New Asian on Tras Street
Note: This venue is now closed.
Along Tras Street, May May and its fusion Asian plates might be intimidated by the brand-name calibre around them, but it needn’t feel so. Husband-and-wife team Susan and Han Kiat Teo, also of Blue Ginger, run a fresh-faced team of chefs while an exciting menu does flavour gymnastics with Singaporean, Thai, Korean, Malay and Indian cuisines united by a Western execution.
Lunch in the wood- and marble-tabled dining room with a calming vertical garden growing on a wall is a wholesome affair. Rice bowls ($12-$18) spotlight proteins with Asian marinades. The Chinese vinegar-braised pork belly ($16) calls to mind a traditional comfort slab mum stewed for good health, and the red chilli chicken ($15) is tamer than advertised. Yielding, flaky butter-poached cod ($18) with the quinoa upgrade (add $2) is the healthy option. All bowls are kept texturally and tastily balanced, with pickled shimeiji, red onions, onsen egg and a crunchy element to keep each bite interesting.
Come dinnertime, the appetisers take on a sharing plates format. The exuberant, if a bit clueless, servers candidly steer us away from the twice-fried chicken in a barbecued sauce ($16) in favour of rojak-inspired tender and juicy rings of squid ($15). The honesty was very much appreciated.
The squid and robust wedges of poached pear benefit from a mildly sweet sauce with the lightest zing of ginger, accented by a peanut, pistachio and sugary crunch. Sat in the same dining room – now accented by lanky bare-filament light bulbs, a family-style black marble table and an irritating soundtrack comprising saccharine renditions of ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ and Jacko’s ‘Beat It’ – you might be recommended the restaurant’s signature bossam ($12). It subs barbecued meat for deep red slices of compressed watermelon for wrapping in a umami-spicy ssam sauce with shiso slivers, watermelon rind pickle and green cabbage. At $12 for just four slices, though, it feels a little too much to pay for trendy execution.
The bigger plates – mains-sized portions, really – are a better investment. A tail of lobster swims with a generous skein of Thai rice noodles in a comforting light broth of lemongrass, coconut and kaffir lime that’s a much less spicy cousin of tomyum ($28). The mid-done cut of seared wagyu ($32) came on our visit with a flat, skillet-touched rice cake – a perfect accompaniment of crunch and caramelisation to the juicy meat. Oven-roasted Chilean sea bass ($32) is a buttery fillet, lifted by a salad of edamame and pickled honshimeji stalks.
Drinks are made at the long bar flanking May May’s entryway. A coffee machine simmers up a Nylon Coffee Roasters brew, and a pineapple sencha and strawberry green tea ($6) blended by Tea Bone Zen Mind are also available. A selection of Japanese artisanal craft beers ($14-$18) by Oze No Yukidoke and Swanlake rounds off the beverage choices.
May May delivers its new Asian point of view via familiar flavours with an approachable level of sophistication. Let’s hope this one has staying power.
|Venue name:||May May (closed)||Contact:|
65 Tras Street
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 6pm-11pm|
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