Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Westlake: Oldies but goodies...

with office colleagues

Westlake: a veritable temple of value for money, good tasting, cze char style food for as long as I can remember...in the earlier days, they were extremely busy, and chock full, especially during weekends, but one weekday lunch, we dropped by, and the restaurant was less than busy. Have they backslided, and the food not tasty anymore?

We started with the famous Khong Bak Pau...or braised pork belly, served in a piquant black sauce on a steamed bun:



The dish looked as wonderful as it ever did...fat, juicy, succulent pork belly, glistening in its aromatic, piquant and sweet black sauce. The pork has been braised for a long time to get to where it was...tender...so tender it tends to break into pieces at the slightest provocation from a pair of chopsticks.



The steamed bun was also special...white, light, fluffy, and very moist inside...it cradles the slice of pork, with sauce dripping...it tasted heavenly...the umami of the fat from the pork exploding in the mouth, combines with the wonderful sauce...complementary tastes, each distinct, but acting as a whole to tickle the palate and nose. I concluded that Westlake had lost none of her prowess...still queen amongst the Khong Bak Paus. In comparison, other KBPs pale...either their sauce was lacking, or the meat was too lean, or too fat. Somehow only Westlake has managed to balance all the critical factors, and create a masterpiece. Definitively my gold standard for khong bak pau.

As this was a cze char type place, we ordered some crispy sweet and sour fish:



Slices of fish, swathed in batter, then deep fried to a crisp...done very well because the exterior was crunchy crisp, and the interior of the fish was flaky, moist and just perfectly cooked. Then a sweet and sour sauce smothers the crisp bits of fish. In the palate, the crisp crunchiness of the batter and the juicy, moist fish meat was excellent.

Their specialy Duo of tofu in two styles:



On the left of the plate, a deep fried cube of tofu, topped with minced pork, onion, capiscum, garlic, chilli. On the right, smaller cubes of tofu, deep fried, then coated with a thick, gooey sauce and generously sprinkled with black sesame.

I found the left large cube particularly delectable. The tofu has developed a rough crust...very crunchy and tasty in its own right. Breaking open the crust, the soft, creamy interior of tofu is both aromatic and tasty. Together with the slightly salty, slightly hot sauce...it tasted excellent.



The right tofu was more average tasting, though I must say the black sesame goes very well with the silken tofu.

The prawns with tang hoon was next:



This is a typical Thai dish...but in the better Thai versions, the tanghoon, river prawns and spices are laid over a bed of pork lard, and baked. The Westlake version has tanghoon fried with the prawns, and served on a mini-wok. The tanghoon was done just right, al dente, and tasted fabulous. The prawns were very large, but for me it was not as tasty as live river prawns. But overall a very nice dish.

We had an order of cuttlefish with water convulvulus.



The cuttlefish was soft, tender...in fact a bit too tender...I prefer the cuttlefish to be a bit springy, spritely...with some resistance to the bite...but this was totally soft and tender. The eng chye (water convulvolus) was a bit old...and rather chewy. Not a bad dish, so to speak, but quite average.

As a restaurant, Westlake still delivers. The food is tasty, the khong bak pau phenomenal. Prices are very reasonable....and while were there, for BOC, Citibank Visa cards and NETS, they take 25% off the bill for lunch. I remembered years ago, I had often suffered the rest of the afternoon thirsty due to MSG in a Westlake lunch, but I am pleased to report that though the taste of the food had not deteriorated, I did not feel any dryness of throat after this visit...bravo for holding back on the MSG. We left the restaurant very satisfied, and saying to ourselves, that we should eat there more often.


Blk 4 Queens Road
#02-139
Tel: +65 6474 7283
http://www.westlake.com.sg
Lunch: 11am - 2.30pm
Dinner: 6pm - 10pm

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