Saturday, May 24, 2014

Madam Kwan's - a different perspective

After reading the recent article on Yahoo Singapore, you might be wondering whether Madam Kwan's in Singapore is really worth a visit after all? I have got the honor to meet up Madam Kwan and her daughter-in-law just before Chinese New Year this year. 

As this was a planned event, the service then was extremely impressive, prompt and attentive. Though Madam Kwan was rather busy with her friends that night but i was told by Maureen Ooi, her daughter-in-law that she flew specially from Kuala Lumper to meet up with us over this event. Maureen seated with us throughout the dinner session and shared with us her ambitious in expanding the brand name by setting up another outlet probably in the Orchard area.

I was telling her that the prices of the dishes here are rather overpriced. She explained the operation costs in Singapore are much higher in compared to running her outlets in Kuala Lumper. She further shared difficulties encountered during the setting up stage in Singapore. She mentioned that they do have a Central Kitchen in Sembawang to prepare certain dishes in advance to further ensure the consistencies in the standard of the dishes served here. She said, the taste between here and there should not have too much of a difference.

She then passionately shared how they sought for a supplier to produce Chendol. She said, it was quite a difficult process and only found the right match after several attempts as cost is their main concern. She further emphasized that they would rather give the best to their customers with a lower return. She proudly proclaimed that they serve one of the better Chendol. 

She left quite an impression. She is a an outspoken, sociable, friendly and undeniably ambitious. 

I went back for lunch after that particular encounter on a rainy afternoon. It got only a few tables occupied then even though it was during the lunch hour. The service was not as attentive when i was here the other time. After browsing the menu, i decided to go with Soda Bandung ($5.90), Nasi Bojari ($18.90), Nasi Lemak ($13.90), Otak-otak ($13.90), Fried Chicken Wing ($11.90), Fried Hokkien Mee ($14.90) and Banana Fritters ($8.90) to be shared with my lunch partner.

The waiting time was a little longer than expected. The Soda Bandung came first. And, i took notice that the plain water is not served right here even when you do not order a drink. The Soda Bandung was a little sweet with a nice taste of bandung. A good choice for something different. 

Their famous signature dish, Nasi Bojari served right after. The first impression of this dish was it is rather expensively priced at $18.90. What you get for such a price is a piece of perfectly deep-fried and well-seasoned Ayam Goreng, a small portion of Beef Rendang and a equally small portion of Sambal Prawn. I took my first bite and the noticeable crispiness of the skin with a delightful juiciness and moistness nicely retained within was love. The overall taste was slightly saltier in comparison to the sweeter version in Malaysia and a little spicier to better suit the taste bud of Singaporean. 

The colorfulness of the rice did not enhance the flavor much though a plus to its presentation. 

The Nasi Lemak came next. The price is a few dollars cheaper as compared to Nasi Bojari. If you think Nasi Bojari is a little too expensive and you are not quite a fan of fried chicken drumstick then this is likely to be a better choice. The Nasi Lemak came with a substantial portion of Chicken Rendang. It was a piece of chicken drumstick covered thick and rather rich looking curry gravy. The dish accompanied by a handful of Azchar, half of a hard-boiled Egg with spiced grated coconut and Sambal Ikan Belis. 

The chicken drumstick was cooked nicely to achieve its tenderness. I could taste of the strong coconut milk added to give it its complex richness and the distinctive flavor by the mixed ground spices. The level of spiciness was not overwhelmed but comforting.

I particularly enjoyed the freshly prepared Achar and the crunchiness of the carrot and cucumber enhanced the texture quite a fair bit. The Sambal Ikan Belis tasted just decent. The coconut milk infused rice tasted pretty good with a desired fluffiness.

Otak-otak served next. I remember it tasted rather good the first time but somehow, something was amiss this time. The texture was a little too soft with rather mild spiciness.

Fried Chicken Wings was quite a disappointment. The 6 pieces of deep-fried chicken mid wings did not taste as flavorful as the Ayam Goreng served in the Nasi Bojari in comparison. Paying $11.90 for such mediocre tasting mid-wings is definitely expansive. I would rather get another piece of Ayam Goreng for a slightly cheaper price. 

Fried Hokkien Noodle came last. The portion of the thick noodle was quite little served with ingredients like prawns, squids and bits of vegetable. The taste was quite a disappointment, it somewhat did not taste as close to the real thing that i had in Kuala Lumper. The main factor contributed to such substandard taste is the missing of wok taste and fried pork lards to enhance its flavor. 

Banana Fritters is definitely a good choice for dessert. It consists of 2 pieces of perfectly deep-fried Goreng Pisang served with 2 big scoops of Vanilla ice-cream. The amazing combination of the cold and hot was quite a memorable one. This is something that i would like to eat it again. Though it is something simple but they have done it well. 

Now, the question is whether Madam Kwan's worth a visit at all? The taste is quite subjective though most of the dishes tasted pretty decent to me. The deterrent that turned people away from trying is definitely the prices on menu. Many might be asking why would i pay $13.90 for a plate of average tasting Nasi Lemak or $18.90 for Nasi Bojori? 

There is still no news of their other outlet and that deterrent might be part of the reasons.

1 Harbourfront Walk #01-152/153/154 Vivo City SINGAPORE 098585.

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