So I visited the much touted Timbre+, a new concept hawker centre with a twist.
Over the past few months, Timbre+ has gotten plenty of coverage from the media, since it was the first time classic hawker stalls were housed together in the same building with established restaurateurs and up and coming hipster hawkers. The overhauling of what was previously a canteen for the workers would be a test case for what may possibly be the hawker culture in the next decade.
The initial signs were promising-clean and spacious, variety of food offerings ranging from Japanese, French, Indian, American, to local favorites like Fishball Noodles, Wanton Mee, and Ba Kut Teh.
One of the first things that caught my eye was the innovative tray return system-a dollar will be charged for each tray that you use (added to the food you order from each stall), and to get back your buck you would have to return the tray in a central area where it will be refunded back to you. It’s quite a good system to get people in the habit to self return their trays, a habit which the NEA has tried to instill in some hawker centres already.
The first dish I tried was the Fat Samurai Pizza ($9.00) from The World Is Flat, located right at the entrance (sincere apologies for the half chomped pizza). This was supposed to be one of the “must eats” recommended by several renowned influencers, a mix of duck confit, prawn and other ingredients mashed together and placed on top of a charcoal crust, with bonito flakes and Okonomiyaki sauce as topping. You don’t see many pizzas with charcoal crust, but frankly it did nothing to enhance the taste and the crust was stiff and chewy at the same time. The overpowering sauce also covered the taste of the ingredients, so you’d be hard pressed to identify what was in the pizza if you didn’t know beforehand. Overall, it was a disappointment.
Next up was the Kaisen Don ($16.00)from Teppei Daidokoro, a little hole in the wall Japanese stall specializing in Yakitori and different kinds of Donburi. Unlike the typical Chirashi Don where the sashimi is diced into small pieces, this version had big chunks of mixed sashimi, from salmon, to tuna and scallops. For the price, I think it was pretty decent. The sashimi was fresh and the serving was generous. The drawback of this place was the slow service of the cashier, resulting in a 10 minute wait just to take my order.
As the night wore on, the place began to fill and queues started to form for the more established stalls.
The biggest disappointment of the night was from the last stall that I tried, Iskina Cebu, specializing in Filipino suckling pig. I went for the mixed platter ($12.00), to get an idea of how different it was from the traditional suckling pig that we Chinese are used to. However, the taste was certainly not what I expected. Quite simply, it was like the regular “Sio Bak” you get in the neighborhood coffee shops, except with the sodium level dialed up a few notches. There was hardly any crisp even from the barbecued skin, and the meat itself, besides being extremely salty, was rather dry.
While I give the Timbre group props for coming up with this innovative concept, I find the quality of food a little underwhelming as a whole. The presence of a live band, craft beer, and hipster stalls may be appealing for some, but at the end of the day, the food has to make a difference and in this case, I felt let down. Expect to pay a premium too if you dine at any stall beside the classic local food ones, since you would to pay at least $10 to get anything decent over here.
Address: 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, JTC LaunchPad @ One-North, Singapore 1399576
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 6am – 11pm (local hawker stalls close earlier)
+Innovative concept that appeals to all ages
+Innovative tray return system
-Less than impressive food quality