Shoebox Canteen Hot
A small 'Shoebox' concept restaurant nestled opposite Hong Lim Park, seating only 30 pax. Shoebox canteen is a modern remake of how we all sat at long communal tables in school for our meals. Serving quality fusion cuisine with a local touch at very worthwhile prices, this eatery is catered to the surrounding office crowd for an eat-and-go experience.
User Ratings Summary
User rating summary from: 2 user(s)
One of those places so missable it's like golf
I cannot remember exactly when I found this place.
But if memory serves me well, I was looking for another cafe and it ended up closed on Monday/ Tuesday (goddamn man) and me and a friend decided to settle for this.
I am not a fan of burgers but they had fancy scribbling highlighting their beef and bacon burger so I forced my poor friend to agree that he'll eat all the veggies and breads while I get the patty.
Their burger turned out surprisingly good. I am a big dfan of dissecting burgers but this one actually tasted pretty well put together. I made the small mistake of ordering iced water though and it froze all taste in my mouth afterwards and the glory of the burger faded a little upon the 3rd bite.
I wouldn't come back though because it's not instagram fabulous and I'm an instagram sell-out so.. forgive me, kings of bacon.
Simple, value food
Head Chef Warren at Shoebox canteen is an old friend of mine back in my F&B grunt days. When I heard he was finally heading a kitchen, even the rapture would not stop me from sampling his fine, versatile cuisine.
Arriving via car, the first drawback to dining here is the scarcity of parking lots remotely close to this place. We had to park at Hong Lim Food Centre and walk over. Going by train is not an issue though, as Clark Quay station is just 5 minutes away. Nestled between Settler's cafe and a Christian book store among other random shop houses, Shoebox canteen is not some place you happen to walk by. But like all true blooded Singaporeans, travelling for good food is never a problem.
Entering the little eatery, I had to wrestle open the swivel folding door which I imagined would collapse any time. Perhaps I'm just not very handy, but I feel the door hates me. And I hate it mutually. The first instinct you will have upon entering a restaurant/bistro is to find a seat, then slowly ponder at the menu. This is where Shoebox canteen really messes with your mind because like a school canteen, you have to order upfront, pay then wait for your food to be ready. Even seating follows this rule, evident by a long wooden table stretching half the dining hall to simulate the communal tables of a canteen. Have a meal and make a new friend too, such a bargain.
The menu is scribbled on the wall with chalk for easy changes, currently having a grand total of 4 mains, 1 soup and a drink. Perfect for people with ADHD. It's a small kitchen, so rather than focusing on quantity, quality is the game. Besides, the menu items change every 1-2 weeks for variety. We ordered the Sous-Vide Duck pasta with Orange Foam and Scorched egg, Home-made Beef and Bacon burger as well as the Home-made Lemonade. I would have sacrificed a baby deer to try the much raved about capellini pasta with Prawns and Scallop, but apparently that was in last week's menu. Damn it all.
Now, with the duck pasta most people would think the orange foam is pretty redundant, but orange has been traditionally paired with duck in French cuisine for ages, like the Canard/Duck a l'Orange. Orange adds that slight citrus zest to the very flavourful red duck meat to expand the taste dimension. This dish is a play on our local braised duck mee- Yellow mee is replaced with thin capellini pasta, slow cooked Sous-vide French duck meat for a softer, tender bite and braised egg is substituted with scorched egg, a soft semi-cooked yolk centre similar to Japanese Tamago. Everything is then splashed in Singapore braised duck sauce. All components are recreated yet keeps the essence of a Lor Mee; reinvention is where Chef Warren's talents shine. My only gripe was the slight saltiness, easily corrected with less salt.
The beef burger with bacon in all honestly, was nothing spectacular other than the sheer size of the beef patty, cooked to medium doneness. Wrapped in crispy bacon between sesame roasted buns, this dish was more a comfort food for people who lacked the balls to try something new. The hand cut chips were crispy as hell though, not the kind of 'chips' you would expect anywhere else. Again, the show in skill lies much in the 'From scratch' method of cooking.
The most underrated item that day hands down, was the home-made Lemonade. Squeezed with fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup (home-made yet again) then infused with Rosemary and mixed with Pomelo sac, this drink was more refreshing than watching Gangnam Style the billionth time.
If you value dishes made using hours of preparation with the rustic essence of an ingredient in mind, this is the place for you. However, if you can't tell the difference between Wagyu and Macdonalds, then you should probably just eat at Hong Lim Food centre.