Thursday, May 7, 2009

Singapore Garden - London Singapore food

For those of you who are pining for food from home after all that feasting at Singapore Day, let me introduce you to another eatery in London - Singapore Garden. I have heard of the restaurant for some time, but have put off visiting the restaurant since it sounds like a dubious beer garden. After having read a rather flattering review of the restaurant at Time Out London , I decided to give it a go.

Singapore+Garden+Restaurant+London+Swiss+CottageSingapore Garden is tucked away in a nice leafy area near Swiss Cottage. That in itself is a refreshing change as most Singaporean/Malaysian restaurants are located in Leicester Square or other bustling areas closer to the city. They may be more centrally located, but hardly somewhere you would venture to if you want a quiet meal. The design of the restaurant is also understated and tasteful, when compared to its Leicester Square rivals. It has this corporate look and is a place where one can bring their business associates to. In fact when I was there, there were 2 businessmen talking shop at the table next to me.

Singapore+Garden+Restaurant+London+Swiss+CottageThe menu is fairly extensive with a selection of the usual Chinese dishes (sweet and sour pork, chicken with cashew nuts etc), a sprinkling of Asian dishes (Thai green curry had a place there) and a good selection of Singaporean / Malaysian dishes. mee goreng, Singapore laksa, fried kway teow, hokkien prawn noodle soup ... they even have ho jien (oyster omelette) and tauhu goreng (deep fried benacurd with peanut sauce) which I have seldom seen here. We were delighted! Eventually, after much deliberation, we decided on having otak (Malay style grilled fish cake with spices), ho jien, beef rendang (beef curry, Malay style) and braised pork belly.

Singapore+Garden+Restaurant+London+Swiss+CottageI was rather surprised to see the ho jien (£11) presented as a thick pancake style omelette , and was rather disappointed to find that it does not have the fluffy taste of the oyster omelette we had in Singapore. It was densely packed with oysters (which I guess should be a plus) but I can't help feeling that instead of a marriage between the oysters and the eggs, the result was a rather starchy pancake, overwhelmed by the oysters, with the eggs merely playing a supporting role in holding the oysters together. Traditionally, ho jien should be eaten with a spicy tangy chilli sauce which is sadly missing here.

Singapore+Garden+Restaurant+London+Swiss+CottageThe braised pork belly was divine. The pork belly slices dissolved in the mouth and the aromatic broth thick with the taste of the spices went very well with the rice. A pity that the portion was rather small and was gone in a flash. The otak (£8) came in thick rectangular portions beautifully wrapped in banana leaves, a nod to the original (though skimpier) versions peddled by hawkers in Singapore. It hit the right notes with just the right amount of spice balancing the fishy taste though I thought the dish would be perfect if it were a tad less salty. The beef rendang (£8 ) was uninspiring. I think one can cook up a beef rendang of comparable standard with prima taste's prepacked paste.

Sanitised and sold at higher prices, albeit at a nicer ambiance, one can't help feel that the dishes at Singapore Garden which originate as hawker dishes had lost some of its allure in the process. It would have helped if the staff were friendlier. While they were efficient and responded to your requests quickly, they were hardly attentive. Having said that, if you are pining for your local favourite, this is one place in London where you are more likely to get it than not.

Singapore Garden
83 Fairfax Rd
London, NW6 4DY
Tel: 020 73285314

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Dutchie said...

Always a pleasure to share ur food adventure, albeit by proxy - hehe.

Yes, the oyster omelet has to be fluffy. Didnt u let them know, so that they could improve on it ? I can see Gordon Ramsey refusing to pay for it - hehe.

I got a folder thru the letter box y'day. A chinese restaurant has opened called Ox Express (apt for its year of reign - lol). 2 items caught my eye - Singapore Noodles (extra spicy - which is never spicy enough according to asian standards) n Peking Duck with hoi sin sauce, served with rice. It saddens me when cooks messes up a special dish. I felt like telling him that the authentic version is serving the shredded meat in a thin pancake with all the trimmings. What he's offering is a roast duck *sigh*

Makes me wonder if the cook is trained for the job or has he just changed his profession ?

waitingkitty said...

I think the otah looks good! It's a pity I cannot get Otah here in Hong Kong...

yanjie said...

the ho jien looks a bit like a think quiche......

yanjie said...

*thin quiche sorry.

Martin in Bulgaria said...

I used to work in Swiss Cottage Post Office a number of years ago, this place wasn't there then.
You are a great reviewer of restaurants CK.

drcrab said...

wow - it's still going strong! I was there oh.... 10 years ago maybe? I remember the chendol, ice kachang and red bean soup - costing exhorbitant amounts of money but I guess beggars can't be choosers!

you eat out alot!!

LadyBanana said...

This is literally a 5 mins walk from me and I've never been there!

Always the way huh! lol

Lucie said...

There is also another place called Singapore Garden in Chiswick, on Chiswick High Road ... but it's only a take-away joint (well, they do have two tables where you can eat your food) ... When I saw the title, I thought you were writing about that one! :o))

Alex said...

Hi, I've enjoyed reading your blog - especially the food and Singapore Day.

When I was in Singapore a couple of years ago, I met a great crowd from gold club asia.

One guy's wife worked for Singapore Airlines. She said the airline staff stay in the Millenium Gloucester Hotel, and eat in its Bugis Street Brasserie.

She thought it was the best Singapore food outside of Singapore. Have you tried? I've not yet - but let me know if you fellow foodie to join you. ;)

Alex said...

@Lucie - I think I got something from the Chiswick Singapore Garden here a couple of weekends ago to console me missing Singapore Day! :)

Unfortunately the food seemed nothing special, though it is hard to be impressed by takeaway containers.

C K said...

Hmm, I'm not the one who posted this. It's my guest blogger. But I must say the food looks great. `Hungry`

After reading your comment, I was actually thinking of going to Gloucester Hotel to have a meal but the online reviews are quite mixed. But will definitely put up a post on it if I do.


davo said...

thanks for telling me - I went there years ago and it was so so. I am lad that I now know not to go!!

C K said...

Were you planning on going there again? Hmm, actually those served at Rasa Sayang aren't too bad. A pity about its service though. That's the main reason why I'm not returning.