Is it worth the wait?
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
After a few attempts at trying to get a reservation at Buko Nero, I was very frustrated and gave up. Attempt one, I called, but they were on holiday and they had such complicated opening hours that I couldn’t figure it out. Attempt two, I called and got the answering machine, I left a message, but no one called me back. Attempt three, I called and was received by the answering machine again and so I simply I hung up and decided that I couldn’t take anymore rejection. How then did we get a reservation at this seemingly exclusive place? I’m not sure. A friend of mine from our informal Sunday kopitiam kopi-teh group asked if I had ever been to Buko Nero, my reply naturally was, “Nay”. She then went on to relate that me that she had a pretty good meal there, and so I suggested that if she could, she should try to get us a table, and so, that’s how I eat at Buko Nero. But more importantly, was it worth all that hassle?
The space is small but cosy. The white walls and soft lighting gives the place a warm and casual homeliness that you might even forget that you are in a restaurant. The food here is good, value for money and unpretentious. Set lunches and dinners ($35+++ for 5 courses) are available and the a la carte menu changes frequently with a few regular items that stay such as the signature tau-kwa tower and covers quite a lot of ground for a one man show.
We sampled the set dinner and a bunch of a la carte dishes. As weird as it sounds, some items that sounded interesting tasted average and items that sounded ordinary tasted impressive. The signature Buko Nero tau-kwa tower with sautéed vegeteables was to me rather disappointing other than sounding and tasting healthy but on the other hand the predictable dishes such as the mozzarella and tomato crostino topped with parma ham and creamy porcini mushroom soup with white truffle oil are definitely worth ordering. And for pastas and risottos, everything we sampled that we sampled, on and off the menu, were (in order of my preference) risotto with strawberries balsamic vinegar and parma ham, spaghetti with spicy prawns and crab meat and rigatoni with artichoke and Italian sausage ragu and, were perfect for an after work meal—nurturing and gratifying. Almost full bellied, we ended with some set dinner desserts and a sticky date pudding with a caramel sauce. It was a lovely dinner, and at the risk of sounding like a pig, I confess, there was nothing more wanted to do after all that comfort food than to lie down and pass out for the day.
Is it worth the hassle of having to book a month in advance and to attempt calling this phone that never seems to have another person on the other side? Yes, (they have already penned down my next reservation) but with that I recommend sticking to comfort food here, pastas, risottos and dishes with a stronger Italian inclination and be prepared to wait between courses because there is only one person behind the stove.