The popular Korean-Mexican chain from Seoul, Vatos Urban Tacos, has opened their first overseas outpost in Singapore. Co-founder and owner Sid Kim says one of the clinchers for setting up here was his love for South Beach Quarter. Previously an armoury, the building’s understated elegance is a perfect foil for the restaurant’s cosy interior: black accents, bits of exposed brick wall, retro-fitted lights and quirky table protrusions scream industrial chic. Kim and his partners Kenny Park and Juweon Jonathan Kim were three Korean-American vatos (Mexican slang for ‘dudes’) who grew up in Southern California and Texas surrounded by Mexican food and their mums’ good Korean cooking.
Recognising the similarities between the two cuisines (think Korean meats in lettuce wraps vis-à-vis carnitas tacos), they opened their first outlet in Itaewon five years ago and the rest is history. If there is a signature dish at Vatos that embodies the owners’ mixed heritage, it is the Kimchi Carnitas Fries ($16): made with pulled braised pork carnitas, kimchi, melted cheese, topped with sour cream, Vatos Hot Sauce, cilantro and onions, the combination sounds like a mushy mess, but it all comes together in a satisfying mouthful with a spicy kick to boot.
Another must-try is the Spicy Chicken Quesadilla ($16), an open-face pizza quesadilla filled with chicken, árbol chili sauce, cilantro and onions. It’s so good, you’d want to go back for sinful seconds. Or you could try the Korean Pork Belly Tacos ($10 for two) which is only available on the Singapore menu. Quench your thirst with one of their makgeolitas ($25)—tequilas with makgeolli—but go easy on them, as they can be pretty potent.
36 Beach Road. Tel: 6385 6010