Maybe I'm Naive •
11 Sep 2011 • 279 reviews • 44 followers
Came here to try the buffet lunch with a friend yesterday. This cafe belongs to the Chilli Padi Group of Restaurants and Catering, one of its outlet at North Bridge Road was recently closed down. Noticed that this cafe has not been reviewed for a long time and so decided to pen my personal opinion.
Located within Science Park and NUS and next to the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, it is very difficult to locate its exact place. Even the taxi uncle is not being able to find it despite of full address given and using GPS as the directional signs here are confusing and not detailed. It took us about 25 mins to "explore" around and ask a number of people before being able to find it. O gosh! (everywhere was shown 29 Heng Mui Keng Terrace but it was not its exact location)
The cafe has just increased the price from 3rd week of August 2011 onwards, adding $3 more per person to its original price of $13.80. Considering the new price and its accessibility, we felt it was not really worth coming all the way here. The cafe was about 50-60% occupied as there was a group function that took up at least 6-8 tables.
Overall, the cafe ambience was fine, very brightly lighted and cosy. Music were played and we liked the "Bengawan Solo" music. With its various peranakan decorations of pictures, vases, pots, and clothings in display, we felt we were back to the "Little Nonya" days. And service was good too as the used plates were regularly cleared. The servers don't serve you water as its self-service, with coffee, tea, grape syrup and ice/warm water available. Beverage wise was ok.
The food quality here have ups and downs but with more downs.
The food which we felt that were good: the Goh Hiong (very tasty and came with full packed ingredients and not too salty and blended well with the sweet sauce and chilli); Meat Ball Soup (can't recall its malay name) but was good as the soup was flavourful and strong in taste with nice meat balls; Fried Bee Hoon and Hor Fun soup was quite good too and they also have the deep fried garlic for you to add to your soup which was good; Chap Chye was nice too, but don't expect it to be hard and solid but was extremely soft; Self made Kueh Pieti was good with crispy skin and nice "muang guang" ingredient; Assortment of Nonya Kuehs and the cakes offered were generally nice too. They also have the green bean in thick gravy but we felt they also included some durian into it as we can taste of durian. Unique and nice.
The normal food items included the chee cheong fun (a bit hard though acceptable and with the sweet sauce and chilli added was ok); chwee kueh is not the normal ones we are familiar with but they came with fillings, with mushroom and pork cubes cut, unique but the flavour was funny and the chye pok was too watery and bland. The dark sauce chicken was normal and nothing to shout about. Archar was passable but they do not have pineapples in it.
The below expectation items included the Kong Bah Pao. Though the Pao was quite ok, it was the pork belly. Too soft and flippy as it would break down into small pieces when you try to pick one up. The gravy was also too watery and it was brown in colour instead of the "darker black" version we commonly see. Taste wise was bland for the meat. Next the so called famous Laksa. Not tasty at all! The gravy was too watery and brown in colour, unlike the orange-ish version we commonly see. Maybe thats the nonya style. Lack of coconut milk, the gravy was more like "mee rebus" than for laksa. Though they provided cut strips of papaya and chilli, it did not help in the overall taste or flavour. The nasi lemak with rice too hard and archar, not spicy or sour did not also make our grade though the peanuts with ikan bilis was ok. The sambal sotong was another great failure, watery gravy and no taste with so tiny pieces of cut cuttlefish.
A disappointment was that they did not offer mee siam (my favourite as I thought they would and based on feedback from my friends that both mee siam and laksa will be provided). They also provide cut fruits of water melon, honey dew and oranges which were ok. The desserts they provided - coconut sago and mango were not nice.
By the way, they also offer high tea on weekends at lower price but all are finger food with mainly kuehs and cakes only and if you want to try its other food, have to go with the lunch and dinner.
Well, they were some ups and quite a number of downs. By considering the new price we are paying, the quality and the great difficulty in locating the place, we don't feel its worth it to visit it again.
May not return here unless they improve in the food quality to deserve the price hike (or better still reduce the price or have 1-for-1) and someone with transport to send me here.