Good Old Days restaurant on Singapore’s Sentosa Island offers authentic local cuisine at reasonable prices, writes Alan Teh Leam Seng
IT is very common to hear visitors in Sentosa, Singapore talk about the exorbitant prices of food. In general, outlets here charge a premium for the same type of food that can be found in other parts of Singapore. The food quality is also nothing much to shout about. So it is a pleasant surprise to find a place that offers authentic local cuisine at reasonable prices. Furthermore, it is just a stone’s throw from the popular Siloso Beach!
It is around lunch time when I alight from the Sentosa Express. The Beach Station is the last stop on the island before the elevated train makes its return journey back to Vivo City. It has been several years since I have been here and things have definitely changed. I am taken aback to learn that even the popular Songs Of The Sea nightly light and sound show has been replaced with a newer and more exciting production called Wings Of Time.
Honestly, I am not excited when it comes to looking for food in Sentosa. However, everything changes when I come across the Good Old Days restaurant, located just opposite the Wings Of Time main entrance.
Externally, the restaurant looks like a large black and white colonial era bungalow. Coupled with its nostalgic sounding name, this place conjures up images of yesteryear when Sentosa was known as Pulau Blakang Mati. This strategically positioned island just off the southern Singapore coast, used to serve as the backbone of the British military command back in the days leading up to World War II.
The interior is tastefully furnished with wooden chairs and marble tables. Although these are new they give diners the feeling that they are eating at a traditional coffee shop. Black and white is the main colour scheme throughout the entire restaurant, including the floor tiles.
TIME TO EAT
The latest restaurant to open in Sentosa, it give tourists the opportunity to sample Singapore’s rich culinary heritage. The menu boasts a wide selection of halal certified dishes. I order several local favourites to compare them to the same ones I have tasted outside.
I decide on the three Singapore food icons, namely Singapore Chicken Rice, South Indian set and Singapore Laksa.
While waiting for the food to arrive, I do a bit of exploring. Looking at the framed black and white photographs on the walls is like taking a walk back in time. With easy to read captions, these wonderful images tell a spell binding tale of life in old Sentosa before the luxury hotels, theme parks and golf courses arrived. Back then life was simple and laid back. Ahh... the price we pay for progress.
My chicken rice comes in a circular tray with individual compartments for the dishes. I take a spoonful of rice first. I want to taste it plain. The rice grains are fragrant, fluffy and not too greasy. It is comparable to one I tried at the famous Maxwell Road hawker centre.
The chicken pieces are juicy and go very well with the dark soya sauce, crushed ginger and garlic chilli sauces. The soup is flavourful though slightly sour. The lightly sauteed green leafy vegetables in oyster sauce are crunchy and their flavour is further enhanced by the crispy deep fried shallot toppings.
The laksa arrives in a large bowl and at first look I can sense that it is not spicy at all. The gravy is yellowish unlike the super hot versions that are much redder. I take my first sip. The laksa version here is more towards the “lemak” side which uses coconut milk instead of the sourish asam (tamarind) as the main gravy ingredient.
Foreign tourists and children can handle this dish without batting an eyelid. However, on its own I find it to be a bit bland. I like my laksa super spicy. Fortunately, the serving staff brings me a saucer of red chilli paste to help bring things up a notch. Apart from this, this dish is excellent. The prawns are fresh and juicy. I like their crunchy texture and combined flavour when taken together with the gravy. The sliced fishcakes taste nice when soaked in the gravy.
The South Indian set looks very authentic. All the dishes are served in separate stainless steel bowls, just like my favourite banana leaf curry shop back home in Malaysia. I know there is also attention to detail as I can see a small saucer of mango chutney on the side. No self-respecting Indian curry meal is complete without this sweet condiment.
Putting the dishes separately is a very good idea. This way I get to gauge the exact amount of curry I want to add to my rice. I recommend mixing a bit of the yogurt with the curry gravy. The slight tangy yogurt complements the curry and makes each mouthful a treat for my taste buds. I suggest eating the papadum quickly as this crispy cracker tends to get soft very quickly.
This popular meal was traditionally eaten by pioneers who first came to Singapore from the Indian sub-continent. It comes with a delicious fish curry, okra masala, and turmeric potato combined with dry chilli and onion. I am glad that the restaurant uses quality basmati rice infused with a mixture of fragrant spices. This curry meal is my favourite for the day.
I end my meal with hot tau suan. This popular dessert is delicious and I really enjoy the gravy-soaked fried dough fritters. I must remember to make another trip here to watch the Wings Of Time production. During that time I plan to arrive early to enjoy the Good Old Days buffet spread here before the show starts.
Good Old DaysRestaurant
60 Siloso Beach Walk, #01-03/04, Sentosa Island, Singapore
Tel +65 6273 1743
Monday to Sunday 11am-10pm
Daily buffet 5pm-10pm
Alight at HarbourFront MRT station and use the sheltered Sentosa Boardwalk. Then hop on board the Sentosa Express at Waterfront Station and alight at Beach Station. Good Old Days restaurant is just by Siloso Beach, opposite the Wings Of Time amphitheatre
Halal local favourites as well as popular traditional desserts
Singapore Chicken Rice, Singapore Laksa, South Indian Set
Rates are inclusive of GST. Sets range from below S$10 (RM31) to less than S$20
Nostalgic and comfortable
Clean and well equipped
Friendly and courteous
Go give it a try