Friday, May 28, 2010

Hot Box Bistro - Restaurant-style Western Fare in a Coffeeshop

Creamy Mix Pasta - garlic, bacon and shiitake mushrooms in cream sauce
This plate of Creamy Mix Spaghetti - garlic, bacon and shiitake mushrooms in cream sauce - was much better than I'd hoped for. Served piping hot, the pasta was of a good firmness. The bacon and mushrooms were juicy and generously given. Portion was just right too - I felt satisfied without the cream getting to me. All in all, a well-executed dish for S$7.

Thanks to a reader of mine who wrote in, I discovered this coffeeshop stall named Hot Box Bistro. The only problem was I live in the East and it was so far away in the West. Jurong West Avenue 1, to be precise. But as luck would have it, I was at the Science Centre yesterday for the Pixar exhibition, so I hopped onto a feeder bus after that to suss out this place. After all, how can you not be curious about an eatery with a name like that?

Turns out they serve quite a few things besides pasta. It all looks so tempting, too bad I only had one stomach.

Here's their menu. Click for bigger version to see details.

Restaurant-style condiments - salt and pepper, parmesan cheese, chili flakes and tabasco sauce (not shown)
What also surprised me was the line-up of condiments they presented. Salt and black pepper (in Cole & Mason grinders no less), Parmesan cheese, chili flakes and tabasco sauce (not in photo).  I also got my cutlery with paper napkin in a separate tray. This may just be a coffeeshop, but Hot Box Bistro wants to replicate the restaurant experience. Head chef and co-owner Jesmond Lim used to work in restaurants and food courts before branching out on his own here, in late April.

Service here is also exceptionally good. Look for the server who has tattoos covering both arms. He is very prompt, proactive and polite. I watched him serve an older lady with respectful deference.

I'm glad this turned out to be a nice find (thanks, Vicky/Rui Yun). Despite the distance, I'm actually tempted to go back to try some other stuff. I also hope Jesmond manages to find premises in the East (they are scouting for a bigger place). You can join their Facebook page for updates.

Block 503 Jurong West Avenue 1
#01-855 Kopitiam
Singapore 640503
Tel: +65 6560-3880
Open 11.30am - 10pm (closed Tuesdays)

Here's a map, if you need help finding the location. Nearest MRT is Lakeside.

View Larger Map


  1. not too far from where I stay! will go check it out!

  2. I stay at super close walking distance from that place. Passed by a few times but never got a chance to try. Maybe should try it out soon. :)

  3. Liverpool and DK: let me know how it goes!

    I heard from another friend who used to live there that this stall is the one with "bad fengshui" - always changing, and then empty for a LONG time. Hope Hot Box Bistro will reverse that trend, but I think the stall is nestled a bit too far and deep inside the Kopitiam.

    LIC: haha, I'm going West, you're going East!

  4. aiyah! should've buzzed me! I can pop by and have coffee leh....

  5. Haa...yeah hor, you also stay so near! Eh so many kawan here!

    Another one to KIV next time I'm here: halal wantans!

  6. Ah, nice. For me, so long as the pasta is al dente, it's really hard to fault the sauce even if it's mediocre. But a soggy/hard pasta would doom even the best of sauces any time... :P

  7. My order of “Pinky Cream Pasta” was served piping hot, within reasonable waiting time.

    Hmm, it sure looks tempting enough for me to dig in immediately.........

    The 1st thing to note was that the pasta had a great texture and pleasurable bite... the sauce was creamy yet uncomplicated offering a harmonious balance of flavour which lingers around just right till the next spoonful......

    Apparently, the chef isn’t commercially inspired ;-p given the fact that the ingredients were generous in view of its $7.50 price tag. The smokiness of the bacon blends well and compliments the earthly undertones of the shiitake mushroom.... mamma mia!!!

    If you enjoy pasta the way mama cooks it (i.e. traditional Italian splendour), skip the array of condiments, else, some cracked pepper or chilli flakes should turn up the heat to accommodate local palates.

    I’ll be back for more (let’s hope the rest of the items offer similar gastronomic experiences!!)

  8. LFB: yes, nothing can save soggy pasta!

    Anonymous: wow, thank you for describing your experience in such detail. You're tempting me to head there again soon. Yes, I do love the smoky bacon. I also agree that the pasta is already good on its own and doesn't need the condiments, but it's nice of the chef to provide them.

  9. Went yesterday at 12pm and their pasta was not ready. Sad! My son had the mini fish and chips, while my husband had the chicken chop. Me? I had the Bak Chor Mee from another stall instead. Why are there so many empty stalls in the Kopitiam? oExcluding the drink stall, only 4 food stalls are occupied (out of probably 8). Jo

  10. I pride myself as a major foodie, and have my fair share of wine & dine at gourmet restaurants all over the island. Of all the wonderful places, Hotbox Bristo takes the cake for best value for money vis-à-vis the taste and quality of food being served. You won't classify this as a restaurant.. yet.. but with the quality of food they offer, I believe that might just become a reality in due course.

    Having heard so much about this spectacular new establishment, I decided to judge for myself how a small eatery like that manages to etch itself in the heartstrings of food aficionados..
    Tearing down the expressway towards Hotbox Bristo after my ICT above redline didn't take as long as the address suggests. In fact, the place is a breeze to locate...

    The service is impeccable, reasonably fast, and the atmosphere is genuinely relaxed and pleasant. Ask the servers what their favorite dishes are, and let that be your guide if you're having a hard time deciding- I have yet to be anything less than wowed by something a server recommended!

    Here are the must trys:

    Pinky Pasta - Simply breathtaking... Need I say more?? there're so many prior reviews to it already.

    Steak - Its simply divine, perfectly cooked medium rare with visible pink hues in the centre portion unlike most commercialised steak offerings at this price. (Makes me crave for my usual pinot noir to pair with this wonderfully created masterpiece)

    Mushroom Soup - Fancy generous portions of fresh mushrooms at a steal?? You would not wanna miss ordering this then.

    Fries - I never really understood the M&M tagline "melts in your mouth, not your hand" until I pop a piece of the fries into my mouth.. It sizzles, then disintegrates in the mouth while giving off that distinct oven baked potato aroma - I'm still amazed how this feat is achieved.

    Burger - I didn't had a taste of this, because the only person who ordered it at my dining table gobbled it up within 5 mins (that is after eating his prior order of Fish and Chips mind you...). His verdict... You should have seen his face and BIG grin...

    Well, all the above came easy on the wallet... a fraction of what you would expect to pay elsewhere, with 30% more in terms of serve size and of course complete with delightful taste which leaves diners craving for more .

    Well done Hotbox Bristo, I will definately drop by again!!

  11. Thanks so much for your detailed review, Robin!

  12. It is amazing a small restaurant like this can make such a beautiful food and it is even western style!!

  13. It is so cheap and looks so yummy :( why its not in AUS sigh..


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