Last Updated: March 26, 2019
Those who live in the East (particularly at Kembangan) will be familiar with South Union Park, a cosy cafe dishing out quality pasta, risotto and other cafe fare, such as cheeseburgers, Croque Madam and baby back ribs.
You’ll be happy to know that its owners just opened its sister cafe, Eleven Strands, a French-Italian bistro near Serangoon that focuses on handmade pasta, and hopes to carry classic French-Italian dishes to the next level using premium and fresh ingredients while keeping it affordable at the same time.
Located right opposite Serangoon Stadium, Eleven Strands’ choice of location is certainly smart, especially considering that the only French international school in Singapore, Lycée Français de Singapour, is just a mere eight-minute drive away from Eleven Strands.
Because the bistro is so new, having just opened officially on 1 Mar 2019, it’s focusing on its pasta and mains for now. Its owner, Terence, told us that he hopes to roll out weekend brunches and evening cocktails in the future.
Because I visited the bistro during its soft launch period, things such as decor and furnishings weren’t fully complete. I was told that eventually, there will be large blue Parisian doors framing the archway and grey plush panels lining the walls.
Despite the incomplete decor, I could definitely see the direction that it was taking. Classic marble tables, dark wooden furnishings, golden molecular chandeliers, and subtle blue accents littered the spacious dining area.
Terence pointed out that the blue doors used throughout the cafe were an allusion to Paris’ authentic blue doors, which can be spotted in various shades across the enchanting city.
At the back of the bistro was a separate dining area, which was supposed to mimic al fresco dining. Bright daylight shone in through the ceiling, dainty light bulbs were strung across the open space, and casual black-and-white straw lounge chairs and marble tables filled the space.
With more furnishings, Eleven Strands could certainly resemble a chic, classy and sleek French-Italian bistro, with a timeless luxurious and modern look. It was a pity that I wasn’t there when the renovations were complete — I would’ve loved to see the end-product.
I ordered the Short Rib Pasta (S$25) and while I could choose between linguine, penne, spaghetti and fettuccine, I chose to top up S$4 for handmade tagliatelle.
I loved the handmade tagliatelle because of how well made and tasty it was. The pasta was firm with a nice bite, and when I slurped it, the noodles itself were slightly rough, just like how handmade pasta should taste like — imperfect, rustic and fresh.
The noodles were of a good size too; its width was wide enough to be substantial enough to be considered substantial and filling, and yet thin enough to be slightly see-through when I held it up against the light so it wasn’t doughy in texture at all.
The short ribs had been slow-cooked in red wine sauce, so I knew that they were going to be fork-tender. Surprisingly, the short ribs had an initial toughness to it, but the minute I bit further into the meat, the rest of it melted in my mouth like softened butter.
The short ribs were incredibly sweet and I could taste rustic notes such as reduced red wine and caramelised onions. I also really loved how the robust sauce coated the pasta thoroughly, to the point that it was as if the velvety handmade tagliatelle had infused the earthy and fragrant flavours from the sauce.
I also loved the large shreds of parmesan cheese, which gave a sharpness that cut through the rich flavours from the short ribs and pasta.
The Wagyu Beef Burger (S$26) came with a homemade brioche bun, a wagyu beef patty, caramelised onions, fries and a tangy salad.
I can’t even begin to describe how delicious the Wagyu Beef Burger was. The homemade brioche buns were toasted till glorious brown, which resulted in a smoky and nutty taste, but they were still buttery and soft on the inside.
While a mayonnaise cream sauce had been lathered on the inside of the buns, the bread was still firm and fluffy, which was something I thoroughly appreciated. The mayo was rich and creamy and went perfectly with the sweet caramelised onions.
The beef patty itself was done medium upon request and I was pretty satisfied with the gorgeous pink centre. The one thing I would’ve hated to have was a tough and overcooked beef patty, but Eleven Strands’ wagyu beef patty was juicy, soft and delicious. There was an added tangy sharpness from the melted cheese, which I honestly couldn’t even feel — it had melded into the patty — which was definitely a good thing in my books.
The Truffle Kombu Fries (S$15) came in a pretty shell-like dish, with black pepper, truffle, parmesan and truffle mayo.
As always, with truffle fries, the aromatic smell was pungent, earthy and utterly mouth-watering. I couldn’t wait to put these fries in my mouth!
What I genuinely liked about the fries was that the taste of the truffle wasn’t extremely strong. It didn’t hit your tongue immediately, but crept into your palate slowly, like a slow release of fragrance throughout a large room.
To me, the subtle truffle flavour made the fry more fragrant as I could taste other prominent flavours, such as the piquant spiciness from the ground black pepper, the sharpness from the parmesan cheese and kombu shavings and the salty starch from the shoestring fries. The Truffle Kombu Fries were so addictive that I polished off the whole bowl wordlessly.
Eleven Strands’ signature starter, Chicken Liver Pâté (S$14), was served with slices of toasted baguette and topped with pickled red onions.
The pâté was so creamy and smooth that it reminded me of crème brûlée. The liver pâté was smoky and tangy with a slightly sour aftertaste, while the pickled red onions and apple brunoise added a tinge of acidity to each bite.
You can never go wrong when pairing chicken liver pâté with a slice of toasted baguette. While I would’ve preferred for my baguette to be warm and fluffy, I could totally imagine myself snacking on this classic appetiser while sipping a glass of chilled white wine on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
I saved the best for last — Eleven Strands’ gorgeously-plated French Apple Tart (S$13), where warm caramelised onions were wrapped in a thin, crispy crêpe and served with croquant and vanilla ice cream.
The paper-thin crêpe was pillowy soft and sugary, with the centre being warm and almost taking on a dough-like consistency and the outer edges of the crêpe being crispy and hard.
Cinnamon-y, slightly spicy, with a hint of sweetness from raisins, the small cubes of caramelised apples were a complete delight. They were tender, warm and sweet, and went perfectly with the scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.
There’s no doubt that the food served at Eleven Strands is a level above the rest. All components and ingredients of every single dish are so carefully thought out, and the flavours produced from a single bite are deliberately planned, well-executed, and utterly delicious. If you asked me to pick a single dish as my favourite, I wouldn’t be able to give you an answer because all of them were so tasty.
While the prices aren’t necessarily the cheapest around, I can see why someone might pay S$25 for a plate of Short Rib Pasta here at Eleven Strands; the ingredients were fresh and of a premium grade, the flavours were rustic and hearty, and the portions were generous and filling.
My only gripe would be that it’s not thaaat accessible. To get there, I had to take a bus from Serangoon MRT, but just thinking about the mouth-watering food I’d get to devour makes the distance all the more worth it.
Expected Damage: S$14 – S$40 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
66 Yio Chu Kang Road, Singapore 545568
66 Yio Chu Kang Road, Singapore 545568