Situated in a small, restored shophouse on Ann Siang Road, Ding Dong Singapore is the bumble bee of restaurants. Like the bumble bee, it should not be able to fly. Its separate components do not seem promising – a silly name, sleazy neon lights that will not be out-of-place in a less desirable part of town, a very cramped space, high bar tables with uncomfortable stools for seating and weird food concoctions. Despite (or perhaps because of) all these elements, Ding Dong Singapore manages to fly and has been doing so for a few years!
A huge Ding Dong Ding Dong neon sign greeted us when we entered the restaurant. The kitchen is on the ground floor. There is no seating on the ground floor as the floor space of each level was small. The Ding Dong patrons are shown to their seats on the second and third level, accessed via a steep spiral staircase.
The second level accommodates some tables near the window, a bar counter and a few more small tables next to the bar. Everyone seems happy to be perched on bar stools.
The third level had more tables and regular chairs. This area is more spacious than the one below. Unfortunately, this level was not open for lunch when a rather attractive Ding Dong set lunch is available. A three-course meal starts from $25. Here are pictures of the set lunch menu and some pages from the regular menu.
We decided to go with the set lunch. For starters we elected to have the “burnt nasu with crab and crispy shrimp and vegetable kon lao mee with mangalica pork”. These days, we have to go to lunch with a dictionary. Apparently “nasu” means eggplant and mangalica is a type of pig that has woolly fur.
The nasu had quite a generous amount of crab meat and the crispy shrimps added flavour to the whole dish. The kon lao mee had a sauce that had interesting flavours. The mangalica pork was served in big thin slices. There were streaks of fat but the taste was not porky. Basically, both starters were not bad but they were both cold starters. Cold food, and in particular fatty pork, does not resonate with us. We would have liked the food much more if they were served hot.
For main course, we had the asam pedas barramundi and the tom kha crispy quail. Both were served with rice. The barramundi reminded us of a Peranakan fish dish cooked in the sourish asam pedas flavoured curry. It was a dish that was perfect with steamed rice.
The quail was quite meaty but did not have the characteristic slight gamey taste that we expected. Perhaps the ginger flavoured mind curry had overcome its intrinsic taste. Overall, we liked both the main courses.
Our desserts were gula malacca with sago pudding and textures of chocolate and kaya. The sago pudding was playfully sprinkled with popcorn which was an interesting touch but they have to be eaten quickly as any contact with liquid softens them. The pudding itself was just mainly sweet in taste. The chocolate ice-cream was much better. The chocolate was very rich and strongly flavoured (that we like) and topped with frozen kaya. A much more successful combination.
Overall, it was a delightful lunch at Ding Dong Singapore. We thought that the price of the set lunch was reasonable at $25 each. The ala carte prices seem rather high. We would probably confine ourselves to visits during lunch. We can appreciate the talent and creativity of the chefs at Ding Dong, although some may say that some aspects of the Ding Dong restaurant borders on kitsch. It is good to have restaurants that do not take themselves too seriously.
Overall : 3 TOPs
Ding Dong Singapore
23 Ann Siang Road
Tel: +65 6557 0189
Mondays to Fridays, 12pm to 3pm & 6pm to 12am Saturdays, 6pm to 12am