Food Review: Local Delights at Food Republic at 112 Katong Mall

Was invited by the kind guys from to partake in a food tasting at 112 or i12 Katong Mall's Food Republic on Saturday. The invite actually came up quite suddenly -- my friend Cheryl and writer of ms-skinnyfat blog actually asked me about it and it sounded pretty interesting so sure! It was slated to be from 11am to 2pm and I was telling C beforehand.. why is it 11-2, really 3 hours? Never did I anticipate it to be really.. a 3-hour eating fest. If eating is a sport, then I got invited to a marathon.

The food review is actually to try Food Republic's offerings at the rather new 112 Katong Mall. When the mall opened it was quite a big deal because the East finally had a cinema within reasonable distance! It was peranakan-themed too, which made it quite unique. I like the mall because its small and cosy, though the tenant list could be more interesting.

I never did know there was a food court in there though so am glad to find out, and also to let all my readers know, because it is a super good food court.

Of the food court itself - I really liked the floor tiles, and typically of food republic style it is laid out in quite a "cosy" format. It was comfortably filled on a Saturday early afternoon. The place was also very well-ventilated, clean and the stalls all have glass fittings so you can see the cooks create the food.

They also had some interesting decor - like the horse sculpture, and these fashion items made with food (preserved) as display. There was a bag made out of cherries and grass!

So on to our little table - a group of 12 of us were split into 2 tables. It was great meeting some new people like Shanice of silvergrandeur blog, Irene of moonberry, and some familiar faces like Hazel from aimakan and Dawn from 365days2play, as well as twitter following DashTaz of sgfoodonfoot blog!

And of course, here's me with Cheryl of ms-skinnyfat blog. Uni coursemates.. and now fellow bloggers at an event! 

Here's 2 of them posing obligingly for me as I interrupted their conversation about DSLR camera lenses.

So how many food shots does a dish get before it gets eaten? A lot. One of the things we cannot rate here is how the food is like when it is freshly out from the kitchen, because for each dish it probably takes about an average of 15 minutes of food photography because they make it to the chopsticks. Me? Just an iPhone and 1 minute is all I need, so all the photos here are with my iPhone 4S.

Here's one of the 'behind the scenes'. How many food bloggers can u spot?

Onwards to the food before they get cold, digitally, with all that.
1. Yong Soon You Tiao

This was our first dish (out of 16), and it was by far the most surprising one. It was.. really good! We all agreed as we chomped down on the fried dough. What we didn't expect was the light, airy and yet crunchy texture with just the right amount of oil. It was really good, that we requested for some soy milk to dip them in for a even heartier breakfast. 

2. Thye Hong Hokkien Noodles

This was always a perennial draw with Food Republic. The one at Wisma had drawn such long queues when it first opened. What I liked is that the franchise managed to maintain the quality of the famous original, and it was a good solid dish with authentic flavour and just the right amount of wetness. 

3. Fu Lin Tofu Yuen - 7pcs set with Noodle

I imagine this to be a favorite among the older generation, as it tasted very.. traditional. It was thick noodles with minced meat and gravy (which I liked, because it tasted like beef noodles), but it comes with stuffed vegetables and fried things. I can't exactly tell the name of those fried things, perhaps 'ngoh hiang', but they tasted good. 

4. Li Xin Teochew Fishball Noodle - Mee Pok (dry)

This was.. an interesting noodle dish. For the better too. Normally fishball noodles are rather plain and the fishballs are pathetic, but this firstly, had really big and bouncy fishballs. The noodles themselves came pre-mixed with chili inside, which was a pity because most of us can't really take spice but I am sure you can request the uncle when ordering to spare it! The gravy of the noodles was on the more tomato-y side. Rather pleasant, but this needs to be consumed fast or the noodles will harden -- especially in the air conditioned food court!

5. Huat Huat BBQ Chicken Wings

Wings after noon are considered lunch so they are ok! It will be weird to have them for breakfast. But they were really juicy and well roasted - I do prefer the slightly sweeter versions at Toa Payoh Lor 5 though. These are the salty type, but the skin was very well-done! Good place to go for a chicken wing fix.

6. Dapur Padang - Nasi Kuning set

This was a very interesting one. The chef even came by to explain the concept of the Nasi Kuning, which means Yellow Rice. There were some fried vegetables first.

The concept of the Yellow Rice is that.. the rice represents the mountain (hence the shape), and the accompanying dishes below are the people. Something to that effect, which I thought was quite poetic and interesting.

The rice was a tad too compressed, but the flavour was good - there was coconut and spice in there. The side dishes were great too, especially the honey glazed peanut thing. The chicken was juicy and the gravy not too spicy.

7. Cho Kee Wanton Noodle - Fried Dumpling Spinach Noodle

What is interesting about Cho Kee other than the fact that its been long established at Old Airport Road, is that they make their own flavored/colored noodles! The chef told us that the Spinach and Seaweed is very popular among locals, but for foreigners they are attracted to the Carrot and Beetroot cos they are more familiar with those flavors. Love how the colors are so.. pastel - which is this season's colours!

The noodles themselves in cooked form are more unique than your usual wanton noodles - they have this extra dimension in flavor, and are also very springy and not starchy at all. Coupled with the char siew and wantons, it was a satisfying meal. The fried wantons on the other hand are too oily and not as good as Parklane's so I suggest you skip it when ordering!

8. Formosa Delights - Dao Xiao Mian (Beef)

One of my favorite dishes of the event was this. It was from the shop you normally buy ban mian from, but the knife-sliced noodles are very good - silky smooth, not too dense, and well-flavored. Coupled that with the very herbal-tasting pork rib soup and ribs makes for a very hearty meal. A very good choice during a rainy day!

9. Bangkok Gem - Pad Thai with Prawns

The pad thai here is great if you prefer the slightly dry version as you can tell from the photo. I prefer the wetter version you get in Thailand, which is also slightly sweeter. This is more of the "Singaporean" pad thai, I think.

10. Ju Shin Jung Korean Cuisine - Chicken Bibimbap

The shot that made it to instagram and foodspotting and got super a lot of likes. The presentation is no doubt a visual feast! The korean stall is also apparently quite well-known in the Food Republic. As I am not such a fan of bibimbap however, I cannot claim to judge it accurately, though the mouthful I had to taste was pleasant. It is also a very healthy dish.

11. Ah Yip Herbal Soup - Herbal Duck Drumstick Soup Noodles

This is also another of my favorite, mainly because it tastes very much like a home-cooked soup. The duck melts off the bone and is very soft, while the herbs infuse the meat and soup with their goodness. Another rainy day dish, or just something if you feel like having a nutritious meal.

12. Indian Express - Butter Chicken with Garlic Naan

Highly raved for its naan by Irene, this Butter Chicken and Garlic Naan set is indeed something different. The naan was really good and piping hot and crispy. The butter chicken however was too diluted for me and Cheryl's taste, after having tried the real deal in India itself during our final year paper project. The butter chicken gravy was very tomato-based and too thin. More butter please!

13. Pepper Lunch - Pepper Steak

What we don't realize is how Pepper Lunch had revolutionize the steak industry with its cook-it-yourself value-for-money good quality meat. Pepper Lunch is one of my guilty pleasures because it is always quite smelly in their restaurants (since we have to cook our own food), but its super 'shiok' to have so I will brave the smell occasionally when the craving strikes!

Glad that they have Pepper Lunch express in Food Republic so I know where else to go if the craving strikes!

14. Fragrant Hot Pot

So it was written "hot pot" on the menu, but when the dish arrived everyone was agape at it because contrary to expectations of a steamboat, it was in fact a combination of vegetables and meat fried with chilli oil.
This is the szechuan chili they use. It is tongue-numbing.

Also the size of that hot pot was HUGE! Here's it compared to other dishes in aerial view for a comparison. Look at how small the fork/spoon is compared to the bowl!

We couldn't really take it but I would imagine a few of my friends liking it. In fact it tasted a little like salad, except it is really. really. spicy. Also, I think it should be taken together with rice or congee.

15. Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice with Dumpling set

Everybody knows Wee Nam Kee. I love their branch at Novena, and am glad they made it to the food court scene because you can always rely on WNK to provide the quality. Their dumplings in the soup also gives the typical chicken rice a twist and helps make you feel fuller after eating since chicken rice can feel a little bit unfulfilling sometimes.

16. Ice Shop Chendol

Last but not least we ended with a Singaporean classic - the chendol. By then, you could imagine that most of us are STUFFED, so we only had 1 glass to share between me and C. Oh but it was so good! The gula melaka was so generous, and together with the coconut milk, green jelly and red beans (and 1 attap seed which C. gleefully ate), it created a perfect full stop to the marathon that we had ran.

To end of the review, this is prolly the only chance I'll have to taste so many local food in one sitting. I am happy to report that all of the dishes performed extraordinarily well and rose above the level you get in food courts. If you were to ask me which is my favorite out of the entire bunch - I would have to give my vote to the You Tiao, Dao Xiao Mian and Chendol. But don't just rely on my tastebuds - go verify it yourself! For a quick midday lunch or a fulfilling yet simple dinner, Food Republic at 112 Katong Mall is for sure the place to go.

This was an invited tasting by
  1. OMG you are fast! Even though you are only arm with the Iphone, I have to say your photos turned out great. Keep it up.

  2. no wonder you want better camera, see other people have u also want. it's only human. :)