A reasonably-priced halal-certified cosy restaurant in Singapore is worth a return trip, 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 over the same type of food that can be found in other parts of the island republic. The food quality is also nothing much to shout about.
However, everything changed when I came across the Good Old Days restaurant opposite the Wings of Time main entrance - just a stone’s throw away from the popular Siloso Beach. Its menu boasts a wide selection of halal certified dishes too!
I decided to order three Singapore food icons namely Singapore Chicken Rice, South Indian set and of course Singapore Laksa so that I could compare them to the same ones I have tasted outside. While waiting for the food to arrive, I decided to do a bit of exploring.
Looking at the framed black and white photographs on the walls is like taking a walk back in time. Together 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.
Externally, the restaurant looks a bit like a large black and white colonial era bungalow. Coupled with its nostalgic sounding name, this place conjures up images of yesteryears when Sentosa was then 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 a feeling of eating at a traditional coffee shop. Black and white is the main colour scheme throughout the entire restaurant including the floor tiles.
My chicken rice comes in a circular tray with individual compartments for the various accompaniments. 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 the one I tried at the famous Maxwell Road hawker centre.
The chicken pieces are juicy and go very well with the dark soy 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 on first look I can sense that it is not spicy. The gravy is yellowish unlike the super hot versions that are red. I take my first sip. This version is on the “lemak” side which uses coconut milk instead of sour asam as the main gravy ingredient. Foreign tourists and children will be able to 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 bring me a saucer of red chilli paste to help raise things 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 in Malaysia. I know there is also attention to detail as I can see a small saucer of mango chutney at the side. No proper Indian curry meal is complete without this sweet-sour condiment.
Placing 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 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.
This popular dish was traditionally eaten by pioneers from the Indian sub-continent to Singapore. It comes with delicious fish curry, okra masala, 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 of the day.
I end my meal with hot tau suan (mung beans dessert). 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 will arrive early to enjoy the Good Old Days buffet spread here before the show starts.
GOOD OLD DAYS RESTAURANT
60 Siloso Beach Walk, #01-03/04, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098997
Tel: +65 6273 1743
HOURS: 11am - 10pm daily, daily buffet from 5pm to 10pm
FOOD: Halal local favourites as well as popular traditional desserts
PICK: Singapore Chicken Rice, Singapore Laksa, South Indian Set
PAY: Rates are inclusive of GST. Sets range from below S$10 to less than S$20
MOOD: Nostalgic and comfortable
SERVICE: Friendly and courteous
I SAY...: Go give it a try