The U Factory @ Gillman Barracks

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Over the weekend, the boy & I headed down to Gillman Barracks, a cluster of conserved colonial barracks that have now been reinvented into galleries and creative businesses. With a strong focus on contemporary art, GB is set among plenty of greenery, and it was refreshing walking along the road and admiring how serene and lush the environment was. GB is right next to the old grounds of my Junior College, and since J used to play rugby there as well, we were reminiscing old times while admiring the school from afar.

We had popped by specifically for the food pop-up by The U Factory, a project that has taken up temporary residence at GB. It is basically made up of three houses – Workspace, Events and Marketplace. Mainly showcasing local and international creative craft, there is currently a Monocle pop-up store, as well as the U Cafe pop-up, with a selection of fashion and lifestyle publications for sale. We were a bit late and missed the coffee, but it wasn’t that much of a big deal as we had come down for the laksa & ramen burger!

Hosted by Preparazzi, a Singaporean food start-up that I have followed since its beginning, The Rakusaba Laksa Ramen Bar only serves one dish, but boy was it epic. The founder of Preparazzi, Jeremy Nguee, was there in person preparing our food, which made me even more excited. One of Singapore’s most popular local dish, the Laksa, was served Tsukemen-style, meaning you had to dip the noodles in a thick broth, rather than have it already cooked in it. Side dishes included Salmon Otak Otak Gratin (usually not made with salmon but this made it so velvety and rich, even J who doesn’t eat salmon loved it and couldn’t get enough of it), Pork Confit (the bomb. no words.), soft egg & spicy shrimp, as well as lotus root & cucumber pickles. Everything was well-made and felt like heaven in our mouths. At $22 a set (when a bowl of laksa usually goes for $3-6 in Singapore), we couldn’t get enough of it and had to order a second serving after, to the surprise of Jeremy. Jeremy mentioned to us that by serving it Tsukemen-style, you would consume less calories, assuming you do not finish the broth (which J promptly did). The broth was much thicker than that of a usual laksa as well, with much more spice added to it, and less coconut milk. This, however, made the taste much more intense, which I loved!

We then proceeded to try the ramen burger, which became a YouTube + Facebook sensation in the US a while back. Made by The Traveling C.O.W, a popular food truck & start-up I read about since their founding early this year. For less than $10, the serving of beef or chicken (they had other options include mushrooms and crab salad) was huge, and the ramen was handmade, making it soft and crispy all at once. I had to share a burger with J, but definitely worth the wait + money.

All in all, we had a pretty good day at Gillman Barracks, and it was a colossal moment for our tastebuds – it was the best Laksa I’ve had in a while, and we have decided to pop back next weekend for another serving of it. The U Factory’s food&drinks section opens mainly Fridays to Sundays, and it would be best to pop by about 3pm onwards to appreciate Gillman Barracks & its peaceful surroundings as well. 😉

xx Kate

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