Singapore’s brimming with fine-dining experiences across a variety of cuisines. French, Japanese, and Italian food come in cheaper forms, so why should it be any different to local food?
Enter Small Tables, a sidewalk cafe offering Mod-Asian treats from Ipoh, Malaysia that goes further than your local coffee-shop.
Birthed from Chef Sandra Sim‘s many trips to the region, and whipped up with fresh ingredients made in-house, it’s the ode that Malaysian food has long been owed.
Located on Scotts Road, the place boasts sleek interiors inspired by the elegant furnishings of the Malaysian elites, alongside touches of that oh-so-familiar Southeast Asian memorabilia.
True to its name, the floor is made up mainly of seatings for smaller groups, allowing for greater intimacy and conversation for those who visit.
The establishment is split into three areas, with outdoor and indoor dining areas, along with a cafe where you can enjoy a classic cup of Malaysian coffee.
Once in our seats, the air starts filling with the smell of spices as the food starts streaming in.
Beginning with the cuttlefish and water spinach ($12++), classic local flavours burst through between the bite of seafood and the veggie crunch.
It’s almost reminiscent of a homecooked vegetable dish, but with a greater depth of flavour and a delightful pairing of textures.
The Ipoh chee cheong fun ($12++) came with a medley of ingredients slathered in an addictive curry sauce; the pillow-soft noodles tying the the whole thing together wonderfully.
An unassuming platter of pork belly satay ($16++) likewise turns out to be an otherworldly experience as the devilishly indulgent and smokey pork pairs perfectly with the housemade peanut sauce.
Then come the main stars. The Ipoh curry mee ($20++) comes in both dry and soup variations, both with the same silky rice noodles.
The former comes coated in a rich and not-too-spicy curry rempah, with cha siu, prawns, and other toppings providing a nice contrast in flavour and texture.
However, the quail eggs were rather lacklustre and the noodles were a bit on the dry side.
As for the soup version, ingredients come stewed in a full-bodied broth, with a depth saturated with flavour from prawn heads, and impressively achieved without the use of coconut milk.
Despite the lack of creamy coconut milk, this is a very filling dish, and finishing the combination of the noodles, broth, and toppings make for a very satisfied food coma.
This was our preferred variation, owing partially to it having our favourite topping – the poached chicken.
Perhaps the dish with the greatest presence, the whole fish otah ($28++) is exactly as it sounds. An entire yellow croaker, a fish very familiar to dinner tables in Malaysia, is deboned and stuffed with a spicy housemade otah.
The fish’s crispy skin adds crunch to every bite of the succulent and soft flesh, all of which acts as a delectable conduit to the refined taste of the otah.
The notes sprinkled in from the banana leaf wrapping likewise adds a nice cherry on top of the heat.
For drinks, Small Tables offers a range of coffees with beans roasted Ipoh-style, along with Nanyang Traditional teas and craft beers.
The signature Ipoh white coffee ($7.50++) comes with its own side dessert of a custard or kaya-filled taiyaki, balancing the coffee’s sweet and smokey flavour profile.
Whether due to familiarity, or the myriad of cheap options, local cuisine often goes unappreciated. But believe us, at Small Tables, it truly gets its time in the spotlight.
Small Tables is located at 9 Scotts Rd, #01-09/10/11/12 Pacific Plaza, Singapore 228210, p. +65 6452 9388. Open Mon-Thu 11.30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11.30am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pm.
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