I have to pounce on this short-spaced opportunity to write something about a little Mexican place tucked away in Chinatown. I tell you now that this is the first proper adult burrito I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’ll just subtly throw in the fact that I’m 17, so that leaves a little room for quick hop-and-go experiments now. Honest to God. Never in my life have I willfully set out to have a Mexican meal; the idea simply never appealed to me, purely because of my Asian-rooted culinary habits or the occasional yearning for some gourmet fusion fare. Throw in a burger or two and you’ve got me in the fish net. But burritos? Ha, I wasn’t even keen on the idea. But having read a number of reviews lauding the authenticity of this bean-stuffed hole in the wall iced with hanging lights, I felt like abandoning my comfort zone this Friday night. So we ventured to Chinatown, practically a foreigner in my own country, and immediately warmed up to the human heat and red bustle of the area.
The black sign stood out in neat block letters on a glass pane, and the inside beckoned with its beautiful lights, like mini lamps on the end of black streamers, a row of toppings, meats and fats smirking at you from the side. You see the sour cream, guacamole, beans deep fried a second time in mountains of lard, tomato salsa, sweet pulled pork, rice and more. A woman is spreading their homemade cheese spread of cheddar and Monterey Jack on tortilla. You secretly hope she is the best burrito filler they’ve got, and suddenly spot the cold glass of ‘Mexican Cola’ by the side. One of that too please, and you whip out $4.25, before scrutinising the toppings laid out naked before you.
The friend I went with told me that the last time he came, he got the Carnitas, or pork butt slow-cooked in its own lard (goodness yum?!), stuffed with all the trimmings, and could’ve gone on for a full 5 minutes on how wonderful it was. I pondered the idea of beef, since it offered a new taste option and was just a little more expensive, so obviously I wondered if it had some special kick factor which separated the gold from the silver. ‘Pork or beef?’ I asked the capped and aproned lady. I didn’t even end on a questioning lilt before she replied with ‘pork’. Well then. Pork butt it was.
And pork butt it was golden. Added rice, black beans, deep fried beans (which I thought resembled a mild red hummus at first), tomato salsa, fresh guacamole made with ripe Hass avocados, pork, sour cream and hot sauce. The woman asked if I was on some special diet when I gawked at the re-fried beans. I said no, a little annoyed, and hurriedly asked her to pile it on. Thank you. And yes, I do think burritos are wimpy children without sour cream or hot sauce; those two need to be married and done away with. The rice yielded a nice bite and edge, which offered good texture amongst the mush of creamy avocado and that moist, pink landslide of gooey beans. Starch upon starch upon protein, that was. I’m ever so grateful for the discovery of hot sauce at the place, for despite already being lovely and moist on the inside, the monster wrap still needed a little red kick in the gut with some flavourful, simple spice, to squeeze all those wonderful flavours together. The one thing I didn’t particularly enjoy was the occasional dry chunk of pork I would get stuck in the middle of a bit of guac (or my front teeth). Not exactly intolerably dry per se, but dry enough for you to notice in that sea of moisture, juxtaposed by the chewy beauty of tortilla. It was still aromatic, smoky and offered a good chew, so I wasn’t complaining. The tortilla itself isn’t toasted or grilled, which I didn’t mind, but doing so would have added another delectable dimension of flavour, another inch of smokiness.
They also serve quesadillas, more oddly named drinks, beer and buffalo wings. I’m making a strict mental note to visit more restaurants around the Chinatown area in the near future. Gems stacked upon gems. All hidden, all raising their arms to me. All so promising.
22 Keong Saik Street
Mon – Thu: 12:00 – 16:00, 18:00 – 22:00
Fri – Sat: 12:00 – 00:00