COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Right off the bat, let’s just dive straight into the matter: Yes, Oporto is considered by many in the UK and Australia as the inferior alternative to Nando’s. It’s probably impossible to escape a comparison between those two. Both are Portuguese flame-grilled chicken chains offering variations of spicy sauces for a mouthful of heat to dress up the already marinated poultry.
Nando’s did make landfall here way more quickly than Oporto did, but even with nine outlets across the island, it isn’t exactly known as an outstanding spot for chicken — Singaporeans pretty much like their chicken fried (KFC, Texas, Popeyes) or Korean-style (4Fingers, the dozens of joints along Tanjong Pagar).
Now that Oporto has finally opened its first ever outlet here in Holland Village, things might look up in the underrated realm of Portuguese-style grilled chicken. Holland Piazza now hosts a 45-seater Oporto outlet, the first of many branches promised to arrive in the coming years by Sydney-based F&B franchisers Aura Group.
Oporto is not so much a proper sit-down dining restaurant like Nando’s is — instead, it offers a casual experience with affordable prices to match those of other fast food joints. Burgers start at prices as low as $4.90, with the option to make it a meal by adding a side and drink for $2.50 (or $3.50 for an upsize).
Their trademark Bondi Burger is not left behind, and local patrons can try out the popular sandwich that consists of grilled chicken fillets, lettuce, cheese, mayo and original chili sauce, with the option to have single ($5.90), double ($7.90) and triple ($9.90)
Sides-wise, there are the standard options of chips, coleslaw, and grilled corn, but the highlight will have to be Oporto’s spicy rice — a bowl of pillowy-soft rice with a generous dosage of pepper, herbs, and seasoning — which can be added on separately for $2.90 or a bigger portion at $3.90. Folks who want something more substantial can hit the snacks section for stuff like flame-grilled chicken wings ($4.90 for regular, $5.90 for large), chili cheese chips ($5.90) or the Bondi Bites for chicken pieces served with a choice of dipping sauce ($4.90 for regular, $5.90 for large).
But of course, the raison d’être for Oporto is their flame-grilled chicken. We’re happy to report that it stands on a better plane (for now) than the frequently bland fares of our local Nando’s. No longer will chicken connoisseurs need to douse their cuts in sauce to taste something — Oporto’s offerings are righteously tender and moist enough to enjoy on its own. They passed the chicken breast meat test, really: Even with this (typically) joyless cut, the flesh is marinated and seasoned enough for flavors to seep deep inside. Chicken quarters go for $6.90, halfsies go for $11.90 and a whole bird is $21.90.
Speaking of flavors, there are only two. There’s the Oporto Original Chili Sauce (Portuguese spicy sauce made with chili pepper, ginger, and garlic) that’s not really that spicy, but offers a deep enough kick for a savory flavor.
Those who want to go in the opposite direction can go for the Lemon & Herb iteration, which goes down smoother and with a sweeter tang. There’s also an option to go entirely hog-wild with relish by picking an array of six sauces, which includes the deliciously thick garlic sauce.
Wraps and salad bowls are also included for the health-conscious (why are you even here), and the only choice for dessert is churros ($2.90), which aren’t anything special, but good enough for a break from all the richness.
Oporto is at Holland Piazza, #01-01, No. 3 Lorong Liput. Open daily 10am-11pm.