Shen Tan of the now defunct Wok & Barrel makes a comeback with Ujong, a new venture situated at the iconic Raffles Hotel. If you did manage to visit Wok & Barrel, you'll find familiar mod Sin dishes like bak chor mee pasta ($25.90) on the menu. However, almost half the items on offer are brand new creations so take your pick from interesting choices such as yu sheng salmon ceviche ($25.90) and claypot rice with your choice of either duck char siew or five spice pork ($23.90).
Shen Tan is, hands down, one of our favorite local chefs, and we were as excited as anyone else to try out her post-Wok & Barrel comeback, Ujong, a casual diner taking over Empire Café in Raffles Hotel. On a recent Friday night visit, our reservation turned out to not have been reflected, and the waitstaff had only huffs and eye-rolls for us. No matter—we weren’t there for obsequious service, but for the tasty, clever Singaporean fare that the chef used to do so well. Unfortunately, we found ourselves suffering a small procession of flaccid dishes that don’t quite live up to their promise. The softshell chilli crab and deep fried mantous ($25.90) are greasy, as are the deep-fried fish nuggets crowning the fish curry laksa ($23.90)—an otherwise inoffensive pasta with creamy but disappointingly mild laksa reduction. The raved-about hae bee hiam mentaiko capellini ($25.90) is pleasantly savory at first, but gets one-dimensional fast. And we think the chef’s signature bak chor mee pasta ($25.90) has somewhat lost its balance since its Wok & Barrel days; the muddled sauce, neither “spicy” not “piquant” as advertised, does little to lift the undercooked pasta and under-seasoned meat. As a hotel restaurant, Ujong doesn’t have very high standards to meet. It really isn’t a bad place for a quick, rib-sticking meal, as mains are hefty and arrive at lightning speed. Maybe this is a formula that makes business sense. And we grant that it's probably very tough (or expensive) to find skilled cooks dedicated to properly executing chef Tan's ideas. But in an ideal world—where there's less pressure to profit—we’d really love for Ujong to downsize their portions, source higher-quality ingredients and put in more care and love in the kitchen.
|Address:||Ujong, #01-10 Raffles Hotel Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd., Singapore, 188719 Singapore|
|Open since:||April, 2014|
|Nearest train||City Hall|
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