Potato Head Folk, Three Buns | Keong Saik Road, Chinatown

Potato Head…is like the “Indochine” of Indonesia.

The whole concept is built around a theme – arts and design, and sculpted from the outside in. Formed from the brainchild of Indonesians Ronald Akili and Jason Gunawan, Potato Head grew from a bistro and bar in Jakarta, to a lifestyle boutique resort and beach club in Bali (which is apparently well-known). With Singapore holding a special place amongst Indonesians, the red dot became Potato Head’s latest project.

Potato Head’s claim to fame, similar to Buddha Bar and Indochine’s orientalist theme, is its arts and design theme. More specifically, the reconciliation of local and international art, cuisines, cocktails, fashion and design sense. This balance is resolved through the deliberate segmentation of the venues, all conjoined harmoniously by murals created by Indonesian contemporary artist, Eko Nugroho. It’s hipsters, commercialized: for those who listen to Asgeir, think Bali’s only worth visiting for Ubud, and that their hotel of choice, when Buddha Bar isn’t available, is the W.

It’s therefore no surprise that Potato Head Singapore is none other than in Keong Saik, a.k.a. Hipster Central. You’ve got Loh Lik Peng’s thingys there, Jason Atherton’s pads, as well as boulangeries, speakeasies and other trinkets and what-nots.

It’s quite the place…think: fancy backpacker’s hostels you’d find in Thailand and Indonesia. The mini kitchen at the bottom, the communal area, the “forbidden area”, and the ubiquitous rooftop bar (What is a hipster place to do without one of these in Singapore? Close down?!! Never). It’s a hosh posh of art and design ideas that seamlessly integrates into a single coherent idea, of freedom, of relaxation, of that laid back atmosphere…this time coming from Australian artist David Bromley.

The ground floor is for the undiscerning individual who’d happily dine at the Thai mookata restaurant opposite because it’s all about the price and the food. It’s hot, the fragrance of beef sizzling in the pan can be overpowering, but on the plus side, it’s 10% cheaper.

The second floor is where the real Three Buns restaurant is. It’s just like downstairs, but without the heat and without the smell.

The third floor is for the nouveau riche, or young people who can afford to spend their parents’ money like there’s no tomorrow.

The fourth floor is the rooftop bar.

Three Buns sells burgers, and little else. This is the real s**t. It’s places like this you toss in words like “gourmet” and “quality” and “overpriced”. Think Shake Shack, In-N-Out, Omakase, a burger so small, you might mistake it for a slider. For the few twenty-dollar-worth bites, what you’ll get is some of the most unforgettable gastronomic experiences you’ll ever get from a burger. Soft, firm and moist buns; a beef patty so poorly minced, you’d know it’s from a prime steak; pickles, mayo and the “Notorious T.O.M. Sauce” (used in every single savory dish in Potato Head). I ordered the Burning Man which, coming from an Indonesian brand, is anti-climatically not spicy at all despite being advised otherwise.

The infamous T.O.M. sauce takes centre stage with the Naughty Fries. Thinly sliced hand-cut potatoes with spiced bearnaise, hot beef chili, crispy shallots, parmesan and sesame seed, this dish was as satisfying as Carl’s Jr’s chili cheese fries, and I mean it as a compliment. It’s great to pair your beer, but I don’t think I would recommend it with the burgers. It got a little monotone in terms of flavors, but that’s a minor nitpick. And thankfully, the portion isn’t huge either.

With burgers so savory, the opposite must be offered. Desserts include individual not-for-sharing portions of Rich Chocolate, Zesty Lemon and some sticky chewy toffee pudding thing. They seem to have lowered the prices to SGD 4 compared to what Daniel Food Diary claims, so it’s definitely a move to get people to actually eat dessert.

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3 thoughts on “Potato Head Folk, Three Buns | Keong Saik Road, Chinatown

  1. it doesn’t sound very good. and I have an upcoming brunch here! what’s served to the nouveau riche on the third floor? the standard alacarte?

    1. Don’t get me wrong: I loved the burgers there, but the whole “hipster” quotien is overwhelming for me. Maybe you’ll like it. The third floor’s for drinks – reservations only.

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