Review: Ren Gastronome

Good food is served with a good heart, and this seems to be Ren Gastronome’s unofficial motto. Previously specializing as a bakery, chef-owner Samuel Tai  reopened Ren Gastronome back in March with a new concept with the socially disadvantaged in mind.

The former engineer is a self-taught chef, learning the culinary arts and baking sciences through cooking bibles used as textbooks at the Culinary Institute of America, and those written by world-renowned English chef, Heston Blumenthal. Yet, Chef Tai also wants to be responsible to his customers by cooking food with reduced salts and sugars, and zero MSG, trans-fat, artificial flavorings and chemical preservatives.

Now before you jump to the conclusion that the food is going to taste bland, UrbanWire finds the opposite quite true.

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The hearty mushroom soup is a definite starter. You can taste the earthy flavors of the fresh mushrooms and the strong herbs in this rich dish. Chunks of Shimeji mushrooms can be found in the thick broth, giving each spoonful a great texture. Have it as a starter for $3.30, or make it a meal with a choice of white and brown rice, or wholemeal bread at $8.30.

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A meatier meal should include the roast pork platter ($6.30), similar to the Chinese roast pork but in this case, a healthier version. Most would coat the skin with a thick layer of salt to draw the moisture out, but chef Tai opted for a more traditional method of roasting the pork belly. The results still yield a crispy golden brown skin like pork crackling, and a meat that is tasty, albeit a little dry, but not too salty. The dish is served with a sour plum sauce to balance the savory taste.

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UrbanWire also got to taste the pesto chicken stew ($10.80) accompanied with baby spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced carrots and bacon in a creamy pesto and cheese sauce. Despite the cream base, the golden stew tastes surprisingly light. The generous portions of chicken are succulent, while the bacon gives the dish a subtle smoky taste, which is a nice touch.

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If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, grab the signature Tuscan beef burger ($9.80) The thick patty of beef between 2 homemade buns is done medium rare (the only way it should be done), with its juices oozing  even when you squeeze it lightly. The quality of the beef is discerned from how fresh and tender the beef tastes when you sink your teeth into it. Green lettuce gives the burger a crunch, whereas the sautéed mushrooms add an earthy flavor. A nice tangy twist is created by the presence of pineapples.

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A vegetarian option is available in their leeks and mushrooms spaghetti in cream sauce. The noodle is done the way the Italians like it, al dente. The white cream sauce is not runny and clings well to the pasta, ensuring you get to taste every bit of the rich herb sauce. In fact, the leeks and mushrooms complement the creamy texture well.

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Besides the main courses, Ren Gastronome is also sticking to its healthy guns in their desserts. We found out the pastry chef is trained at Le Cordon Bleu, which is a good sign.

First on our plate is the smooth fudge-y chocolate cake (Slice: $6.20, Whole: $43.80). It may look like any other chocolate cakes, but because of the low sugar recipe used, every bite of the cake doesn’t feel like you’re eating a mouthful of sugar. The dark chocolate flavor is clearly present, leaving a rich and smooth cocoa scent on your taste buds and a subtle bitter aftertaste.

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The tiramisu ($6.50) cake is light and not overly sweet such that it does not mask the hints of espresso and cocoa. The coffee liqueur gives this treat a delicious kick to the senses.

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UrbanWire’s favorite is the triple chocolate mousse cake ($6.90). Sounds heavy, but it’s actually light as feather, and made with absolutely no sugar. The sweetness comes from the premium Tuscan chocolate chef Tai uses. Each layer is different with a smooth milk chocolate top that leads to the dark chocolate center with a good hint of cocoa. The mousse is on a feuilletine base for the crunch effect.

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Chef Tai has no qualms about hiring Singaporean senior citizens. In fact, all but one of his staff are 55 and above. Open to recruiting those in need and often partnering with other social organizations, Ren Gastronome is a restaurant with a cause. A “loyalty card” program is also in place for regular patrons to redeem a voucher for themselves, or donate to those in need. In short, chef Tai wants to empower his customers to be able to do some social good.

With a philosophy focused on doing good, and a menu meant for every diner’s good health, Ren Gastronome delivers a pleasant dining experience.


Additional Information

Price:  $4 – $12

Rating: ★★★★✩



121 Upper Paya Lebar Road

Singapore 534836


Opening Hours:

Mon – Thu: 10am to 9pm

Fri – Sat: 10am to 10pm


Contact Info:

6288 3144