Set up by a group of four friends who’ve been buds for years, each with their own expertise in business or the F&B scene, No Milk Bistro is the new dual-concept, fusion joint in town. It’s a two-story shop house unit located steps from the Aliwal Arts Centre, in a chill part of Bugis that escapes the neighborhood’s hungry crowds.
Here, the first level houses a casual, no-frills fish soup eatery. It’s so unassuming that there’s no proper sign bearing its name, just the words “fish soup” and “bar” in neon-plated Mandarin. Based on a decades-old recipe of Teochew-style fish soup that, like its name suggests, is devoid of milk, the menu focuses on its star dish in various renditions.
Whether it’s sliced mackerel ($6), fried sea bass ($6), or a mix of the two ($7), the dish can be customized with carbs like steamed rice, thick or thin bee hoon, mee sua, porridge, mee tai mak, or kway tiao. There’s also the option of seafood soup ($7) and dry egg noodles with grilled pork belly or fish belly ($8), plus add-ons such as prawns, fish roe, fried egg floss, seaweed, and broccoli.
Should you prefer more meat to complete your meal, order a couple sides of house-made ngor hiang ($2, five spice pork rolls in bean curd skin) or char siew ($6.90).
The fish soup itself is light and clear, yet flavorful, like something your grandma would simmer for hours in the kitchen just to nourish you with comfort food when you’re under the weather. But if you’re looking for something spicier, the handmade egg noodles doused in a fiery mala chilli sauce that doesn’t numb your entire mouth could very well rival your favorite go-to noodle stall.
Come evening time, it’s an entirely different ball game upstairs. Walk past the pink neon “Pop it like it’s Hot” sign and you’ll find yourself on the second floor bistro, with a bar counter, high tables, and an alfresco rooftop area. The view isn’t much to shout about, but it makes for a chill hangout spot if you happen to be in the area.
Leaning away from the traditional, the bistro menu dabbles in Mexican and Italian cuisines, mixed with a splash of local influences, thanks to the chef’s prior stints in places like Margarita’s.
Sure, you’ve got bar bites such as fried chicken wings ($14.80/eight), mini prawn chimichangas ($12.80) and con queso with corn chips ($7), but there’s also a line-up of charcoal grilled meats, including a “secret recipe” pork belly and homemade black char siew ($12.80 each). Each tender bite practically melts in your mouth — you know all that fat is probably going to your hips, but you won’t be able to stop yourself anyway.
Also of note is the tequila-marinated Angus beef that’s served Mexican style with a tortilla wrap, sour cream, pico de gallo, and mashed potatoes ($24).
Do leave space for the selection of fresh tagliatelle, though. Made in-house with just flour and egg, the chewy pastas take on an Asian influence in dishes like 12-hour stewed beef rendang ($16.80), mala bacon and shiitake ($15.80), and Thai red curry with tiger prawns ($18.80).
Now, if only the carbs came in a bigger portion to line our stomachs before they’re filled with yakult sojus, cocktails, and craft beers — all relatively affordably priced from $10 to $20.
No Milk Bistro is at 18 Pahang St.
6291-5854. First floor eatery: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm; second floor bistro: Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight.
MRT: Nicoll Highway/Bugis
This article, No Milk Bistro combines a casual fish soup stall and rooftop bar with Mexican-Italian fusion, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!