Crayfish Curry Pho by Xing Wei Chua | Burpple

Sinpopo Brand should not be a brand unfamiliar for those who stays in the East especially — being one of the brands operated by the same folks behind Awfully Chocolate, Sinpopo Brand was initially a concept that attempts to bring patrons a hint of nostalgia through serving up simple and classic local fare from the good ol’ days (think the 1950s). Initially set up with a rather simple decor that really hints of a rustic vibe, the brand has been through several revamps into a more upscale concept that serves up local fusion fare instead — pretty much moving on from its now-relatively forgotten roots having evolved into a brand that serves up a rather progressive form of local cuisine. Sinpopo Brand has since recently moved out of his former premises at Joo Chiat Road — whilst operating a couple of stores that retail their cakes and other bakes for takeaways, they do still have a dine-in outlet at Funan Mall which used to be more of a quick service concept with sandwiches, pies and cakes for the food menu. Their latest outlet at the second level of Tangs Orchard takes over the former premises of The Providore and also some part of the retail space — the restaurant being divided into three distinct dining zones with one being dedicated for patrons having desserts and beverages.

There are several paintings on the wall that feature their shop space previously at Joo Chiat Road — things that would probably connect with regulars at their old space; the menu has also seen a retention of a few favourites from the old space such as the Sinpopo Signature Nasi Lemak from the “Specials” menu dedicated for single diners, as well as the Sng Muay Pop in the “Signature Drinks” section of the menu. Otherwise, the food menu at Sinpopo Brand’s newest outpost at Tangs Plaza is segregated into sections dedicated to Starters & Appetisers, Communal Dining, Specials, Plated Desserts and Desserts — patrons can also view through the display cases at the counter to see the various kueh-kueh, pastries and cakes that are available for the day. The list of beverages available at Sinpopo Brand includes a section dedicated to their Signature Drinks (some of which being available since the very first iteration of the brand), Sinpopo Curated Teas, Classics (i.e. espresso-based coffees), as well as Sinpopo-style beverages such as that of the Fresh Pressed Kopi-O with Sweet Milk Foam and the Ice Calamansi Tea Martini.

Having not visited Sinpopo Brand in quite a while, we found ourselves going for the Crayfish Curry Pho, which was actually an item that was previously also being served up at Sinpopo Brand at Joo Chiat Road before they had moved out of the premises there. The Crayfish Curry Pho features elements such as Lemak Curry, Grilled Crayfish, Aubergine, Ladies’ Finger and Pho — all of which being listed in the description of the item on the menu here. Perhaps being the only item that sees a local infusion into a dish of another Asian culture off the “Specials” section of the menu here, this was also an item which we found to be really relatable with the fusion element being a little weak as compared to the other items offered in the same section of the menu — the only aspect of it being close to a Pho being the use of rice noodles typically used in Vietnamese pho for the dish. That being said, we still really enjoyed the dish otherwise — the Lemak Curry indeed emphasised more on the richness of the flavours of coconut milk; the dish seemingly leaning closer to being a Laksa at times, while it was also not particularly spicy even for those with lower tolerance to spiciness and goes particularly well with smooth and slurpy rice noodles. There is this slight hint of crustacean umami-ness that goes into the Lemak Curry from the crayfish — the grilled crayfish being pretty fresh with the flesh coming off rather easily from the shell; the challenging bit probably coming from the fact that the spoon and chopsticks just aren’t particularly the best tools to use for the application here. It is interesting that Sinpopo Brand actually went the way of charring the aubergine and ladies’s fingers for the Crayfish Curry Pho here — for those like us who enjoys their vegetables charred; this would be a treat considering how they add this hint of smokiness apart from giving the dish a crunch factor. It is also noted that the Crayfish Curry Pho does come with tomato as well — these provided a refreshing burst of flavours from the Lemak Curry.

Sinpopo Brand has certainly grown over the years — it has been a long while since their more simple beginnings when they were serving up more traditional and local fare. That being said, it seems that the folks behind Awfully Chocolate has found a more viable direction for Sinpopo Brand’s future back then, and thus the image of the brand today that seems to be more tuned towards an establishment that serves up progressive local fusion cuisine with their own twist — there is also somewhat of a focus on their range of cakes and other bakes which has stemmed out of this change as well. We cannot really recall if Sinpopo Brand has indeed served up traditional kueh-kueh previously at their now-defunct Joo Chiat Road location; that being said, we do not remember coming across them at their other locations prior. Having tried both their Ondeh Ondeh and Kueh Dardar during the same visit, we were actually impressed by their Ondeh Ondeh especially — these morsels of Gula Melaka wrapped in sweet potato skin were chewy without sticking to the teeth; all that with the explosive action of molten Gula Melaka that is eager to burst out of the sweet potato skin as one chews upon it. They were also not too sweet as well; very delicious and worth having a go at. We were also surprised by how their Fresh Pressed Kopi-O with Sweet Milk Foam was much like what we would expect from a regular Kopi but with latte art just like a Flat White / Latte (though pricey, considering how it is priced at $6). Whilst the price point of the items on the menu may suggest that Sinpopo Brand is not quite the most wallet-friendly spot for local fusion fare, they do seem to execute their dishes rather well with a take of their own; service staff were also really polite and alert despite being in a short-handed situation — was pretty difficult to actually get peeved given how apologetic and sincere they are even though waiting times to get served was a little long. With food that is somewhat relatable to folks of all ages, Sinpopo Brand is likely somewhere that tai-tais would probably love to hit in between their shopping trips in town — as much as a spot for couples to hit for a casual date with something fancy whilst in the heart of Orchard Road.

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