You know that icebreaker question people always ask, “If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?” For me, it’s got to be pasta. There’s so much one can do with pasta. The permutations between the type of pasta, base sauce, choice of ingredients, and cooking style are simply endless. In fact, size does matter when it comes to pairing pasta sauces with shapes, for the best pasta experience.
Thanks to the explore page over on Instagram (I know, how lacklustre), I chanced upon Desmond Pasta, which is located within Bing Garden Eating House in Ubi. Now, you’re probably thinking why I would make a special trip down. Behold, the chef’s culinary origins are from the acclaimed PS. Café—also known as the one with incredible truffle fries—where he worked for eight years.
Strategically located in the middle of a high-ceiling open-air food centre, it’s not hard to spot Desmond Pasta, given its bright orange signage. While I’m not a huge fan of the graphic design across the menu here, it’s worth mentioning that Desmond Pasta is a one-man show. Chef Desmond cooks and cashiers solo, even during peak lunch hours.
What I tried
First up, Carbonara (S$6.80). Chef Desmond’s humble rendition had made its rounds on social media for being value-for-money at its price. Just by looking at the dish, I could see chopped onions, a generous portion of diced bacon, cherry tomato halves, shaved parmesan cheese, topped with a quail egg.
As I twirled my fork in for a bite, it was clear the pasta was served al dente. It had a good chew but perhaps a tad under for my liking. While the portion was generous and presentation superb, the sauce and ingredients were pretty standard. Nothing too fancy to shout about.
The addition of cherry tomatoes into the creamy dish added an extra dimension of zest, which was quite unnecessary. Whether Chef Desmond intended for this to be for decorative purposes or for flavour, I’d say the dish could do without.
When I asked Chef Desmond for his top three dish recommendations earlier, he sheepishly replied that everything was good, with a special shoutout given to the Desmond Pork Chop Rice (S$7.50). How bizarre, yet I was excited to dig in.
It is served with short-grain rice, a medley of greens, mushroom sauce, and a beautiful char-grilled pork chop. Up till here, the dish looked ordinary and I even lowered my expectations. Note to self: never judge a book by its cover.
Let me begin with the pork chop—it was delightful. The marination was impeccable, boasting a lovely balance of savoury and sweet. The edges were a bit tough to cut through but overall still very tender. The burnt corners were my favourite!
I wondered why Chef Desmond decided to pair this with rice instead of pasta until I switched up my perspective. Italian novelty aside, the Asian flair of the dish was a great showcase of Chef Desmond’s Chinese roots. And of course, everything goes better with rice. I guess it would be interesting to see how this combination pairs with teriyaki sauce instead because I do think it’ll be superior to the current mushroom sauce, which was average at best.
Lastly, I jumped back onto the Rossa Pasta (S$6.80), to see how it fared against the Carbonara. It had all my childhood favourite ingredients in a dish—bacon, chicken chunks, onion, parmesan cheese, mixed into a tangy tomato sauce (yes, I intentionally skipped spinach).
The meek dish was generous in both spaghetti and ingredients. Look at the size of the hefty chicken chunks; my ravenous self would definitely appreciate a portion like this after a long day at work. As expected, the pasta was cooked al dente as well. The tanginess from the tomatoes was faint but overall, a homely dish reminiscent of days where my only worries would be homework.
You’d think for a shop with pasta in its name, the pasta dishes would be the hero, right? To my surprise, Desmond’s Pork Chop Rice was the clear winner of the meal. As for the pasta options, the affordable price makes up for the ordinary taste.
Desmond Pasta certainly appeals to the working staff in nearby offices and makes for a refuelling lunch. With the low-cost Italian fare and hearty Pork Chop Rice, no harm in stopping by if you’re around the area to give it a try. After all, our hawkers could use the support during tumultuous times.
Expected damage: S$6.80 – S$$7.50 per pax
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