Tiong Bahru is known to have a lot of unique restaurants and cafes but honestly it isn’t a place I frequently go to. The invitation from Lin Rooftop Bar was a good reason to revisit this area. This rooftop bar is located on top of Link Hotel, a small boutique hotel which was converted from old public housing. It’s quite a unique theme, carrying a little bit if heritage yet modern. The rooftop bar restaurant of this hotel is somewhat like that too.
Lin Rooftop Bar’s concept is somewhat fusion of western cooking with some Asian (Chinese) elements, like Chinese spices or flavours. This fusion theme is also apparent in the decor of the place.
The decor of the place looks like a modern bar…
Yet with small touches of oriental details.
The bar is non-air-conditioned but very well ventilated. The breeze was coming from all directions. There isn’t much of a view, since this is Tiong Bahru and all you’ll see is housing, but that’s what Tiong Bahru essentially is, a housing estate.
Tipsy Pig and Rustic Sky – $18.00++/each
Some of their Asian cocktail creations. The Tipsy Pig was Bourbon based featuring crispy bacon and the Rustic Sky was rum based featuring sour plum.
The latter was like an alcoholic version of sour plum drink and was quite refreshing to drink, because sour plum drinks generally are. As for the Tipsy Pig, I wasn’t particularly fond of it. I don’t see how the bacon makes it better, but this could be subjective to individual.
From 5pm – 8pm daily, happy hour applies to all Asian cocktails and it’ll be $12nett.
Wu Xiang Pop – $9.80++
This is popcorn chicken dusted with Chinese five spice powder. I was told that the popcorn chicken was made from scratch and not from frozen popcorn chicken.
This info was not written in the menu and they claimed that they don’t want to describe too much in order to give customers a surprise. I did not really agree with or understand the reason for not revealing though. As a customer, I might likely not order this because it does sound like something made from frozen food judging from the menu and I might miss out on something that could be better than what was described, as a result.
This popcorn chicken was indeed quite different from frozen ones – the flour batter wasn’t too thick and there was a lot of meat. The flavours however, was not strong enough. It was bland in some areas. Chicken always tastes better when well marinated/ flavoued since chicken meat itself isn’t very flavourful. The homemade chilli sauce dip did help though, giving it more flavour, and it was quite an enjoyable thing to snack on while drinking and chatting.
Yin Yang – $11.80++
Homemade fish otah with sauteed prawns and mussels, covered with coconut cream sauce
This was a chef’s recommendation and it was good! I’ve always loved good otah and I liked the combination. The mussels however was kind of unnecessary I feel, since it has to be removed from the shell and doesn’t really fit well on the bun since there was little space left. Everything else could be eaten like finger food in a bite or two and that was really nice. I tried putting the mussel on top but it didn’t make much of a difference. With or without mussel, the rest of it was good.
Babe – $17.80++
Marinated pork belly with sauteed shitake mushrooms and mixed herbs served with red wine jam and sauteed garlic vegetables
This dish came recommended and honestly I wasn’t sold by the description at all. It just didn’t sound good. I asked if this is Asian cooking but was told’s it’s western… and I would usually not trust western pork since Chinese cooking always has the best pork. I imagined the pork I had in Europe and it wasn’t half as good as any Chinese pork belly. But I decided to take the gamble since the staff said it’s the dish they’ve been working hard on.
When it was served, it looked different from what I imagined. The aesthetics wasn’t very pretty looking but it looks like it could be delicious.
The cooking style was not like anything usual – it seems to be half Asian half western. The result was a super tender piece of pork belly. It was also super flavourful. I loved it! Thought I wouldn’t finish it but it was gone in no time.
However, the whole piece is too big for 1 person to finish without feeling sick of it. I emphasize, the portion is definitely able to be finished by 1 person – I could finish this and still have room for dessert, but to finish everything without being overwhelmed is another issue. Not everything is bigger the better. The right portion size would be one which ends when I’m still enjoying my food so that the impression which remains is something delicious, not nauseating.
Suggestion: share it so you don’t get too overwhelmed by the heavy taste and oiliness!
The accompanying vegetables could serve to neutralise the heaviness of the pork, but the vegetables weren’t really very nice. I didn’t see how it matched and I would rather not have it. Perhaps something like a simple bed of rocket salad would do better. Unimpressive side dish aside, the pork itself was good and worth the price tag.
Lin’s Garlic Butter Mussels – $15.80++
This dish had the restaurant name in it so I thought it should be special but it turned out below average unfortunately. Usually mussels do not go really wrong and it’s a dish hard to fail but this one was a disappointment.
The problem was the sauce. I felt that the butter wasn’t of good quality and instead of being fragrant, it had a strong (and not very nice) dairy taste. The staff told me that “all butter is the same”. I’ve bought many brands of butter before since I bake and cook and I know very well which brands of butter tastes delicious and which ones carry the not so pleasant strong dairy smell and taste affecting the overall taste of the dish I was making.
Overall, I felt that this place should work on the descriptions on the menu. Surprise isn’t needed in such places, this is not an omakase restaurant. It’ll do no harm to anyone to describe properly or perhaps show pictures. That way, people will not miss out on anything which they could potentially like!
Most of the food today was very decent and well priced and it’ll be a good place to hang out. The portions are so quite substantial and that’s good for sharing.
Overall: Reasonable prices and above average food. Good for big groups.
Lin Rooftop Bar
50 Tiong Bahru Road
Mon – Sat: 5pm – 1am