(Chow Fun Bar & Restaurant had since ceased operations.)
A recent trip to The Grandstand had us realised that many of the original tenants of the mall had since moved out of the premises/closed down and have been replaced with quite a number of new players within the F&B scene.
Chow Fun Bar & Restaurant replaces the former premises of Scrumptious at the Turf at The Grandstand. Having opened only for almost a month while we made our visit, Chow Fun literally puts the “fun” in casual dining and its pretty evident from the design language for its interior which boasts oriental colours set in a playful decor theme; somewhat eclectic without being too eccentric nor over-the-top. Being a bar, the menu does offer quite a variety of sides and snacks to go along with drinks, but the noodle menu would be the focus of Chow Fun Bar & Restaurant, offering a wide variety of flavour combinations and even in small and regular-sized options that encourage patrons to try out the various noodles in one seating; a pretty fun concept even with a few friends. Apart from the noodle menu, there is also a selection of desserts available both individually and in tasting platter options as well.
Since we have decided to have at least one item from every section of the menu, we have decided to opt for the Beef Striploin Skewers & Tzarziki. While they seemed to have been grilled to near perfection in terms of doneness, the beef skewers were rather tough and rubbery as though the beef was cut against the grain rather than along the grain, so much it was pretty hard to chew and we ended up having to swallow huge chunks of it down our throats. Apart from that, the skewers would also have fared better if they could achieve a more savoury flavour with a hint of smoky char to eat, which would further help compliment the drinks from the alcohol menu pretty well. Tzarziki is the accompanying dip on the side, which is a Greek sauce with a strained yogurt base mixed with other ingredients; we found it pretty similar to a crossover between a tartar sauce and sour cream, veering towards the latter which somehow does seem to work with the meat to help ease any gaminess that may surface with the beef (though it was not particularly gamey for us anyway).
With our main attention driven to the noodles, we have decided to go for the small-sized option for all the noodle dishes ordered so as to try out as many flavour combinations as we could. We were told that the small-sized option typically carries 50g to 60g of noodles per bowl while each regular-sized bowl holds 200g of noodles; a reference that might be useful for those who are interested in trying the noodles. In order of the flavour intensity of the noodles, the Bone Marrow, Lemon Cream and Parmesan would probably be the lightest one amongst the four we have tried. Using spaghetti, the noodles are tossed in lemon cream and served with parmesan and bone marrow on the side. This turned out to be a rather interesting combination, which I must say tasted pretty unique due to the uncommon mix of condiments though it is not one that I personally find appealing (some would like this though; just not me). Laced in a lemon cream sauce, the spaghetti was done al-dente and carried tanginess from the lemon cream sauce, but was also pretty cheesy at the same time. What I did enjoy was how they included a good chunk of bone marrow where you could actually suck out the savoury marrow on your own, which gave the dish a pretty peculiar mix of flavours that was not particularly revolting for me, but definitely something out of my comfort zone. Still, do give this dish a try if there is any chance of visiting, for it does not guarantee the fact that you might actually like it.
(Kung Fu Dashi Broth Noodles)
Second in line in terms of intensity of flavours would be the Kung Fu Dashi Broth, which also comes served in fried rice vermicelli soaked in a savoury Dashi broth. This felt particularly homely, especially with the inclusion of shredded omelette as it had this familiar flavour typical of Chinese home-style vermicelli soup with amplified savoury flavours from the Dashi broth, which was actually pretty comforting on a rainy day.
For those looking for something with a Korean touch, the Pork Belly Bibim Guksu is actually quite a good choice. Again, using spaghetti for the noodles, the noodles were done al-dente and was tossed in a sweet-yet-spicy Gochujang sauce that carries quite a punch that was rather addictive. The pork belly was decent, though if I were to nitpick a little then it could be a little less dry and could carry even more flavour (but there again, that would be asking too much from a place that is not a HK Roast Delights stall). One thing I particularly liked is the inclusion of the molten egg here, which helped in making this dish looked a little bit more wholesome alongside with the pickled vegetables that it comes served in.
To be honest, it was a hard time deciding whether the Pork Belly Bibim Guksu or the Tom Yum Cream noodles were more intense in flavours, but the Tom Yum Cream was actually my favourite one out of the four (closely followed by the Pork Belly Bibim Guksu). Coming with Udon, the thick and slurpy noodles are coated with that tangy sauce that not only carried that signature Tom Yum flavour well but immensely creamy yet cheesy as well. It was quite a waste how this dish came with crispy chicken/fish skin, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes; I personally thought this would really fare a lot better if they had included bits of seafood such as shrimp or sotong rings with it instead for that Seafood Tom Yum feel that would have made it more relevant and wholesome instead.
(Lychee Granita & Crystal Jelly)
Having just the two of us, we have decided to order desserts individually, but Chow Fun Bar & Restaurant does offer a Sweet 3 dessert tasting platter (a pre-determined selection of three desserts in one platter) and a Sweet 5 dessert tasting platter (all five desserts on the menu in one platter) which works very well if you are looking into trying most items/entire dessert menu with a group of friends. The Lychee Granita & Crystal Jelly is offered in both the Sweet 3 and Sweet 5 platter, which comes with lychee-infused shaved ice and a floral-flavoured jelly. A refreshing dessert that is also light on the taste buds, we found the lychee infusion in the ice perhaps a little too subtle which could be perhaps done a notch higher for a better flavour. That being said, it is still fairly enjoyable at the least.
(Green Tea Cheesecake, Sesame Nougatin & Anko)
Much like the Lychee Granita & Crystal Jelly, the Green Tea Cheesecake, Sesame Nougatin & Anko is also standard across both Sweet 3 and Sweet 5 dessert tasting platters. Unfortunately, the Green Tea Cheesecake felt a little confused here, faint on the Green Tea aroma while the cheesecake flavour did not really come through as well. Instead, its limelight as the main character of the dish seemed to be taken away by the more promising supporting cast; the Sesame Nougatin was crisp and carried a subtly sweet yet roasty flavour that came from the sesame. Anko, which is also known as Red Bean paste, came off pretty decently, carrying flavours similar to Azuki beans less the beans themselves. Perhaps some work is needed on the execution on the cheesecake itself to improve the overall feel of this dessert.
Overall, Chow Fun Bar & Restaurant does seem to put the “fun” into casual dining; one thing I found particularly interesting about was the concept of serving their noodles in small-sized portions which allows patrons to try as many bowls as they fancy without causing too much damage to their wallets nor maxing out their stomach space. This also at the same time works as a tapas dish that can be ordered alongside the drinks, which is a pretty smart move. Most of the food hovers along the lines of average to slightly above average, where it should be more refined in its execution over time though there was a fair share of relatively bad misses, especially with the beef skewers. Desserts are also one thing that they need a little more work, for the two desserts we tried seemed to lack a little in the taste department which should improve over time. That being said, Chow Fun Bar & Restaurant’s interesting concept does seem to provide a rather fresh and unique take on casual dining amongst the F&B players at The Grandstand, though competition within the mall is strong with both operators from the main mall itself as well as Pasarbella @ The Grandstand. May time tell if Chow Fun Bar & Restaurant’s concept and food quality is strong enough to withstand the competition at The Grandstand, for this is a mall that saw quite a number of movements amongst its tenants of the late …
Chow Fun Bar & Restaurant
200 Turf Club Road
Telephone: +65 6464 6900