Taco Mantra @ Sixteen Ounces, The Rail Mall: S$12 Indian-Mexican tacos and craft beers hidden in the West

As of yesterday, I thought I’d visited every Asian-Mexican fusion restaurant there is in Singapore. Obviously, I haven’t because Taco Mantra @ Sixteen Ounces completely missed my radar. Located at The Rail Mall, Taco Mantra is an Indian Taqueria in a quaint craft beer bar named, Sixteen Ounces. 

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No stranger to the food scene, Taco Mantra have actually been doing food pop-ups all over the island since 2017, with frequent ‘Kitchen Takeovers’ at various bars. 

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Credit

All it took was a night out in August 2020 for the husband and wife duo, Elijah and Esh, to find Taco Mantra’s ‘forever home’ in Sixteen Ounces. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What I tried

What’s going to a taco joint and not starting with just that? I got five colourful soft-shelled tacos to start. Ma’s Fish Tacos (S$12), Chicken Tikka Tacos (S$12), Avocumber Tacos (S$14), Lechon Tacos (S$14), and Birria Quesa Tacos (S$16)

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Close up of fish taco

Just like the name suggests, Ma’s Fish Tacos tastes like something out of a mother’s kitchen. The boneless fish is marinated with Indian spices, and topped with mango salsa, spring onions and sesame seeds. 

Close up of fish taco

I took a bite and was immediately transported to the coastal area of South India; where seafood is always available in abundance. The bite-sized taco tasted like a deconstructed version of my Grandmother’s mango fish curry. Talk about a fusion; I was clearly on to a great start. 

I ended up dousing the taco with too much lime juice and it tasted too tangy for my liking. If you’re planning on having this, skip the lime wedge altogether to have a taco-tastic experience. 

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Next up is the Chicken Tikka Tacos. Honestly, I haven’t met anyone who’s not a fan of chicken tikka. Maybe its haters are around, just not within my line of sight. The taco will come with perfectly marinated chicken chunks sitting atop a refreshing yoghurt spread, topped with pickled onions and little droplets of boondi balls.

Close up of chicken tikka taco

I love every bit of this dish, from the tinge of spiciness from the chicken to the crunchy boondi addition. The taco, rich in masala, would’ve rated a solid 10 in my books if I could taste more of the yoghurt. That aside, the messy taco tasted like what your fingers would smell like after digging into a hearty non-veg thali set; I was smitten. 

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Crispy pork belly is a dish I’d die for. No kidding. Taco Mantra’s Lechon Tacos consists of a fried pork belly, topped with Asian-style salsa criolla and chimichurri

For the uninitiated, lechon is popular in Filipino and Latin American cuisine which translates to ‘a whole pig on a spit’. Not knowing what to expect, I bit into the taco and was greeted with an explosion of light flavours. The pork belly wasn’t too gamey, and when paired with the salsa criolla and chimichurri, it exudes a refreshing taste; akin to drinking a chilled glass of coconut water.

The perfect bar bite, if you ask me.

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Vegetarians, there’s a taco for you too! The Avocumber Tacos is basically a combination of marinated avocados and Japanese cucumber, on a bed of zesty dal, microgreens, topped with my favourite crunchy boondi balls. 

Best believe me when I say the unique flavour profiles in the snug tortilla left me puzzled (in a good way). 

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Saving the best for last is the Birria Quesa Tacos. Slow-stewed beef brisket with cheese served with a side of consommé

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The oversized gyoza-looking dish may not look like much on a plate but boy, did it do wonders to my palate.

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The melt-in-your-mouth beef paired with the melted cheese captured brought joy to my taco-lovin’ self. 

Close up of consomme

The consommé, on the other hand, was light and flavourful on its own. Its runny consistency also reminded me so much of a bowl of rasam, beef rasam if you will. 

Close up of birria quesa taco

Dipping a piece of the Birria Quesa Taco into the clear soup introduced me to a new world of Indian-Mexican flavours. Firstly, I rarely find any beef dishes on the menu at Indian places, so this dish alone’s breaking barriers. Secondly, who would’ve thought of dipping a taco into a consommé?!

I’m not saying much, but Elijah and Esh are Taco Gods. 

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Taco Mantra delivers on their mains too. The hearty Chicken Burger (S$17) is something I’d order after completing a long trek at Rail Corridor. 

Close up of chicken burger

The chonky burger comes with a moist grilled chicken marinated in Indian spices, hummus and achar, with a side of masala papad chips. I do have to warn you. If you’re a poor eater, like me, opt to share this with a friend (if you aren’t too full from the wide range of tasty tacos, that is). 

Image of quail egg sambal fries

What better way to end my visit than with a plate of bright red Quail Egg Sambal Fries (S$15)? The French fries here are tossed with kasturi methi and chaat masala, topped with a generous serving of quail egg sambal and pickled onions. 

Close up of quail egg sambal fries

Don’t be threatened by its colours because the dish is far from spicy. It has a nice sweet-savoury fusion flavour to it, and was incredibly addictive. The dish also had a homely feel to it; like I was having it at a relative’s home during Deepavali. 

Final thoughts

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Sixteen Ounces has done a great job with hiding Taco Mantra from the rest of the world. And that has to end today. Although I’m a staunch believer of ‘East side is the best side’, Taco Mantra @ Sixteen Ounces has officially changed that. It was my first visit, and will definitely not be my last. I am looking forward to more quirky, Indian-Mexican dishes by the genius minds of Elijah and Esh.

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Besides, who can deny chilling at a place that plays good ol’ rock hits, serves a wide range of craft beers, and fantastic fusion grub? 

I’ll be back sooner than expected, guys! 

Expected damage: S$12 – $40 per pax

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Price: $ $

Our Rating: 5 / 5

Taco Mantra @ Sixteen Ounces

398 Upper Bukit Timah Road, The Rail Mall , Singapore 678049

Price
Our Rating 5/5

Taco Mantra @ Sixteen Ounces

398 Upper Bukit Timah Road, The Rail Mall , Singapore 678049

Telephone: +65 6219 9304
Operating Hours: 3.30pm - 10pm (Mon to Fri), 11.30am - 10.30pm (Sat & Sun)
Telephone: +65 6219 9304

Operating Hours: 3.30pm - 10pm (Mon to Fri), 11.30am - 10.30pm (Sat & Sun)
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