Housed in the colonial white armoury building known as the South Beach Quarters, Vatos Urban Tacos is established by three like-minded Korean-Americans who grew up close to authentic Mexican food and homemade Korean cuisine. It became a matter of course, when the issue of cuisine arose, that Korean-Mexican fare would be the main source of inspiration undergirding this business venture.
The starters, in my opinion, paled in comparison to the main courses. Acknowledging the complements of braised pork carnitas, sauteed kimchi, and melted cheese, I feel that the Kimchi Carnitas Fries ($19++) carries too heavy a price tag for what is mainly still deep-fried potato as the base. I have to admit though, I do find joy in the crunch and hot flavours stemming from the hot sauce and onion. If I have to pick one starter, this would be it.
The Honey Tequila Chicken Wings ($19++) looked better than it tasted. While attractively brown, the wings were slightly over-fried, causing the meat to be slightly drier and tougher than it would otherwise have been. The sweetness of the sweet and spicy honey tequila coating was also too overwhelming; I daresay it’s one of the sweetest wings I’ve ever had. It would suit you if you have a sweet tooth. The Mexican Caesar Salad with Grilled Chipotle Prawn ($21++) is, once more, not value-for-money, and is forgettable.
The mains, or at least so I categorise, were much more fulfilling. New on the menu is the Kimchi Galbi Grilled Cheese ($16++), which was simple yet pleasing. As photographed above, the sandwich was brimming with sauteed kimchi, Mexican cheese, and marinated Galbi short rib. Interestingly, the sourdough had a marginally chewy texture and tastes quite alike mee chiang kueh (peanut pancake) sans peanut. My only gripe is the excessive saltiness from the kimchi plus cheese.
The Chicken Mole Enchiladas ($16++) was something new on the menu, and something new to me too. Doused over the chicken and cheese enchiladas is the monster version (addition of gochujang) of Mexico’s national sauce, mole. To me, it is akin to BBQ sauce but less sweet. The gochujang worked like magic for me, perhaps because it helped cut through the sweetness, while leaving a spicy aftertaste. The portion of meat in its Tacos ($7++ to $9++) is rather generous – try the Galbi Short Rib or Chimichurri Chicken.
What might seem like the Nachos you know is actually something you may never have tried – taco skin given the deep-fry treatment, resulting in warm tortilla triangles that are still crispy but in a denser and more heavy-bodied fashion. This, simply drizzled with Nutella and topped with vanilla ice cream, triggered a dessert that was more satisfying than expected. As a cherry on top, this Nutella Nachos only sets you (and easily two other friends) back $10 before taxes.
What’s worth ordering:
Chicken Mole Enchiladas
Kimchi Galbi Grilled Cheese
Photos by Kathleen.
Address: 36 Beach Road, Singapore 189766
Contact: +65 6385 6010 / firstname.lastname@example.org (accepts reservations)
Opening Hours: 12pm – 11pm (Sun – Thurs); 12pm – 12am (Fri – Sat)
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