My favourite place in Singapore for Indonesian food is Pagi Sore. I was introduced to this place about 10 years ago by a friend, it was located at Amoy Street. It has since moved to Far East Square (along Telok Ayer Street).
I love the Belinjo Crackers (S$1 per serving) here! They’re crispy, not too oily and have that delicious hint of bitterness.
They went perfectly with the spicy Sambal Belacan (that I’ve mixed with lime juice). The combination was a great mix of bitterness, tanginess, spiciness and the irreplaceable exotic flavour of fermented shrimp paste (called “belacan”) that forms the base of the condiment. Do note that they charge S$0.30 per plate here, I guess its largely to prevent wastage…although most places give belacan for free, I don’t mind paying for it here because it tastes so good.
The steamed rice is served wrapped in banana leaves. It adds a sweet fragrance to the rice which enhances the flavour of the dishes. They charge S$1.50 per person for an unlimited serving of rice, which is good if you eat a ton of rice and aren’t watching your carb intake.
One of my favourite dishes here is Cumi Cumi Bali (Char-Grilled Squid Grilled in Sweet & Spicy Sauce) @ S$13.50. The flesh of the squid is firm and not over-cooked till its rubbery. Its natural sweetness is enhanced by the smoky sweet sauce. This is a Must-Try!
Another favourite dish of mine is Tahu Telor (Deep-fried Tofu Cubes with Beaten Egg) @ S$8.80. I find this an interesting dish as it’s tall like a timbale (albeit an Asian interpretation). The tofu cubes are placed at the base of a mould and this is lowered into a pot of very hot oil while beaten egg is poured over it. Hot oil is quickly ladled over the top of the mould to cause the raw beaten egg to froth, thus resulting in wispy bits of egg above the tofu. I love this dish because the wispy bits are sooo crispy and tasty! The tofu cubes have also been coated with the egg causing it to be just that little bit crispier and tastier. This dish must be eaten hot as its pretty oily. Letting it cool down would only allow time for the oil to be absorbed back into the egg wisps and tofu…causing them to become soggy…plus they would literally be soaked in oil. I’ve had soggy versions at some other places (probably because the oil used to cook it was not hot enough) before so I can assure you that “soggy” is not the way to go for this dish. That said, this dish is a Must-Try!
Its served with a sweetish sauce with coarsely chopped peanuts. The staff will usually ask if you want to pour the over the tofu when its served. I don’t like sweet sauce so I usually ask for it to be served on the side. I’m lucky that the friends that I’ve eaten this dish with have been happy to add on their own sauce when desired. I think serving the sauce separately allows you to enjoy the crispy egg wisps better, as the sauce would definitely cool them down and be absorbed almost immediately.
Jacqueline loves chicken so we ordered Ayam Panggang (BBQ Spicy Chicken with Herbs) @ S$5.80 per piece. We shared 2 pieces amongst the 4 of us. So far amongst all of the dishes that I’ve had here, this is one of my least favourite. It was a little boring especially in comparison to the squid (ok, I know it’s not a fair comparison) but it simply tasted smoky sweet. It didn’t help that the chicken pieces were a little dry and stringy from being over-cooked.
A must-have at every meal that I’ve had here is the Tumis Kang Kong Belachan
(Stir-fried Morning Glory in Sambal Belachan sauce) @ S$8.80 for a medium serving. My friends and I like to order it to add fibre to the meal and also to console ourselves into thinking that by eating some vegetables, we must be having a healthy & balanced meal…notwithstanding the fact that it’s prepared with fermented shrimps in the sauce.
If you have to pick only one dish when you visit Pagi Sore, then the Ikan Otah Kukus (Steamed Leather Jacket Fish marinated with Otah spices) would have to be it. It’s one of Pagi Sore’s signature dishes and is priced @ S$17.50 for a small serving & S$21.50 for a medium serving. The above picture is that of a medium-sized serving. The flesh of the fish is firm and yet smooth in texture. It has a slight hint of sweetness which is enhanced by the Otah spice -infused coconut milk gravy that has been given a stronger texture by adding egg into the gravy. A Tapioca Leaf is placed atop the fish while steaming to add fragrance to the dish, which goes perfectly with rice. This is definitely a MUST-TRY!
During my last visit, we shared 2 desserts because we were stuffed from the meal. We ordered Es Chendol @ S$3.90 and Alpukat (Avocado dessert) @ S$4.20. The Chendol here was not fabulous neither was it bad, it was just passable. I think its because the gula melaka (palm sugar) syrup used here was just a little too dilute for it to have a rich flavour. My all-time favourite Chendol is from Jonker Desserts in Malacca. I have not been to Malacca for a little over a year and hope to go there soon. The Avocado dessert was just a little too sweet for my liking. I think if they served this dessert with less ice and less sugar-added, then it just might hit the sweet spot for many of the clients.
In a nutshell, if you’re watching your weight and want to reduce your calorie intake…give the above 2 desserts here a miss.
88 Telok Ayer Street
Daily: 11.00 am to 2.30pm & 6.00pm to 10.00pm