What It’s Like To Eat At This Pan-Asian Hawker Among The Pokies (And Why You Should) | The Verdict

By Yvonne Lam
8th Aug 2018

When your hear ‘dinner with a view’, you probably think: Rooftops. Skylines. Ocean views. A restaurant with floor to ceiling windows, and sweeping panoramas of our city’s twinkling lights.

Fat Noodle, Luke Nguyen’s pan-Asian eatery at The Star, has views of twinkling lights of another kind, and they have names like “Emerald Jade” and “Rainbow Jackpot”. I’m talking about this 112-seater restaurant being located right on the poker floor of The Star casino. Like, right there. But that's no reason to sidestep this late night dining spot, helmed by one of our favourite real-life master chefs. 

So, my reccomendation—nab a spot at the bar seating, facing the open kitchen. You get front row seats to the hard-at-work chefs cooking up a storm.

Now, to the food. Luke Nguyen has made a name for himself with his mastery of Vietnamese food, a slew of travel-slash-cooking shows, cookbooks and restaurants, and a stint as a judge on MasterChef Vietnam. (Check out this segment where he speed-slices an onion like nobody’s business. Bet he’s got a super-score on Veggie Ninja.)

After opening the successful Vietnamese-focused Red Lantern restaurant with sister Pauline Nguyen and chef Mark Jensen, he followed with Fat Noodle in 2010, promising hawker-style from across Asia. The menu canvasses flavours from Vietnam, Thailand, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, with a sprinkling of modern interpretations of some classic dishes.

So what’s good? Well, the “shaking beef” starter, for one. The Vietnamese peppery beef, normally served with tomato rice, comes folded in a betel leaf like a delicious secret. Spiked with nước mắm (fish sauce) dressing and a tomato and cucumber salsa, it’s a fresh, reviving mouthful to kick off the proceedings. So too is the salmon sashimi: silky, tongue-like slices of pure salmon goodness, studded with fish roe and a sweet-sour lime and galangal dressing.

From the “with rice” part of the menu, we spring for the chicken rendang. Plump pieces of chicken come doused in a thick and rich curry-gravy, fragrant with coconut, curry leaves and lime leaves. It’s the winner of all Indonesian chicken dinners. Cash it in, babes.

A dish of braised beef and oxtail lands on our table. It’s a bubbling cauldron of slow-cooked, bone-in meats, swimming in a phở-like broth that’s rich with cinnamon and star anise. Pile over a mound of accompanying rice noodles, and you can slurp happily away.

Mee goreng (lol, not the instant stuff, you heathen) is smoky with wok-breath and slick with a starchy tomato-y sauce, though it could do with extra chilli in the sambal; and the wok-tossed vegetables – which sound pretty ho-hum on the menu – are a pleasant surprise. The jumble of asparagus, baby corn and snow peas is upgraded to first-class with a lush-as garlic and butter sauce. Garlic and butter make everything taste better, didn’t you know?

Look, if you're of the mind that having dinner in the casino is a little weird, you shouldn't set aside this delicious gem. The poker machines are there, unabashed, for all to see. But as for what’s on your plate, you're set to win the jackpot.

If you ever do opt for instant mee goreng, follow this guide to improve your packet noodles. 

Image credit: Supplied. 

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