Watching Crazy Rich Asians may have inspired an immediate impulse to travel to Singapore, but not everyone can follow Nick Young’s example by dropping big bucks on a first class cabin. While those dreams of feasting at the hawker centers may have to wait a bit, Houstonians can still get a taste of the island city by visiting Sing, a new restaurant that recently opened in the Heights as part of Radom Capital's Lowell Street Market development.
A partnership between Cuc Lam, a pop-up chef and former food writer, and Jerry Lasco, the owner of Lasco Enterprises (The Tasting Room, Max’s Wine Dive), Sing offers a taste of Singapore that’s been adapted to suit Houstonians’ palates. As the restaurant’s tagline explains, it’s “Singapore-inspired” dishes that pull from the Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Indian, and Chinese dishes that shape the country’s cuisine.
“We picked dishes I felt I could market to this area,” Lam tells CultureMap. “Flavors that were bold, flavors that are spicy. Flavors that make you want it again. We’re building on the whole “crave Sing” idea. I think that’s what going to continue to build your fanbase. Not just serving good food, but serving food people think about later on.”
That means dishes like Vietnamese-style Imperial egg rolls packed with pork and wood ear mushroom and Thai-style Pad Krapow Moo loaded with pork and lots of basil. Lam also offers lighter options such as a Vietnamese summer salad with shredded chicken.
In addition, the kitchen is gluten-free-friendly in that it uses no white flour. A few dishes, such as the crab rangoons, have gluten, but most dishes will suit anyone looking to avoid the protein. Lam also makes all of her stocks and sauces in-house.
“I seriously spend hours putting together the stock base so my soups can build,” she says. “If you’ve got a good foundation of flavor, it’s deep and rich. You can taste that.”
Lam says the reaction from diners has been encouraging, save for a few angry Yelpers. She wants to hear feedback and has tweaked some dishes in response to customer comments. Of course, it’s hard to know what to do when one customer says the laksa is too fishy and another says it’s not fishy enough.
Next up is rolling out a brunch menu. Lam wants to focus on small bites like bao buns that a diner could snack on while waiting for a table at Sing’s next door neighbor Snooze.
The situation in the kitchen should only improve now that chef David Ramos has come to Sing from his previous position at Paper Co. That will allow Lam to operate in more of a supervisory role and focus on marketing and growing the business.
After all, she and Lasco are already looking for location number two. She says they have their eyes on EaDo, and why not? Surely the neighborhood could benefit from crab rangoons and laksa.
Sing; 718 West 18th St.; 713-808-9016; Sunday through Thursday 11 am to 9 pm; Friday and Saturday 11 am to 10 pm