You may have missed the hype train when Woo Wai Leong’s long-awaited outpost on North Canal Road opened in June, serving up some of the most complex plates we’ve tasted in recent memory – albeit only for dinner service. Don’t fret. The lawyer-turned-chef and winner of the very first Masterchef Asia (held back in 2015) has engineered another debut in the way of a lunch menu.
The 10-item lineup comprises dishes that you won’t find during the dinner (and vice-versa, at least for now) – which is a crying shame, because the latter contains some knockout dishes that’ll set your colleagues or compatriots raving for weeks. Can Woo repeat that feat over a 2- to 3- course lunch sets?
The verdict: to a large degree, yes. You’re still going to get bang for your buck at these pocket friendly prices ($18 for a 2-courser and $25 for 3). The Nanyang cuisine being served up adopts a different tack and approach from the more elegant dinner. Woo’s lunch revolves around comfort food: the fried and the sauce-slathered, more batter and butter than surgical and smoked.
We find it best to go all in on that philosophy, as those seeking healthful dishes should really invest in the evening offerings instead. To spare you the trouble of having to accommodate a colleague’s lacking appetite or quarterly diet fad, we’re picking a “Best of” menu you can immediately declare as your intended meal. Tell them AugustMan sent you.
The August Choice
Appetiser: General Soh’s Fried Chicken
How could you not, with a punny name like that? Localising Tso to ‘Soh’ references a surname we actually see here in Singapore and sounds like something right out of Woo’s wheelhouse. The wise-cracking chef fuses kung pao chicken with Japanese karaage in this toothsome molar-pleaser. Woo won’t disclose the exact recipe, but vinegar does play a leading role. The tartness keeps the palate refreshed as one gleefully puts the cholesterol bomb away. The coriander salad on the side? Love it or hate it. The dressing does little to suppress the herbaceous notes that go right up the nose.
Main: Shaobing Burger
Woo’s shaobing (fried Chinese pancakes, some call it flatbread) are approaching something of legend. The aromatic and crisp outer layer is seared just the right amount, yielding up just the faintest tang of acridity to heighten the sweetness of the fluffy, rich innards. Then the mouthwatering assault of mozzarella and savoury sesame oil sets in. Previously an off-the-menu treat offered as an appetiser, the shaobing now plays foil to a juicy medium rare beef patty (no special treatment, just honest meat) flanked by what appears to be toasted onions. Mayonnaise treated with the sour bite of green chilli rounds out the flavours here. Hoover up the generous mound of addictive, paprika-dusted chips to complete the meal and ready yourself for dessert.
*Note: We had a hard time choosing between this one and the Herbal Pork Rib Rice Bowl – the chopstick-tender meat and decadent butter rice make for a heavenly combination.
Dessert: Brown Butter Semolina Cake with Sesame Oil Ice Cream
You read that right – sesame oil ice cream. It’s everything you expect – unctuous, aromatic and distinctively Asian. And delicious. Some of our tablemates found that the intensity and mouthfeel (reminiscient of cod liver oil) didn’t quite sit well with them; personally, we loved it. If you are unable to deal, we recommend pairing it in combination with the gentler semolina cake (steeped overnight in brown butter) to toss up the textures.
*A close second: The chocolate acai dessert with hibiscus – particularly if the guilt from chowing down the first two courses has gotten to you.
There we have it, just one of many combinations possible in Ibid’s new lunch menu. It’s clear to see that Woo doesn’t pull punches in the taste department, and it’s the masterful teasing out of flavours that you’ll remember Ibid for. At this early stage, lunch is only available from Wednesday to Friday, 12pm – 2pm. We recommend reservations. Restaurant Ibid, 18 North Canal Road, T: 9151-8698.