Time Out says
The road map of modern cuisine is often marked with unfamiliar sights and unexpected turns. But at Avenue 87, chefs Alex Phan and Glen Tay are driving things in a different direction – the friends take a trip down memory lane at their newly opened mod-Asian restaurant.
Their journey began in the neighbourhood of Hougang, where both of them grew up. It was a chance encounter, however, during their training days at the Shatec Culinary School, and a shared interest in cooking, that ignited a bond between them. After school, the two went their separate ways and clocked stints in top kitchens (Alex at Open Door Policy, Glen as executive sous chef at Shanghai’s three-Michelin-starred Ultraviolet) – but a common desire to work together led them on a new path to open Avenue 87.
The name itself holds special significance for Alex and Glen. They were both born in 1987, and spent their childhood at Hougang Avenue 7 and 8 respectively. Memories of growing up, coupled with familiar hawker finds around Hougang, are tapped onto as inspiration for the restaurant’s debut menu. Dinner ($76 for four courses, $98 for six courses) starts off with a crispy chicken crisp – a homage to the pair’s shared past cooking at The Tippling Club. Rather than the usual chicken trimmings served as part of staff meals, chicken breast is jazzed-up, blended down, and deep-fried to create a moreish snack. There’s also a course of kueh pie tee, filled instead with piquant curry of sliced eggplants, semi-dried tomatoes, and curry leaves. It harkens back to the pair's supper favourite – fish head curry from 21 Seafood, a popular eatery in Kovan.
Sambal stingray gets a makeover, too, under the playful hands of the chefs. Octopus tentacle is the favoured meat, and is first blanched in a stock perfumed with thyme, bay leaf, and onion, then slathered with a luscious sambal made based on a recipe from Glenn’s mother. A crowning of confit egg yolk helps temper the spice and binds together the side of bean sprouts and Chinese spinach. Fish soup is another hawker creation that gets a snazzy update. Locally sourced sea bass from Ah Hua Kelong comes swimming in a delicate anchovy broth. It then gets fortified with some homemade anchovy buttermilk sauce, and finished with slices of compressed bitter gourd (which rounds out the assertive taste), semi-dried cherry tomatoes, egg floss, and fried julienned ginger to create a comfy, belly-warming soup good to the very last drop.
For desserts, Alex turns his favourite snack, goreng pisang, into a plated creation. But bananas are conspicuously missing from the dish, and only makes a sneak appearance in the form of ice cream. Instead, encased within a panko-crusted exterior hides a gooey coconut custard centre.
Alex and Glen might be taking diners on a new journey down Avenue 87, but it’s one filled with familiar sights. By tapping on their shared past, the chefs prove that a modern dining experience need not be alienating and complicated.
47 Amoy St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm; Sat 5.30pm-10pm|
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