It’s an after work date on the North-West ish side of town. Given my unashamed Eastern suburbs leanings, not an area I know. ‘You choose,’ I said. Now…., I know It can be fairly daunting picking a restaurant for a foodie. And, yeah….. ok, it was kiiiiiiind of a test…not quite a pass-or-fail test, more a ‘let’s see what this boy brings’ kind of thing.
Said boy had lived in Singapore and had a hankering for some authentic food. Good choice given I generally lean towards Asian. So, Singapore Kitchen it is….I was so far out of my geographical comfort zone that even Facebook took ages to find me when I checked in. The place looks cheap and dodgy – almost always a good sign for authenticity when it comes to Asian food. There is not a single other patron in the place – not such a good sign. We are enthusiastically greeted by the owner, Sam. He swears his food is the best Singaporean in Australia, probably even better than Singapore and that it is 100% authentic by real Nonya people. After repeating this claim several times, Sam backs himself with the promise of a free meal if we disagree.
We decide on entrees of Chicken Satay and Otak Otak, followed by Assam Fish and Water Spinach accompanied by some Achar and Coconut Rice. Food starts coming pretty quickly… well, we are the only ones there. The satay skewers arrive first. The chicken itself is ok, the sauce is a good authentic satay with the perfect chili kick to the crunchy peanutty goodness. The sauce is a bit oily for my liking, but that is personal preference so maybe I’m being a bit precious. Otak Otak is one of my fave dishes. I’m dubious about this version where the mousse-like fish custard is grilled open-face in a banana leaf boat rather than being completed wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. I am pleasantly surprised! The fish paste is perfectly cooked and the soft, smooth texture isn’t compromised by the technique. Again, the flavours are authentic Nonya with a perfect hit of chilli and an added smokiness from the grilling. So far, Sam’s backed himself (well, actually, it’s his wife in the kitchen who’s backed Sam).
Assam Fish and Water Spinach arrive together with our sides. The fish itself is perfectly-cooked in a thin, well-balanced sweetened, sour tamarind sauce. Unfortunately, the outside of the fish is mushy-floury which is not a nice texture. I also want more veggies with it. Water spinach is fine but it is kind of idiot-proof and nothing exceptional. The nutty pickled vegetables of the achar are good, strange choice with the other things I ordered though.
Although I wouldn’t recommend it for a first date (it wasn’t), for a very cheap and cheerful authentic Nonya feed, it’s just fine.