COO, The New Kid In Tiong Bahru’s Hood

A buzzing social hotspot with a bistro that serves delicious ‘glocal’ cuisine

Photos: COO 

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Stepping inside COO Bistro, one can’t help but notice the witty decor, courtesy of Ministry of Design.

Tiong Bahru is many things: The oldest housing estate in Singapore, a foodie enclave studded with photogenic cafes and an off-the-radar shopping haven for independent labels.

And now, it may even add backpackers’ zone to its name.

The newest kid on the block is COO, a buzzing hotspot that includes a hostel, bistro and social space.

While young and fancy-free travellers will appreciate the swanky, design-centric dorms from the second floor onwards, my attention is inevitably drawn to their bistro on ground floor.

Cool decor, ‘glocal’ eats

Stepping inside COO Bistro, one can’t help but notice the witty decor, courtesy of Ministry of Design.

Neon lights in the shape of the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood illuminate the bar, while partitions come in the form of geometric, old school railings.

The walls are decked with illustrated fun facts about the ‘hood, from its history to its icons — including a particular stray cat.

Going by the energetic, communal vibe of the space, it’s no surprise that their cuisine is a ‘Glocal’ mix of reworked local dishes.

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The Tiong Bahru Platter comes with grilled chicken, roasted pork belly and more.

Local flavours reworked

The neighbourhood references don’t just stop at the decor; there’s even a sharing dish called the Tiong Bahru Platter ($28).

It is a medley of grilled chicken with house-made satay sauce, a 12-hour slow-cooked crispy roasted pork belly, salt and pepper barramundi and mackerel keropok.

While the salt and pepper barramundi was a winner with its tender freshness, the ‘satay chicken’ was somewhat lacklustre. It was missing the familiar smoky, savoury-sweet flavour of grilled satay.

If you’re a fan of the famed prawn noodles of Tiong Bahru market, you’ll appreciate COO’s Prawn Noodles ($18).

Firm strands of fettuccine pasta are tossed in an umami-rich prawn broth and topped with grilled tiger prawns. We think even hawker purists can agree that this modern update of the hawker dish worked surprisingly well.

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If you’re a fan of the famed prawn noodles of Tiong Bahru market, you’ll appreciate COO’s Prawn Noodles.

Playing favourites

Another favourite from the menu has to be COO’s Pressed Sandwich ($21), an assembly of tender beef hangar steak and air-cured beef in a hot pressed ciabatta.

The addition of caramelised, house-made onion chilli jam and melted Gruyere cheese took the hearty sandwich to the next level. We predict this one will be well favoured by tourists and locals alike!

To conclude your meal, go for Tiong Bahru ‘Chwee Kuey’ ($9). The dessert consists of panna cotta with candied walnut and balsamic strawberries — a doppelgänger of the traditional ‘chwee kuey’ dish which usually comes with ‘chai po’ (preserved turnip) and chilli.

Indulging in a sweet treat that looks uncannily savoury? Always an interesting experience!

COO Bistro, 259 Outram Rd

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