(THE NEW PAPER) I have a soft spot for Kopi Tiam at Swissotel The Stamford.
It has been serving comfort food for the last 31 years, chugging alongside food trends with its steadfast attachment to local flavours. And because it has been around so long, we all have our favourites there. For me, it is the curry fish head and rojak.
The menu usually gets a yearly tweak, but Kopi Tiam's chef de cuisine Lee Voon Siong decided on a major reshuffle this time, and a new menu is now available.
The food still centres on the flavours of our multicultural heritage and chef Lee has dug around for more traditional recipes to share.
Thankfully, both of my favourites remain on the menu, although the price has changed dramatically for one.
The curry fish head used to be $50 for an entire head, now it is $38 for half a head.
The service is always friendly and warm, which takes the sting out of the elevated prices.
For me, the food is still the draw.
There are many places that tantalise, but the one that makes you happy will make you return. And there are a few new offerings worth going back for.
To be honest, the Butter Prawns ($22, above) did not look promising. The thick pale sauce that coated the prawns looked like a disaster.
Luckily, the flavours of the dish won me over. The fragrance and texture of the sauce, with that hit of spice at the end, made this memorable.
The Crispy Lemongrass Chicken ($20, above) looked deceptively dull, but the first bite will wow you. Lemongrass lightly perfumed the crispy skin of the chicken and the meat was juicy.
The broth of the Penang-Style Prawn Noodle Soup ($22, above) was subtle, which was surprising because of how robust the flavours of the other dishes were.
While the ingredients were fresh and it was an above average bowl of noodles, it was still a hefty price when there are better versions out there.
The entire fish of the classic Teochew-Style Steamed Whole Seabass ($36, above) was simmered in chef Lee's special homemade stock made of pork lard, hua diao wine, fish sauce and oyster sauce, resulting in a broth that was tantalisingly sweet, salty and sour.
I was on the fence about the Herbal Duck Mee Sua ($22, above).
I love mee sua and I never say no to soup, but the medicinal undertone of the soup - thanks to the use of the Chinese herb cao guo - was overwhelming.