The Wagon is one of the newest but most unassuming restaurant on Tras Street, Singapore. It looks subtle and unassuming from the outside, along the rows of restaurants and shophouses. But if you can locate this gem, you are in for a treat.
When night falls, a huge red neon signboard bearing the words ‘The Wagon’ lights up in full glory. And that is also when The Wagon comes alive. From the brick walls to the copper pans and pots hung up, the interior of The Wagon is chic and fun – all while boasting a very sassy yet casual vibe.
From French-Japanese inspired tapas served on trolley, to the amazing beef platter which features four different premium cuts of Hokkaido beef (dry-aged in-house), to the whole Muenier Flounder, The Wagon is full of surprises and a place that is suitable for all occasions.
Think of it as a spot where you can have great tapas and mains in a relaxed setting. And did we mention that it serves cocktails at S$7 each during Happy Hour? Also, our readers can quote “ladyironchef” to get a surprise dish from the chef.
The kitchen is headed by Chef Makoto Deguchi – he who has cooked at a 1-Michelin Star restaurant in Paris. This explains why his dishes feature a rustic French style while using primarily freshly-imported ingredients from Hokkaido.
What we were sold by immediately was the “wagon” that is being pushed from table to table. The idea is really to surprise diners every time with tapas of the day. The tapas are off-menu and are different every day, with a few mainstays.
What happens is that after you’ve settled in your seats, the wagon would be pushed to you, presenting to you the various tapas and its prices. The team will also verbally introduce every item to you, tell you stories that might interest you, and you can then pick whatever you fancy.
This provides a very personal interaction; think of it like olden day dim sum push carts, but in a fresh alternative with items that you probably couldn’t even guess!
Apart from the rotational items, expect mainstay dishes such as Foie Gras Creme Brûlée (S$12), fresh uni (S$8 for 10g) on Carrot Mousse (S$5), and Shaky Shaky Fries (S$8).
The Brûlée was intensely flavoured with foie gras and this smooth treat is not for the faint-hearted. The uni was undeniably fresh and creamy; just the way we like it.
You can order the fresh uni by weight on its own, but a recommended serving is to have it on top of the Carrot Mousse that is adorably displayed inside an empty uni shell. The textures are incredibly similar and while the taste differs, it complements each other pretty well.
A surprising star for us was the Shaky Shaky Fries, which is vaguely like an upgraded version of McDonald’s Shaker Fries. The burst of umami came immediately upon first bite because of the ultra-tasty seasoning that is imported directly from Miyazaki itself. Potato wedges are used instead, and the broad surface balanced out the saltiness of the snack. For just S$8, we would do this over and over again.
Another tapas to look out for is the Frill Lettuce (S$15) with a side of minced beef. You are to wrap the beef up in the leaves, like how you would enjoy K-bbq. Every lettuce is flown in from Hokkaido, and it was served to us still with the root intact – this is as fresh as it can get; the plant is basically still alive!
On to the mains. Which comes in a regular menu and is pretty much fixed, but no less boring.
One of the most impressive dishes is the Grilled Platter (S$75), featuring four different premium cuts of Hokkaido beef with various accompanying sauces. The beefs are dry-aged in-house and are extremely buttery with a gorgeous marbling.
The cuts might differ daily and you will be served the four best and freshest cuts of the day on this platter. We had the rump, sirloin, tenderloin and top blade – all served atop rosti chunks. The sirloin and tenderloin were the juiciest and most stunningly-marbled.
Then, there is the Muenier Flounder (S$60 whole and S$30 half). It is something that is not commonly seen here in Singapore. Our fish was served whole on the plate and was so well-seasoned, we polished the flounder to the bone (literally).
In case you are wondering, yes, flounder is a common fish breed used in Japanese cuisine, but this white fish is given a makeover here at The Wagon and prepared the French way – flavourful, elegant and so good that you need no condiments.
This main alone will be more than enough to impress. The whole fish is pretty massive, and we recommend half a portion for one person and a whole fish for two, so you can still enjoy some of the small tapas plates from the cart.
One seasonal item to look out for this Spring is the Sautéed Spring Vegetables (S$28) which features a variety of Japanese vegetables that are so very fresh. Prepared in the simplest of way, the vegetables are cooked over high heat to produce a broth so natural and sweet; the end result is a hearty and healthy dish so intensely packed with Sprin flavours.
And because we always have room for desserts, we went for The Moelleux Au Chocolat (S$15) and Milky Blanc-Manager (S$13). They are lighter dessert choices that would be great if you are already feeling quite stuffed from your tapas and mains.
We could not leave without trying some of The Wagon’s cocktails. As rum-lovers, the Wagon Mai Tai (S$18) takes first place for us. It comprises a mix of Dark and White Rum with Lime Juice, Orgeat, Burnt Orange and Vanilla Syrup for a very complex but well-balanced taste. So similar yet distinctly different from your classic Mai Tai.
We also had the Pi Pi Piew (S$20) – just because, right? Quirky name, light cocktail. It uses a mix of strawberry and thyme-infused vodka with peach liquor and more for a fruity and refreshing aftertaste.
The Wagon also has excellent happy hour promotions (Mon to Sat, 6pm – 8pm) with S$5 half pints of Kronenbourg Blanc, S$7 cocktails and S$6 Suntory Premium Malt Pilsners. PARTY TIME, GUYS!
Remember to quote “ladyironchef” when you are dining at The Wagon to get a surprise dish from the chef.
55 Tras St
Tel: +65 6221 6369
Mon to Fri: 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 12am
Sat: 6pm – 12am
Nearest Station: Tanjong Pagar
This post was brought to you by The Wagon.