Brinj is somewhat of an off the beaten track place. Old school foodies would know the chef/owner from his previous venture, Azhang at Mohammed Sultan Road. I'd heard of but never been to Azhang back in its day; I found out about Brinj only recently from a friend, as well as a couple of recent articles.
Brinj is almost hidden along Cheong Chin Nam Road, amidst zi char and prata places. Its nondescript entrance and "pre-order first" policy almost guarantees no walk-ins; indeed when we were there with L and M, we were one of only two tables the entire night.
When I called to make the reservation, I was encouraged to pre-order our dishes. They're famous for their whole roast suckling pig and their roast duck, both of which have to be ordered at least 2 days in advance. They were too much for our party of 4, so I ended up pre-ordering their corn salad, BBQ lamb ribs, grilled squid and their Baba Noodles. When we got there, we added a grilled salmon belly as well.
The food here doesn't really fall into any category - I would actually classify it as food from someone's home kitchen. The corn salad featured smokey grilled corn with onions and romaine with a tart, garlicky dressing. The smokey corn was great but everything else was something you could replicate at home.
The lamb ribs didn't have much meat on them, but they were delicious - really flavourful, tender and slighty fatty. I could have had a whole second portion of these.
Both their grilled salmon belly and grilled squid are served with rice pilaf. I love the char that they managed to get on the seafood, yet the squid was perfectly tender and the salmon was rare in the middle. My one criticism is that the salmon still had some bones, and likewise the squid head still had some suspiciously crunchy bits left inside.
Their other specialty that has to be pre-ordered is their Baba Noodles - their version of hokkien mee fried with bacon and duck fat. With that description, I expected a rather rich dish, but thanks to the vegetables and almost raw beansprouts, this tasted a lot brighter and cleaner than I expected.
We shared a pecan pie and a tiramisu for dessert, which were nothing to shout about.
I must say, I expected to be blown away, but I wasn't. It wasn't disappointing, and prices are very reasonable ($40 per person for what we had), but almost everything we had tasted like good home cooking. Maybe their roast pig and roast duck would have been more impressive, if we can gather a group of a least 8 who are as keen as we are to give it another go.
The food is above average quality and served family style (to be shared). And for what we paid, it was great value for money. The fact that you have to pre-order most of the good dishes is a drawback though. And while the server we had was trying very hard to please, she just wasn't well trained. Overall, I'd say go only if you want a casual family/friend dining place.
15 Cheong Chin Nam Road
Tues to Sun: 6 pm - 11 pm
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