Hearty, healthy food in the CBD
With Kilo branching out to as far as Bali, one would think that their focus might be driven off our sunny shores where rental is more affordable, and much less of a manpower crunch. But their latest concept, Grain Traders at CapitaGreen, is a nice entrant to the list of restaurants in CBD Singapore. Their mantra, #feedingpeopleright, is manifested in the selection of high quality, super foods that promise the optimal energy and health boost for the over-stimulated, hardworking office crowd.
Super grains make up the carbohydrate component of the menu, ranging from gluten-free options like quinoa, bulgur wheat and soba noodles (buckwheat) to just greens. And coupled with super vegetables like beetroot, squash and sweet potato for their high antioxidant, low GI components, Grain Traders is not kidding when it comes to providing a quick, all-rounded nutritious meal for the masses.
In a simple and straightforward assembly line of sorts, you approach the salad bar with (hopefully) your options in mind for the Build-your-own-bowl (S$16) option – 1 Grain + 1 Protein + 1 Hot Veg + 2 Cold Veg + 1 Sauce + 1 Topping. And if that’s too much for you decide, choose from one of their 6 signature bowls (S$16) which the chef has masterfully combined to ensure maximum taste and minimum brain damage (from overwhelming options). To quicken things, they separated the coffee and dessert bar which is at the opposite side which you only need to present your receipt to get it all sorted.
Top up S$2 to get a free soda, tea or black coffee (from the folks of Papa Palheta), and a snack of either chips or a fruit. This is a great option for me, especially with the added caffeine post-lunch. The protein selection comprises of top-grade meats, with well-seasoned seared tuna, grilled striploin and slow-roasted pork coming up as the top choices from my short time at the assembly line.
The taste test
Building your own bowl is possibly the most arduous task here, having more than 30 options in all sorts of permutations possible. If you’re someone with dietary restrictions, this is possibly one of the best places to piece something up that will most definitely sit well with your stomach.
Sous vide-ing, roasting, char-grilling, searing their foods away tell you how much effort they put into doing their hot foods. And they don’t just come chock full of flavour from the cooking methods, but also by the marinates that are used with it.
The square meal (S$18), which comes with a salad bowl, a snack and 1 drink. I particularly liked the flavour of the salt ‘n’ pepper chips which has 4g of fibre, and 4g of protein in every piece!
With delectable seared tuna on warm quinoa, wild mushrooms, peppers, crudites and slaw, and topped off with crispy, fragrant furikake, we selected a wasabi mayo sauce to round it all up. The resultant sweetness from the peppers blended with the umami from the wild mushrooms and furikake. Honestly, there was no need for the wasabi mayo as the well-marinated individual portions summed up to a tasty, multi-textured, fresh and flavourful crunch.
One of the signature bowls, Mr Pirom has peppers, grilled beetroot and carrots, charred baby corn, crudites and apple kimchi on a bed of al dente soba noodles. Wanting to try a wider variety of meats, we added the slow-roasted pulled pork (+S$3.50) and boy it was one hearty bowl. Mr Pirom is a more elegant bowl, aside from the meatier flavour conferred by the pork, sweet, savoury and well-balanced.
Upstream’s is a relatively diet conscious option, having sweet potatoes as the only healthy carb and everything else on a bed of super greens which comprises of spinach and little crunchy, chewy leaves of kale. The sous vide salmon did not disappoint with a tender, pink centre and char-grilled on the outside for the nutty barbeque flavour. One thing I wouldn’t have added to the mix was the pickled cucumbers. It was a tad too sour, and together with the furikake, made the dish a little over salted.
Clearly a lot of thought were put into the individual condiments in the way they were marinated and prepared, so much so that they each exude their own intense flavours. Because of that, I thought adding the toppings and sauces weren’t really necessary, unless it’s to bind them together, especially if you choose the grains. I thought the protein portions were too tiny as well even though they were all very well done. Perhaps certain items could be traded off for a protein to make it more affordable – adding S$3.50 to every bowl will make it rather costly.
Review Rating: 7/10
138 Market Street
Hours: Mon to Fri 8am to 8pm
Reservations: They don’t take reservations, so come early to grab their coveted indoor seats.