Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Binge – Where Do Former Hotel Chefs Go?

They just fade into the heartlands. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, because they usually bring with them five-star food and good value to the citizens of suburbia. What’s more, these local guys come from kitchens of pedigree. Here are some we’ve sussed out for laid back eating:

Wo Peng Eatery (476 MacPherson Road, Tel: 6747 9892) is a no-frills Chinese restaurant helmed by Julian Tam, former Exec Chef at Furama Hotel. Last time I went there, there was only a small menu with mainly with seafood dishes. But the chef cooks plenty of dishes off-menu so get the waitresses to recommend. The lobster noodles, giant grouper – a rarity outside super fine restaurants – sharks fin with crab roe, pig trotter bee hoon and his rich, fine soups are lovely, clearly cooked by an expert hand. Best kept secret? Poon Choy is his specialty and available any time of the year. Orders a day or so in advance are required but the price is most attractive. Also available for takeaway.

Foo House (6 Jln Pari Burong
Tel: 6445 3110) is owned by a former head chef from Hyatt. Its comfy, laid back 70s décor just means it’s a great place to chill out. The wait staff are young and friendly, and the food is really good – hearty, unpretentious and downright good. Feast on western classics like lamb shank, honeyed ribs, goulash, beef stew, salmon, roast duck and even mind-blowing burgers. Inexpensive wine and beers to boot! Reservations crucial on weekends.

Black Sheep Café (35 Mayo St Tel: 6292 5772) The small eatery tucked away in Little India is a no-frills hangout that’s cosy and cute. Really. Chef Ratha, formerly of Raffles Hotel, owns the joint and runs it with a tiny but friendly crew. The food is great and seriously good value. Signature items include lamb shank, duck confit with apple roesti and pan seared foie gras. Some wines are available too, mainly below $50 a bottle – but don’t expect a wine list or sommelier advice. A little off the beaten path but it’s a quaint find, a laid back hangout and all in all a lovely little restaurant. Mondays to Wednesdays are ‘creative nights’ when the chef tries out new dishes.

Hock Siong Waste Dealers (153 Kg Ampat #01-03 Tel: 6281 8338). Just a deviation from food….how about where those sumptuous hotel furniture? Where do they go when they are retired? To Hock Siong Waste Dealers of course, just off MacPherson Road.

Despite its less-than-evocative name, this place is an Aladdin’s Cave of furniture, tableware, lighting, glassware, even hotel robes and unused toiletries which are generally in good condition. I spied old Cherry Garden tableware there along with a few sofas which I swear came from the Grand Hyatt, and some Sheraton bathrobes. Head there for great bargain hunting. Good for coffee tables and lovely chairs.
- Ee Waun

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