Cluny Food Court in Botanic Gardens
If you’ve always wanted to dine in a setting surrounded by lush greenery, now’s your chance to do so without breaking the bank. New kid on the block Cluny Food Court is a multi-concept food hall tucked in Singapore Botanic Gardens. Created by Les Amis Group, the breezy food hall houses five popular hawker-preineurial brands: Mui Kee Express, S’Mao Barbecue, Piccante Pronto, Laifaba Express, and Project Penyek by Ansar.
Run by second-generation hawker-preneur Hairi Ansar, Muslim-owned Project Penyek by Ansar is most known for their Nasi Ayam Penyet ($6.50), which sees crispy fried chicken piled with generous lashings of deep-fried batter, a bed of fluffy chicken rice, and house-made sambal for a kick of spice. There’s also an Ikan version ($7.50) if you prefer fish; this number replaces the chicken with a whole deep-fried black pomfret.
Satay fiends can attest to the delicious rendition served at this stall. The recipe is inspired by Roxy Satay—a popular stall run by Hairi’s father in the 1980s—so it’s time-tested with a rich heritage backing it.
Choose from chicken, mutton, beef, and tripe at $1 each, or prawns at $2 per stick, with a minimum order of 10 sticks. Whichever you pick, make sure you dunk your satay in the house-made peanut sauce, which is sweet and savoury, with chunks of fragrant peanut bits for textural contrast. I’d recommend getting the Satay in a Cup ($5) for five skewers with rice cake and sauce.
Project Penyek by Ansar is open daily from 11am to 9:30pm. They’re closed on the first and third Monday of every month.
If you’re looking for another halal-friendly option, check out Piccante Pronto, sister brand of the well-loved Peperoni Pizzeria. Helmed by a Muslim chef, the pizza spot churns out Roman-style thin-crust pizzas, baked pasta, as well as salads and sides with a touch of local flair. Try the Suprema—$12.50 for Medium (9”), $17.50 for Large (12”), $48 for XXL (21”)—which comes topped with chicken sausage, mushrooms, and fresh chilli padi.
Piccante Pronto is open from Friday to Wednesday, 11:30am to 9:30pm.
Meat lovers will be pleased with the All In Plate ($24), a dinner-only item from Texas-style barbecue stall S’Mao Barbecue. The picture-perfect platter comes with two pieces of bone-in pork ribs, honeyed pork belly, pulled pork, fries, mixed pickles, house-made coleslaw, and your choice of S’mao BBQ or Carolina Gold sauce.
Grilled in-house over a hardwood fire, the pork belly boasts an insane fat-to-meat ratio—the thick layer of fat is kept juicy while the savoury meat is amazingly tender with a deep, smoky flavour. Top tip: alternate each bite with a serving of tangy pickles to offset the greasiness. I’d also recommend sharing the platter if you’re not a big meat eater, so you get to enjoy a taste of everything without feeling jelak.
S’mao Barbecue is open from Wednesday to Monday, 11:30am to 2:30pm, and 6:30pm to 9:30pm.
Another meaty pick—this time with an Asian slant—is the Combination Platter at Laifaba Express. Priced from $16.50 for a double portion for two pax, you get to choose from the homegrown noodle house’s signature “Bu Jian Tian” Char Siew, Crispy Roasted Pork, Roasted Duck, and Superior Soy Sauce Chicken. You can also fill up with their Signature BJT Char Siew & Wanton Noodles ($8) if you’re still feeling peckish.
The wood-fired char siew is prepared with only the pork armpit, which is a prime cut, for an ideal proportion of lean meat and tender fat. Caramelised on the outside with a sweet char, coupled with an uber tender bite, this is one beautiful slab of char siew I’ll never forget.
Laifaba Express is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30am to 6pm.
Image credit: Cluny Food Court
For those craving a bowl of carby comfort, head to Mui Kee Express. This congee empire first started as a humble stall in Hong Kong, in 1979. Today, its third-gen owners run the business with the same recipes and techniques passed down from its founder. At Cluny Food Court, you can tuck into their Garoupa Belly Congee ($13.80): charred fish belly chunks in the brand’s signature smooth congee with a hint of wok hei.
Mui Kee Express is open from Thursday to Tuesday, 8am to 6pm.
The space at Cluny Food Court is bright and airy with plenty of foliage surrounding it. It’s a great lunch spot if you’re in the area and need a break from the office; alternatively, pop by after work to soak in the evening vibes! I think this is an up-and-coming spot that’ll be popular among families on weekends, too.
If you’re dropping by, check out their opening promotion. From 1 to 7 November 2021, buy a drink and get a redemption card to enjoy $1 deals across all five stalls within Cluny Food Court! Highlights include Lean Meat Century Egg Porridge from Mui Kee Express, and a 6-Inch Diavola Pizza from Piccante Pronto.
Address: 1J Cluny Road, Singapore 259607
Opening hours: Daily 8am to 9:30pm
Tel: 9625 3593
Photos taken by Tan Zi Hui
This was a media tasting at Cluny Food Court.
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