Cuppage Plaza may be located in the swanky Orchard Road area, but it has always had a bit of a seedy vibe.
If you know which restaurant to patronise in the building, you could get some fantastic and authentic Japanese fare.
Otherwise, you could also end up stumbling into a dodgy establishment flanked by girls in skimpy clothing.
I rarely visit the building as I do not want to get caught in the wrong place. But a friend told me about an affordable Japanese diner that she frequents there and gushed about the crispy gyoza it serves even well past midnight.
Her recommendation, Gyoza No Ohsho, is easy enough to find. Its signboard is bright red and it is the very first place you see when you enter the building from the adjoining Cuppage Terrace.
I visit the diner during a weekday lunch hour and it is packed with office employees.
GYOZA NO OHSHO
01-10 Cuppage Plaza, 5 Koek Road, open: 11.45 to 2.30am (Mondays to Saturdays), noon to midnight (Sundays and public holidays)
Feeling ravenous, I order a plate of katsu curry rice ($15) in addition to what I had intended to taste, its signature pan-fried gyoza ($5).
The GST is included in the prices reflected on the menu - which is surprisingly extensive with pages of other stir-fries and ramen noodle options - and there is no service charge.
Both dishes arrive within five minutes and I am stunned by how generous the portion of curry rice is.
The mountain of rice is topped with a large, sliced slab of pork cutlet and a ramen egg, while the pool of curry gravy on the side comes with diced potatoes and carrots.
I dig into the crispy pork cutlet, which tastes like it is fresh out of the deep-fryer. The meat is a tad dry, though, but it is fine when mixed in with the curry. But the egg is too salty for my liking and I put it aside after a single bite.
As soon as I taste the gyoza, I wish I had not stuffed myself silly with so much rice. Each of the six pot stickers boasts thin, crispy skin and a pork filling that does not have that overwhelming smell you get at some gyoza joints.
I have space for only two, so I pack the rest as takeaway. My colleague samples them cold afterwards and exclaims that they are still flavourful and not at all soggy.
Guess I will no longer be avoiding Cuppage Plaza on my next Orchard Road outing.