Better known as the Porridge King, celebrity bodybuilding chef Alvin Koh has reopened for business in the heart of Chinatown. His new restaurant’s location next to the Chinatown Heritage Centre gives a hint of its traditionally inspired cuisine, despite the pictures of a half-clad Koh adorning the walls. Sporting old-fashioned décor—rattan chairs and wooden tables with marble tops—and with nostalgic tunes of yesteryear playing in the background, the place lulled us into a Singapura state of mind.
Thankfully, we didn’t have a problem finding seats or a waiter. We started with the self proclaimed “sexy crispy” belachan stuffed fish. The fish diffused a wonderful spicy aroma and had a great taste to match. However, service was found wanting—we were left without utensils when the dish arrived, and only got them when we asked. Next up was crispy chicken with mango chunks, the tender fried chicken matching exceptionally well with the sweet mango chunks.
With a former moniker like Porridge King, we had to try the acclaimed porridges. The supreme century egg porridge was rather bland, and even the salted egg lacked saltiness. In contrast, fragrant salted fish porridge with mui choy was savory and had crunchy mui choy stems. The consistency of the rice fared well, though, and had us cleaning out entire bowls.
The black pepper beef noodle was served on a surprising butterfly shaped plate—we wondered about the connection. The sauce was pleasantly sweet and the beef tender. It came with capsicum and onion but lacked a spicy tang. The signature chili crab sauce spaghetti was disappointing—the sauce lacked spice and the prawns were not fresh. The dish came without a spoon, which we found puzzling.
To end the dinner we ordered Jackfruit Maniac and Mango Paradize desserts. Both did not offer much in the area of fruit, but weren’t too sweet. With a good concept and location, this restaurant has the potential to become one of the mainstays in Chinatown, but it is bogged down by its lack of good service and needs to fine-tune its dishes.