Sunday, 27 September 2009

Singapore Garden review - London Swiss Cottage Singaporean food

Singapore+Garden+Restaurant+review+London+Swiss+CottageFor 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 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+review+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+review+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+review+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.

: 83 Fairfax Rd, London NW6 4DY
Tel: 020 7264 8233
Nearest Tube station: South Hamstead

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £25 pp
Service charge: 12.5%

Taste: **
Service: **
Ambience: ***
Suitable for: small groups who don't mind their Singaporean fare done a bit differently
Singapore Garden on Urbanspoon

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