Fancy a luxe twist on Singapore’s favourite food? Pó marries tradition with upmarket ingredients at this new restaurant in the Warehouse Hotel.
I’ll be honest, it makes me slightly uncomfortable when upmarket restaurants attempt to gentrify Singapore’s hawker food. Which is why Po’s focus on updated local dishes is one that may raise suspicious eyebrows among the more cynical of us, who’ve too often been bamboozled by upmarket dishes that are only facsimiles of the glorious hawker originals. Happily, Po’s menu offerings remain firmly anchored to the original flavour profiles.
Elevating blue-collar cuisine
What I’ve come to understand is that when you update a classic Singaporean dish – one that’s been perfected by hawkers at a fraction of the price – the experience hinges on the quality of the ingredients. Po’s Chef Willin Low (who made his mark at Wild Rocket), however, has also put a focus on classic techniques (think ‘wok hei’) to ensure our favourite dishes aren’t changed too much. So it was with an open mind, and no small amount of excitement, that I paid Po a visit.
The signature dish
My first taste of Po was a steamy plate of carabinero prawns & konbu mee (a dish derivative of the ubiquitous Hokkien mee) that was heralded by an aroma that promised a heady dose of umami. The carabinero prawns (the wagyu of the shrimp world) do a fantastic job of elevating the dish beyond its hawker station, as does the addition of crisp, fried lardons that bring a little texture and a hit of umami.
Pó’s signature dish however, is undoubtedly the popiah. The homely classic comes with all that you’d expect from it’s hawker origins, but the filling displays a savoury kick thanks to uncommon additions like pork, shrimp, bamboo shoots, and Holland peas. The luxe twist here comes in the form of the optional addition of fresh, plump tigers prawns or handpicked flower crab. Tying off the whole dish, rather literally, is thin chewy popiah skins from Kway Guan Huat, a third-generation family business and a household name as far as popiah skins go. Oh, did we also mention that the popiah here is a DIY affair? It’s a novelty that may be lost on locals, but it does provide a little entertainment if you’re a tourist.
In five words…
Familiar flavours with luxurious twists.
Po, The Warehouse Hotel, 320 Havelock Road, Singapore 169628. Open daily 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm.