The folks who run Food Republic, the very same who brought us Bread Talk, take their mission seriously. They supposedly scour the land for the best hawker food, and have them represented in their food courts. I wrote about their high end version - Food Opera a while ago, waxing lyrical about the Bak Chor Mee. And my great foodie friend Larry declares the Food Republic at 313 Orchard the " world's best" in his characteristic expression.
I happened to be in Vivocity, and thought to visit the Food Repblic. The decor was a bit rustic...rather like worn down little village, with great food stalls.
I am not sure if the decor works, but the theme is certainly carried out in a very through manner...and it looked like the set of a period drama.
I tried the Thye Hong Hokkien Prawn Mee...
The plate was carefully fried, and scopped on an opah leaf...folded and pinned with little tooth picks into the shape like a spade...A few unshelled prawns adorn the plate. The fragrance of the HKM was superb...and scopping a mouthful, the taste was excellent. There was the requisite gooey stuff, which like gravy, anchors the crustacean taste and flavour...with nuggets of crispy pork lard embedded lifting the taste and flavour to another level...the gravy also allowed the noodles to luxurate in its smooth, almost creamy texture. Very good. Almost at the level of Tian Tian Lai...I cannot quite decide which one I liked better, till I tasted the prawns...they were lifeless...tasteless, devoid of any sweetness, or crunchiness. Hmm...not very good eh? But nontheless the noodles and the gravy is almost to die for.
From the same store we also ordered a plate of oyster omelette...ohr luak:
This was the dry type of oyster omelette. Though it still had some gobs of gooey startch, the texture of the entire plate was dry rather than wet. The fragrance which wafts into one's nostrils is one...for want of a better word...oyster-like. A powerful fragrance of oysters...fresh ones...And the evidence is there for the eyes...small, but quite succulent oysters. In the mouth, it was excellent...the slightly crispy eggs, folding into the oysters, which were quite fresh, and had nice mouthfeel. The chilli was a bit sour, but the acid cuts through the grease to provide a nice balance.
I also tried the Chong Pang Nasi Lemak:
Supposedly one of the more famous ones, the stall had perhaps 15 or 20 different dishes to accompany the nasi lemak. I chose a boneless chicken drumstick - breaded and deep fried, some stir fried cabbage, an otak and a fried egg. The egg and chicken, to my palate was overcooked. This rendered the egg rather rubbery, but the chicken had a thick, crispy crust, which sort of protected the insides from drying out, and as a result was still reasonably tender within. The cabbage was regular, nothing to write about. As was the otak...where I also detected a slight tinge of sourness...indicating that it was about to go rancid. Perhaps this was yesterday's leftover. The rice was also quite average...a bit of coconut fragrance, but cooked dry and rather hard. Overall, I'll give this nasi lemak a miss next time round.
VivoCity (Vivo City) #03-01, 1 Harbourfront Walk (S)098585