Starting out as a central kitchen with a primary focus on delivery and takeout services, this family-run business represents an extension of a larger event planning organization known as SWG. Set within a cosy shophouse along 10 Jalan Pisang, OKRA is a fusion paradise which combines traditional Malay flavours with Western influence in perfect harmony.
Merging old and new practices together to create an unique concept café, OKRA is strategically situated along Singapore’s predominantly halal-centric district, and most notably fronted by 20 year old Salina, with the help of uncle and grandfather. A truly incredible individual and impeccable conversationalist, Salina possesses all the qualities needed to effortlessly represent a brand, which include being undeniably driven, ambitious, and warm.
In my eyes, Salina has successfully achieved her goal of creating a place which she and others, as consumers, would purposefully visit. Complete with an array of personal touches, this café showcases photographs and paintings taken or designed by Salina and her family on their innumerable travels abroad – making the space that much homelier and intimate.
Inspired greatly by their time in Norway, much of OKRA’s concept revolves around the Norwegian Aurora zone, where one can witness Mother Nature’s finest Northern Lights display. The café’s signature Shell-Out dish presents the perfect example. Featuring an array of fresh shellfish in the form of crabs, prawns, clams, calamari, gong-gong, snails, and corn cooked in a flavour of your choice, guests are invited to select any one of the following five classic and premium sauces – Signature Triple Sambal, Lemak Chili Padi, Black Peppercorn, Salted Egg, and Lemon butter and Herbs.
Worth an estimated $22 for adults, $10 for children 10 years old and below, and $16 for students, the Shell-Out platter offers more than enough food for at least three to four hungry individuals! If I’m being honest, I don’t know which part of the Shell-Out platter I sampled, but all I know is the Signature Triple Sambal is SPICY. For lack of a much more in-depth review, heat-lovers can rest assured that this sauce certainly lives up to its name – I wish I could say more but my eyes were watering and my mouth was on fire.
Despite my challenging Shell-Out moment, my colleagues loved it, and I licked my wounds by indulging in a delicious array of Ramen Wings and a scrumptious set of Chicken Satay, both worth $12 each. Doused in sweet sauce, and served alongside rice cubes and peanut-and-bird’s-eye chilli-infused soy sauce, the Chicken Satay was absolutely delicious – think soft juicy meat, topped by the most flavourful, and appropriately spicy sauce you could ever imagine, and then amplify that feeling by ten.
On the total opposite side of the spectrum, the Ramen Wings are characterized by a crunchy exterior which wraps effortlessly around its delectably tender meat. So soft, that the meat was practically falling off the bone, these deep fried chicken wings are generously spiced and innovatively engulfed in a layer of crushed ramen noodle bits.
Finally, whoever said halal restaurants are boring or predictable in their beverages, need to drop by OKRA ASAP. Offering a diverse range of mocktails, custom shakes, specialty coffees, teas, and non-alcoholic bottled ‘beers’, OKRA is best known for their fizzy Flying Cauldron ButterScotch Beer, the $8 Lychee Mojito, and $9 Aurora Sunrise. Consisting of mint leaves, lychee, lime, club soda, the Lychee Mojito presents the perfect balance of sweet yet refreshing flavours, that pair gracefully with the intense spiciness of the Shell-Out platter.
On the other hand, the Aurora Sunrise – an orangey-red concoction comprising of orange juice, club soda, mint leaves, and strawberries – presents a significantly stronger, sickly-sweet aftertaste which made me wince. Despite often harping on about my love for sweet drinks, my experience with the Aurora Sunrise marks one of the few unfortunate moments where I am not a fan.
OKRA By SWG
Address: 10 Jalan Pisang, S199077
Operating Hours: (Mon-Sat): 3pm – 10:30pm