Sonder elevates classic hawker favourites with a modern-European twist

By Foo Jia-En October 11, 2022
Sonder elevates classic hawker favourites with a modern-European twist
Modern takes on Thai red curry (left), and chicken rice (right). Photo: Sonder
Table of Contents

Chef Joe Leong, 29, has food in his blood. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Son to celebrity chefs Sam and Forest Leong, he’s been in and out of kitchens since childhood.

And he’s worked under the tutelage of celebrated chefs at establishments such as 2amDessertbar, Tippling Club and V-Zug.

sonder_hungrygowhere_amuse bouche bafun sea urchin
An opening salvo: An amuse bouche of fresh Bafun sea urchin and calamansi foam. Photo: Foo Jia-En/HungryGoWhere

Now, he has set up his first independent venture — a semi-fine-dining restaurant named Sonder just off Jalan Bukit Merah. Tucked away amid warehouses and industrial offices, the restaurant is a short distance from the main road and 2280Burger.

The concept 

Billed as a two-in-one bakery-bistro by day and Euro-Asian restaurant by night, Sonder prides itself on familiar flavours done differently.

Restaurant interior. Photo: Foo Jia-En/HungryGoWhere

The name means “special” in German, and rightly so — the menu is full of classic hawker fare that we all know and love, but with special, decadent European-inspired twists.

By day

From 12pm to 5pm, sweets, cakes and bakes (from S$2.50) fresh out of Sonder’s oven are on display, ready for takeaways and dine-in. Think kouign-amann, fresh fruit tarts and even whole cakes — with a four-day pre-order, that is.

sonder_hungrygowhere_beef pastrami sourdough sandwich
Beef pastrami sourdough sandwich. Photo: Sonder

Two- and three-course set lunches are also available (from S$30), featuring specialty dishes such as beef pastrami sourdough (S$20), winged bean pomelo salad (S$15), and whole pork knuckle by Grandpa Prin (S$45).

Freshly baked breads and slabs of house-made butter in three varieties — sea salt, kombu and black garlic — are included in each set, as well as the option of coffee or tea.

By night

After 6pm, prix-fixe menus — which are likely to change every few months — lead the charge.

sonder_hungrygowhere_prawn noodles
Chef Leong’s take on prawn noodles. Photo: Sonder

At Sonder, prawn mee manifests as a carb-free dish comprising king tiger prawns, lobster bisque espuma and linguine made from scallops, and chicken rice as a risotto with spring onion pesto and chicken roulade.

sonder_hungrygowhere_chicken rice risotto
Risotto with roulade of chicken and spring onion pesto. Photo: Sonder

In particular, the risotto comes with all the necessary components for a good chicken rice dish — gingery rice, sweet black sauce and chilli. According to Leong, he employs the same chilli recipe used by his grandmother, who ran a chicken rice stall in the old Margaret Drive Hawker Centre.

sonder_hungrygowhere_chef joe leong
Chef Joe Leong. Photo: Sonder

In a nod to his Thai heritage, Leong also serves up moo ping (grilled pork skewers), in the form of a Kurobuta pork collar, marinated for 24 hours and finished in a subtle coconut glaze. 

I personally enjoyed his rendition of the traditional Thai red curry, presented here as Aubergine, a deceptively simple Japanese eggplant starter halved lengthwise across the plate.

Aubergine. Photo: Sonder

Dig your spoon into the flutter of blue pea flowers, pickled pearl onions and housemade potato chips to get to the quenelle of creamy curry sorbet artfully concealed underneath.

sonder_hungrygowhere_barramundi and kurobuta pork collar
Barramundi (left) and Kurobuta pork collar (right). Photo: Foo Jia-En/HungryGoWhere

Steamed fish, a mainstay in Thai-Chinese cuisine, is reimagined as Barramundi, steamed and fried, in a moat of garlic lime jus.

sonder_hungrygowhere_apple crumble
Apple Crumble. Photo: Foo Jia-En/HungryGoWhere

Finish the meal with a Red Ruby, or the Apple Crumble, a tempting, glossy apple that alludes to the Original Sin. (As does a mural of Adam and Eve on the walls of the restaurant.)

sonder_hungrygowhere_petit fours
Closing off the meal with some petit fours and adorable latte art. Photo: Foo Jia-En/HungryGoWhere

Price-wise, the three-course Petit menu starts at S$88, while the six-course Classic and eight-course Gourmand menus run up to S$138 and S$188 respectively.

Book a ride to Sonder.


217 Henderson Road, 01-03
Nearest MRT station: Redhill
Open: Tuesday to Saturday (12pm to 5pm, 6pm to 10pm)

217 Henderson Road, 01-03
Nearest MRT station: Redhill
Open: Tuesday to Saturday (12pm to 5pm, 6pm to 10pm)

Foo Jia-En

Foo Jia-En


Jia-En has worn several hats in her career — first writing TV scripts, then food and lifestyle stories at Wine & Dine. But some things will never change: Her love of words, cats and caffeine.

Read More
Scroll to top