop. This is definitely some good queso, and while it may be a little runnier than you may expect, it’s still a delectable dip for these nachos. Of course, lots of sour cream & tomato salsa are on deck to make this a truly redolent riot of deliciousness. A definite must have at Cuba Libre for sure.⠀

Mucho gracias for hosting us, @cubalibre.cq & @burpple!

Chimichanga? Or chimi-chuckitinthebin? Chimichanga has been around for a while, and after devouring their Salt Pork Tinga chimichanga ($12 NETT, yeah bwoi), I can see why they’ve managed to keep the fiesta going.

So, a chimichanga is basically a burrito that’s been MURICA’d. Or in layman terms, it’s been deep fried. Of course deep frying makes everything better, and in Chimichanga’s case, it made a decent burrito even better. The thin tortilla that encased the filling turned into a charmingly crispy, glorious golden carb cocoon of deliciousness, and the ambrosial amarillo rice inside was just so satisfying to the soul.

I was surprised by just how mildly flavoured the salt pork tinga was, especially since I expected it to be a full on intense flavour fiesta. The friendly guy serving me (might’ve been the owner or manager, I didn’t think to ask) explained that they did try the very traditional, straight outta Cholula recipe, but Singaporeans simply weren’t ready for the mind blowing savouriness. Still, the pork was tender and juicy, and all it really needed was some of the hot sauce sitting on the table to make tinga great again.

For only twelve bucks, this was quite the steal. It’s a little small, but it’s a perfect stomach filler when chased down by a majestic mojito, or a frozen margarita. Don’t be that foo who sleep on this bad boy, ese.

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Nestled away on a mezzanine level in the House of Eden, Simply Mex is a half-year old joint dedicated to serving healthy, simple yet satisfying Mexican staples. Case in point is this grilled chicken burrito, which is priced at $10 for 10 inches (take your minds out of the gutter folks, please and thank you kindly), and since I was in a Mexican joint, I had no excuses not to slap on a glob of guac for an extra $2.

The first thing I noticed was just how fresh each and every ingredient was. From the lettuce, to the guacamole and even the tortilla blanketing the burrito, it was all fabulously fresh. I was a little miffed at how the grilled chicken was vastly outnumbered by the black beans, but at least they didn't skimp on the guacamole and the other ingredients, such as the fluffy cilantro rice.

Unfortunately, either by virtue of the fact that they're touting themselves as a healthy Mexican food eatery, or simply due to the chef being allergic to salt, the portly, well stuffed burrito was all a bit bland. More often than not, I found myself reaching for one of the bottles of sriracha sauce that Simply Mex (wisely) has on hand for their patrons to use at their discretion.

While it wasn't the most delicious or memorable Mexican meal I've had, I left the place with my hunger fully sated, and my spirits oddly lifted.

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Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol.

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