SINGAPORE - (THE NEW PAPER) Maybe I am biased but as a Tampines resident, the east just seems better for food.
There are many gems here - cafes, hawker stalls, restaurants - but in the midst of all that good food, there will be some joints which will fall in between the cracks.
Jia Wei Chinese Restaurant at Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy is one such place. It has been around for six years, quietly feeding its guests without fanfare. It has always been well-regarded, just not talked about.
Recently, Jia Wei brought in a new head chef - Mr Victor Lee Appu from Malaysia - so there are new items on the menu.
Jia Wei means "taste of home" in Chinese, and chef Appu achieved that. His best dishes are simple and unadorned.
The homeliness is reflected in the service too, which is warm and informal.
Noodles with a salty kick
The stock of the bold-flavoured vermicelli wrapped in opah leaf ($20) can be salty for some but that provides the kick. The two times I ate this - once invited and once unannounced - the vermicelli was not soggy. That's a win.
The delicious stir-fried asparagus ($18) looks home-cooked but the stalks are crisp. The minced garlic lifts this dish further.
When I asked for recommendations, I was told to order items photographed for the menu. The pan-fried carrot cake ($14) didn't look anything like the menu's picture but it is still comforting fare.
Not so special
I didn't find the Sakura chicken in chef's special sauce ($20) special at all. The scent was inviting and I was delirious with anticipation, but it turned out to be bland, except for a spicy undertone.
While homely means that the food is unlikely to be a hit on Instagram, the slow-cooked pork belly ($17) looked especially unappetising in photographs. But the taste is certainly memorable. Choose substance over beauty when it comes to this dish.
Jia Wei Chinese Restaurant
Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy, Level 2
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 11.30am-3pm, 6pm-11pm Sunday, 11am-3pm, 6pm-11pm
This article was first published on August 12, 2015.
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