Chuup serves the kind of food your nanna would cook if she was hip. There are neither salted egg mash-ups nor pasta flecked with crab meat, just local comfort food heightened by lots and lots of pork. Even the slightly twee setting does little to distract from the honest, hard work that goes behind the food.
The signature Nasi Lemak with Pork Rendang sounds like something worthy of controversy. I had expected the dish to be positively rebellious, a middle finger to the unspoken rules of tradition. But this one plays within the lines. The pork is barely noticeable in the thick, aromatic rendang gravy but as a whole, it’s pretty darn good. The thick onion sambal holds its shape on the plate, and the rice comes in a dirty beige, cooked slightly over, the way your doting grandmother would.
The Hainanese Chicken Rice, stylised by one too many cafés, arrives stripped to the very basics. The stock in which the rice was cooked is indicative of some very potent seasoning, and the aromatic grains seem to have soaked up the very last drops of the herby, chicken-y broth. The steamed chicken, ginger mush and home-made chilli sauce are scarfed down with the rice without complaint.
Meanwhile, the deep-fried pork chops come in a portion so beastly, they struggle to fit within the circumference of the plate. I’m reminded of them long after I leave. And the morning after. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if the meat was battered more finely, the slabs pounded more thinly and the whole package drained more effectively. Still, the sauce is welcoming – a thick, sweet, ketchup-based concoction.
The next day, I try my luck with the regular pork chops – dubbed Grandma’s Pork Chuup – to see if it fares better. It does. The meat comes with a border of fat that curls when shallow-fried, next to some very soft potatoes and carrots, in a pool of brown sauce deepened with caramelised onions. I appreciate the mound of egg spinach in the corner, but there it remains, forgotten.
After a (very good) Milo ais, the sugee cake emerges. Despite landing on a corner piece, I find that the slightly crisp edges don’t reveal a dry cake – it’s buttery, it’s grainy and it has a mild, floral warmth from what I suspect to be rose water. And just like most of the food at Chuup, it’s a giant bear hug in the middle of the day.
40 Jalan SS22/25
|Opening hours:||Wed-Mon, 11.30am-10.30pm|