Because I’m not the most diligent blogger around, I usually do a quick snoop around the Intarwebz before starting a review post lest I accidentally use someone else’s title or inadvertently say the same things as another existing review. When I set out to write about this Singaporean hole-in-the-wall in the Makati CBD (weeks after first finding it), I thought there’d be news aplenty.
To my surprise, the only review is this one from The Fork In My Road, a blog maintained by an Asian traveler who ate there once and loved the food. It seems unfair that TTK is still unrecognized in the local online community, when it’s one of those places you’d recommend to any foodie friend.
Located along Metropolitan Avenue in Makati City, just past the row of high-end restaurants along Jupiter street, TTK Singaporean Restaurant is a small and unpretentious restaurant that serves authentic Singaporean noms. The owner is Singaporean, and you’ll usually find him in the restaurant, going around the tables, asking his customers if they like the food.
And like it we do. The restaurant offers a good number of Singaporean (and other Asian) noms including Humba, Hainanese Chicken, among others. They have individual meals that go for a fair hundred bucks, give or take. Of those I was able to try, one of my favorites is the Humba, or melt in your mouth pork kasim seasoned in a sweet and light soy sauce.
One of their specialties is the Hainanese Chicken. You can get it as an individual meal served with a cup of flavorful Hainanese rice, or for sharing, either half a chicken or a whole chicken. People from neighboring offices and residences usually order whole Hainanese Chickens for take out (and leave none for me). As a result, TTK often runs out of this tasty dish. It took me three visits before I was able to finally try this particular dish. I don’t know if it was the anticipation but the first bite felt glorious.
What I love about Hainanese chicken is that it is tasty without being overpowering. TTK’s version is great- the chicken is soft and fragrant, the rice isn’t soupy (a fault of many a Hainanese dish) but still very flavorful, and the cucumber breaks the monotony of the flavors of Hainanese in both the rice and the chicken. There is no particularly strong flavor, but the mix of all the elements result in something wonderful. In noms, it is the perfect example of the saying “The sum is greater than its parts.”
The Main Event
The other noms are good, but they all take a backseat to TTK’s Seafood Laksa. The dish is rightfully one of their best sellers, competing only with their signature Hainanese Chicken. For those who have not tried the popular Singaporean dish, Laksa is a spicy noodle soup with a coconut milk curry base that is usually mixed with seafood. It is very different from the Thai Laksa, which is sour rather than milky and a bright shade of red orange.
TTK’s version is the Singaporean Laksa (durr) and the bowl is served to your party piping hot and piled to the brim with fresh seafood. The owner proudly informed us that they get fresh seafood every day and do not stock them. Which is probably why the prawns that come with it are super sweet and flavorful. The soup base is nothing short of fantastic- tasty, spicy, and coconut-y. Let’s focus on spicy. If you’re not accustomed to spicy Asian dishes, you better request the chef to tone down the chili, unless you’re man enough to sweat buckets and not feel anything in your mouth for the next couple of hours.
Altogether, the flavors blend in wonderfully, like soothing songs of old with a well-paced melody and captivating lyrics. Except instead of calming you down, this spicy soup is more like to quicken your heart rate. Make sure you have someone to share this tasty soup with, one order is good for sharing (even GeekOut.ph‘s The Bim, whose appetite is unrivaled, cannot finish one bowl).
One of the few complaints I used to have about TTK is that the area could get suffocatingly warm (specially if you’re slurping on hot spicy Asian soup in the middle of the day in Manila heat) but they already addressed that by installing air conditioners. It would also have been nice if the menu was a bit more descriptive, not all the names were familiar to me. They make up for it by having friendly servers, who will kindly explain the menu items to you if you ask them.
Rating: Considering all factors, TTK Singapore Specialties gets 4 out of 5 stars (if it were based on their Laksa alone, they’d get a 5 out of 5). The service is friendly, the prices are cheap, and the Seafood Laksa and Hainanese Chicken are topnotch but there are too few items on the menu to have a varied choice.
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