Friday, August 18, 2006

Aglio Olio, The Singapore's [sic] Version of Pasta

Mushroom Olio - Spicy

With an ongoing discussion about the merits of localization lately, I kinda wanted to push this concept a little more by coming out to this place (China Square Center #01-40, 6327-3622), where they're definitely upfront - if not proud - about their localization: the tagline here is "The Singapore's Version of Pasta," complete with its grammatical imperfections and all. What makes the food local? They throw sliced local chili padi peppers into every dish, and even give you a four point scale between mild and extra spicy to choose from (Beppu Menkan comes to mind here).

To test this place out, we grabbed the namesake aglio olio, or at least, in a mushroom variety. When asked about how spicy the ratings were, the waiter told us that the two-chili rating, or "normal," was "within local tolerance," and that if it weren't spicy enough, one could always add Tabasco (a common practice for locals with Italian food here). We opted for the three-chili "spicy." We also asked for a recommendation on a second dish, and were told that the "bacon cream base" was popular, which we requested to be "normal" in spiciness.

Bacon Cream Base - NormalThe latter dish turned out better than I thought it would, with a rich creamy base indeed, and a surprisingly clean degree of kick that I didn't actually mind that much, and in fact admittedly rather enjoyed (I never would have wanted to put a bunch of chili padi on a creamy white sauce-based pasta on my own initiative). But the mushroom olio disappointed. While it was indeed spicier at a three-chili rating, there wasn't much of that garlic-browned-in-oil taste that commands the name aglio e olio. And in this case, I really didn't like the fresh chili peppers that they used - I would have wanted dried chili pepper flakes scorched in oil for that extra aroma instead.

Oh well. So closes another episode in the interests of exploring localization. I did kinda like the cream-based pasta, but I'll definitely pass on the aglio olio next time (if I were to ever come back, that is). At least it was pretty cheap at only S$9.90 (US$5.80) per dish.


wanderinrhapsody said...

perhaps you would like to try wildrocket at mount emily - the chef is quite adventurous about infusing local flavors into italian cuisine.
Thanks for the great blog, btw - it's almost become my quintessential guide to Singapore F&B hotspots. =)

D said...

Just for your info, La Braceria's chef has moved to Borgo on Bukit Timah road. Thought I'll mention it since this is a topic on Italian food.

Anonymous said...

Actually the chef who moved from Braceria to Borgo is only the pizza chef. The food mentioned by hungry boy's Braceria review is from the current menu. They have 2 Italian chefs who infuse some mouth-watering delights in their menu every now and then, like their Italian porchetta and Grilled US beef. And the owner is a real hottie!

Apocalypta said...

I say forget everything on the menu here except the Bacon Olio (not the cream version) and make it super spicy -- it's superbly garlicky with a suicidal chili padi kick I can't get enough of! I'm not sure if the chicken wings are still on the menu, but they're pretty damn good, too.