Good Meals That Give Back At The New Timbre+
Industrial estates are known for boring food options: Cold economy rice; bland noodles and average nasi padang. But Timbre+, a massive 24,000 sq ft “gastropark” is bringing a hitherto unseen level of cool to Ayer Rajah Crescent. Think urban Bavarian beer garden – long benches, hearty meals and loud laughs – slathered in edgy street art and centred around a huge live music stage. (The Timbre group has its roots, after all, in popular live music venues at The Arts House and Substation.) The murals are painted by graffiti artist collective RSCLS (who lend this venture serious street cred) the emblazon strategically placed shipping containers that hover above diners as they eat.)
But the feel-good factor is not just cosmetic. Timbre+ features two social enterprises (SEs), Garcons and Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh Without Borders. Fortuitously, both employ and train ex-offenders in food preparation. Garcons in French cooking techniques and Soon Huat, in Singaporean hawker favourite bak kut teh. Yes, this means when you eat your duck rillette, ratatouille and stewed pork in garlicky broth you’re helping someone start over, reintegrate into society, learn a new skill and earn a steady wage. What a win-win.
Most strikingly, the two are housed in stationary food trucks fashioned from imported 1970s Airstream trailers, and painted by RSCLS to embody the spirit of each SE. Garcons’ exterior features a pair of tattooed hands holding a seedling and the slogan “Boys of today, craftsmen of tomorrow”. We especially love Soon Huat’s livery: rich sunset hues in tactile acrylics depicting a man throwing a starfish into the sea, an adaptation of a painting by ex-con turned artist Barry Yeow.
Soon Huat’s specialty, dry bak kut teh (SGD7.50 for 1 person) is saucy and tender, a unique twist on an old favourite. We also loved their ha cheong gai (prawn paste chicken, SGD$6.50) which was so juicy you need a napkin to protect your shirt from splatters. The kai lan (SGD$5.90) in contrast was crunchy and flavourful, a simple vegetable dish done just right.
Garcons offers French mains with a choice of two side dishes. For a main course, the 12-hour crispy pork is a hot favourite. We couldn’t get over their braised lamb shank – so soft it practically fell off the bone of its own volition. Standout sides include the potato gratin and ratatouille, but get in there early, because both sell out quite quick. The chacuterie plate of duck rilette and duck sausage (SGD$9.60) is delicious and pairs well with beer. Garcons parent company, E&I Concepts received a social enterprise grant from the DBS Foundation in 2015 to expand their business. This is their second Garcons branch, the French haute hawker has another outlet in Essen @ The Pinnacle.
Timbre+ is proving popular with the one-north office crowd, expect media types from Lucasfilms and M&C Saatchi. Come by at dinner time to enjoy the atmosphere and live music nightly from from Monday to Saturday. Expect pop rock performers from Timbre’s stable of in-house bands including OK Ready!, Sweatshop Jam, Supersonic The Common People.
Timbre+ is at 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, JTC LaunchPad @ one-north, Singapore 139957, www.timbreplus.sg
Interested in socially conscious living in Asia? Check out Asia For Good's social enterprise directory.
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