Bencoolen Street had recently been spruced up following the opening of Bencoolen MRT Station along Downtown Line 3, as well as the opening of a few boutique hotels in the area that also brought along some new dining options within the area.
Situated within Hotel30, Local Restaurant & Bar is the restaurant that services the guests of the hotel that is located just behind the hotel lobby. The dining hall is rather huge, spacious and well-lit despite the dark colours used; each table is being spaced out at a good distance away from another to provide a level of privacy for the patrons. Local Restaurant & Bar offers separate ala-carte menus during lunch and dinner services on the day of our visit — the dishes range from local classics to fusion dishes with a local element.
The signature section of the menu are all chef recommendations — we ended up picking the LOCAL Nasi Lemak, which is their take on the classic local dish with Fragrant Coconut Rice, Slow-cooked Free-Range Chicken Rendang, Homemade Sambal Egg, Pickled Achar, Peanut and Ikan Bilis. The dish itself seemed to be a more refined take of the Nasi Lemak as compared to the coffeeshop counterparts; the rice was actually considerably moist and comes with a slight whiff of coconut fragrance though not being too bold in terms of flavour. The Chicken Rendang could have been a little bit more tender especially considering it was a little difficult for the meat to come off the bones, though the rendang was actually pretty fragrant from the spices used and pretty lemak and creamy. The Homemade Sambal Egg was decent; a little bit on the sweet side from the sambal that coats it and also the caramelised onions that it came with. Pickled achar was refreshing and crunchy, with a bit of tang while the Ikan Bilis was crisp without being in any way chewy. Overall, a decent, slightly more refined plate of Nasi Lemak at a slightly higher price tag of $18++; it would be rather unfair to compare it against The Coconut Club‘s version, but this is actually not too bad considering the type of environment it is being served at.
We also decided to try the Singapore-style Chili Crab Tendon from the Fork, Spoon and Chopsticks section of the menu; the Singapore-style Chili Crab Tendon is only available during dinner hours, though a similar dish served during lunch hours would be the “Salted Egg” Tempura Don. This was unfortunately pretty underwhelming especially considering its execution. Though we took a while (around 5 minutes) to take photos of the dish, the tempura pieces were unfortunately terribly soggy especially with the sauce drenched over it; the tempura batter was soft and limp, flimsy and breaking off easily and totally lacking any crispness that it should have came with. The sauce was also rather mediocre; felt like it did not carry much punch especially in terms of spiciness and the crustacean sweetness.
For dessert, we went for the Crispy Banana Split, which features Fried Battered Banana, Chocolate Sauce, Vanilla Ice-Cream and Chocolate Ice-Cream and Crushed Almonds. A dish that would not go particularly wrong, the fried battered banana were crisp on the exterior yet soft within whilst carrying the banana’s natural sweetness, while the chocolate sauce, cherries and ice-creams were on the plate more for a functional purpose; the duo being decent though rather generic in taste. Not too bad as a dessert to end the meal, especially considering the disastrous Singapore-style Chili Crab Tendon that we have had just slightly earlier.
Perhaps Local Restaurant & Bar is at its opening stage, but they seem to have quite a fair bit to work on when it comes to the food especially on the Singapore-style Chili Crab Tendon. Being a restaurant that is meant to service hotel guests to bring the best of local flavours during the guests’ stay in Singapore, Local Restaurant & Bar could probably focus more on the execution of its local flavours to in order to incorporate that experience that would leave an impression on the patron’s minds. Service was actually pretty decent here, however. Overall, a place that probably needs to make some improvements to their offerings (at least from what we had tried) in order to draw the crowds in.
Local Restaurant & Bar
Hotel 30 Bencoolen
30 Bencoolen Street