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Of Taste And Facial Mask

Not too long ago I had mentioned here that dining out is always a challenge for me. And it still is. I don't know if there is a cure for this ... this ... challenge.

It is bad. Really bad.

To the point that Hubby now fears bringing my Mum and me out to eat. He once drove us to Old Airport Road (a.k.a the foodie paradise) hawker centre and we came out declaring that there was nothing to eat there. He was totally exasperated.

Hubby: "Almost all the stalls are open today! What you mean that there is nothing to eat?"

Me: "There is nothing to eat here. Nothing takes my fancy."

My Mum: "Yeah, nothing much."

Hubby: "Okay, then do you want to buy something back to cook instead?" Shaking his head and rolling his eyes. At this point he was willing to do anything to get out of this gridlock.

But before you read further, I just want to say that the Old Airport Road hawker do serve a wide variety of foods and many of them are great nosh. Everyone who has been to that place would agree. Our isolated incident probably happened on a day when our usual stalls were not opened or were otherwise with long queues. If I were to have overseas visitors eager to taste local hawker fare, this is the place I will send them straight from the airport.

So when it came down to dine-in restaurants, I thought that perhaps I could rely on reviews. Surely there are discerning people out there who knows a good nosh. But, have you ever went into an eatery with good reviews and came out feeling disappointed? That was how I felt recently when I left the tables at two eateries.

The first was when my Mum called me to ask me if I know of any place that serves good Vietnamese Pho. I told her that the shop near my place, Le Viet, does a decent job with the stock. However, she said that she had tried that before and would like another place for a change. So I Googled "Vietnamese Pho Singapore" and landed on LadyIronChef's website on Madam Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant Singapore. According to LadyIronChef, "Madam Saigon's rendition was not too bad".

I should have read that as not too good either. Because that is what it is. The deciding factor of a good Pho is down to just one thing - the stock. And that was my problem with Madam Saigon's Pho. It was not beefy enough. Nothing is worse than having neutrally bland tasting rice noodles with nothing to back it up except the watered down stock. The condiments were generous but that was besides the point. The meal came with a  tab of $96 for 4 persons.

The second restaurant came about when my Mum was feeling adventurous (again) to try something new. So I suggested to her that perhaps we try a Spanish restaurant since we have never been to one before. So again I Googled "Spanish restaurant Singapore" and a few names came up. One of it which was near where we were at that time was Bilbao Restaurant and Gastrobar located at TripleOne Somerset.

We went on a tapas ordering spree and ended up with 6 different kinds of tapas. We had squid cooked in its own ink, roasted suckling pig, some sort of ham croquette, and some other unmemorable ones which I had apparently forgotten. The supposedly must-try paella that came later was soggy and tasted like ketchup rice with seafood on it. The Sangria was good though. It was almost good enough to wash away the disappointment of the meal. We paid $199 for 5 persons, which included a pitcher of Sangria.

I realised that perhaps I was a tad too trusting on those reviews. I walked into these restaurants thinking that all my expectations of a good meal will be met by these restaurants which supposed have served up these dishes to many before me and yet they are still in this cut-throat business should mean they are good.

So this lead me to three conclusions. One, most diners here are not a discerning lot. Two, taste is highly subjective. And three, never bring company to an untested eatery unless you don't mind an egg facial mask.


  1. Oh.. I understand how you feel. You know, I like reading LadyIronChef and I used the blog a lot.. but I think he is very kind when it comes to his reviews.. I always end up a lot more critical.. Bilbao interestingly is opened by someone I know.. I think the wine is good.. but I think food-wise.. not too good, so I'd agree with your conclusion! :)

  2. Haha it's subjective lah, individual preference.


  3. i'm quite picky when it comes to dining out but it seems that you're worse than me! ;p For a new establishment, I usually do a search on the local food blogs and compare the reviews - if they are not bad, I'll try out the place. I've tried this a few times with several establishments and so far, not too bad! Maybe it was just your luck that you got 2 not so nice places? :/

  4. Open Kitchen Concept - I think to be fair to LadyIronChef, I should also add that his website is quite informative and organised on all matters on the dining scene here in Singapore. And for that reason alone, I will still continue to check it.

    Jasmyn - Yes, I learnt that now. =P

    Janine - Hi Janine, thanks for stopping by. You definitely do more homework than me when it comes to restaurant reviews.


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