fantastic, fantastic space, and really good food – chopsuey at martin road is a jewel in the p.s. cafe’s trove of consistent-though-expensive restaurants, and is one of my new favorite restaurants.
the place revolves around a menu that supposedly dishes up the american take on chinese food – and I say supposedly, because while that class of cuisine comes with gloppy sauces, overcooked meats, and rather tastes overwhelmingly of orange and sesame (I admit though, that panda express can be pretty good in the right situation), chopsuey instead serves a refined version without all those rather overwhelming characteristics.
the food is well-executed (chopsuey is like the asian take on the american take on asian, and we are asian, after all), the portions are surprisingly big, and the space lends itself to more than a little bantering with friends. very, very, very well-done.
in the slew of brunch-providing cafes that have been popping up with their industrial, minimalist, teeny-bopper decor/ clientele, I think we’ve forgotten that brunch started out chichi. you dressed up for a long lunch in a gorgeous place with friends, and it wasn’t just an excuse for a late meal of eggs and pancakes.
but this place returns you to it – all dark furnishings, sunlight streaming in from windows shielded with greenery, and the right mix of sunday-casualness and otherwise elegant poshness.
and the menu – it’s a great mix of brunch classics like eggs either done up as an omelet (a good, creamy rendition) with smoked duck and herbs on toast, or lovingly soaked into a thick challah-reminiscent bread as mandarin-style french toast and served up with marmalade and creme fraiche.
I had a fantastic grilled pork and roasted coconut salad – bits of pork strewn between tender, young leaves, with the most amazing smell coming from the toasted coconut-and-prawn topping. definitely worth a try (especially if you like coconut, as I do).
there are also more filling lunch-appropriate dishes, like a kedgeree-type dish of brown and red rice fried with smoked halibut and egg (with distinct grains, as a proper fried rice ought), and a huge dish of pork bolognaise atop spag.
the rice was fantastic, the spagghetti a little too heavy for my palate – good if you are into carbs and rich flavors, though.
and just for interest – we also rounded up the meal with a couple of sides, like shisito peppers roasted with edamame till slightly charred and full of wok hei, topped with just enough salt to make it more-ish; sticky baby squid fried till crunchy and tossed in a tangy-sweet sauce (not a dish I generally enjoy, but at least the squid here felt meaty, instead of being a teeth-destructing crunch); and fried tofu tossed in a chilli sauce.
and because this is a p.s. cafe outpost, and because I am me – we had to finish with dessert. and as always – regardless of the fact that the chain has some steep prices, and the desserts may not be an innovative deconstructed whatchamacallit – they always shine in the sweet department.
it ticks all the right boxes: large enough portions to sate, substantial enough to finish the meal with a bang (as opposed to those light-as-air things that leave you walking away wondering if you’ve even eaten anything), measured enough to not-too-sweet, and rustic-wholesome enough to make you feel like you might have an american/ british grandma of your very own (though my chinese grandma doesn’t lose at all in the gastronomy stakes).
we had a TALL slice of chilli-chocolate cake, with a good chocolate ganache icing that hits you with a mildly spicy end-note, and moist cake layers that don’t taste like weak cocoa; a sticky date pudding sitting dense in a pool of caramel under a scoop of ice cream (ALWAYS good in all the branches, with my favorite being the very gingery-ginger); and a banana-walnut cake that was a little dense, though flavorful. if you only have a little space, I’d recommend the steamed pudding if you’ve never had it – they really do it well here.
we got kitschy fortune cookies with slightly cheesy-cute predictions to round off the meal – and I like that. it’s true to experience, it makes for great conversation – and everyone finishes on a high note.
fantastic experience, very good food, and service is good – it’s usually efficient and pleasant – terrific.
Chopsuey Cafe at Martin No. 38
38 Martin Rd
tel +65 8188 6177
$$: 30-ish a person
guys, we defiled their expensive chandelier – because we didn’t think it was expensive, and we thought the paper was there for guests to leave a mark on. they took it very, very graciously (kudos to you, and our greatest apologies again); but you guys, don’t make the same mistake!