Their signature Garlicious US beef short ribs was unavailable on the day of our visit | Photo: PappaSan
Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5
Must eats: Richman fried rice, PappaSan chicken rice
Worried about the sustainability of our beloved hawker culture? Restaurant PappaSan gives more food for thought to the national hawker dialogue with their menu of “Richman” items and upmarket favourites.
“Knowing that the restaurant had poached (sorry, couldn’t resist) two chefs from Chatterbox, we dug into the chicken rice with gusto."
The all-day dining restaurant at Dorsett Hotel Singapore offers signature, western and local dishes, with a premium placed on the “Richman” items such as Richman Fried Rice ($38), Richman Burger ($38) made from Wagyu patty served with foie gras, and Richman Teochew porridge ($38), served with abalone.
As the burger was unavailable, we plumped for the fried rice, which came topped with half a Maine lobster broiled with béchamel sauce on the shell, topped with salmon roe. The winning combination was spot on, with scallop and prawn pieces adding to the overall generosity of the dish. The firm, fragrantly wok-tossed rice was a pleasure from first grain to last. If you’re not feeling much like a rich man, the relatively modest prices of the regular hawker items will beckon. These include PappaSan chicken rice ($16.50), Ipoh hor fun soup (Cantonese-style flat rice noodle soup from Malaysia, $13.50) and oxtail tendon beef noodles ($16), alongside other staples such as Nonya nasi lemak ($16.50) and mee goreng ($13).
Industrial lamps are just decorative in this naturally-lit space | Photo: PappaSan
What a magical start.
Knowing that the restaurant had poached (sorry, couldn’t resist) two chefs from Mandarin Orchard Singapore’s Chatterbox, we dug into the chicken rice with gusto.
The rice impressed with punchy fragrance and enjoyable dry firmness, paired with a heaping bowl of homemade chilli, ginger and dark soy that, strangely, were not separated. Unusually thin sliced pieces of poached 90-day chicken (younger than the usual farm chooks) were moist yet firm, bathed in a silky light soy sauce, had us mopping every drop. Our verdict? Delicious and addictive, very close to the x-factor of Chatterbox’s.
After this, the less memorable clear hor fun soup with its one-dimensional seafood broth and oxtail tendon beef noodles were wholesome but lacked sauces and accompaniments to give oomph. Give desserts a skip, judging from the odd soggy sago-pudding-like sticky mango rice ($8) with skimpy slices of sour mango.
Sadly, they also charge for water, at $3 for a small bottle of Dasani. Service from the highly inexperienced waitstaff verged on the head-scratching, as they seemed untrained and unfocussed. We did enjoy a conversation with the friendly chef though, who popped out of the kitchen frequently to check on diners. Being three months old at time of visit, PappaSan is still working out some of its teething problems, including getting supplies for its signature Garlicious US beef short ribs ($38), which wasn’t available.
To read about service standards in Singapore : go here
Lobster crispy noodles at PappaSan | Photo: PappaSan
The issue with upmarket joints like PappaSan (which incidentally is part of the PappaMia group, not PappaRich group) is one of expectations. For $16.50, diners could nominally feast on nasi lemak, mee goreng, chicken rice, hor fun and ice kachang at the nearby non-airconditioned Chinatown Complex hawker centre. PappaSan’s picture-laden menu of these familiar favourites will have you salivating to do the same in this comfortable industrial-chic space, but you’ll be spending $65 instead (before taxes). Which is probably the more accurate price of sustaining our hawker fare in future?
PappaSan | Address: 333 New Bridge Road, #01-01 Dorsett Hotel Singapore | Tel: 68201316 | Opening hours: Daily 7.30am-10pm
From dining on scorpions in Thailand to llama in Chile, there is nothing that fazes June Lee, CSW. Finding the right wines to match can be a challenge, though. With 12 years' experience in food and travel writing, she counts snorkelling in the Maldives, living with nomadic families in Mongolia, and driving in Mexico as her most memorable adventures. In her happy few months in Mexico in 2009, she sampled home cooked and street food, alongside café and restaurant specialties across the regions.