Cheap and cheer­ful, with a lit­tle some­thing ex­tra

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Kim Knight

Po’ Broth­ers

On the morn­ing of this re­view, it was noted that my din­ing com­pan­ion was a man who used to eat generic canned food la­belled “fish”. These days, he’s got all fancy. The last meal he posted to so­cial me­dia con­tained pome­gran­ate mo­lasses. I had high hopes for the cal­i­bre of his cri­tique.

“We should or­der the char kuey teow,” he said with au­thor­ity. I waited for a dis­ser­ta­tion on springy noo­dles, smoky heat and lard ver­sus veg­etable oil. “We need to know how it com­pares to the food hall,” he said.

Po’ Broth­ers is a pan-Asian ven­ture on Pon­sonby Rd. The in­te­rior is sim­ple but stylish, there are ta­bles for very large and very small groups, and the menu is split across three price points: on the street, work­ing class and lux­ury life. Some­thing for ev­ery­one in a part of town that fre­quently feels like it’s only for the few.

I very badly wanted to be­gin with deep-fried chicken skin ($9). Un­for­tu­nately, I had not been to the gym in a decade. Cue the fresh rice pa­per roll ($9), packed with let­tuce and heavy on mint. It’s the only ob­vi­ous veg­e­tar­ian of­fer­ing on the menu, though I did see meat and seafood-free ver­sions of other dishes be­ing de­liv­ered.

Light and re­fresh­ing, the rolls were the per­fect jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for a bowl of deep-fried corn­flakes (aka chicken karaage). The $10 dish of re­ally juicy thigh meat with a ce­real coat­ing was cooked to a bonkers level of golden crisp­ness. Highly rec­om­mended.

I skipped the “strip­per” fried rice ($16) even though the menu as­sured me was “au­then­tic Thai-style”. Google didn’t recog­nise the dish. My best guess? An hi­lar­i­ous play on the more fa­mous Ital­ian store-cup­board carb, put­tanesca (spaghetti in the style of a pros­ti­tute, blah, blah). How about that char kuey teow though? It fea­tured crunchy bok choy, melt­ing chunks of pork and (slightly chewy) strips of beef. If I had a com­plaint, it was that there was more meat and vege than there was noo­dles. I’m aware that for some, that would be a bonus, and that at $15, it was ridicu­lously good value.

Pork belly chilli jam came in at a sim­i­lar price point. I’ve stopped or­der­ing this kind of food be­cause it con­founds my crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties (pig fat, yum, re­peat) but this was great. Sticky and quite sweet, but saved by an al­most cof­fee-bitter note in the back­ground. Swoon. We for­got to or­der rice ($2), but that was rec­ti­fied within sec­onds of ask­ing.

There is ton to like at Po’ Broth­ers, even with­out try­ing the beef brisket curry, the seafood noo­dle tom yum or any­thing at all from the “lux­ury life” duck­salmon-lamb-king prawn end of the menu ($24-$28).

Two desserts ($8 each) lit­er­ally fin­ished us off. A mango par­fait and sago pud­ding was a lit­tle trop­i­cal par­adise in a bowl; and a deep-fried bao bun with matcha ice cream was finest fu­sion — crispy, creamy and sweet, with a strange earthy kick.

We’d eaten very well, drunk quite a lot of rosé, and had pud­ding. Given the lo­cale, I hon­estly thought they’d missed some­thing off the bill.

Po’ Broth­ers is next-level cheap and cheer­ful and you should check them out soon.

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