March 1, 2015
Sifu debuts in Singapore’s Bugis Junction to bring us an innovative twist to the classic Hong Kong style dining scene, striving to challenge the boundaries of casual dining. Complete with dishes such as the all-time Hong Kong favourite, beef brisket stew, to delectable freshly baked pillow buns from their very own bunnery, SIFU brings customers a variety of comfort meals at pretty affordable prices.
The spacious café-restaurant offers a modern yet refreshing take with its tastefully decorated interior, ideal for group gatherings or even dinner dates.
Pillow Buns ($1.20, with a box of eight at $9.60).
We started off with piping hot buns from SIFU’s very own bunnery. To be honest, having tried many char siew pillow buns from both HK and in Singapore, I can say that SIFU’s pillow buns are pretty close to those found in their native country.
Pillow buns are quite rare here in Singapore, and it is all the more difficult to source for such soft yet flavourful buns, characteristic of their original HK counterpart. The key to SIFU’s success lies in paying homage to the traditional technique of wrapping the filling.
Individually made, each SIFU pillow bun is made using the same wrapping technique for a xiao long bao, leaving an air pocket cavity above the filling on its base, to give the bun its soft bite needed to make it a wondrous, lingering delight to your tastebuds.
SIFU pays special attention to the entire process on creating these pillow buns. Taking exactly 98 mins to make, it is no wonder that they are able to achieve such consistency and flavour in the taste of their pillow buns. These handmade buns come in four fillings, ranging from the traditional Hong Kong-style savoury Char Siew or creamy sweet custard, to SIFU’s creative new takes on the menu, the Azuki custard or refreshing Yuzu cheese.
Next up was the Pulled Pork Ribs Chinese-style Slider ($4.80). Not to be confused with the usual Kong Bak Pau, SIFU reinvents this dish by replacing the fatty pork slices with its very own version of caramelised roasted pulled pork, and complements it with crunchy greens for a refreshing balanced dish. I personally enjoyed this dish, as it was not fatty like the usual Kong Bak Pau, but still able to bring out the juiciness and tenderness of its predecessor.
We then had the Caramelised Roasted Ribs (1 for $3.90). A different take on western-style ribs that we are all too familiar with, this dish gives off an east-meets-west vibe, boasting a slightly salty yet caramelised taste with a firm bite from its lean meat. I would prefer the ribs to be lined with more fats, but to each his own, and the prime, lean meat is a pretty good choice as well.
Following up with the Oriental Salad of Romaine Lettuce & Silver Fish w/ Sesame Dressing ($7.80), SIFU continued to demonstrate its innovative take on the classic HK salad originally made with their native vegetable. However, this fusion-style dish did not sit too well with me as I found it a tad overly salty and its fishy flavour came on a little too strong to be refreshing enough as a salad should be.
Served as a complimenting side dish, this Steamed Fish Paste in Beancurd Pockets ($4.80) was fairly decent, but a good pairing to the Soup noodles.
The Signature Roasted Chicken Thigh & Shrimp Dumplings Soup Noodles ($10.80), reminded me much of your usual Ramen noodle dish, with a thick hearty stock based with chicken and pork bones alike. The noodles however, was a little different. The special customized beehoon, was a cross between vermicelli and our local beehoon, to cater to our local palate without compromising on the authenticity of the dish.
One of their signature dishes on the menu, the Beef Stew Rice ($10.80) was pretty much a letdown for me. This dish was re-invented from the classic beef brisket noodles found in major HK cafés.
However, perhaps due to my high expectations of the dish, (with HK’s beef brisket noodles to be one of my favourites) this was unfortunately, mediocre to me. I felt that the beef cubes were fairly dry, and not as tender as I would have expected it to be. It reminded me more of a western stew dish rather than its traditional, original HK inspiration.
We also had the opportunity to try the Pork Chop Dry noodles ($10.80), hailed as one of the most time-consuming dish to prepare on the SIFU menu. Each piece of pork chop is painstakingly hand-pommeled to tenderise the meat. Even though the seasoning was slightly overpowering, the meat was crispy and tender enough, and held the marinade well. I could say it can qualify for a satisfying, simple meal.
Last but not least, the milk pudding ($5.80) was a pleasant end to our meal. A popular dessert from Macau, this dessert is filled with milky goodness that will leave you craving for more. With ‘sawdust’ biscuit crumbs and caramel atop the smooth, consistent milk pudding, it would be the perfect end to one’s savoury meal.
Overall, SIFU continues to surprise me with their innovative takes of fusion-style cuisine on their menu, inspired from Hong Kong. Catering to the local palate, they have painstakingly reinvented most HK style dishes into their signature meals they have presented here today. Although not as authentic as I would hope for it to be as flavours have been tweaked to be less intense for Singaporeans, SIFU will definitely qualify as a casual eatery to dine-in if you’re around Bugis, or if you’re craving for something a little homely.
Expected Damage: $10- $15 ++ per pax