Wednesday 26 August 2009

That old hawker magic at The Old Raffles Place

The Old Raffles Place
68-70 Johnston Street, Collingwood (map)
9419 3092 (take away) / 9417 4450 (bookings)

The Old Raffles Place

This afternoon I caught up with Jess (yes, That Jess Ho) for lunch in Fitzroy/Collingwood. Feeling under the weather due to a respiratory infection and in need of comfort food, she suggested we head on down to The Old Raffles Place, on the corner of Johnston Street and Wellington Street.

The Old Raffles Place is one of those standbys that I'd always been aware of and vaguely intended to visit, but never had. It promises the "unforgettable heritage flavours of the Singaporean cuisine". In terms of fitout and decor, the Raffles Hotel it certainly ain't (plus you have to practically walk through the kitchen in order to reach the tables)... but hawker food isn't meant to be consumed in a posh setting, and the timeworn dining room retains a certain low-budget charm.

The Old Raffles Place

Something on the specials board caught my eye and so intrigued me that I had to double-check with Jess that I was reading it right: crispy fried banana prawn roll with plum sauce ($9.50). "Banana as in banana leaf, or banana banana, d'you reckon?"

Our apron-clad waiter confirmed that it was indeed banana as in banana banana. It sounded so bizarre, we *had* to order it! As you can see, the roll of minced prawn had a golden strip of banana down its centre and was wrapped in crispy beancurd skin. Somewhat surprisingly, we rather liked it.

Crispy fried banana and prawn roll

Jess ordered another special, the skate Assam Curry ($19.50). It arrived smelling wonderfully sour and spicy, and scored bonus points for containing okra. Pungent, authentic and delicious.

Assam curry

After much deliberation I'd skipped my usual hawker noodle order of Mee Goreng and ordered the Racecourse Char Kway Teow ($12) instead. As well as yellow Hokkien noodles AND flat rice noodles, the dish also contained prawns, fish cakes, pak choy, tons of bean shoots and Chinese sausage. The sauce was lovely and rich. Jess dubbed it the best char kway teow she'd tried in ages.

Char Kuey Teow

Other stuff on the ORP menu that I want to try (note this is not an exhaustive list):
- Hainanese Chicken Rice;
- Little India Mee Goreng;
- Old Tanglin Combination Laksa (particularly keen to see how they do these three standards);
- People's Park Chee Cheong Fun;
- Nonya Fish;
- Sambal Kangkung;
- Old Chinatown Salted Fish Fried Rice; and
- Eunos Sambal Kway Teow Goreng.

In case that list doesn't make it clear, did I mention I love Singaporean food?

The Old Raffles Place


penny aka jeroxie said...

I love this place! Not been there for ages. Do they still serve chilli crab and the chicken rice is pretty good as well.

ozmouse said...

i too have just returned there after very long absence, and have returned 3 times in the past 2 weeks....

simple ...the food here is very good!

chicken rice - best i have had in oz

laksa - excellent, chock full of seafood. noodles al dente when bowl arrived, cooked thru after sitting awhile.

curries - authentic pastes used as you pick out bits of base ingredients.

and dont forget the roti....

in our fast paced world of chasing the latest/newest/trendiest.... i am so enamored by this establishment atm.

any place that you enter thru the kitchen cant be half bad in my books!


ps the other great find (re-find) is gils diner in the city. i had an excellent meal there last friday! been there awhile now, basking in its glory while the new joints chew up the food press.

Fitzroyalty said...

Big yum! I'm a not regular enough regular here. The laksa is very good.

Anonymous said...

Being a singaporean, I never seen the first dish before. *widen eyes* hmmm, the food looks awesome! Makes me wonder if the char kway teow is raelly from racecourse road.

Johanna GGG said...

I lived almost around the corner from this place and wondered about it but feared it was not veg friendly enough - but it sounds interesting - I don't know enough about singaporean food