The Place After multiple postponements due to dining restrictions, I was finally at my long-awaited meal at Anju, a contemporary Korean restaurant which opened in Tras Street last year. The name Anju is a Korean term for dishes served with alcohol, and it is the brand’s ideology in redefining a more elegant Korean cuisine experience and break away from the traditional conception of Soju as Korean alcohol.
The space of Anju is nothing like the traditional Korean restaurants in Tanjong Pagar. I love the skylight in the glass ceiling, virtue of its shophouse space. The neutral and woody tones used for the finishing also exude an elegant and homely dining ambience.
The Food The menu is split into snack, cold, hot, main, side and desserts. If you are looking for Korean bbq, this is not the restaurant to go for.
A quick browse at the drinks list and my table decided on the Champagne Makgeolli (S$80), which is naturally carbonated. It is slightly fizzy drink with a sweet and sour taste, and goes pretty well with the dishes we ordered for the night. It is good to share for 3-4 people.
The meal started with the Tofu Kimchi (S$16), served with Kimchi Chutney, Tofu Purée, Sourdough. It feels like a Korean version of a bread course for me, except that tofu purée is served in substitute of butter. Interesting dish, though I find the taste too bland overall.
I am definitely more for stronger flavours and the Yuk Hoe (S$28) next works. This is Beef tartare served with charred smoky kale topped with quail egg yolk, along with Korean pear. Mix the egg well, and you get a well-marinated beef tartare flavour where I secretly wish the portion is bigger.
Moving on to the hot starters, the crowd’s favourite is the Hogam Jeon (S$25), Korean-style crispy potato pancake with prawns and zucchini. There is an option for Mozzarella Cheese (S$3) and I highly recommend to top it up. The amazing thing about this dish is how crispy the texture of the pancake is consistently throughout, not merely limited to the edges. That said, the cheese level could definitely be stepped up for me.
My favourite dish though, is the Yangnyeom Cauliflower (S$20). At first glance, it looks more like popcorn chicken than a huge cauliflower I was expecting. The flavour is sweet and slightly spicy, and the texture is crispy. Topped with fresh spring onion strips and multigrain crumbs, it is so addictive that I can’t stop popping it.
For mains, the Bossam (S$50) is a must have. This is essentially braised pork belly with three types of Korean pickles served with baby romaine lettuce. The pork belly has a good ratio of fat and lean meat, and expectedly very tender. It is good on its own, though having it with the lettuce helps to cut the fatty profile of the belly and balance the meaty taste. The first refill of the Ssam (lettuce) is free and S$3 for additional serving.
The last mains I had was the Galbi-Jjim (S$38 per pax, min. order of 2 pax). There was a confusion on the price of this dish with one of the staff initially, but essentially this dish costs minimally S$76. It is a traditional Korean braised boneless beef short rib served with assorted braised vegetables. I enjoyed the rich and flavourful sauce which goes well with the very tender beef short rib. I can imagine having this dish with some rice, though I was already quite filled at this point.
We skipped desserts as the options didn’t interest our table much.
Rants It can be difficult to secure a last-minute reservation. The communications from the service staff could have been better too, in terms of explaining the menu clearer when guests are seated. If the restaurant wants to distinguish itself from other Korean restaurants in this area, it would also perhaps enhance the dining experience if the staff could give a brief introduction to each dish when it is served.
Will I Return Again? Overall, the food at Anju is competent. I like the ambience and the modern Korean dishes, and it is a space suited for small groups of diners as there are quite a fair bit of dishes worth trying on the menu.
Make your reservations instantly at Anju here.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
62 Tras Street
Tel: +65 6612 1172
Tuesday to Saturday: 6pm to 10:30pm
Closed on Mondays & Sundays
Ranted by The Ranter