“How Koreans Would Eat Tapas”
If you’ve been riding somewhere or another along the Korean Wave (Hallyu) in recent years, and seen unprecedented phenomena like South Korean girl bands performing in Europe and one plump and humorous superstar dancing his Gangnam style to Saturday Night Live, you might be somewhat convinced that a new superpower is afoot.
With the new and first-ever Korean Tapas bar SYNC opened by an Hallyu-impassioned Singaporean couple, apparently the extent of South Korea’s clout stretches beyond media and technology. Run by veteran chefs with eclectic culinary histories, SYNC dishes out Korean-themed seafood, meat, and beef tapas to enrapture fans of Korean cuisine.
The fairly spacious restaurant located right across myVillage in the idyllic enclave that is Serangoon Gardens allows a full view of the cooking preparations in its urban-esque main seating area. Groups who tend to shy away from the eyes of strangers can take the option of a more private room behind semi-closed curtains.
On one fateful Halloween night where the requisite adornments were in place (the washroom’s mirror was “cobwebbed”), SYNC opened its doors to promote what it deems the very best of its gamut of tapas:
Crackling ($9.90). Snacking is a rare delight in more proper family-like bistros, so if well-balanced chips are available in the umami form of cod skin, one should allegedly order beer- SYNC has a Czech and a New Zealand beer on tap- to complete the perfectly indulgent pairing.
Mandu ($9.90). Looking like antiquated Chinese gold ingots, the fried dumpling that encases minced pork, mushroom, and salsa seemed to lack the contrasting textures that one would expect from appearance.
Dak-Kangjung ($9.90). The sweet chili-glazed crispy chicken is skillfully fried to a golden brown that surrounds juicy and tender chicken flesh. Topped with the ricotta chili tempura of similar crisp, these delicious chicken bites will quickly vanish into the pits of hungry stomachs.
Soju Mojito ($9.90). It is challenging to discern the soju or mint elements in this highly occasion-befitting drink that resembles the slime from game show Double Dare 2000, but the venomous-looking cocktail was unostentatiously feeble and tasted very much like melted peppermint ice cream, though with stronger alcohol, it could someday be a bestseller- I did like the minty flavour.
Samgyupsal ($10.90). This crunchy salad with scallions is pleasantly mixed with bite-size char-grilled pork belly in a chili yuzu dressing that adds a complementary sourness. Its brilliant blend of meat and vegetable also places it in the running for best dish of the night.
Ssam ($40.90). While inherently similar to Samgyupsal, Ssam features exceedingly tender pork ribs, lacquered in saccharine Ssam sauce, that will lose some fandom sans the slightly muscular appeal of ribs. There’s also the option of a lettuce or bun wrap which might bring more balance to the dish.
Sogogi Jowl ($10.90). Easily gorged with a little stake through sesame leaf and char-grilled beef jowl with a garlic confit brim, this tapas will have the proud sampler incessantly chewing with glee at the smoky beef fragrance on the jowl’s bouncy body. Though not the quickest thing to devour, it most certainly is among the favourites.
Dak Gar-bi ($38.90). Some may have wondered when an archetypal Spanish dish would arrive in the slew of fusion dishes. For that, SYNC has its Korean adaptation of Chicken Paella, a hot plate of rice with generous servings of chicken, sausage, cabbage, and mushroom heavily doused in the essence of the mandatory Korean staple of kimchi. Those familiar with the Valencian delicacy will generally regard Dak Gar-bi a well-made dish.
Hotteok ($8.90 + $1.50 scoop of vanilla ice cream). For this faux banana foster with a pan-fried Korean pancake, it might be foolhardy not to procure the quintessential vanilla scoop that completes the remarkable blend of temperatures and flavours ideal for desserts.
It always is a delight to see dynamic food fusion innovations, especially if these endeavours are well-executed. SYNC has, for the most part, clinched its mission of sharing the goodness of Korean cuisine, and its unique and unprecedented offerings of fusion tapas definitely warrants it a visit.
Expected damage: $28/pax