A taste for the foreign

There’ve airways been foreign restaurant groups establishing eatery outlets in Singapore, and the good ones help to set a high standard for food here.

Late last year, Parkway Parade mall at Marine Parade completed the refurbishment of a part of the mall that houses F&B shops. One of the new restaurants is ‘Papparich’ (don’t ask me what it stands for). It serves food from Malaysia, which is not very different from Singapore food except it’s a different version. It was my husband who suggested we try the restaurant, and to be honest I had pretty low expectations because the name seems weird to me. Yes I know I was judging a book by its cover. My husband ordered the prawn noodle, while I decided to try the nasi lemak (coconut juice-flavored rice) with curry chicken.

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My husband likes the prawn noodle that comes with a flavorful broth. The prawns or shrimps are pretty fresh. The only grouse he has is that the portion of noodle is a little less than expected.

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I have to say this is one of the best nasi lemak I’ve eaten. The rice has a wonderful subtle aroma of the coconut, the fried anchovy and peanuts are crispy, and the curry chicken is very well done.

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We revisited Papparich on another day, and I wanted to have the nasi lemak dish again, but my husband told me to try something different. So I ordered a nasi Biryani (spiced-infused rice) with curry chicken. This dish doesn’t disappoint either; the rice is nicely spiced with cardamom, nutmeg and cloves, among others. Again the curry chicken is very tasty; it enhances the spices in the rice.

We also tried the roti chennai or roti prata known in Singapore (basically pan fried dough in ghee eaten with curry), both the plain prata and with egg. It’s very crispy but there was not enough curry to go with it. Anyway the restaurants manager noticed I had finished the curry and asked if I wanted more. The service of the manager is very good, but he was attentive because I had earlier feedback to him the poor service of his staff.

At this restaurant, the cutleries are provided on the table, and the diners are supposed to write down the codes of their food (as indicated in menu) on the chit sheet, pass the sheet to the wait staff and wait for your food yo be served. On our table, there were not enough cutleries, so I flagged over a staff to ask for forks and a menu. But the requests must have gotten lost in the air because the staff were off beavering elsewhere though the restaurant wasn’t very crowded. I ended up looking for the forks and menu on other tables. But I couldn’t find any forks, and I had to go to the food counter to search for them and a cook kindly got me a couple.

The staff are mainly older folks and I applaud the restaurant for hiring them, but for God’s sake please provide proper training. When I saw the manager, I told him what had happened, and suggested to him to emulate ‘Din Tai Fung’ where service is rather prompt. He apologized for the unsatisfactory service and said that DTF is a tall order to follow. But they would definitely look at training their staff to improve service standard. To compensate for their tardiness, we were given 10% discount on the bill. Since then we had returned once to the restaurant and thankfully there was an improvement in the service level.

A few days ago my husband and I checked out a new Japanese cafe at Vivocity called ‘St Marc Cafe’. It’s primarily a dessert place though it does have savory croissant, sandwiches and ham and cheese burger.

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The cafe is famous for a chocolate pastry called ‘chococro’ which I guess stands for chocolate croissant? It looks like a pastry roll filled with chocolate paste, and is also available in heart shape currently for a limited time. Naturally I had go try it, and I picked the heart-shaped croissant (S$2.60), shown on the left in the picture below.

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I also bought a peanut cookie (S$1.80), an iced chocolate for myself, and got a ham and cheese croissant sandwich and coffee for my husband.

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The chococro was hard! I was disappointed by what this Japanese cafe has to offer for a signature pastry. It really doesn’t measure up to the pain Au Chocolat offered by Maison Kayser, Jones, Baker and Cook or Tiong Bahru bakery. The peanut cookie was not bad, surprisingly it wasn’t sweet but a tinge saltish and chock full of peanuts. The iced chocolate was alright, but my husband likes the freshly-brewed coffee. He wanted to try the original chococro and so I got one for him. When he took it, he realized this was freshly baked because it was still warm. He took a bite and found that it was pretty good and told me to try it. Indeed it was much better than the cool and hard heart-shaped chococro I had earlier. So the moral of the story is to get the freshly baked pastry and have it right away.

I also ordered a Japanese dessert, Gion, which is Green tea ice-cream with red bean, fresh cream and gluttonous rice balls.

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I forgot to take picture of the actual item and so have to show the plastic model here. The flavors of this dessert is subtle, the red bean has a light sweetness, unlike the usual saccharine sweet version. Even though it has cream in it, it’s light and definitely not over-powering, which is typical of Japanese food.

St Marc cafe has a sizable dining area which is free seating, and has a self-serve operation. Customers pick up the pastry or croissant in front at the counter, order drinks or desserts from the cashier, make payment and wait for the drinks or desserts to be prepared. There is a water station where customers get their own warm or cold water. Next to it, is a tray return window, but unfortunately there’s no sign that clearly indicates to customers to clear your own table. So there were a number of tables that were not cleared, since there was only one staff doing the job while the rest work behind the counter. While I was queuing, my husband observed a large family arrived and took over a couple of tables, which were not cleared. The adults signaled impatiently to the staff to clean the tables while they sat around. I’m not sure if they’re locals or foreigners, still they must have been used to being served and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger. Well, it wouldn’t kill you to do it.

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3 thoughts on “A taste for the foreign

  1. Hi there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects? Thanks a lot!

    • Hi there, thanks for visiting my blog and I’m glad you enjoy the posts. I presume you ae interested in Sngapore food blogs? You can check out these couple of sites:
      Chuhbbyhubby.net
      Ieatishootipost.sg
      http://Www.ladyironchef.com (note that this guy was found to demand for free meal from a restaurant some time ago, still his site was voted as best food blog in Asia Pacific)

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