After a 10-minute walk from the nearest bus stop, walking past furniture shops and car repair workshops, in the far-flung industrial corner of Tampines unfamiliar even to residents, lies New Ubin Village. Its latest home is but the last stop in the tze char’s history of unorthodox locations, having previously been in Sixth Avenue, Sin Ming Industrial Estate, and Hillview Avenue.
New Ubin Village isn’t just an eatery: it houses New Ubin Tampines, the store itself, and New Ubin Test Kitchen, an incubator stall programme that produces its own concepts and food. Much like its choice of location, New Ubin isn’t concerned with tradition or convention. The coffee shop takes well-loved hawker fare and puts a new spin on it, whether it’s by pouring tequila into clay pots, or using ingredients usually found at a hotel restaurant and not a commercial work canteen.
Here’s some of what to look out for.
The Foie Gras Satay is truly a one-of-a-kind experience
The humble satay is a fantastic entrée no matter the occasion, but replacing the meat with foie gras can only be described as decadent. It’s cooked like how satay usually would be, culminating in smoky, chargrilled, and deliciously tender bites of liver. The raspberry jam is supposed to help cut the richness of the delicacy, but it’s neither tart, nor strong enough. It’s just really good foie gras served in a more Singaporean style.
The Smoked Pork Collar introduces some of the smokiest pork I’ve ever tasted
Seriously, the smoke flavour is so strong that it becomes the star of the show rather than the meat itself. It’s thick and smouldering and lingers on in your mouth after the first bite. It will definitely be irresistible for lovers of smoked meat, but overwhelming for those more on the fence. As my colleague put it, if this were a whiskey, it would be a Lagavulin.
The Ubin Nasi Lemak is Authentic
The Ubin Nasi Lemak is a dish incubated from the New Ubin Test Kitchen, taking pride in its Nyonya authenticity. The coconut rice is fluffy and filled with the familiar lemak flavour, and the sambal is the right blend of sweet and spicy. The Ayam Bakar serves its role as the main meat well, succulent with a solid bite, and retains its juiciness even after the flame grill.
There’s Tequila Chicken
The Tequila Chicken is a dish inspired by the traditional Chinese dish three cup chicken, with a tequila twist. Honestly, while the dish is fine on its own, the tequila doesn’t add to the flavour as much as Chinese rice wine would. The dark parts of the chicken cook well, but the white parts suffer as a result. All in all, it’s an interesting experience, but the tequila remains an unnecessarily novel addition.
The Claypot Fish Head boasts a remarkable soup
Clear but flavourful, the soup is steeped in the flavour of fish umami and numerous vegetables. The fish is OK, but the stock is the leading man on this occasion.
Vegetable offerings include the Green Dragon Vegetables and Claypot Brinjal, both of which boast saucy greens cooked to perfection. The vegetables are appetizing, and the sauces pair well with the mains.
There are a lot more hits than misses at the New Ubin Village. A fresh perspective on Singaporean cuisine through some truly metropolitan glasses serves justice to its predecessors, and will definitely delight a local’s palate. It’s definitely an experience worth travelling to the ‘ulu’ parts of Singapore for.
New Ubin Tampines is located at 18 Tampines Industrial Cres, #01-16 Singapore 528605. Opening hours: 11am to 2pm and 5.30pm to 10pm daily.