Five years since its opening, Mexican restaurant El Mero Mero is experiencing a new challenge. Mexican food is no longer a novelty in Singapore’s dining scene with casual restaurants, stalls and taquerias popping up around the island.
As popular as it has become, it’s a little more difficult to find authentic takes of the cuisine. Americanised versions, such as Tex-Mex, are more commonplace.

(Image credit: El Mero Mero)

But owner Alejandro Blanco is committed to bringing the bright flavours of South America to the table through El Mero Mero. The dark and elegant restaurant presented facets of the cuisine beyond fajitas and tacos, unabashedly spicy and robust.
2019’s El Mero Mero is still all about that, but with a more inviting approach for diners. For example, the recent renovations saw brighter interiors. The alfresco section is now Senor Taco, Blanco’s casual taqueria. The restaurant’s menu still sees gourmet bites, but beyond that, it is a celebration of the cuisine’s evolution.


On to greener pastures

(Images: El Mero Mero)

Forget dark walls and moody lighting. The newly-refurbished restaurant adopts a more cheery and inviting vibe. Against a creamy white backdrop and warm, wood floorings, the restaurant is accentuated by marble tables and spots of greenery. It fits in with the equally affable service and moreish dishes to come. The open kitchen remains the highlight of El Mero Mero, showing off kitchen theatrics via the fiery Josper oven and a glistening array of kitchenware.
The best ingredients from Mexico

(Images: El Mero Mero)

When it comes to presenting authentic flavours, El Mero Mero is insistent on using ingredients imported from all over Mexico, especially with the chillies, avocados and tomatillos. Anything that cannot be imported is somewhat supplemented by B2B factory La Mexicana, Alejandro Blanco’s side business. The corn tortillas, for instance, is made fresh at the facility using only quality masa (read: ground corn).
There’s much more to Mexico’s produce than just these. The kitchen also introduces unheard-of ingredients — think corn fungus and grasshoppers — into dishes. Thankfully, diners won’t need strong stomachs as a pre-requisite to get through dinner.
A taste of the streets

Corn Platter (Image credit: Bing Leow)
Guacamole (Image credit: El Mero Mero)

For starters, diners get a taste of familiar bites done differently. A homely bowl of guacamole becomes a fun DIY event where diners get to mix up avocadoes and accompanying ingredients altogether. The classic elotes (grilled Mexican street corn) are reinterpreted as grilled baby corn skewers for dipping into an addictive chilli mayo mix with cotija cheese. We didn’t expect to like the small fried doughnuts on the side too. The unassuming carbs are made with huitlacoche, a corn fungus that has become a well-loved delicacy in Mexico. The huitlacoche is not the best-looking ingredient at El Mero Mero but it is certainly one of the most delicious, imparting an earthy, cheesy flavour in these small bakes.
Catch of the day

(Images: El Mero Mero)

Mexican cuisine is not bereft of influences from across the border, and that perhaps is best represented by the aguachile.
While ceviche originates from Peru, the raw seafood dish finds many adaptations elsewhere — say with the spicier shrimp aguachile from Sinaloa, Mexico. The fresh coconut ceviche pays homage to both versions. The dish goes for plump cubes of fresh hamachi, tossed together in a tantalising, milky sauce of jalapeno, serrano and guero chillies.
The tostadas de atun, on the other hand, is a nod to Japanese-Mexican food. Fresh tuna is mixed in with chipotle mayo — a condiment typically served with sushi in the country — and served in a mini crispy tortilla bowl.
And now: the tacos

Baja Fish (Image credit: El Mero Mero)

El Mero Mero aims for a more gourmet take on tacos. The Baja fish taco sees a generous chunk of tempura Patagonian toothfish, still retaining its soft and delicate textures even after a swim in the deep-fryer. The Wagyu Volcan is a more indulgent treat, with kiriotoshi cuts of pan-seared beef topped with grilled mozzarella, avocado and a spicy jalapeno sauce.
Tortilla Soup

(Image credit: El Mero Mero)

The newly-introduced tortilla soup is another Mexican class worth trying as well. It is perhaps the least elegant dish on the menu, but don’t be fooled by appearances. The simple tomato soup is brimming with umami, char and spice, topped with bits of fried tortilla strips for crunch.
Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday
5:00pm – 11:00pm
Price:
$150++ per person
Noise level:
Medium
Service:
Attentive

 

Jasmine Tay
Senior Writer
Jasmine Tay is the dining, culture and jewellery writer. She makes fine silver jewellery and causes mini-explosions in the kitchen when she can't afford fancy dinners. Sometimes she tells people what she thinks about art, and binges on the music of Danzig when they don’t agree.