Eighteen Chefs is an interesting place...looking more like a cafe or part of a hawker center than a fine dining establishment (btw, they don't make any claims of fine dining...). But within the eating place is an establishment with a heart. Set up and modelled after Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, the current owner Benny Se Teo set out to provide ex-convicts with an opportunity to serve the community and make a living for themselves outside of crime.
However, Benny...in an interview with The Sunday Times in 2007, said that he would want the restaurant "to be knownfor its food rather than its support for the rehabilitation of ex-offenders". So if you want to read about Benny, and his amazing life and transformation...google is your friend. I continue with the food:
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon...and the place was quite busy. The ordering system is to peruse the menu, write your order on a small piece of paper, pay up at the counter, help yourselves with the cutlery, water, chilli and tomato sauces. And the food will be served..in very quick time.
My mom had the seafood spagetti.
Done aglio olio style, the slightly softer than al dente spagetti was tossed with seafood and red and green caspicum. The seafood was fresh, the prawns were nice and crunchy. If I were to rate this dish, it would be rated home cooked...nice, but not really up to the standards of a real Italian kitchen.
Edward had the chicken chop.
The chicken was cooked very well. The terriyaki sauce was a tough salty, but went very well with the chicken. The salad which accompanied the dish was excellent. Green apples, raisins, potato on a bed of lettuce. Fresh, crunchy, well done and good salad dressing.
I had the fish and chips
What was interesting was the fish was described in the menu as root beer batter fish and chips. The chips were de rigeur - a bit dry, lacking the texture and mouthfeel of really good french fries. The fish batter was very crisp when delivered, but it softened rather quickly...perhaps pointing to the fact that no preservatives were used. The taste itself was a bit unusual...the sweetness imparted by the root beer was still apparent, and to my palate, that was a bit too domineering. I would have preferred the more traditional beer batter. The purpose of the beer or in this case root beer, is to provide the gas to allow the batter to rise...causing a light and crunchy, crispy batter. Beer imparts a slight malty flavour which in my opinion goes well with the fish. The root beer, left this coy sweetness which to me, was not a good combination.
I save the best for last. Kin had the burger...
And for me, this was the crowning glory of our lunch. Instead of a beef patty, the chef elected to use slices of beef...I guess, marinated in a teriyaki like sauce, and pan fried before being formed in to a "patty" and placed in between the bun. The bread itself is worthy a mention...light, fluffly, and lightly toasted to be slightly crisp outside, but still a bit moist and fluffy inside. Nice. The cajun style fries which came with it was also excellent, as was the dipping sauce.
Overall, good, home-styled food, cooked well, but not exceptional.
Tiong Bahru Plaza
302 Tiong Bahru Road,
Daily 12pm - 10pm