Homecoming: Chef Shen Tan Back at Revolution Coffee

A homecoming of sorts, Chef Shen Tan has come a full circle from selling nasi lemak at Maxwell Food Centre. After her immensely popular Wok and Barrel and Raffles Hotel project Ujong (both now defunct), the Mod Sin chef is now permanently roosting in Revolution Coffee’s kitchen, where she was consulting for the café’s menu and kitchen development three years ago.

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Grilled Laksa Salad

Once again dishing out her take on local food and Southeast Asian flavours, we dug into the first new dish of the new menu, the Grilled Laksa Salad ($9.90). We would have liked more of a char on the grilled baby cos lettuce than presented, but the key of the dish is really the (vegan) laksa rempah (spice paste). Tossed with toasted grated coconut, fried shallots, cherry tomato confit, toasted cashew nuts, and coconut lime laksa dressing, who knew a vegetarian laksa would taste this good? Add protein for $5; there’s grilled chicken, grilled pork belly, and roast beef, but knowing Chef (who wants to be a Pork Star, in her own words), go for the pork belly.

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Chef Shen Tan

Next was the moment we’ve been waiting for – the Crispy Pork ($7.90) and Beef Rendang ($9.90) Nasi Lemak arrives. Featuring Chef Tan’s signature twice steamed coconut rice, omelette, housemade sambal belachan and coffee sambal, there are five different types of protein to choose from, ranging from $4.90 to $9.90. While the beef shin was sufficiently tender and flavourful from the coconut milk and spices it’s been braised in, the crispy pork wins hands down. Still juicy on the inside, the crunchy slices of deep fried pork belly also plays off beautifully with all the other elements of the dish.

Speaking of coffee, Revolution coffee is now serving coffee from the Caffeine Dispensary, a Jakarta-based roastery part-owned by Revolution’s owner, Ajie Permana. It comes as no surprise then, that many dishes include coffee a component. Besides the coffee sambal, there’s a coffee barbeque sauce that goes with the Roasted Beef Sandwich ($9.90) and coffee grounds being used in the dry rub for the 5 Spice Pork Confit, another accompaniment of the Nasi Lemak.

Speaking of coffee, Revolution coffee is now serving coffee from the Caffeine Dispensary, a Jakarta-based roastery part-owned by Revolution’s owner, Ajie Permana. It comes as no surprise then, that many dishes include coffee a component. Besides the coffee sambal, there’s a coffee barbeque sauce that goes with the Roasted Beef Sandwich ($9.90) and coffee grounds being used in the dry rub for the 5 Spice Pork Confit, another accompaniment to the nasi lemak and a topping for the Bak Chor Mee Pasta ($19.90)

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Buah Keluak Pasta

Also on the pasta section of the menu is the Buah Keluak Pasta ($19.90), a traditional flavor that seems to be disappearing off family dining tables due to the labour intensity of preparation. The tagliatelle was a tad overcooked in our opinion, but serves its purpose as a vessel for us to savour the umami buah keluak gravy. Imagine the dark, slightly fermented and alcoholic notes of the buah keluak balanced by herbs like tumeric and galangal, sambal, as well as minced prawns and pork. Topped with pork belly poached in the gravy.

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Shendol Delights

Dessert is possibly the best part of this meal, and we got four words for you – red bean ice cream.

Everyone loves chendol. We enjoyed Chef Tan’s version of the local dessert, Shendol Delights ($10). Comprising a creamy smooth coconut panna cotta (we regret not taking a video of it jiggling), gula Melaka syrup, and chendol; the win comes in the form of the housemade red bean ice cream. Somewhat reminiscent of the old-school brand Potong, I’d gladly purchase it home so my dad can have a taste – if only Chef can make enough of it!

Regulars, don’t worry. Even with the new menu, you can still look forward to Revolution brunch classics like the Big Brunch Breakfast ($16.90) and Pancakes Gula Melaka and Bananas ($14). The rest of you, you definitely have another (compelling) reason to make the hike out to One-North. Café food hasn’t tasted this good in Singapore in awhile.

Revolution Coffee is located at #01-03A, 21 Media Circle, Singapore 138562, p. +65 6777 2110. Open 9am-6pm daily.

All images by Sylvester Thang Fedor.

Emily Seow


Managing Editor

Emily heads the editorial team on City Nomads by being a stickler for details, a grammar Nazi, and a really picky eater. Born and bred in Singapore, she loves cats, the written word, exploring new places, and all things Harry Potter. Easily bribed with good cocktails.

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