The Place Is New Ubin going full circle? I checked out the brand’s newest outlet in obscure Tampines (close to where IKEA is), coined as New Ubin Village. Located in a coffee shop setting, New Ubin Tampines reminds me of the brand’s rustic industrial location during their Sin Ming days, which offers a different dining ambience to its other more upmarket Chijmes and Balestier outlets.
The Food Expect hearty Zi Char fares from New Ubin Village, which also houses New Ubin Test Kitchen, its new incubator stall concept. I started with the sinful Foie Gras Satay (S$9), char-grilled and served with house-made raspberry sauce. It’s easy to label this as a gimmicky dish, as it is essentially foie gras cubes presented in a stick.
The Smoked Pork Collar (S$12/small) are caramelised slices of smoked pork, a good deviation from the usual sweet and sour pork. Strongly recommend this dish.
One of my favourite dishes here is the Ubin Nasi Lemak (S$15), which is also the first dish to debut from the New Ubin Test Kitchen. The familiar Singaporean dish is prepared in a Nonya style, where the rice is very fragrant and lemak. Served with sambal joo hee, ayam bakar and omelette, I can’t help myself from having more of this. Admittedly, all the items in this dish ticked the right boxes for us, a seemingly perfect nasi lemak.
The Claypot Tequila Chicken (S$26) is not for kids. The chicken in sweet and savoury glaze is poured over with Sauza Gold tequila, and I must highlight that the tequila element is right smack in the face. I do find it too overbearing, such that the sweet flavour of the chicken is lost.
Making a comeback at Tampines is the Charcoal Fish Head Steamboat (S$28), which was a speciality back in the Sin Ming and Hillview days. A decent rendition of fish head steamboat where you get red snapper fish head, enoki mushrooms, tofu, beancurd, yam and seaweed.
Other dishes I had for sharing were the Green Dragon Vegetable (S$8/small) and Claypot Brinjal (S$12/small) served with minced pork and salted fish. The green dragon vegetables is not a very common dish seen in Zi Char stalls, and this version impresses as it is stir-fried with its signature sambal chinchalok and petai sauce; quite an interesting mix of ingredients for a fried vegetable dish. Another strongly recommended dish to order here at New Ubin.
The dish which didn’t go well with me is the Chilli Crab Sauce With Youtiao (S$12), which is what seemed like novelty for the sake of it. The Youtiao wasn’t crispy, and the taste is awkward with the chilli crab sauce. Bring me back the crab or fried mantou any time.
Regardless, you can’t go wrong with the fresh Garlic Baked Crab (S$48/400g) stir-fried with roasted garlic.
For dessert, I also struggle to fathom the idea of the Fresh Kaya On Toasted Baguette (S$5) as a dessert. It doesn’t taste very different from the usual kaya toast and after all the savoury food, I really don’t look forward to a heavy “dessert” like this toast.
Rants The obscure location means it is not that convenient to get here by public transport. The pacing of the dishes need to be better as well. During our return visit, some dishes were served cold.
Will I Return Again? New Ubin Village is a good addition to the east and a Zi Char meal here shouldn’t go wrong. There are some hits and misses for me and my recommendation is to stick to the safe dishes.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
New Ubin Tampines
18 Tampines Industrial Crescent
Tel: +65 9740 6870
Monday to Sunday: 11am to 2pm ; 5:30pm to 10pm
Ranted by The Ranter