One mutual philosophy to good living is, undeniably, good food. The quality of nosh is just the tip of the iceberg, though; a memorable dining experience also entails a staggering variety of food options, and a convivial environment you’ll be happy to invite your posse to.
Hidden in the Eastern biz-focused hub of Changi Business Park is this new restaurant that ticks all these boxes, Food Philo. Design runs brazenly in the philosophy of Food Philo, and I’m not just talking about its BYOP (Build-Your-Own-Plate) dishes – but more on that in a bit.
Decor-wise, the first thing that will undoubtedly stand out to you is the food truck facade in front of the kitchen; no need to roll your eyes, for this isn’t yet another food truck-themed restaurant.
Hexagonal patterns coat the walls like an urban honeycomb, and tall, London-styled street lights are scattered about for a sophisticated feel.
If gazing at all this gives you some space envy and a yearning for some interior design inspo, you’ll be interested to know that Food Philo doesn’t just house a restaurant.
As it turns out, the folks behind Food Philo also run an interior design consultation service. Just make a booking, and they’ll conduct these sessions in a cosy corner of the restaurant.
But like I said, design also runs in the way your food is ordered, with a BYOP system that lets you customise your own meal. $13.80 gets you one protein, one carb, one side, and two vegetables. $17.80 gets you two proteins, one carb, one side, and two vegetables. And $20.80 will get you three proteins, one carb, one side, and two vegetables.
Unlike a lot of other DIY, build-it-yourself restaurants that offer more healthy options – such as A Poke Theory or Ninja Cut – Food Philo offers diners the choice of eating sinfully like a glutton, alongside more healthy staples.
Best part? You can even order up a plate that lies somewhere in between; a perfect compromise if you’re dining with your fussy clique.
Indeed, this place is as good for messy group dining as it is for a solo feast, as the servings here are far from bite-sized. In my opinion, three customised plates will easily feed a group of five – so if you’re ordering three $20.80 plates, that’s slightly over $12 a person. Can you say steal?
Variety-wise, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Proteins range from Chicken Leg and Tofu, to Salmon (+$1) and Baby Back Ribs (+$2). On the carb front, there’s Mashed Potato, Aglio Olio, Baked Pumpkin, Mac And Cheese, Shirataki Noodles, and even Quinoa.
Roasted Mushrooms, Sous Vide Egg, Potato Wedges, Onion Rings, Brown Butter Corn, and Mozzarella Sticks feature on the sides menu. Lastly, green eaters can look forward to Butter Broccoli, Purple Slaw, Roasted Beet Root, Chick Pea Salsa, Brussels Sprouts (+$1) and Sauerkraut (+$1). And all this isn’t even everything on the menu!
Two of us ordered up three plates to share, which turned out to be quite a challenge even for foodies like us. But if anything, it gave us a good idea of the diversity you can dig into at Food Philo.
The first that rolled out was the Salmon, With Quinoa, Roasted Mushrooms, Balsamic Tomatoes And Kale ($14.80). A familiar platter amongst brunch addicts, this assortment is perfect if you’re craving a healthy lunch or dinner that’s not too filling.
The salmon here was cooked perfectly – pink, fluffy meat that wasn’t too flaky, and a crispy, charred skin. Slather this with the rich, butter sauce that comes with it; you won’t want to share this with anyone else.
The mushrooms and tomatoes were juicy and retained much of their natural flavour, and the generous serving of quinoa will give you that superfood boost you need.
If you love chicken parmigiana – or if you’re hungry for something unhealthier – you’ll definitely want to snap up the breaded chicken leg, topped with cheese and tomato sauce. This was pretty much comfort food at its finest, and our favourite protein out of the ones we ordered.
This Chicken Leg With Shirataki Noodles, Mozzarella Sticks, Edamame And Roasted Beet Root ($13.80) was quite an indulgent mix, especially with the fried, stringy cheese sticks (these just kept stretching on and on).
The light shirataki noodles that joined the fray – you might also know this as konjac noodles – also gave this Italian-inspired dish an Oriental twist.
Piling on the calories was our third BYOP dish – Baby Back Ribs With Mashed Potato, Buttered Corn, Purple Slaw And Brussels Sprouts ($16.80). We were served a rack of half a dozen pork ribs, glazed abundantly in sweet BBQ sauce.
While some ribs restaurants prove to be tedious with overcooked ribs where the meat sticks to the bone, here, it slid right off with a gentle nudge.
It must be said as well that the serving of mashed potato here is of a whopping size, and I’d applaud you if you can finish the whole thing, along with everything else – yes, even the Brussels sprouts (if they don’t put you off, you’ll love these).
By the way, every extra protein that you order will come as a full serving, and not some miniature version to cut costs. You’ll really get a bang for your buck here.
Obviously, you’re going to need a refreshing beverage to wash all of this down. We had ourselves the Sparkling Lychee Tea ($4.90), Fresh Passionfruit Tea ($4.90), and Butterfly Galaxy Lemonade ($4.90).
The passionfruit tea was a pleasant perk-me-up that went down easily; it also had a mild flavour that wasn’t too sweet. However, the lychee tea was the least impressive. While it was topped with a few lychees, there were no hints of lychee flavour in what tasted more like carbonated water.
But we have to give our stamp of approval to the Butterfly Galaxy Lemonade. Perfect for your Instagram feed, the purple hue of this photogenic drink comes from the extract of the butterfly pea flower.
A generous amount of Blue Chai Galaxy is then added, creating a silver shimmer when reacting with the citrusy lemonade. And despite how intense this looks, its sweetness was not cloying at all on the palate.
If this has already made you hungry for more, you’ll be pleased to know that Food Philo will be rolling out a dinner menu soon — tacos, pizza, and craft beer have been teased — in conjunction with the imminent opening of the Downtown Line. Just stay connected to their Facebook page for further updates.
Contrary to its moniker, there’s no convoluted or pretentious philosophy that runs through the operation of Food Philo. What it offers is simple.
BYOP dishes with full customisation, large servings fit for sharing, affordable prices, and a visually-appealing decor scheme with a focus on interior design – this is what Food Philo is all about.
Expected damage: $12 – $25 per person