Ssäm @ Marina Bay Link Mall: Korean-Mexican Kitchen Does Fusion SO WELL! [Updated]

Picture pulled from Ssam's Facebook
Picture pulled from Ssam’s Facebook

This lunchtime, I had an epic Pork Belly & Shoulder Salad bowl from Ssäm! Specializing in Korean-Mexican fusion food, this tiny hole-in-the-wall is sandwiched in between Four Seasons Gourmet Market and Viet Baguette Cafe of the Mall. Ever cognizant of the market like a true savy investor, thankfully Ssäm does salad-based bowls too. The Korean influence is present in the protein options (such as Bulgogi beef and Kimchi add-ons) but Mexican at heart (Burritos and rice bowls).

I am so happy because my lunch was filled wtih the most delicious flavours and exciting textures. I was literally jumping for joy after! More importantly, so satisfied and satiated that I did not even need dessert after. Now I can’t stop thinking of my lunch and already planning my next trip! O_o

Ssäm means wrapped in Korean, though it traditionally refers to wrapped in lettuce leaves. What we we have is pieces of delicious meat delicately nestled between the bosoms of a warm tortilla and a spicy blend of pickled veg. This combination of Korean Galbi with Mexican salsa and spices is a match made in food heaven.

Picture pulled from Ssam's Facebook

Picture pulled from Ssam’s Facebook

The ordering is pretty easy, choose a base: a burrito, rice bowl (Cilantro Rice or Kimchi Rice), or a salad. Then choose between 4 staples of the menu which are the proteins: they have Korean-marinated Beef, Crackling Pork Belly & Shoulders, Grilled Chicken, and Soy-marinated Tofu. Finally finish things off with your choice and any amount of Basil Leaves, Cabbage Kimchi, Spring Onion Kimchi, Candied Lotus Roots (highly recommended), Seaweed (highly recommended), Scallions, tomato salsa (highly recommended), Kimchi salsa (highly recommended), and a dressing. Scrambled eggs, boiled eggs or Guacamole are available at an extra charge. The concept is not novel. It is exactly the same method as Chipotle in the USA. But who cares, it works!

Picture pulled from Ssam's Facebook

Picture pulled from Ssam’s Facebook

Affordably priced at $8 for all protein save for the beef ($9) without the extras, my hearty lunch was a huge portion. I was stuffed beyond words. My lunch was a Salad Bowl with Crackling Pork Belly & Shoulder, with Kimchi, Seaweed, Tomato Salsa, Kimchi salsa, Lotus root, and Sesame Seeds. My lunch companion’s bowl (top in the first picture) consisted of a rice bowl, beef, fried scallions, onions, and seaweed with guacamole added in. Needless to say, she couldn’t finish either.

I thoroughly enjoyed my choice of protein: pork belly & shoulder as the meat was cooked to tender-perfection, packed with flavour and… BITS of PORK CRACKLING sprinkled throughout. Every bite had a crunchy bit – sublime. I could not stop. Plus my side components were absolutely delightful with punchy flavours and crunchy textures. If you work in the area, GO TRY! I can’t wait to try the other proteins.

A word of advice: GO EARLY. I went at 1.15pm and got the last portion of salad! Plus a lot of other components were out too. Further this place is tiny. Be prepared to not get a seat inside but there are long benches just outside. Those are comfortable and great for people watching!

[Updated on 4th May 2015]

So I returned for my Ssam fix this afternoon. For the sake of research, I got the beef. Unbelievably, it was more fabulous than the pork belly & shoulder! I could not believe what was in my mouth. The tender-thin slices of beef were so flavourful. However unlike the pork, the Korean-style sauce was on the sweet side. But it was a harmonious sweet-savoury contrast. Two visits and I have not craved for a dressing yet.

I am so in love this with little spot. Can you tell?

Latteria Mozarella Bar: Would Return Just For The Desserts

Southern Italian restaurant, Latteria Mozarella Bar, on Duxton Hill may boost their cheese specialty but it will be their desserts that will bring me back. Last night, between my two friends and I, we had THREE desserts: two Tipsy Tiramisu Cups and the Raspberry & Pistachio Meringue Cake. Considering the size of the Tiramisu “Cup”, we went to town with our sugar intake. We were definitely not proud of our glutton behaviour  last night. Since we are unable to control each other, we resorted to promising not to have dinner together until six months later. 

The Tipsy Tiramisu Cup was first-bite magic. One cup between three of us just seemed inadequate hence the second order. The creaminess paired with the seriously-boozy sponge fingers topped with the most generous Coco Powder ever, made for a highly addictive sweet ending to our meal. We also liked that the dessert was devoid of any sickening-sweetness. Every bite tasted so fresh and home-made. Every spoonful a perfect contrast of luscious mascarpone cream and soaked fingers.

Equally spectacular was the Raspberry & Pistachio Meringue Cake. If not for the waiter swearing by this dessert, we would not have considered it. A thick crunchy meringue disk topped with generous and whipped-like-air cream, fresh raspberries, whole toasted pistachios, and a tangy raspberry compote. We were enamored by the perfect contrast of tangy berry components and only-slightly-sweet meringue. Heavenly. 

The savouries were not poor but just not outstanding. Out of the four we shared, only one savoury was spectacular and warranted a return visit. The handsome Grilled Whole Seabass Amalfitina was marinated in a salty green pesto. A triumphant highly unusual marinade! Although the kitchen was a little heavy-handed with the seasoning. The fish was cooked to perfection. The flesh so juicy and sweet, it literally melted away from the bones. A couple more dollars more expensive than the other dishes in the same category, I reckon given the portion, the most value-for-money.

There was no doubt our single plate of pasta for the evening: Linguine with Crab & Mascarpone was delicious. Generous crab shreds with al dente pasta combined with a tomato mascarpone sauce was spot-on! But it lacked oomph.

However our two appetizers could have been better. The Deepfried Calamari with Mayo & Arrabbiata may have been fried to perfection with a still-juicy and crunchy squid. But it was the weak batter that fell away from the squid so easily and quickly that was my biggest gripe. This made me miss the Calamari Fritti from Mozza in Epicurean Market last September.

Our second appetizer, a mammoth Burrata with Sweet Peppers Peperonata did not live up to its description on the front glossary page. My third time having Burrata, it lacked a juicy creamy center I had twice earlier. However praises for the sweet peppers peperonata! If sweet peppers tasted like this naturally, I would have it daily. 

We had a lovely house White wine to go with our dinner. I say, order the mains but remember to save tummy space for the desserts. You won’t regret it.