A new entrant to the vibrant Tanjong Pagar district, MỘC Cottage is the place to be for authentic homestyle Vietnamese cuisine.
Pardon the glare—I paid them a visit at dinnertime.
Notice the quaint bamboo lamps fashioned out of fish traps at the entrance?
Upon entering, we were greeted by a swanky bar area. Pretty typical, given that office workers in the vicinity are always looking to unwind after a long day.
Feel free to take a seat and a swig (of alcohol); the extensive wine and cocktail list is here for you.
Decked out in an amalgamation of rustic and modern elements, the interior was awash in a dim red glow. Ideal for an evening of quiet conversation, or even an introspective dinner by yourself.
“You’ll still be able to sleep tonight?” My server asked, half-joking, as I placed an order of Cà Phê Đen Đá (S$6) or Iced Black Coffee. Yes, and I couldn’t be happier.
It was absolutely phenomenal. Dark, nutty, and robust with lingering notes of burnt caramel—I sipped it all up, much to the amusement of my dining partner.
Just so you know, this was my third cup of coffee that day. A serious caffeine buzz was underway.
My colleague had the Cà Phê Sinh Tố (S$8), a well-balanced Mộc ice blended coffee with fragrant coconut cream. Like a milkshake, but lighter and not-too-sweet.
Our server recommended the Đá Me (S$6), which immediately piqued my curiosity. I mean, sweet and sour tamarind juice with roasted peanuts isn’t that common.
It was a little sweet, a little tangy, and just incredibly refreshing overall.
Fans of lime juice with sour plum may take an instant liking to the bits of chewy, dried tamarind at the bottom.
Even the crunchy roasted peanuts were a fun touch. So yes, I’d order this again.
Moving on to the food, we started off with the immaculately presented Bánh Hỏi Cuốn Heo Quay (S$14).
The origins of Bánh Hỏi, or steamed woven rice vermicelli, stem from the Bình Định Province in Vietnam’s South Central Coast region.
Take some roasted pork belly, bánh hỏi, mint, and pickles, and wrap them up in lettuce or perilla leaves.
Don’t forget to dip each serving into the invigorating nuoc cham, or Vietnamese dipping sauce, flecked with a whole lot of chilli padi.
Every one-bite wonder presented a delicate intermingling of textures and flavours.
There was the fresh herbaceousness of the mint and perilla leaf, the springy lightness of the bánh hỏi, and the chewy pork belly, which wasn’t as crisp or tender as I’d expected.
Another unique variation is the Bánh Hỏi Cuốn Lá Lốt (S$14), featuring bánh hỏi with chargrilled minced beef wrapped in wild betel leaf.
My most anticipated dish of the night has got to be the Bánh Bèo Xứ Quảng (S$14).
Bánh bèo is a type of street food from the city of Huế in Central Vietnam. MỘC Cottage’s version of the popular steamed rice cakes is prepared Quảng Nam style.
Reminding me of a firmer and denser chwee kueh, each portion of bánh bèo was topped with savoury shrimp paste, crunchy fried shallots, and crispy beancurd.
These toppings wouldn’t look out of place in a bowl of porridge, don’t you think?
I liked that they served the fragrant shallot oil separately, which we liberally drizzled onto the bánh bèo.
Not only was this familiar and pleasing to the palate, but it also made for a great communal dining dish.
I didn’t have a single bone to pick with the Bò Né (S$30), sizzling beef ribeye, pâté, meatballs, and a sunny-side-up on a hotplate.
We were filled with awe at how delicious this entire dish was.
I’m always up for some steak and eggs. Each slice of chewy, superbly seasoned beef had an even distribution of fat and sinew, which we slowly savoured with the creamy yolk porn-worthy egg.
The chunky and buttery pâté was devoid of any unpleasant “livery” or metallic aftertaste—thank goodness.
However, the soft and juicy spiced meatballs truly left a lasting impression on us. There was even a fun surprise encased within each meatball—a hardboiled quail egg!
After watching cooks attempt a bánh flan on Netflix series ‘The Chefs’ Line’, I had to order this.
Bánh Flan (S$10) is the Vietnamese version of the French crème caramel.
Drenched in condensed milk and coffee, this rich and sweet pudding wobbled its way into our hearts. Size-wise, it was simply perfect.
Instead of the usual pho and bánh mi, why not try something different? MỘC Cottage’s Vietnamese specialities are wholesome and unpretentious, and you may just find something right up your alley.
Sigh, my desire to take a trip to Vietnam is even stronger now.
Expected Damage: S$30 — S$35 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 4 / 5
26 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088449
26 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088449