From The Straits Times    |

Salut Main

Aren’t the pretty blue and white checkered tables so sweet?

With the rise of a new generation of ‘hipster’ hawkers, you can now say goodbye to boring old coffeeshops with no ambience and salut (‘hi’ in French) to super affordable gastronomic experiences right in the heartlands, like at this much raved about coffeeshop, Salut.

Tables at Salut are decked out in charming blue and white checkered tablecloths and instead of typical hawker fare, this new kind of coffeeshop boasts a range of gourmet cuisines like German, Italian and even French cuisine, all at very alluring prices. Still not convinced? We round-up all seven stalls to give you our take on this interesting new eatery.  

1. IMMANUEL FRENCH KITCHEN

Salut Immanuel French Kitchen Pork Belly

This Pork Belly really tastes as good as it looks! Image: Goh Kaiyi/Fifth Storey

Many of you might have heard of this well-known french stall that has been making waves in the Singapore food scene recently. It’s not surprising as owner Immanuel Tee has a resume that’s the stuff of envy for young chefs everywhere, having worked in two Michelin starred Pastorale in Belgium and even taking on the title of head chef at the young age of 26 in now defunct Keystone Restaurant. Lucky for us, this impressive and passionate young chef chose to set up shop at the unique coffeeshop, bringing us quality French cuisine and his very own unique fusions at super affordable prices.
Must tries: Compared to the ever popular Duck Confit, which I found a too little rich, I preferred the delightfully sinful, yet surprisingly light, signature Pork Belly. Braised in Kakuni style, the three slices of melt-in-your-mouth pork belly have just the right amount of fat and leave you wishing that there was more of it. We loved how Immanuel paired it with a runny onsen tamago that made the dish oh-so silky smooth. Rounded off with a super fluffy and milky potato foam, what should have been an overly rich and oily pork belly dish becomes perfectly balanced.

Another must-try is the newly added Miso Foie Gras ($16.50). You must know that I’m usually not a fan of foie gras (or most exotic French cuisine actually — such a waste, I know) but I was almost sold on Chef Immanuel’s Japanese fusion version. Sprinkled generously with black miso, the creamy texture of the lightly charred foie gras goes perfectly with the sweetly savoury taste of miso. Served in a clear broth with crunchy dashi and daikon noodles, the dish is kept rather refreshing, but still settling a little on the heavy side for me.
For more information, like Immanuel French Kitchen on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/immanuelfrenchkitchen or follow them on instagram @immanuelfrenchkitchen.

2. MIÁN BY THE TRAVELLING C.O.W.

Salut Mian by Travelling Cow Ramen Burger

You’ll get the crunch of crispy ramen patties and the chewy tender beef slices with this huge ramen burger from Miàn by The Travelling C.O.W. Image: The Travelling C.O.W. 

If you’ve heard of the gourmet food truck the Travelling C.O.W., here’s a much easier solution to chasing the elusive van — visit Miàn, set up by the same person behind the food truck, Karen Cheng. As you may guess from it’s name, Mián serves all things flour-related, from pastas to ramen burgers.  
Must-tries: Most foodies would’ve already heard of, or even tried, this latest food fad — ramen burgers, or basically burgers with mamee-like fried ramen patties in place of bread. You’ll be glad to hear that this interesting new cuisine is served at Mian with three different fillings — Crab Salad, Chicken Teriyaki, Spicy BBQ Chicken and Beef Bulgogi ($12). I absolutely loved the Beef Bulgogi Ramen Burger with its succulent and juicy sweet bulgogi beef, sliced to just the right thickness. It makes a great match with the naturally savoury ramen patties, fried golden crisp on the outside but still left chewy and soft on the inside — great for those who enjoy their ramen springy. I, on the other hand, would’ve preferred ramen patties slightly crunchier so I must say that I was rather disappointed. Luckily, Karen shares with us that the crispiness of your ramen patties can be customised so don’t be afraid specify your preference when ordering at the cashier.

The Cheesy Ramen Bites ($6) — three little crispy ramen dumplings filled with oozing, sticky cheese — are also great for fellow cheese lovers. Served with a refreshing side of salsa, this interesting snack is a indulgent but still not too heavy treat to have while waiting for all your mains to arrive.
For more information, visit The Travelling C.O.W. official website at http://thetravellingcow.com/ and like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thetravellingcow/.

3. STEW KÜCHE

Salut Stew Kuche

You won’t believe this but this whole spread, from left to right, Oxtail Stew, Squid Ink Pasta ($15) and Half German Pork Knuckles, from Stew Kuche costs less than $50!

Run by the family who owns the coffeeshop, you can be assured of the quality of their Swiss-German and Italian cuisine, with meat imported all the way from Cuba and prepared by the very experienced and friendly ex-hotel sous chef. For beer-lovers, instead of washing down a satisfying meal with your usual Tiger or Heineken, you can indulge in their wide selection of craft beers, from Quöllfrisch and Moa to Kopparberg ciders. 
Must-tries: Even if you’re not the adventurous sort when it comes to your meats, you really must try the sinfully flavourful Oxtail Stew ($18.90). While creamy and rich, the broth stops right at the threshold of overpoweringly heavy with its generous helping of tomatoes that lends a sweet tangy flavour. Plus, if you love your broth with bread like us (carbs? what carbs?), this stew comes with a pretzel too, or plain rice or mash depending on you. Much to our disappointment, however, the rather minute pretzel was stale and even though we drowned our bread in the thick gravy, there was still more than three-quarters of the broth left after we polished off the bread. What we loved the most, however, was definitely the oxtail. Utterly tender, deliciously juicy and not too gamey, the flesh of the oxtail falls straight off the bones and melts right in your mouth — definitely my new favourite kind of meat. The portions are also incredibly generous, so there’s plenty of this delicious dish to go around with friends and family, no fighting required.

The German Pork Knuckles ($15 for half and $25 for whole), served with peppery potato-salad-like mash and achar, are pretty decent as well, though a little overcooked and dry for our taste.
For more information or reservations, call 6276 6445 and like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/stewkuche.

4. TWO WINGS

Salut Seasalt Two Wings Chicken Wings

It might not be obvious in the picture, but these golden brown wings are really massive in real-life. Image: Two Wings

Much like something out of a Chinese martial arts novel, Jeremy Loh uses a 40-year-old secret family recipe passed down from his grand uncle who plied the hawker trade of chicken wings way back in the 70’s. (This very same man also taught the original owner of Carona Chicken and Victor Fried Rice).

Since acquiring the recipe, Jeremy spent six long months experimenting and tweaking it before bringing us his very own version of bigger and better chicken wings at Salut with his partner Samantha Lee.  
Must-tries: It’s needless to say that you have to try the lovely chicken wings at Two Wings. Fried to a perfect golden brown hue, you’ll get that wonderful crunch from your very first bite of these incredibly crispy wings ($8.50 for 4 pieces, $12.50 for 6, $24 for 12). Yet, these huge Brazil-imported wings are one of the least greasy fried chicken I’ve ever tasted, having no layer of fat under the skin — great for someone like me who doesn’t really like over-oily or fatty chicken. Beyond the skin is the lightly seasoned flesh that’s absolutely juicy and oh-so tender. If you find it slightly bland, Two Wings also boasts an amazingly shiok chicken-rice-style chilli that’s bound to set your taste buds on fire. Be warned though; the waiting time for these freshly made wings can go up to an hour during peak periods, so you may want to call ahead to place your order.

If you feel like having something heavier, try the slightly more flavourful and greasy Spring Chicken (half for $9.90 and whole for $15.90), that’s equally succulent and moist.
For more information or reservations call 9667 0368 and like Two Wings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/twowingsSG/info.

5. SEASALT – THE SEAFOOD PLACE

Salut Seasalt The Seafood Place Mussels

We love, love, love our mussels — especially when they come in a huge pot like this! Image: Seasalt The Seafood Place

If you haven’t realised already, most of the fare at Salut will leave you feeling like fireworks exploded upon your taste buds. Fret not, however, because here to cleanse those rich, heavy flavours from your palate is the fresh and lightly seasoned seafood from Seasalt. Born from the two chefs’ passion for all things under the sea, this stall prides itself on the natural sweet freshness of their seafood, from the locally acquired fish to mussels imported from Australia and Scotland.
Must-tries: As a lover of shellfish, I couldn’t stop salivating at the pots overflowing with mussels right from the very first time I visited Salut. Served in five different flavours — vino, or white wine ($14), tom yum ($14), black pepper($14), garlic cream ($15) and blue cheese ($16) — the Fresh Mussels In A Pot are served with toasted bread (yay!) and conveniently comes with another pot for all the shells. Giving in to my urge to indulge, I went with the garlic cream, expecting yet another creamy and starchy dish. However, I was pleasantly surprised with a clear, smooth broth that had a feather-light fragrance of buttery garlic and cream. Without any heavy sauces weighing down the seafood, you can clearly taste the sweet freshness of the chewy mussels — a sure-hit for all seafood lovers.

Lovers of the classic Fish and Chips can enjoy this comfort food with a twist at Seasalt, where it’s served with three different sauces — Lemon Butter($9), Nacho Cheese ($10), and my personal favourite Wasabi Mayo ($10). As you might have realised, I love spicy food as much as every other Singaporean so the creamy yet not too overpowering Wasabi sauce managed to hit just the right spot for me. Non-wasabi fans won’t go wrong with the ever-popular nacho cheese sauce or the fragrant yet zesty lemon butter sauce.  
For more information or reservations, call 8200 5528 and like Seasalt – The Seafood Place on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/seasaltseafood.

6. BROWN SUGAR BY ESKIMO

Salut Brown Sugar by Eskimo

Set up by local chain-store Eskimo, you’ll find not only caffeinated drinks but also still popular Taiwanese milk and fruit teas and Yakult drinks at Brown Sugar.
Must-tries: We loved the super smooth pudding in their signature Pudding Milk Tea which was welcome balm for the sweltering weather. Another refreshing mix we strongly recommend was the Orange Yakult mix. The slightly sweet Yakult perfectly balanced out the tangy taste of orange, with bits of orange pulp for added texture.

7. JOLLY BELL

Salut Jolly Bell Macarons

What’s a good meal without some pretty macarons? Image: Jolly Bell

A perfect ending to your satisfying meal, Jolly Bell, the only dessert stall at Salut, offers a wonderful range of desserts, from crowd-favourites like Lava Cake and Macarons to homemade ice creams and even Baked Alaska. 
Must-tries: If you’ve tried your hand at making these sweet circular biscuits, you should know that it really isn’t easy to make the perfect macarons. This is why I was pleasantly surprised by Jolly Bell’s perfectly crisp and crumbly macarons ($3 to $3.50), with a lovely smooth and creamy paste. It’s not the texture of their macarons that’s impressive; the range of flavours is also rather interesting, like Yuzu, White Grape and Peru Dark Chocolate. With the flavours changing regularly every week, there’s no chance you’ll get bored of their yummy macarons. If you’re desperate to escape the heat, however, I would recommend the homemade alcoholic ice creams, like the Bailey Chocolate or Rum and Rasin ($3 per scoop) which have a nice hint of alcohol aftertaste.
For more information, visit Jolly Bell’s website at http://www.jollybell.blogspot.sg, like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JollybellSG/.

Before you rush down to dig into this food haven, here’s some tips to help you get the most out of your experience at Salut: Firstly, be sure to bring a big bunch of friends or family so you can get the best of everything as the portions tend to be quite generous. You’ll also want to call ahead for reservations if you’re going down for dinner as it can get pretty crowded. I’ve found that the best time to visit the place is on weekdays right after lunch crowd clears out, around 1.30pm, before the stalls take their afternoon break to prep for the dinner crowd.

Salut is located at Block 119, Bukit Merah Lane 1, Singapore 151119 and is closed on Mondays.