Alden Boon

Scissors Paper Stove’s Strategy for a Winning Meal Lies in Its Sea Bass, Beef Cheek and Pork Ribs

22/08/2018

What a name for an F&B establishment,” said the taxi driver as we both craned our necks, peering out of the car window to scan the entire stretch of Teck Chye Terrace for Scissors Paper Stove. Scissors Paper Stove is the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Januver and Chomel, who decided to set up a restaurant that recreated Melbourne’s eclectic and spellbinding culinary scene.

One of Scissors Paper Stove’s calling cards is supposedly its Asian-inspired tapas. You could order the tapas à la carte, or get two at S$20; four at S$36; or six at S$48. This was a pricing tier that confused me — if I paired, for example, the Bruschetta (S$7.50) with the Fruit Salsa (S$7), would I still pay the twenty (obviously not, but such a pricing scheme seemed odd)? After exercising some mental dexterity to make sure I was getting a good bargain for the set of four tapas, I settled on a repertoire of Baby Portobello Mushroom (UP: S$8.50), Baby Pork Ribs (UP: S$11), Lamb Kebab (UP: S$11) and Ceviche (UP: S$11.50).

With the Lamb Kebab, the chef’s hand with seasoning was a tad too heavy, so that the first bite was an assault on the palate. The meat had a pinkish centre, yet it was bereft of moisture and somewhat chewy. The skewer, interspersed with meat, jalapeno, red pepper and onion, came rested on roasted pumpkin topped with a smattering of thyme. Then there was the Ceviche: the few cubes of cured sea bass were lost in the muddle of dragon fruit, apple and mango (after two helpings, my friend exclaimed, “There’s fish in this dish!”). Missing was the signature acidity of the ceviche’s leche de tigre (a citrusy marinade that “cooks” the raw fish); here it felt more like we were imbibing syrupy punch. We were also supposed to pair the ceviche with papadum: an oddity, though papadum is always welcomed no matter how incongruous its appearance is. Even by the end of an hours-long lunch, we barely emptied the cocktail glass of its content.

Scissors Paper Stove Teck Chye Terrace Fusion Cuisine Singapore Tapas
Scissors Paper Stove Teck Chye Terrace Fusion Cuisine Singapore Tapas
Scissors Paper Stove Teck Chye Terrace Fusion Cuisine Singapore Tapas
Scissors Paper Stove Teck Chye Terrace Fusion Cuisine Singapore Tapas
Scissors Paper Stove Teck Chye Terrace Fusion Cuisine Singapore Tapas
Scissors Paper Stove Teck Chye Terrace Fusion Cuisine Singapore Tapas
Scissors Paper Stove Teck Chye Terrace Fusion Cuisine Singapore Tapas
Scissors Paper Stove Teck Chye Terrace Fusion Cuisine Singapore Tapas

The next two tapas dishes fared considerably better. The upturned Baby Portobello Mushroom brimmed with black-speckled mushroom puree spilling over the cap, the latter imbued with a sweet hint of ricotta cheese. The Baby Pork Ribs bore us swiftly to elation, slicked with a barbecue sauce of a bewitching red. The sauce, moreish with a tangy-tomato undertone. The ribs, superbly tender and came apart at the slightest prick. Could we upgrade this appetiser to a main course, thought I.

Our excitement deflated with the Paella (S$20): upon arrival, the rice did little to inspire confidence. Scissors Paper Stove uses bomba rice for its paella, a strain of rice imported from Spain, the birthplace of the dish. Supposedly, bomba rice can absorb liquid up to three times its size and still retain its firmness and texture; this was not the case for Scissors Paper Stove’s rendition, swollen and soggy the grains were. The entire dish soaked up the saffron bisque, which had a metallic pungency and was missing its yang that balanced the flavours. The accompanying ingredients provided redemption: prawns and mussels were huge; there was also a generous medley of squid, clams and chorizo chunks.

The next course, Beef Cheek (S$18), uplifted us from disappointment. It was as if Scissors Paper Stove were playing fast and loose with our feelings, tempering soaring bliss with chagrin, then reviving the bliss again (and in so doing paying tribute to the luck-dependent game that inspired its moniker: unbridled joy from a victory; festering anger from consecutive losses). The beef cheek, braised with red wine, was incredibly tender like the pork ribs. The gravy was piquant too. The heap of creamy mashed potatoes hid the treasure of tuber chunks, so there were delightful crunchy bites amidst the velvety enjoyment.

A showstopper, the sea bass featured in the Cartafata (S$28) was first seared then baked alongside a line-up of prawns, mussels and squid in a sealed bag. Fun fact: the dish’s name is the name of the transparent cooking foil, though the latter is spelt two words with a trademark symbol. We scooped up many spoonsful of the tomato-based sauce to drench the fish, fresh, firm and clean tasting. The dish also came with a side of Thai-style fried rice, fragrant and topped with pork floss.

Overall, Scissors Paper Stove had more hits than misses; it seemingly excels when it gets to work with tomatoes. On a weekday afternoon, only a few tables were occupied, and by 2pm, my friend and I were the only guests left, making it a great dining spot for meaningful conversations.

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

Scissors Paper Stove

Address: 9 Teck Chye Terrace, Singapore 545720

Telephone: +65 6242 0021

Opening Hours:  12pm – 12am (Daily)

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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