Enticing East-meets-East cuisine in a coveted casual setting.
We over here at SethLui.com eat quite a lot to bring you your restaurant news and reviews, and I have to say, that my dining experience over at The East Bureau takes the cake as my most favorite spot in the past month.
The back story: the inspiration for East Bureau came from both Chef Samdy Kan’s travels throughout Asia and his nostalgia of running around his grandparents’ kopitiam as a young child. With previous culinary endeavors at Supply & Demand Esplanade and Equilibrium at Capital Piazza, Asian cuisine is a departure for Chef Kan, but a place where he feels right at home.
The food at East Bureau is described at ‘East-meets-East’ using about 99% Asian ingredients and spices for a most authentic taste. The dishes are impressively detailed and well thought out, taking the time and care to use the ‘best of’ from the far reaches of Asia from Japan, to China, to Thailand and beyond.
The space is located in the currently little-known rooftop garden of Marina Square’s new wing. You have to walk through the mall to get there, but once outside you are treated to a tranquil outdoor space a wonderful view of the downtown skyline.
Once inside, you are transported to a dressed up, modern Chinese kopitiam. The makers of The East Bureau have hand selected and imported each piece of furniture, from the chairs to the cups, from China to complete the ambiance.
I found the setting to be very welcoming and unique for this type of cuisine. I often find Chinese and Asian restaurants to be either very upscale with white table clothes and imposing round tables, or very quick almost street-food style. The East Bureau hits the median perfectly with its meet-in-the-middle casual setting, intimate square tables and indie pop tunes in the background.
Before we get to the food, East Bureau’s bar should be enough to get you through the door. Behind their large and eye-catching bar, they have an array of Asian libations from Taiwanese whiskeys, to Japanese beers, to lemongrass teas.
Onto the food. The menu items at East Bureau are all small plates designed for sharing. The portions come in pretty decent sizes, so the suggested order is about 2 or 3 small plates and a meat to share between two people. Of course we downed a lot more than that…
We kicked off our dinner with the House Seafood Salad ($16.00). This dish includes Japanese greens, prawns, confit vine tomatoes and a flavorful soy-based, Mirin wine Chuka Fu dressing.
The Poached ‘Drunkin’ Chicken ($15.00) came to the chef from equal parts a trip to China and the familiar tastes of chicken rice growing up. The chicken is first poached tender in a Chinese wine and served on a bed of icy cucumber granita slush. This plate packs a lot more flavor than it appears to the eye.
The Thai Basil Pork Gyozas ($12.00) were one of my favorite plates. In true ‘East-meets-East’ fashion, the the classic Japanese potstickers encompass the strong flavors of Thailand with the use of holy basil and the savory chili dipping sauce on the side. These little guys very much taste wonderfully handmade.
Homemade Pork & Shrimp Ngoh Hiang Spring Rolls ($14.00) were another group favorite. This local treasure is made with spring roll skin instead of the more common beancurd for added crunch and includes a secret recipe of 5 Asian spices. I can’t tell you what they all are, but I detected hints of nutmeg as one. The sweet dipping sauce complimented the spices nicely – a must order dish in my opinion.
The Bureau Singapore Prawn ($20.00) encompasses a melody of spices and flavors from all around ASEAN: curry, coriander, lemongrass, garlic and many more.
After a painstaking process of finding the perfect starch to compliment, but not over power, the spices Chef went back to his roots in Italian cooking and selected linguine (the only Western ingredient used in the whole restaurant). Its al dente texture and mild taste really let the flavors shine.
The Taiwanese-inspired ‘Lor Bak’ ($12.00) puts a localized twist on the dish placing it over the top of a pile of warm poutine fries. Braised pork in a soya gravy, topped with Japanese radish, bits of egg white and a sprinkling of paprika, make this dish savory and slightly sinful – perfect for sharing.
Tom Yum Fried Rice ($15.00) comes with chunks of chicken and a lot of heat. All of the rice dishes at East Bureau come in large, full portions so everyone can get their fill of this treat. It’s basically all of the goodness found in the classic Tom Yam soup, but in a fried rice dish. I’m sold.
Another twist on a classic, the Lychee Martini Sweet & Sour Pork ($13.00) is what one would expect in a sweet and sour pork, but the use of lychee was a refreshing departure from the more commonly found pineapple. I really enjoyed the sweetness of this dish with the spice of the aforementioned Tom Yum rice.
Moving on to the sweet stuff. The Ménage Á Trois ($19.00) as the name suggests, includes three types of distinctly Asian flavored cream puffs: salted egg yolk, orh nee (yam) and black sesame Bavarian cream. The caramel and ‘bo luo’ crust is quite literally the icing on top.
And finally we ended our meal with the grand finale Dynasty Dessert ($18.00) and a little history lesson. As the name suggests, the trio of desserts represent the three great dynasties of China – Qing, Tang and Han.
Of the Qing Dynasty genmaicha dew and popped rice represent the collecting of dew drops to produce the best rice fields. The Tang Dynasty experienced strong Western influence so you’ll taste the use of chocolate in this almond mousse and chocolate cake. Finally, for the Han, we sampled a delicious and refreshing peach sorbet with goji berries. Yum x3.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed every dish we tried over at The East Bureau. I believe both locals and foreigners alike will enjoy the innovation, flavor and taste of The East Bureau’s many menu items. It’s the prefect place to gather your friends, colleagues or out of town visitors to sit and enjoy the best tastes from all around Asia under one (mod) roof.
Expected Damage: $20.00 – $40.00 / per pax