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Restaurants & Bars 4

First visit to Raffles - another review

KK | Feb 1, 200412:13 AM

After salivating at some of the CH reviews I decided to take my family to Raffles Cafe in Fremont for dinner tonight. Thanks again for all your recommendations!

We were told about the Yu Sang special (the one Han mentioned...salmon sashimi + salad) but passed on it.
We started with a few appetizers. The crispy crab puffs (more like crab won tons) I thought were done quite nicely. Then we had roti prata which had a really nice kick to the curry dipping sauce (it had small chunks of potatoes too which were super yummy after it had soaked up some sauce!). My mom wasn't too excited about the roti prata itself as she was used to the flaky and "torn" version served at other places (like Straits or those other Malaysian restaurants). The one we had tonight was a flat circle (like a mini pancake). I still thought it was quite good.

We added the G3 or G5 special (the fried tofu salad) to the list of appetizers and that one was a real winner. The minced meat with julienne cucumbers and bean sprouts + special sauce was too wonderful for words. My dad who lived in Singapore as a teenager for two summers said this dish was very authentic.

Next came our main courses. I had already told my dad about the Hokkien Mee based on Han's review and we all had a taste and agreed it was top notch. While it wasn't the same style that I had in Singapore (I may have had Hokkien Bee Hoon), the noodles were done just right and burst with flavor. The Mee was stir fried with scrambled eggs, some squid legs, shrimp. I have to say this was the best dish hands down. We have a fondness for Hokkienese food, since that was my grandfather's hometown and we've had a few tastes of the cooking throughout the years.

Mom had the Bah Kut Teh. At first the waitress told us they were sold out (even though we were their first customers). Then she came back out and said yes it is available. Unfortunately I am not a fan of this "herbal medicine soup", and my mom who has had authentic Bah Kut Teh in Singapore was not impressed at all tonight. To her it was too watery and perhaps they did not have time to make it properly (so maybe they just added water to a near empty pot in the kitchen and heated it up again).

My brother had the Hainan Chicken Rice. I have to say that the chicken was poached to perfection. Had a bite of the breast meat and even that was moist and soft. Their chicken rice is not bad either. However since our family grew up having Hong Kong style Hainan Chicken Rice, our taste buds are different and shall we say specific and picky. My brother wasn't too happy at the fact that the dipping sauces for his dinner did not come with the classic "ginger and scallion oil". He only got a small dipping dish of a sweet chili watery looking sauce, and a very mild paste of minced ginger. Though the waitress did her best and brought out a dish of dried shallots (?).

Finally I had the Singaporean curry chicken. Had a good spicy kick to it and good sized portions of upper drumstick meat. I'm not a curry expert but I thought it was done quite well.

Finally we got the special desert that came with the bill. Green and blue...very interesting and quite tasty.

One of the owners came to our table at the end and told us that if we paid cash it would be 10% less. She's from the Philippines but has lived in Singapore for 10 years. Everyone else who works in the restaurant is from Singapore. Our waitress is half Hokkienese and half Teo Chou. Didn't get to meet the chef though.

We did hear of a story from the owner that the President of Singapore did eat at the restaurant last time he was in the Bay Area. His secret service personnel did a "full body cavity search" of the buildling just to make sure it was safe!

Bottom line is that mom and bro were not impressed but me and my dad were. I'll most likely come back again but will be bringing other people. Raffles is definitely a nice change of pace from Straits, and more down to earth (better variety), though some selections can be hit or miss (and probably will depend on your tastes).

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