That sums it up already.
I am a Singaporean and expecting a lot from this new restaurant on Mott St, right in front of Eastern Villa Chinese Food restaurant in Chinatown.
Here's what I found,
This restaurant is actually owned by the same guy who owns New Malaysian Restaurant, located in the small alley between Elizabeth and Bowery Street, which indicates that it's actually a Malaysian food, not Singaporean.
When I got there, saw a line of people waiting for their tables, mostly Asians, I was delighted because that's always a good sign for a new restaurant or any restaurants. But when I saw the menu, it says, A Malaysian restaurant. Malaysian Restaurant ????? Wait the minute, this is supposed to be Singaporean, not Malaysian, why put Singapore Cafe, They should have put Malaysian Cafe or Kuala Lumpur Cafe or Johor Cafe.
I should have known this, because the owner is the same guy who owns the Malaysian joint a couple of blocks away. How ignorant of me to have forgotten this fact. But it's late, I am already there and I have promised five other friends to join me, they're mostly from Southeast Asia. So they should know what a good authentic Singaporean food taste like.
The decor and ambiance were above average for a Chinatown restaurant, everything was brand new, clean, a bit trendy for Chinatown standard, although everything left me with one word "IKEA'
We looked at the menu, everything was Malaysian standard. This really upset me at this point, nothing was Singaporean about this place. Should have known from take-out menu outside, it says 'Malaysian restaurant'
So we finally ordered, Kangkung Belachan, Seabass with Belachan, Cha Kwee Thiao, Fried Squid, Tofu, not to forget the Singaporean favorite 'Chili Crabs.' It's always a good indication of how Singaporean the food is when order Chili Crabs, the signature dish in Singapore. Off course, I ordered it with any hope that it will be even standard, knowing that it's a Malaysian joint.
About twenty minutes later, our food started to arrive one by one, it started with the squid, the tofu, the kwee tiao, kangkung, and finally the fish, all in about a twenty five minutes timespan since the first dish arrived. Everything but chili crabs, how terrible that was, especially being the only dish that really represents true Singaporean dish. We also ordered several Iced Coffees and other drinks that never got to our table after almost finishing all of our dishes, except for one Longan Juice. Terrible, terrible.
The food tasted really like Malaysian. It's okay. Just plain standard Malaysian, nothing special. It's almost like Baba Malaysian, a little bit gourmet as supposed to the food in Penang, the only difference is you had a feeling that the food is somewhat cleaner then the one at say Penang or it's sister restaurant in the alley. But I think this was just the effects of being a new, nicely decorated restaurant.
We called our waiter, she didn't know what's going on. We complained about the drinks and the 'Chili Crabs' that never came, and at this time, we really just about to finish our meal. The waiter didn't even any records of our drinks and Chili Crabs, how bad was this service ? Yet, I remember we discussed about which chili crabs we were trying to order with her. Either her English was bad or she was just a total idiot. I honestly think she just forgot about it, either intentionally or not, it's not an issue, it's a horrible service, especially when she tried to justify that we didn't order any other drinks and chili crabs.
We finally called up the Manager and explained to him what's going on. No words of apology, which is totally unacceptable and not even a smile. We were encountered with bitter sour face and a reply 'Well, it seemed like you didn't order, it's not in our records, you can order it now, and we'll cook it for you, expect to wait around 20-25 minutes.' Horrible service. This guy needs to take Customer Service 101.
We decided to wait with frustation, because our adventure would not be completed without the chili crabs and this is the only reasons for us coming to this Singaporean-wannabe joint. Our table was silent and everyone was upset, only a hope that the chili crabs would be at least, authentic and at least standard, subsided our frustation.
The drinks arrived first, one of drinks that my friend had tasted completely out of hand, like mud, exactly like mud. Not worth even a penny, especially after the treatment we were getting and this new joint. It's a pity, because I can see what everyone was thinking already. NEVER COME BACK. But wait the chili crabs are still on the way.
The chili crabs finally arrived, it didn't look to appetizing really, not after the wait anyway. The crabs were so small, there's hardly anything to eat, except shells after shells. It tasted just okay, actually below average. It's definitely not what's on everyone's mind of real Singaporean chili crabs. Imagine, after having gone through all this trouble and the wait, for the ultimate dish, they came up short, actually way beyond short. It's really upsetting. The service was bad now the food.
Three words still lingers in our heads, NEVER COME BACK, especially when one of my friends who had the mud drink ended up using the restroom almost five times later that night.