Alden Boon

Chu Tang, DUO Galleria, Offers Hearty Cuban Sandwiches

09/05/2018

Some five hundred years ago, the Taíno tribe created the first Cuban sandwich. The primordial version featured casabe, a kind of crispy flatbread made from the yucca root. The filling was either fish or bird meat, layered between two slices of casabe. When the Spaniards arrived on the island of Cuba, they introduced pork to the natives, and swapped the casaba for a bread-like alternative, hence birthing a new riff of the Cuban sandwich. Circa the mid-1800s, the Cuban tobacco industry began to flourish in Florida, and naturally the immigrants brought this beloved dish to their new home — the sandwich, being affordable, was a common choice for lunch. So it was that the Cuban sandwich became popular.

Today, Cuban sandwich has made its way across the world. Chu Tang, a brand that originated in Taiwan, sells the Cuban sandwich. Last month, the brand opened its flagship outlet in Singapore at DUO Galleria. The kiosk offers five different Cuban-sandwich options: BBQ Pork, Pari Pari Chicken, Beef Patty, Hand-pulled Pork and Kimchi Pork Belly, the last of which pandering to Singaporeans’ propensity for devouring anything Korean, pop culture and food. Since my visit, the menu has also expanded to include bento sets such as Taiwanese braised pork and wraps.

Chu Tang Cuban Sandwich DUO Galleria
Chu Tang Cuban Sandwich DUO Galleria
Chu Tang Cuban Sandwich DUO Galleria

I went for the BBQ Pork Cuban Sandwich and Pari Pari Chicken Cuban Sandwich — the only options available then — when I was there. Minutes after I placed my order, there wafted the familiar, head-turning whiff of freshly-grilled bread (it never gets old, does it), the wonderful Maillard reaction at work. Cocooned within the crusty bread were oven-baked pork with a sweet note and fork-tender texture, sliced pickles and cheese melted to a gooey malleability. On the other hand, the Pari Pari Chicken Cuban Sandwich left a spicy kick in its wake.

Chu Tang has also garnered positive feedback for its Milk Tea (S$4.90), a melange of Ceylon tea and earl grey tea leaves. It came in a fun bag pouch imprinted with the words “放感情”, which means to pour your feelings (into something). Unlike typical Taiwanese milk tea which has an immediate sweetness, this version, I found, was a tad bland.

Chu Tang’s Cuban Sandwiches are not gourmet or exactly pretty; just meant as a quick bite like the ones the Cuban immigrants ate. Grab one and go — it is best to enjoy the sandwiches immediately while they are hot, the bread still crusty and cheese still stretchy.

nedla does not receive any compensation for its food reviews; all visits made are incognito.

Chu Tang Singapore 初堂

Address: DUO Galleria, 7 Fraser Street, #B3-07, S189356

Opening Hours: Mondays to Fridays 10am – 8pm; Saturdays 11am – 6pm

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.

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