Hidden in the middle of Cavan Road, the.twenty.cavan is situated away from the main stretches of eateries within Jalan Besar located beside workshops and hardware shops that seem to be a slightly unusual location for a new bistro in this quaint neighbourhood.
Decked in an industrial theme, expect unfinished bricked walls that give the eatery a modern yet raw vibe with wood furnishings while the bistro is being lit by bare bulbs with drooping wires hung on its walls and ceilings. Opened only for the second day during our visit, the.twenty.cavan serves largely fusion fare in its rather small but carefully curated menu of mains with a small selection of starters and a limited selection of desserts. Unlike most bistro which serves specialty coffee these days, the.twenty.cavan offers no coffee in their beverages menu; only soda, sparkling juices/water, soft drinks, tea, smoothies, and juices are served here though an interesting feature would be the Cold Brew tea that is listed on the menu here.
Going straight for the mains, I ordered the Pork Belly which comes with a choice of couscous or fries which I went for the former. Being a fusion bistro, the Pork Belly is served the same way as you would probably expect for a sweet & sour pork dish but cooked with a twist with the addition of a berry sauce. Pork Belly came in well-sized chunks that were pretty manageable in a single mouthful (some pieces were bone-in), coated in a sticky and sweet sauce similar to a crossover between Red Braised Pork and Sweet & Sour Pork with a winey touch for the berry sauce is infused with wine in its preparation. It’s pretty refined in its flavour, lacking the usual tanginess of a typical Sweet & Sour Pork dish and leaves no funky aftertaste that often occurs from using too much ketchup in a sweet & sour dish. The Cous Cous was fluffy and adds a wee bit of salted flavour into the dish that works well with the flavours of the pork. At $20, the portion does come across as a little small, and the lack of a concise description of the dish does make the “sweet & sour” element come as a surprise that may be rather unexpected for those whom might be expecting something similar to the sous-vide crispy pork belly often served in western restaurants.
Essentially, the Mixed Seafood dish consists of only prawns & scallops cooked in a chili lime sauce and comes with the same option of couscous or fries; we went with the latter for this dish. The seafood within this dish were fresh and plump, and the chili does come with a good kick being salty, spicy, tangy and zingy; it’s probably much like a combination of different chilis into a single type for there were flavours that seemed to carry Sambal-like characteristics with a little Thai infusion and it works very well with the seafood. Fries were crisp and thick while carrying enough flavour from its seasoning and definitely goes well with the chili as well especially for those at the bottom which soaked up a bit of the chili lime sauce. Again, the portion of this dish at $20 may make it seem a little pricey, and perhaps they can look into diversifying the variety of seafood within this dish for a more wholesome feel.
For our dessert, we went for the Chilled Pumpkin Yam Puree which is rather similar to the Chinese Yam Paste; it is less gooey than the typical Orh Nee but the flavours are definitely on point; not being too sweet and balanced with the earthy flavours of yam. There were also chunky bits of yam and aloe vera within to give the dessert a little bit of texture. A dessert that yam paste lovers should order here.
We were served a complimentary Lime Pudding while we were in the midst of having our dessert. The Lime Pudding comes pretty huge for $7 and comes with a berry sauce over the top. Between the two desserts, the Lime Pudding would most probably sit well with those who prefer Western desserts. The berry sauce hits you with its tart flavours on the first mouthful, but as you go on into the pudding, it seems to exude just a little kiss of sweetness to the subtly zingy yet milky pudding that carries just a little hint of lime. This dessert definitely helps to refresh the taste buds after a meal.
the.twenty.cavan is a place that carries good vibes and rather decent food; the staff are friendly and the chef does come out to talk to their patrons. The bistro is also pretty well decorated, creating a relaxing vibe for catch-ups even for big groups. While the food was largely delicious and one could feel the effort behind it, we found that the menu can be a little bit more concise in its description (for the case of the pork belly at least) though much of the problem lies in the portions and pricing as well as the selection on the menu itself. In the current scene, fusion seems to go far beyond what the.twenty.cavan has done; no doubt the cooking styles are interesting in their fusion (which is something I would actually commend them for), but the menu seemed to be a little too safe and lack items that seemed to be crazy enough for today’s definition of fusion where it goes all the way out adventurous. The menu is also largely repetitive with a standard format for the mains; a meat with couscous/fries and salad on the side; something which is hard to draw returning visits as it lacks variety. That being said, the.twenty.cavan is a place that one can consider visiting if they are looking for somewhere to park and have a meal at in Jalan Besar; the food is actually decent though we do hope that they could come up with more interesting fusion dishes with a larger variety in the menu (e.g. burgers or pasta perhaps?) that could hopefully bring us back for more return visits in time to come.
20 Cavan Road
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