Ensconced in Section 17’s thriving gourmet scene is Tipsy Boar, a no-frills eatery that pays homage to the pig.
The eatery is the brainchild of chef-owner Suren Krishnan and his girlfriend and co-owner Toh Tsun Yee. Suren has been in the F&B business since he was a teenager, and has worked in numerous restaurants; he was also one of the founders of popular eatery Wondermama. But through all that success, he found there was still something on his mind or as he puts it, “I had this itch for pork that I needed to scratch.”
So Suren and Toh (who had left her job in the healthcare sector) took the smart route and first tested the market with a pop-up kitchen in Petaling Jaya’s Damansara Uptown where they had the opportunity to do trial runs of recipes and get invaluable feedback from customers. Once they felt they were ready, they launched their own restaurant seven months ago.
As a concept, Tipsy Boar is incredibly interesting, because it focuses on one protein: pork. While other restaurants have to work hard to replicate authentic meals or find new ways to create inspiring new fusion dishes, Suren and his team have the latitude to do as they please, so long as pork is in the picture.
“We don’t have a particular genre of cuisine that we follow, it’s more that the subject matter is pork so we have the freedom to play with whatever we want to do,” says Suren.
Which means you’ll find menu options that travel the continental divide – from American favourites to Filipino staples and German stalwarts.
Start your porcine adventure with the skillet rice (RM22). The Creole-style rice with sausages and bacon has a lovely, zesty undertone that melds beautifully with overt porcine flavours, and will be a memorable start to a meal here.
The sizzling sisig (RM25) is a fabulously good rendition of a Filipino staple that Suren developed with the help of his Filipino sous chef.
“My sous chef says a lot of the sisig that you find here uses minced meat but actual sisig is supposed to use the whole face of the pig, from the ear to the nose. And when we first started, we used the whole face but found the ears were a bit too rubbery, so now we use pork jowl which is quite fleshy,” he says.
The sisig is divine – pork cheeks, mashed potatoes and egg all meant to be stirred together to create a harmonious explosion of flavours. And boy, does it deliver! The pork cheeks are slightly crisp and bursting with fat and the mashed potatoes deliver tenderness while the egg that enrobes the entire concoction offers a velvety textural dimension. This is a meal so good, it will linger in your mind long after the plates have been cleared away.
The salted egg bacon pasta (RM28) is something that was devised in response to a young child’s request.
“That was introduced in the menu quite accidentally because we had a friend of ours come in and one of his children asked, ‘Do you have anything with salted egg?’ And we said, ‘No, we don’t. But we will get on that’. And now, some people come just to have that,” says Toh, laughing.
And it’s not hard to see why – the pasta is coated in a rich, creamy sauce with salted egg undertones, interpersed with crispy bacon shards that double the hedonistic quotient of this meal. It’s a sure-fire winner for children and adults alike.
The same can be said of the signature US pork ribs (RM28) which feature a generous portion of meaty ribs slathered in Suren’s rendition of Kansas-style barbeque sauce. They are sensationally good – fall-off-the-bone tender while the sweet, tangy sauce adds full-bodied flavour to the dish.
Then there is the pork chop schnitzel marinara spaghetti (RM28) which boasts a giant hunk of pork breaded and fried to perfection and laid atop a mound of homemade spaghetti marinara (see top image). The schnitzel has a lovely crunchy exterior that gives way to an interior that is still juicy and succulent. And while the marinara seems like a vestigial side note, it is exactly the opposite of that, leaving an indelible impression with rich, sumptuous tomatoey flavours.
In every restaurant, there is a superstar, a meal that through frequent adulation and pats on the back, is elevated to stratospheric levels, while its fellow brethren rest languidly closer to ground level. At Tipsy Boar, this dish is the signature 72-hour crispy pork knuckle.
“We developed this recipe while we were doing the pop-up. I had a sous vide machine, so I kept the pork knuckles in there for as long as I could, and I found that three days seemed to be the optimal time. So when the customer makes an order, we pop the pork (that has been cooked sous vide) in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes. What we end up with is meat that is almost falling apart inside with crispy skin outside,” says Suren.
Having heard all that, expectations are sky high for this much-heralded meal and thank the pork heavens, it delivers on every count. This is probably one of the best pork knuckles (RM88 for four to six people) you’re likely to find in the Klang Valley at the moment. Once prodded with a knife, the lovely crisp exterior succumbs with a crackle to incredibly juicy, tender meat inside. It’s the stuff that pork dreams are made of, but in this case, this dream is a very real, very euphoric reality.
Since Tipsy Boar’s inception, it has attracted its fair share of followers, and both Toh and Suren are delighted with the niche pork-loving crowd they appeal to.
“I think pork has got its own little crowd of people who just want to eat pork, so we’ve been very lucky in the sense that we’ve gotten to capture that crowd. Most people who come become good friends of ours as well because they are regulars, and they’ve given us good feedback from the beginning, and that’s how we’ve gotten better over the last few months,” says Toh.
21-G, Jalan 17/45
46400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-7931 9793
Open Tuesday to Sunday: 11am to 2.30pm; 6pm to 9.30pm