The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Disappointing Singaporean @ Cafe Singapura, Tokyo

We're not usually so readily dismissive of a restaurant on the first visit, but you know it's bad when even their o-susume (recommended) dishes sucked. I considered not reviewing this restaurant as we had a rather disappointing experience, but I thought that perhaps I could save another person (perhaps a Singaporean food lover) from making the mistake of dining there. Singaporean cuisine is not very well represented in Tokyo, but there are a smattering of Singaporean restaurants around Tokyo, and Cafe Singapura is one located in Roppongi. Service was good (I've yet to be disappointed with the always courteous Japanese service), and it seems to be quite a popular restaurant with the Japanese people. I guess most of the patrons wouldn't have any inkling of what good Singaporean food is.

We ordered Coconut Milk drink (500yen), which was actually coconut cream mixed with coconut juice and some coconut flesh. I've never had coconut cream in a drink before, and it was pretty good in this combination.

Coconut Milk:

The beef in the Beef Rendang (1200yen) was fall-apart tender, like it should be, but the gravy was disappointing - I couldn't taste much coconut in it, and it wasn't spicy at all. And the serving size was disappointingly small, especially for a 1200yen dish - only three and a half chunks of meat in the dish. This was one of the restaurant's recommended dishes. We also got Pepper Prawns (1100yen), which was perhaps the only dish that was decent. I enjoyed the fresh and juicy prawns, but the plate could do with more prawns and a lot more pepper.

Beef Rendang; and Pepper Prawns:

The biggest disappointment was reserved for last - the Charkueyteow (1050yen), which was another of the restaurant's recommended dishes. CKT is Rob's standard dish for comparison between restaurants serving Malaysian/Singaporean cuisine, but what we had was not even fit to be called charkueyteow. This dish failed on so many levels, I don't even know where to begin. For one thing, most of the noodles on the plate weren't even the flat rice ones, but the usual yellow wheat variety. Secondly, the pieces of what we thought were lap cheong (aka Chinese sausage) tasted like hotdog sausage - definitely not the flavourful, fatty, sweet-salty ones. Thirdly, it was seriously lacking in any wok hei (wok "flavour") - in fact, it was lacking in any flavour other than soy sauce. It was very salty and not very enjoyable to eat. I have never been so disappointed with a charkueyteow dish before this one.

Disappointing Charkueyteow:

To add insult to the injury, we were charged a table charge simply for dining at the restaurant. There are far too many crosses marked against this restaurant for us to consider a revisit. The food at Hainan Chifan, whilst not the best Singaporean we've had, is more reliable and nearby (see my previous reviews on Hainan Chifan).

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