After barely six months as a hawker stall that was the worst-kept secret in Joo Chiat, Saveur has replanted itself in Purvis St opposite upmarket neighbours like Garibaldi and Gunther’s. Despite the steeper rent, the French-Singaporean eatery has kept its crazily low prices – whether that will make it a long-term success remains to be seen, but the current buzz means a 15-minute queue most nights.
In its new bistro form, clean monochrome furnishings get a dusting of romance. Framed photos, stencils of vintage windows and patches of painted-over brick clutter the brightly lit white walls, while a chandelier or two up the elegance factor. A chalkboard atop the bar lists premium plates like the nearly-rare, juicy Wagyu beef that’s gorgeously browned at the edges ($21), along with the already-famous foie gras ($7.90-$14.90).
But there are still crowd-pleasers like the hearty beef bourguignon ($13.90) and the brilliant-value angel-hair pasta with sherry-minced pork and sakura ebi ($3.90). The latter features perfectly al dente pasta in a tightly coiled whorl, topped with a band of hay bee (dried shrimp), scallion and finely blended pork paste that coats every strand evenly when mixed.
All the mains we had were tender and flavour-locked from being cooked sous-vide – save for the forgettable chicken roulade – and blended with Asian ingredients. The hot-plate crispy pork belly ($10.90), with jelly-like poached egg and diced vegetables (mostly lentils), looks like a gussied-up sio bak (roast pork), though the fork-tender meat isn’t too greasy and there’s a just-right thin layer of fat beneath the crackly skin.
Crisp-skinned duck confit ($8.90) comes slightly flattened, ayam penyet-style, and less salty than the normal French standard. Juicy shiitake mushrooms and smooth, fluffy mash helped offset the fowl’s usual dryness, while the wedges of orange go safely hand in hand. Our only gripe is that it was a smidgen undercooked at the bottom. Although not without kinks in the service, Saveur somehow keeps the quality of its food sky-high, yet at distinctly earthbound prices. You won’t find better pan-fried Wagyu beef for $21 anywhere else. Cherylene Chan
#01-04 Talib Court
5 Purvis Street
|Opening hours:||Daily noon-2.30pm, 6-9.30pm|