decent northern-chinese one-of-a-chain at plaza singapura. we’ve been coming here for years – it used to be one of only a few reliable mid-range places you could get a reliably good and reasonably-priced meal; now, it’s just one-of-many, which explains our less frequent visits.
as part of the rather vaunted tung lok group – which like this place, had much of its heyday in yesteryears – it holds to a respectable pedigree of cooking. and while still pretty good – I fancy it’s become rather lost amid the bountiful proliferation of restaurants sweeping across the island.
p.s. that fish looks like it’s doing a hail-fuhrer, doesn’t it?
to cut to the chase: the flavors are there and the dishes pleasant, but the food betrays a certain lack of finesse – the components for a very good meal were all there, but it fell rather short of that lofty aspiration.
take our appetizer of shredded beancurd skin tossed in chili oil and vinegar, which had all the right ingredients but was marred by the too-enthusiastic use of that red oil – rather defeating its role as a refreshing palate-opener.
their house-specialty of popiah – think of a burrito or spring roll with a fresh crepe-like skin wrapped around braised turnip – is a do-it-yourself array of delicately-flavored braised turnip and carrot, served alongside garnishes and a steamer basket of tender skins.
the wrappers here were great – thin and delicate, but strong enough to hold in my generous splay of filling without any breakage. I really like popiah, and this was pretty enjoyable in all – but at a heavy sticker of $18 for six rolls, I’ll probably stick with the hawker-centre offering.
I’ve told you before about my love for squirrel-fried fish – but I was rather disappointed by the one here. the batter was applied a little too thickly, the sauce too starch-gooey and a tad too sweet – it all overpowered the subtle flavor of the fish.
and to add insult to injury – it wasn’t even a whole fish. they had removed the head and did something fancy with the collar and fins to make it look like it was still there; that’s just cheating!
the vegetable dishes were the best – a broccoli dish was brightly green and still-crisp, very good with the generously top of mushrooms; but the star of the night was a house-special beancurd, puffed up with crispy golden edges and served with a fantastically savory sauce – utterly delicious.
and so really – the dishes spanned the range of okay-to-very-good, which doesn’t quite explain the mehness I feel. I suppose it might be because we’re spoilt with so many other choices in this genre – places like putien and din tai fung are doing great jobs at this price-range.
I’m going to leave you with a lukewarm recommendation – it’s decent food, and worth a try if you haven’t been before.
Lao Beijing (Plaza Singapura)
#03-01 Plaza Singapura
68 Orchard Road
tel +65 6738 7207
$$: two appetizers + three dishes + two carb dishes = one-four-five