I am always thrilled when there is a new food option in town.
The Local Restaurant & Bar is located at the new 30 Bencoolen (the former Bayview Hotel).
It serves not only local food, it also tries to convey a sense of home. And don't be intimidated by the fancy exterior. The prices here are friendly. It is a chic option for a good and inexpensive meal.
My favourites are mostly elevated versions of dishes you will find at most coffee shops.
I am often wary to proclaim any nasi lemak as the best, because of the furore that could ensue. While the Local Nasi Lemak ($16.90) is extremely good and certainly superior to many more expensive versions, it would be a stretch to call it the best in town.
All the elements work. The fluffy and rich rice, the delicious chicken rendang (which it should sell as a separate dish), and a tasty sambal egg.
My only quibble with it is maybe the ikan bilis need to be crispier but that would be nitpicking.
The 8hr Braised Beef Cheek Bowl ($22.90) is another excellent offering.
The braised Angus beef cheek is tender, and the flavourful beef jus coats the rice for added punch.
When Local's executive chef Elvin Chew was running the now-defunct Au Chocolat at Marina Bay Sands, one of my favourite items was the truffle fries. He managed to turn this dish into a must-try.
So when I saw Spam Fries ($13.90) on the menu, I had to order it. Chef Chew works his magic here too, transforming this increasingly common snack into an addictive eat.
He found a brand of luncheon meat that is not too salty and has enough density, and he crisps it up just right. It comes with a bacon sour cream dip, which I find unnecessary.
Another classic local snack is the "Har Cheong" Wings ($13.90 for six), something almost all zi char stalls will offer.
I like my prawn paste chicken with a crispy skin, aromatic and not overly salty, and the version here checks all the boxes.
We had a preview of a dessert that will be on the menu by the end of this month.
The Sweetness of Great Harvest ($13.90) is the restaurant's take on the Teochew classic orh nee.
You can eat the yam paste three ways - first on its own (not too sweet, just sticky enough), then you stir in the vanilla ice cream for a warm and cold sensation, and finally - my favourite way - you break the peanut-coated black sesame-stuffed tang yuan (glutinous rice ball) and mix it in for a crunchy and nutty taste.
You should ignore all the other ways - the ice cream wasn't that good anyway - and just break the tang yuan in immediately.
Local Restaurant & Bar
30 Bencoolen, 30 Bencoolen Street
Opens noon to 2.30pm, 6.30pm to 9.30pm