Last Updated: April 13, 2018
Jalan Besar is well-known for hidden cafes that’ll make you want to keep them a secret once you’ve discovered them. A new one has just sprung up and is attempting to create a new way of enjoying food while eating out.
alittle tashi (yes, in small caps on purpose) is Asian at its core, but is looking to create a dining experience that is hands-on and very much mix-and-match.
The rear entrance of its cosy address is decked with hanging lights designed to resemble laundry that’s been hung out to dry. This is in an attempt to blend into the surroundings and be one with the area.
The interior is bright and simple, allowing diners to focus more on what’s on their plate than get distracted by stuffy decor. Currently, the restaurant is only running dinner service, but we heard that brunch may become available on weekends soon.
alittle tashi has a ‘Laundry Room Menu’ and a ‘Dining Room Menu’, with the former serving small plates, while the latter serves bigger dishes.
Beginning with the ‘Laundry Room Menu’, we started with something easy — Spicy Vegetable Chips ($8) with togarashi salt. Despite the humble appearance of this dish, these chips packed a decent spicy kick that made them extremely addictive.
You’ll also find a small selection of pickled items on the menu, like this Garlic Cucumber ($7). Cucumber usually only brings freshness (and not so much taste) to the table, but these cucumber slices carried a hefty amount of savouriness as they absorbed all the aroma and acidity of garlic.
Ever heard of wing beans? We’ve not had many in our day, but these delectable Spicy Wing Beans ($7) would make a great accompaniment for a pint, with their vinegary residue and slightly tart flavour.
As an alternative to deep-fried calamari, you may want to consider the Baby Squid ($12). It’s cooked with charcoal to a crisp and peppered with Szechuan pepper salt.
For the price point, the portion is pretty small (which is unfortunate), so be warned that you’ll probably want to order a second round ‘cos these tasty treats will have you hooked!
So many of us grew up munching on long beans, so when there’s a dish that reminds us of a home-cooked meal, we do have high expectations.
The Green Beans ($8) with chilli batter hit all the right spots! They were crunchy, smokey, subtly spicy and made us wish we could enjoy this with a hefty serving of rice and fried fish or chicken.
If you’re there with just another dining partner, it’s wise to watch where you invest your calories, and this next dish is well worth the indulgence – the Blood Cockles ($14) with chilli jam, fish caramel sauce, and crispy pork fat.
We were quite hesitant about whether we’d even like this, but holy cow! The balance of sweet and salty was spot on, and there was even a hint of umami that lingered long after we were done getting our hands dirty digging out the succulent cockle flesh from its shell.
Fancy exotic meats? Try the Veal Tongue Slices ($16) for an alternative carnivorous dish. The slices are pan-seared, and served with pickled onions and chilli and Ssamjang sauce. We’ve never had veal tongue before, and this dish was a decent introduction to this uncommon meat.
It was soft and a tad fibrous, while the sauce gave it a nice salty edge.
Moving on to the ‘Dining Room Menu’, we were served the River Prawn ($32), which came with shiitake rice and a ginger scallion sauce.
The flesh was very springy and sweet, while the rice was fluffy and savoury; we actually couldn’t stop ourselves from finishing it off. The ginger scallion sauce however, was quite mild and nothing much to write home about.
The next big plate was the Belly Mussels ($30). The name threw us off at first; we assumed we’d be served the belly of mussels (although we’re sure there’s no such thing).
But then it was clarified to us that it’s a dish that comes with crispy pork belly and chilled sweet-sour mussels.
The combination was a rather odd one, but everything tasted amazing. The pork belly was tender and had the right ratio of fat to meat. The mussels tasted very fresh and no doubt, the sweet-sour made it very easy to put away.
Lastly, we dug into the Beef Short Ribs ($38), which were chargrilled, with chopped coriander lime, cucumber pickles, served with a side of skhug (a Middle Eastern hot sauce) sauce. For the serving size, we thought it was a very worth-it dish, especially if you’re coming with two or three other friends.
The meat wasn’t as easy to pull apart as one would think, but the supple fatty edges more than made up for it. It was well-seasoned overall, but we wish it could’ve been juicier. Perhaps we already had a bias towards other previous dishes, but this last one didn’t necessarily knock our socks off.
If you’re looking for more ‘experimental’ Asian cuisine, alittle tashi is an ideal place to head to. You’ll also find several choices of sauces — up to 12 to choose from — that you can add to any order for just $5.
The folks there highly encourage diners to get creative with combinations of dishes and sauces to see what tickles their fancy, so you could say playing with your food here is highly encouraged!
Expected damage: $20 – $50 per pax