The Place Speakeasy or hidden bar restaurant in Jalan Besar? Little Bastard is one such concept which we will never ever chance upon. Located within The Refinery along King’s George Avenue, the space at Little Bastard reminded us of old Hong Kong films where secret Mahjong dens were in trend. Indeed, you will spot mahjong tables here, not for gambling of course, as well as a restaurant and bar.
Here is the tricky bit on locating Little Bastard – either access via a backdoor along a back alley, or walk through The Refinery towards the back, there is a black sliding door beside the washroom where you can slide open and climb up the spiral stairway. The tip here is to pretend you are heading to the washroom, we love this idea.
The Food The cocktail list is a fun play on local ingredients where we spotted Cheng Tng (S$18) and Mama’s Kaya Toast (S$24) on its menu. We can ascertain that the seemingly harmless sounding cocktails are potent.
The Food menu is straightforward, split into sharing dishes, signature dishes or the Chef’s Menu.
We went for the brainless Chef’s Menu (S$68++ per person), a seven course menu which showcases most of the signature dishes. We recommend going for this option if you are clueless about what to order, which can’t go very wrong. We started with a drink as part of the Chef’s Menu, termed Simply Yeo’s which is fresh lemon barley with gin and bird’s nest, though I didn’t recall the bird’s nest bit. I might have drank too fast.
If anything, the food we tried was interesting in terms of the fusion elements, a theme which can either go very wrong in some restaurants or end up as a pleasant surprise for diners. We started with a cold dish, the Swee Kueh which is made up Tofu Medallions, Salted Bean Soy, Crispy Chili Oil and Puffed Rice. I love the chili oil bit, which always tastes very appetising with a cold dish.
The Chicharones is a sinful bar snack, think deep fried pork skin with spiced honey. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, as the pork skin could do better with a stronger seasoning and flavour. Deep fried fish or chicken skin will probably work better.
We had a choice of either the Beef Tartare or Kaeng Phet Mu, but fortunately we managed to try both since there were two of us. The beef tartare uses Wagyu shoulder prepared with Szechuan seasonings and creamy century egg sauce. The Szechuan element played well with the beef, and little did I expect the century egg sauce to enhance the overall flavour profile so well.
That said, this was a close tie with the Kaeng Phet Mu, Thai style Iberico Pork Collar sous vide for 14 hours. It was evident that the pork collar was very fatty, though it would be better if it was more tender. The winning formula here for me was the spicy Thai red curry sauce to go along with the pork.
The Charred Rice up next is a tribute to our familiar Claypot rice, with the usual ingredients such as cured chicken sausage and garlic.
The Tom Yum Consomme looks like a harmless Japanese udon dish, but what lies beneath this cold Inaniwa udon is a spicy tom yum broth which promises to challenge your taste bud. We need some rounds of water after having this.
The last course of the Chef’s Menu is a choice between the Duck Confit Penyat or the Shadow Leg. I was hooked to the Crispy Duck Confit more, with its oh-so-crispy skin and tender meat, well-paired with the homemade sambal.
That’s not to say the Shadow Leg was overshadowed. The 12 Hours Lemongrass Marinated Chicken Thigh was slow grilled to a nice tenderness, a dish which reminded us of the ones from Thailand.
Rants You need to walk through the run-down building if you are coming from the back alley, provided you manage to locate it successfully. We have warned you.
Will I Return Again? We like the play of ingredients at Little Bastard. The food is generally good, coupled with its interesting cocktail menu. This space works well for an intimate group gathering or secret rendezvous perhaps, but do come with an open mind.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Make your reservation instantly at Little Bastard here.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Tuesday to Saturday: 6pm to 12am
Closed Monday & Sunday
Ranted by The Ranter