“Chao Ta” in Hokkien means burnt or overcooked. In Spanish, “Chao” can mean bye; and of course “ta ta” is also an informal way of saying bye bye. However you look at it, “Chao Ta” is a rather unusual name for a new restaurant in Singapore. If it is meant to call attention to the eatery in a crowded F&B scene, it certainly succeeded in attracting our attention. Is burnt food the new black or is it a case of overcooked pun? We visited the new Chao Ta restaurant in Tanjong Katong to find out.
The new Chao Ta restaurant occupies an old shophouse in Tanjong Katong, just next to Oven & Fried Chicken 오꾸닭 & 쌀통닭. It is brightly lit and has simple and tasteful interior decorations. The place has a homely feel. The air-conditioned indoor seating area is not big but it does not feel congested. There are a few tables in the outdoor courtyard.
Chao Ta Restaurant Menu
When we visited Chao Ta, it was in the “soft opening” phase. The menu was rather limited but presumably the items in the “Soft Opening Menu” would be their signature items or dishes which they might consider to be their best. Below is a picture of the one page menu.
Dinner at Chao Ta Restaurant
We ordered Fries with Beef Chili ($11), Soft Bone Ribs ($23) and Mentai Beef Cubes ($15) as well as a slice of the House Special Banana Cake ($6). Service charge, but not GST, would be added to the bill.
Fries with Beef Chili
We were impressed by the Fries with Beef Chili. The thin fries had a nice golden colour and were light and crispy. The center of the fries was nicely cooked and there was no greasiness. The bowl of rich and hearty Beef Chili was loaded with ground beef, vegetables and beans. Chao Ta’s beef chilli was flavourful and delectable. The fries and beef chiili were both good eaten separately but really enjoyable eaten together.
Mentai Beef Cubes
Mentai Beef Cubes were grilled ribeye with Mentaiko. The beef had little or no burnt bits and the taste was ordinary. The creamy topping of mildly spicy marinated fish roe did not add to the enjoyment of the beef. It was a fusion dish that did not work for us.
Soft Bone Ribs
The star of the evening was the chargrilled Soft Bone Ribs. There were plenty of burnt or chao ta bits in the rib tips with soft small bones or cartilage. The burnt bits had a nice smokiness and the meat, with some fat and marbling, was meltingly tender and flavourful. With a bit of lime and the spicy dipping sauce added and the pork dish would become deliciously different. The Chao Ta burnt pork ribs is a dish we would happily have again.
Black Rice & Banana Cake
We must have been enjoying the porks ribs so much that we looked ravenous. The nice ladies at Chao Ta offered us a complimentary bowl of Black Rice, which was not yet on their menu. The mixture of rice, mushroom and vegetables was a delightful one. If the Black Rice is added to the menu, we would order it.
The Banana Cake had a very soft texture and was not too sweet. It was not much to look at but it tasted good.
Good Neighbourhood Restaurant
Now we know that the name of the new restaurant in Tanjong Katong is a reference to their signature dishes of chargrilled ribs and pork belly where the burnt or chao ta bits can really draw you in and whet your appetite. It seems to be a new trend that chefs are burning food intentionally to add flavours and textures.
We also know that the owners Chao Ta restaurant are passionate about their food and they aim to only include in the menu dishes that they are proud of. The chargrilled Soft Bone Ribs, with all the chao ta bits, that we tried was certainly something they should be proud of. Chao Ta is a nice unpretentious restaurant. There is no ostentatious decor, exotic dish or fancy plating – just good food with friendly welcoming owners who take pride in the food they serve. Every neighbourhood should have a restaurant like this.
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
232 Tanjong Katong Road
Tel: +65 69709665
Tues – Sun: 5 pm to 12 midnight
Closed on Mondays
The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog