The Salted Plum is a fresh entrant to the food scene. With dishes priced at either $5 or $10, it’s reminiscent to the departed Five Ten; albeit with service charges. Situated at Circular Road, The Salted Plum is a great place for a casual evening date at a lively location.
Boasting a two-storey shophouse, this eatery started off as a small pop-up offering Taiwanese dishes. Served a la tapas, or appetiser, snack-portioned style, it’s actually a reasonable size to try out so many different dishes.
We had arrived at about seven in the evening for dinner. Due to the crowd, the waitstaff told us to hold on for a table. Not a problem at all! We’ll wait. Anyway, she was exceedingly friendly and kept checking in on us during the wait.
What a cozy place.
Looking through the menu, there were so many specialties in each column, starting from $5 to $10, $15 and lastly, $25. We went along to order the Burnt Chilli Chicken ($10), Taiwanese Sausage Patties ($10), Braised Pork Belly ($10), Smashed Potato with Plum Powder ($5) and the Shiny Rice ($0.50) as our side.
It didn’t take long for our orders to arrive. Firstly, we received the Smashed Potatoes, the Shiny Rice, and then the Taiwanese Sausage Patties and the Braised Pork Belly together.
The Smashed Potatoes with Plum Powder tastes exactly like what it is. There is a crispy bite on the outside of the baby potatoes, then it’s soft inside. It’s quite good as an appetiser, a bite-sized start to our meal, but nothing special here. Potatoes are potatoes, no matter what. Although, I feel like they could’ve been more generous with the plum powder.
The shiny rice, or just, lard oil rice, is actually a bowl of rice drizzled with a generous amount of pork lard oil. Garnished on top are bits of fried lard. It’s quite a unique take on flavouring a bowl of rice. However, where the oil sinks to the bottom of the bowl makes the rice a little too oily towards the end. We surely didn’t mix the rice though.
Next we got try was the Braised Pork Belly. The Braised Pork Belly is served here in the form of two slabs of pork belly, covered in a dark braised meat sauce. It’s served with the ginger and garlic chilli sauce, commonly understood to be the staple chilli sauce of choice for chicken rice dishes.
The pork belly meat is soft and has the right amount of fats, just like a traditional bowl of lu rou fan, although we didn’t finish the fats. For the price that we paid for, it’s really worth getting it because of the size of each slab.
Sadly, this Braised Pork Belly is rather bland, and is not as tasty as Five Ten‘s rendition. The meat felt like it was missing something. Like as if the marinade just isn’t there, although there was still the natural flavour of the pork meat. We probably had better Braised Pork Belly out there.
The Taiwanese Sausage Patties had the look and feels of a meat patty. The ones that you get by taking minced meat and forming a patty.
The meat patties tasted like Taiwanese sausages, although it’s not as strong as I’d expect it to be. I’m guessing that they wanted to focus more on the texture instead of a strong taste of the Taiwanese sausages. These meat patties go extremely well with the ginger and garlic chilli sauce provided with the Braised Pork Belly; but this is just a personal preference of mine.
And at last, the Burnt Chilli Chicken is here. Did they purposely save the best for the last? Because this is absolutely the highlight of all the dishes we’ve had here. When it arrived, it was really aromatic and seemed delicious — just look at the harmony of colours of the chicken, the charred chilli bits and spring onion.
The chicken bites were slightly charred on the skin, giving it a crispy texture on the outside. The meat itself is really tender, so it’s exactly how I would want a chicken to be grilled. Crispy skin, soft and tender meat. It’s the best.
On top of texture done right, the dish is flavourful as well. The mastery in preparation that went into the marinating process was nothing but excellency. It keeps me wanting for more and more, and never stopping.
Overall, for such affordable meals close to the pricey bars and high-end dining district of Boat Quay, The Salted Plum is very well worth a visit. Maybe not a visit, but many visits. (!) I will definitely be back to have more, especially with their lunch promotions.