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Don't call me ordinary

By Amy Van
17 July 2009 3:21 PM Updated 17 Jul 2009

Don't call me ordinary

Do eateries with quirky names appeal to you or do you simply shrug them off? There are numerous F&B outlets in Singapore with innovative names. finds out the stories behind some of these places and what they actually offer.

Eighteen Chefs
3 Simei Street 6 #01-36 Eastpoint Mall
Tel: 67821298
Opening Hours: Daily 12pm - 11pm
Eighteen Chefs was founded by creative director and chef Benny Se Teo, a former drug addict and convict who was recently nominated for the Spirit of Enterprise Award 2009. Before setting up shop in Singapore, he had a stint at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen in London for a month.

Benny hopes to equip ex-convicts with some culinary skills, and Eighteen Chefs' aim is to inspire and help troubled youths and convicts to find positive avenues to reintegrate back into society. Johari Yahya, its F&B director, says, "Eighteen is the moniker of an underground clan, which is still active in Singapore. We are of course not associated with the clan, but Eighteen Chefs' message is that you can channel your energy to something positive and be successful in life. This movement is for a good cause, as we want to tell people that there is a way out and you don't have to be stuck in your destructive behaviour". Johari added that there are a total of 12 chefs now working for the three outlets (the other two are at Fusionopolis and Yishun, and a fourth outlet is opening at Tiong Bahru Plaza soon).

Western meals are rustled up here, and an all-time favourite is the cheese baked rice. Diners can mix and match their own baked rice from a selection of eight sauces, 13 main ingredients and 12 toppings. The price for the main ingredients (such as chicken sausage, salmon and seafood) range from $6.50 to $12.90.

The Garden Slug
55 Lorong L Telok Kurau, #01-59/61 Bright Centre
Tel: 63460504
Opening Hours: Mon - Tues 6pm - 10pm, Wed - Sun 10am - 10pm
The Garden Slug's co-owner Sophia Leong explains that she and her partners, Sharon Foong and Joseph Lim, wanted a name that was different from other eateries. They also wanted one that will not confine them in terms of their future plans with their evolving business. The diner currently caters for parties of all sizes, speed dating and thematic outdoor food events.

Sophia says, "We wanted a name that will pique people's curiosity. We wanted something that will conjure up images of a happy, comfortable and quirky place where service solutions come from the heart, and not from a manual. We see things from a humorous point of view."

Her partner Sharon adds that some diners would jokingly ask if they serve slugs. "To that, we'd answer yes or no coupled with a witty explanation and a joke or two. The name and logo served as a very good ice-breaker. It gave people a chance to ask us 'Why The Garden Slug?', and in return, it gave us the opportunity to chat with our customers about more than just what's on the menu."

Noelle Tan, PR consultant, says that quirky names don't necessarily entice her to want to visit the place. "But it's definitely catchy and a conversation-filler - for instance, "have you heard of this place called The Garden Slug? Wonder what they serve?'." Balvinder Sandhu, freelance writer adds: "The Garden Slug actually makes me think of a vegetarian place."

The menu features a range of comfort food such as steaks, pastas and sandwiches, as well as salads (prices range from $4 to $28). Its signature dish is the zesty beef salad comprising tender strips of premium grilled Australian ribeye and salad, drizzled with a zesty dressing of lime, fresh chillies and herbs ($14.90).

Cock's Feather
44-45 Pekin St, #01-01 Far East Square
Tel: 65353069
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday, 12pm - 11pm
When asked what she felt about the name "Cock's Feather", marketing manager Melissa Lim's initial thought was that it was a place that serves poultry dishes. The name of this trendy bar is actually derived from the origins of the cocktail which came about during the American Revolution. In those days, Kitty Hustler, a tavern owner in the village of Four Corners, Westchester County, invented "Bracer" - a drink of mixed liquors containing the colours of a cock's tail. During one of her parties, she served the drink in glasses embellished with tail feathers of cock pheasants.

Cock's Feather's liquids consultant Colin Chia is responsible for coming up with the drinks menu. He works alongside Mervin Han, Asia Pacific Bartender of the Year 2004. The expert mixologists prepare traditional and innovative concoctions such as oriental blush ($18) - made with bruised lemon grass and coriander, Johnnie Walker Gold Label and pomegranate juice.

Queen and Mangosteen
VivoCity, #01-106/107, 1 Harbourfront Walk
Tel: 63769380
Opening Hours: Sunday - Thursdays, 11am - 12am, Fridays & Saturdays 11am - 1am
The name for this British gourmet pub was conceived by the owners of the Highlander Bar and The Pump Room to reflect the drinking and dining experience of British influences. Rumour has is that the mangosteen was reputedly Queen Victoria's favourite fruit. She allegedly offered a reward to anyone who could bring it to her. S.L. Ngui, teacher, felt that the name is unusual and catchy. "I actually thought it was a place that sells desserts!," she says.

Gourmet pub grub is served here. Guests can choose from shrimp cocktail presented in an old-style beer mug ($12), mini hamburgers and chips ($16), and the quintessential fish and chips ($12) - golden-brown seabass fillets partnered with curry tartare sauce. Enjoy these with the refreshing signature cocktail Pimm's & Lemonade ($10 by the glass, $35 per jug).

99 East Coast Road
Tel: 63480668
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am - 10pm
The owners of Naive chose a name to represent the eatery's natural and simple fare. Their objective is to serve guests an excellent meatless menu, plus flavourful and natural food. And their requirements for the chefs were to create a delicious and healthy Asian menu from purely plant-based ingredients - without any meat, seafood, eggs, onion, garlic and MSG.

"When I heard of Naive, I thought it was a place for teens because Naive means gullible. So that strikes me as a place for teens or youngsters!" says Carlyn Law, PR director. "However, I can't really place my finger on the connection between Naive and its food philosophy." Nevertheless, the outlet has garnered a faithful following. A specialty is the monkeyhead mushroom prepared in six different ways (priced from $11.80 to $13.80). Also recommended is the enchanted forest - mushrooms braised with wolfberries and dang kui herbs ($12.80).

Cafe Salivation
75 Syed Alwi Road,
Tel: 6298-1412
Opening Hours: Daily 10am - 11pm
Café Salivation at Little India comes under the Raj Group of restaurants, run by Karen and her husband Prasad Raja. Karen says that her daughter Harsha, 22, simply derived the café's name from the word "salivate".  "The name of the café is quite a mouthful, but it probably makes people curious," says Carlyn. Balvinder adds, "Cafe Salivation makes me think of somewhere with a lot of sweets and desserts that make you salivate."

Splashed with bright pink and orange colours, this trendy cafe whips up Western vegetarian fare - such as pasta, sandwiches, burgers and wraps. Specialties include soy lasagna ($10), Mexican enchiladas ($6.50 to $7.50) and eggless desserts such as brownies, apple pie, cheese cake and panacotta (below $5).

Bread Pitt 
Stall 94 Maxwell Food Centre
Tel: 81685736
Opening Hours: 7am - evening
This small stall selling buns and muffins has caught lots of attention with its quirky name. The owner's European brother-in-law was the one who came up with the name. "I suppose it's just a cute and catchy name, and it does entice me somehow to sample its products," says Rachel Sim, banker.

The sweet and savoury buns are baked daily and priced at $1 each or $2.50 for three pieces. There is wholemeal, chilli shrimp, hot dog with chicken floss, cheese and ham, sardine, tuna, and charsiew - take your pick. The muffins are $1.50 each and come in double chocolate, lemon cheese and coffee walnut flavours.
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