the world is your platter
This is as close as you can get to an authentic Singaporean dining experience in MTL (choices are few and far between anyway). You eat in an open air marketplace reminiscent of hot, noisy hawker centers, and your food is served in Peranakan ware – I was delighted to find my chopsticks were exactly those used in Malaysian coffee shops and my grandma’s own kitchen.
Laksa Lemak is a bowl of noodles accompanied by shrimps, fish balls and fish slices, bean sprouts, add-on pieces of chicken, and fried tofu puffs, in a thick coconut-based curry soup and topped with a small amount of optional sambal chili to mix into the soup. I have to agree with the family next to us, who seemed absolutely blown away by their food – it tasted pretty darn good, by foreign standards. The signature flavor of curry laksa is a bit watered down to suit the unaccustomed tongue, and the unaccustomed tongue will wag in approval. By true blue Singaporean standards, it lacks local oomph. Singaporean laksa has a much stronger taste. The coconut flavor is usually also richer, creating a thicker soup. Nevertheless, it’s as close as it gets to genuine Singaporean cuisine oceans away from Southeast Asia.
The satay and kuih-muih were a letdown. Chicken satay (top) looked and smelled the part but did not at all taste like satay. The difference between satay and plain grilled anything is a deliciously burnt taste in the former, but the ones we tried definitely fit in the second category. The accompanying peanut dip was satisfactory. At least they made good grilled chicken on a stick because kuih bingka (tapioca cake) and kuih salat (glutinous rice and pandan custard cake) didn’t even make the cut as ordinary but pleasant dessert. Kuih bingka was a lot more like coconut cake and kuih salat just tasted sort of blah.
Gado-gado salad is really an Indonesian dish consisting of bean sprouts, shreds of lettuce, tofu, chili, an half hard-boiled egg, and bean stalks dressed in peanut sauce. Great taste, although I can’t speak for its authenticity. I’d probably go vegetarian if there were sixty other veg dishes like this.
Satay Brothers is worth a visit for the laksa and for people who can’t make that food odyssey to Singapore anytime soon. Note: they move indoors in the winter and their menu changes slightly according to the season.