Cuppage Plaza is one of those quiet malls that’s just off the main stretch of Orchard Road, save for the bustle of Japanese expats coming in and out to enjoy the almost secret selection of high quality Japanese restaurants. So it might come as a surprise that new restaurant group The Eminent F&B Group has decided to launch their very first venture there, with mod-Sin noodle bar Ebi Bar.
Giving off an authentic, almost hole-in-the-wall vibe in the mall’s basement, Ebi Bar may appear unassuming when you first approach it, but the 22-seater eatery more than packs a punch with its menu. Helmed by Partner and Head Chef Jeff Tong, the restaurant specialises in reimagining classic Singaporean food and presenting them in a contemporary style.
Ebi Bar is led by Partner & Head Chef, Jeff Tong. Chef Jeff has more than 16 years of experience in the F&B industry taking him from fine-dining restaurants such as Becasse, to catering with Sodexo Group, and even institutional food service. Throughout the years, Chef Jeff has cultivated a personal passion for creating the perfect prawn noodle broth and prides himself on creating a recipe that is second to none.
Previously only served at family gatherings, Chef Jeff is proud to debut his passion project to the world through Ebi Bar and looks forward to serving this to diners in Singapore and beyond. Says Chef Jeff: “I feel very fortunate to have met Joanne and the team at The Eminent F&B Group. Their philosophy and belief in elevating Singaporean cuisine, while still staying true to our heritage, is completely in line with my own. Ebi Bar is a good platform for us to showcase our unique take on well-loved dishes, and we hope diners will enjoy it too.”
The restaurant’s signature dish lending it the ‘ebi’ name (prawn in Japanese) is the “Chao Da” or Charred Ebi Noodles ($14.90). The dish is essentially a new take on the typical ‘prawn mee’ one finds at hawker centres across the island, with its hearty broth a labour of love from Chef Jeff. The night before, he fries 40 kg of prawns to create the stock, releasing all the flavours, oils, and aromatics. After that, water is added and then boiled for 8-10 hours to extract all the deliciousness for a full-bodied taste. The result is a broth that, while rich in taste, does not overpower in flavour, allowing you to keep enjoying more and more of it without getting that usual ‘jelak’ feeling.
Of course beyond the broth, the ingredients themselves are also important, and the Signature “Chao Da” (Charred) Ebi Noodles comes with a pair of prawns charred to perfection, along with lightly pan seared chicken roulade slices – light but tender, as well as a unique set of ramen-like noodles to tie it all together. The handmade noodles are a highlight; while typical prawn mee uses yellow noodles that often leave an alkali aftertaste when not cooked properly, these are much springier by comparison, and retain that texture (QQ) and smoothness even when cooked. In all, these noodles result in a lethal bowl of umami. A more decadent version of the dish is also available, with the Soul-Good Luxe Noodles ($39.90), served instead with charred lobster and prawn, along with chicken “roulade” and scallops.
As an alternative to the charred prawns, diners can also choose to order up the Ebi & Vege-Crispy Fritter Noodles ($12.90), which is instead served with a crispy prawn and vegetable fritter. Taking inspiration from the traditional “hei piah” and Japanese kakiage, each fritter contains multiple vegetables and shrimp deep-fried in a floury batter, for those who prefer a little crunch in their meal.
To add another degree of modernity to the dish, once diners taste the initial broth, they can even add an extra layer of flavour to it, with the Broth Boosters Shots (from $1.90) to add a shot of Truffle, Mala or Miso to the soup, completely changing the flavour profile if you want to have a different soup midway through your meal. We tried all three flavours, and our personal favourite turned out to be the Miso.
Ebi Bar also serves up a selection of side dishes, best enjoyed with a drink from the bar. The perfect companion to an ice cold beer (Lion’s Brewery beers are on tap) would be the Salted Mackerel Fried Chicken ($6.90), Ebi Bar’s answer to the more common Prawn Paste and Salted Egg Yolk Chicken dishes, where it is instead marinated with salted mackerel, leaving it less overpowering, but maintaining that same great crispy skin.
Other snacks include the Ah Ma’s Achar Gone Fancy ($4.90), a vegetable achar made with a family recipe, coupled with fresh jelly fish, and the Chilled Tofu with Homemade Sauce ($4.90). All mains can be completed with a snack and drink for just $3.90. An Ebi Bar experience is incomplete without trying their sides or snacks as they like to call it. Ebi Bar is not certified halal, but all dishes are made without pork or lard, and can be enjoyed by both Muslim and non-Muslim patrons.
Joanne Lim, Founder of The Eminent F&B Group says: “Singapore is a big melting pot of cuisines with new cultures and nationalities introducing their cuisines to Singaporeans. Ebi Bar seeks to bring traditional and well-loved Singaporean dishes into the 21st century by amalgamating them with complementary flavours from different parts of the world, modern and traditional.”
“With Ebi Bar, we want to explore and experiment how Singaporean food and hawker fare can continue to stay relevant to the tastebuds of young Singaporeans. To retain its original flavours, yet, evolve and be elevated through influences from other cultures, ingredients and preparation methods; to suit changing palates.”– Joanne Lim, Founder of The Eminent F&B Group