Photos courtesy of Select Group
First things first, the road Jalan Tukang Innovation Grove and the medical manufacturing facility MedTech are so new, you probably can’t find them on Google Maps” ¦ yet. But before you pan the location for being soooo ulu, we’ve been there and it’s actually” ¦ not too bad. There are bus stops close by, it’s right beside the AYE and a quick 20 minutes’ drive to the CBD (barring traffic).
Third Place @ MedTech is run by Select Group, old-timers in the food business. The sprawling ground floor eatery lives a double life: in the day, it’s a typical food court with 12 stalls (12-5pm) serving herbal soups to mini wok delights, with a Halal section for Muslim colleagues. However, stay past 5pm to see funky blinds proclaiming slogans such as “keep calm and drink beer” pulled over the stalls, lights are slightly dimmed (but still alright for Instagram pics) and friendly servers start milling around to take orders from the dinner crowd. Not enough cash on hand? MasterCard and VISA payment options magically become available at night.
For that tze char communal experience, opt to sit at the round tables instead of the classroom-style wood tables and wood-backed metal chairs. The mood-lighting, concrete floors and a ceiling of unconcealed pipes and wires add to the whole casual and relaxed feel. The food is hearty, comfort fare reimagined with hints of uplifting citrus, stylish presentation and a smattering of fusion. The BiTES Team takes you through our top six hits.
1. From the tapas menu, Krab’s Ocean Drink sounds like something a red crustacean boss-type in SpongeBob SquarePants would sup. It’s a bit pricey at $18, but it’s something special for a tze char hangout–an Alaskan crab leg beckons temptingly from a silver chalice filled with red wine sauce. You won’t get drunk on this, but we reckon you’ll find the tart dip an interesting counterpoint to the fresh, sweet flesh.
2. Moving into the zi char menu proper, a great starter is the Five Blessings Platter ($80/10pax). Of course there must be some iteration of jellyfish on there–ours came in thick, generous strips bathed in a sweet and spicy sauce. Other choice items were the fried enoki mushrooms with salt and pepper, and seasonal offering papaya salad which was tame and refreshing, unlike its super spicy Thai counterpart. Stellar items were the crispy shredded popiah ball with prawn and salted egg yolk (’cause salted egg yolk anything is mostly delish, with the textural crunch of the fried wrappers) and the mango prawn roll, also a seasonal item.
It’s a heavy start to the meal as most items are deep fried, but grab some of their interesting craft beers (Italian ale Space Frontier piqued our interest) or Swedish fruit ciders from Ãƒ ¤lska to prep your palate for their other unique dishes.
3. You definitely need to order rice to go with Third Place’s Nyonya-style steamed red grouper (seasonal price). Ours was perfectly steamed, the white flesh firm with no hint of fishiness. But the star of this dish is the piquant sauce, well-flavoured with assam and spices. If we could, we’d buy a bottle home, but for now we’ll just make do with repeat trips to the west to quiet our cravings. Another reminder to order rice. Lots of it. This is a dish that fish-loving, fish eyeball crunching dads will approve of.
4. We found our chopsticks clashing for the fried prawn balls with macadamia nuts in orange sauce ($18/27/36). The use of fruits and citrus in many of Third Place @ MedTech’s signature tze char offerings increased our appetites twofold, we swear. A trip to the gym is in the works but meanwhile, we’re content to continue popping these tangy and subtly nutty seafood spheres into our mouths in lieu of exercise.
5. If you’re lucky to snag a portion of the beancurd with hon-shimeji mushrooms ($12/18/24, limited to 30 sets a day), relish in the velvety tofu and smooth sauce redolent with the tasty Japanese fungi. It’s thoughtfully served on a hot plate and topped with a generous serving of shrooms, with bok choy on the side.
6. We’re saving the best for last, and for good reason. Move aside salted egg crab for Third Place’s signature salted egg cheese crab (seasonal price). We finally know how much difference a single ingredient can make. The addition of a mild mozzarella tones down salted egg’s slightly sharp and saltier tones, rounding the flavour for a creamier mouthfeel that pairs well with the Sri Lankan crab’s meaty flesh. However, do eat this dish when the sauce is still warm, otherwise cold, solidified chunks of cheese might turn you off.
Chilli crab’s available too, with mini fried mantou.
Will we visit again? Yes. And we heard Third Place has an upcoming outlet at Tuas 7–great news for true-blue westies!
Mon-Sat 6am-10pm (tze char and tapas bar from 5pm). #01-01 JTC MedTech One, 2 Jalan Tukang Innovation Grove, www.thirdplace.com.sg