I’ve always had a thing for Mexican cuisine, with all of it’s intense flavors, vibrant colors, and no lack of spice. I’m very much a creature of habit, always preferring to return to joints tried and tested. So when I told my boyfriend to choose a new Mexican restaurant to trial, I entrusted him with picking a good one. That’s how we ended up at El Mero Mero–the refined rendition of Senor Taco–a taqueria chain and previous occupant of said space.
We had the choice of dining al fresco, but we picked the inside seats because really, the summer heat is killer even after sundown. I’m still not sure if the heat was the lesser of two evils because the perpetual raucous laughter (probably alcohol-fuelled), coming from a corner table got on my nerves. Not to be a wet blanket, but I’d like to converse without shouting across the table. Some how, noise is magnified in the cosy setting, but I’ll admit the bustling open kitchen served as a great distraction. Helmed by French chef, Remy Lefebvre, the kitchen functions like a well-oiled machine, which means wait time for food is minimal. Perfect for hungry people like myself!
- Chicken Wings (Crunchy deboned chicken wings with Cholula sauce, 5 pieces)
- Street Food Corn Sampler (Organic baby corn and smoked corn mushroom huitlacoche donuts with cotija-mayo dipping sauce)
- Guacamole (Smashed avocado guacamole served with homemade tortilla chips)
- Grilled Octopus (Flame-grilled octopus in a bed of corn cream with black garlic paste and tajin ash)
- Razor Clams Ceviche (Razor clams marinated in spicy serrano chili and lime sauce, 3 pieces)
- Wild Fish Tacos (Fresh red snapper fillet, tempura shishito and onion rings with chipotle-mayo sauce on flour tortilla)
- Prawn Enchiladas Verdas (Corn tortilla enchiladas filled with sofrito prawns in a green tomatillo-serrano sauce topped with cream and cheese)
- Roasted Lamb Pibil (14 hour roasted lamb with ceps mushrooms, braised eggplant and pibil sauce)
- Lemon Tart (Lime mojito tart, blackberry, pecan crumbs)
If you’re wondering why the Chicken Wings and Street Food Corn Sampler aren’t pictured, it’s because I arrived late to the party. However, my dinner companions were kind enough to save me enough to sample. The Chicken Wings though conveniently deboned, didn’t win me over. Although I loved the crunchy exterior, the meat could’ve been seasoned better and was rather dry. Nothing the spicy, tangy Choulula sauce can’t remedy though. Chili makes everything better, IMO.
The Street Food Corn Sampler looked completely unassuming–think grilled baby corn skewers and ‘chocolate-looking’ donuts. Always nice to have dessert as starters, no? Well those chocolatey donuts are actually made from huitlacoche (weet-la-KOH-chay), a corn truffle, popularly known as Mexican truffle. A delicacy in Mexico, the huitlacoche donuts are equal parts sweet and savory, and when dipped into the creamy, garlicky sauce, a little bit spicy. A must order in my opinion, and if you’re infatuated with skulls like me, you’ll be tempted to take home the holder in which the grilled baby corn skewers come in.
I’d been craving for Guacamole, and I’m happy to say El Mero Mero’s smashed (with a potato masher!) version hits the spot. I guess any Mexican restaurant worth it’s salt better make a mean guacamole. The Grilled Octopus was heavily charred on the outside yet still tender inside. The glistening tentacle lay on a bed of corn cream surrounded by a swirl of black garlic paste and finished with a dusting of tajin ash. I’ve no doubt of my ability in devouring a whole octopus on my own. You won’t go wrong ordering the Razor Clams Ceviche, the raw slices of serrano peppers, pickled onions, and dash of lime juice gives the dish the bite it needs. Again, I don’t want to share.
I didn’t get to try the Wild Fish Tacos because by the time I got there, my grandmother had polished off the entire dish. She did leave me a shishito tempura though. I have to say I’m impressed with the batter, just the right consistency and not greasy at all. My chosen main, Prawn Enchiladas Verdas blew me away. Instead of the traditional roast chicken, prawns are wrapped in corn tortillas, which are covered in cheese and allowed to bake in the oven till slightly browned. The green tomatillo bath in which the dish comes served in has a piquant tinge of Serrano pepper to keep things interesting. Very addictive, and don’t be surprised if you finish the broth before you’re done with the enchiladas. I do wish the prawns were bigger though. The Roasted Lamb Pibil was so succulent that juices would ooze out with each cut of the knife. However, the flavorsome Pibil did little to mask the gamy taste of the lamb. If that’s not an issue to you, I highly recommend this dish as El Mero Mero dry ages their lamb in-house and proceeds to roast the lamb for 14-hours before it lands on your plate.
We finished our meal with the Lemon Tart. A light yet satisfying dessert to cleanse the palate after a heavy dinner. Although we didn’t order any drinks, I hear good things about the house drink, aptly titled El Mero Mero bien sûr. If I did partake of alcohol, I’d probably try a Hibiscus Sour or a Habanero-Mango Martini. Both sound interesting!
To conclude, dining at El Mero Mero was an enjoyable experience for me. I likened it to an explosion on my tastebuds in my Instagram post. The menu is extensive, but they consistently deliver quality dishes. Also a great dining option for those whose food choices are of the vegetarian and gluten-free variety, menus are considerately marked with a v or g. A minor detail, but I like that they include the exact amount of food you’ll receive (e.g. 5 pieces of Chicken Wings) so there are no surprises. El Mero Mero does not compromise on freshness, razor clams are delivered weekly from France, and tortillas are made from Mexican maize flour at their factory in Singapore. Impressive!
El Mero Mero is located at:
30 Victoria Street, Chijmes
Tel: (65) 6337 1377
Disclosure: Compensation was not provided by El Mero Mero. The opinions expressed herein are those mine and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of El Mero Mero.