My son and I often are looking for places to meet dinner halfway between his home in Tracy and my office in Oakland. Given the recent reports on Old Town Singapore Cafe:
it seemed like a good option to try for our next dinner....
well, not. This was one of the most disappointing meals I've had in a long while.
We met at six-thirty, and I was surprised that is was almost full given that it was a weeknight. Still, we were promptly seated at one of the more comfortable remaining tables. So far, so good.
We tried one each of the only two beers available, Tiger and Heineken. Can't say I am a fan of either. Oh well, water glasses were kept full despite the fact that the rest of the flow of service was somewhat awkward (though certainly friendly enough).
combo (beef and chicken) satay: not bad, flavorable peanut sauce, served with chopped up cucumbers and red onions (not a cucumber sauce, which I think is a minus, I like the balance between the vinegar usually in the sauce and the savory/sweet combo of peanut sauce).
tom yam soup: served sort of lukewarm, first bite had some spice but perhaps the only pepper was in the first bite as after that it seemed to lack flavor. Definitely skimpy on the seafood: one mussel, two small shrimp, a few rather chewy squid rings. I wouldn't order it again.
old town pork ribs: I'd say they were deep fried, not sauteed as stated in the menu. Son liked these, but hey, they are meat and he is young and a bottomless pit. I thought the marinade was too sweet, ribs themselves overcooked....
Homemade Tofu topped with shrimp, chicken, mushroom, vegetable in dry scallop sauce: Tofu wasn't bad, but it and the few shrimp and overcooked pieces of chicken and vegetables were all drowned in a gloppy brown sauce such as you would expect to find at a really bad Chinese restaurant. Very unappetizing in addition to being not tasty, and we left most of the dish uneaten.
Coconut rice: the highlight of the meal, for sure. Really pronounced coconut flavor and bits of fresh coconut but not at all sweet. Nicely done.
Steamed rice was fine but we both wised we had gotten two orders of coconut rice instead (even though it costs more).
I wanted to try the eggplant sambal but son is not an eggplant fan. Certainly nothing I ate motivated to come back and try again.
As I mentioned, service was mixed. Water glasses kept filled, but pacing was a bit slow and we had to ask three times to two different servers to get our bill and a box for son to take home the leftovers (yes, he even took the tofu. When I asked if he would really eat it, he reminded me that he is still a 'starving' college student... )
Total with tax and tip was about $48. Not even that inexpensive, given portion sizes and quality.
So, can't I say I can recommend it. But, still would like places to meet son now and then in that area. Has anyone tried the Halu Shabu Shabu next door?
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