Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) Tasting Session

October 02, 2015 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) Tasting Session
2 Stamford Road
Level 2 Swissotel The Stamford


Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri: 7am - 10:30am (Breakfast), 11:30am - 2:30pm (Lunch), 6pm - 10:30pm (Dinner),
Sat - Sun: 7:30am - 11am (Breakfast), 12pm - 2:30pm (Lunch), 6pm - 10:30pm (Dinner)



http://www.swissotelkopitiam.com.sg/

This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session.
Attended with representatives from HungryGoWhere, Chubby Botak Koala, Purple Taste, and Fundamentally Flawed.



Local Singaporean Classics, Made Premium

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 7
Ambience & Setting: 6
Food & Beverage: 8
Service: 9
Value for Money: 5
Budget about SGD $35 ++ per person.


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For over 22 years, Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) has been serving up premium renditions of classic, local Singaporean dishes, in a smart casual setting. Popular favourites such as Carrot Cake and Laksa feature on the extensive menu, and while quality and taste is pretty good, high prices may be a barrier for the everyman / common people to dine at Kopi Tiam (Swissotel). On a bigger perspective though, the concept offered by Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) is 1 possible solution to saving / curating our local Singapore food heritage. By making local dishes premium (higher quality ingredients, bigger portions, better presentation), it ensures hawkers can have a better livelihood (more profits), in turn ensuring the continuing legacy of Singaporean food!

Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) Exterior


Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) Interior



Ambience at Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) is a mix of modern and traditional coffee shops. Sturdy, casual wooden furniture in bright colours of orange and green hues line the spacious interior, which is lit by warm, ambient lighting and bright spotlights. Black-and-white posters of traditional Singaporean coffee shop items adorn the walls, while (rather gaudy) touches of Singaporean decor (flags, utensils, mugs, Tiger beer boxes) scream "This is Singapore!". Be aware that a minimum dress code is enforced at Kopi Tiam (Swissotel), as befits its premium dining status, diners should be dressed in smart casual or formal attire, no shorts / slippers / swimwear are allowed!

Table Setting


Beer Barrels



Service at Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) is professional and courteous, similar to restaurant quality service. Staff are quick to greet and seat you, and when asked, are able to make recommendations from the menu, as well as provide basic descriptions of dishes. I like that they enquired about dietary restrictions before they made the recommendations. Staff also show due attention to diners throughout the meal, coming around to change and clear empty / dirty plates and replace cutlery, as well as enquiring for feedback on the meal towards the end. Despite the size of Kopi Tiam (Swissotel), the linear layout makes it easy to attract the attention of staff. The chef also makes time to walk around and interact with diners.

Old-School Shelf


Old-School Utensils



Food at Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) consists of premium versions of traditional Singaporean favourites, presented in local rustic style. In general, there are 2 kinds of Singaporean dishes, the 1st category are those dishes which can be improved by having premium, higher quality ingredients, the 2nd category are dishes which can be improved by having more skill / ability / experience in cooking. At Kopi Tiam (Swissotel), the 1st category fares much better, dishes made from spice pastes (laksa, rendang, rojak) are much tastier, and because the ingredients are fresher / higher quality, the dish truely shines. However, the 2nd category (requires skill) tends to fall flat (hokkien mee, carrot cake), lacking wok hei / breath of the wok. Just isn't as tasty as those you get from hawkers who have been frying that 1 dish for over 20 years.

Portions at Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) are large, more than sufficient for 1 person, and actually big enough for 2 - 3 people to share comfortably. As such, I recommend a minimum dining group size of at least 3 - 4 people. Prices can be rather high if dining alone / in couples, but is bearable if dining in a group. Most main dishes average around SGD $16 - $25 per dish, and around SGD $6 - 13 per dessert / beverage. Budget about SGD $35 per person for a meal here. The biggest challenge though, isn't price, but the perception of value; knowing you can get similar and better tasting dishes for a fraction of the price in a hawker centre. This makes dining at Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) less appealing to the average Singaporean local, though it's great for avid foodies, those looking for an experience with restaurant quality local food, the rich / elite of Singapore society, business people, tourists, or those looking for convenience with everything under one roof.

Gramophone


Merlion Mugs



Loved the Local Chinese Salad - Rojak (SGD $16), which was wonderfully balanced with its savoury, salty, sweet, and sour flavours! The fruits and vegetables (pineapple, bean sprouts, cucumber, turnip, kang kong / water spinach leaves) within are fresh, juicy, and crunchy, while the dough fritters are properly crisp. The dark, spicy prawn paste with crushed peanuts is sufficient to coat all the ingredients, yet isn't too thin in texture. Excellent, worth ordering!

Local Chinese Salad - Rojak (SGD $16)



The selection of Satay - Chicken, Beef, Lamb (SGD $16) was decent, with the meat (chicken, beef, and lamb) being semi-tender in texture, with some slight firmness that enables it to hold fast to the skewer. Taste is decent, savoury with a slight smoky aroma, and isn't dry. But it also doesn't have that slight burnt bits a typical hawker satay will have. The peanut sauce is thick with decent flavour, the cucumber and onions are fresh and crunchy, the ketupat / rice dumpling is thick and sticky in texture, without being too starchy. Overall, it's alright as a dish, but I feel it's not really value for money.

Satay - Chicken, Beef, Lamb (SGD $16)



The Fish Head Curry (SGD $55) is very good! The highlight is the lemak curry; rich and thick with savoury, sour, spicy flavour, and a nice, smooth texture from the coconut cream. The vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, lady's finger) are nice and soft, without being limp. The fish head portion is large, with a generous amount of fish meat, which comes off easily. Great with white rice or crispy pappadums, and a perfect sharing dish!

Fish Head Curry (SGD $55)



Loved the incredibly soft and tender texture of the Wok-Fried Beef With Shaoxing Wine And Soya Sauce (SGD $22)! This New Zealand beef marianted in soya sauce and rice wine has a savoury, meaty flavour, with a hint of salty taste that isn't too overpowering. Good enough to eat on its own!

Wok-Fried Beef With Shaoxing Wine And Soya Sauce (SGD $22)



A fellow blogger commented that, "Eggs are like, free here.", as evident by the amount used in the Fried Carrot Cake (SGD $17) and other eggy dishes. A slight deviation from the norm, this features the cubes of daikon radish baked over the fluffy chicken eggs, along with whole deshelled prawns and salted radish bits. The result is a dish which looks like the original, but doesn't have the taste of the original... and it's also missing its signature crisp exterior. Decent in taste, great with the seafood which lends some sweetness to the savoury salty dish, but definitely not on par with local hawkers.

Fried Carrot Cake (SGD $17)



The Hainanese Chicken Rice (SGD $18) is actually pretty good, combining fragrant, tender, and moist steamed chicken slices, with buttery aromatic chicken rice, crunchy steamed kai-lan / chinese kale / chinese broccoli, a savoury chicken soup / broth, and a trio of traditional sauces (dark soy sauce, garlic chili sauce, crushed ginger sauce). All the ingredients are well executed, and lives up to the premium standards. You also get a choice of types of chicken meat; either breast, drumstick, or thigh. I did feel that the soup was a little too thin / watery in texture, and could have been more fragrant.

Hainanese Chicken Rice (SGD $18)



The rich, lemak, savoury spicy soup / broth of the Signature Kopi Tiam Laksa (SGD $20) makes this dish a standout! Thick rice noodles, along with generous garnishings of fish cake slices, shredded chicken, fresh deshelled prawns, cucumber, bean sprouts, quail eggs, and tau pok / tofu puffs complete this yummy dish. Dunk some sambal belacan chili paste into it for more flavour. Now if only you could choose to add cockles! Still, this is a dish worth ordering, highly recommended if dining here!

Signature Kopi Tiam Laksa (SGD $20)



Can't decide what I like more about the Beef Rendang (SGD $20)... the fork tender, moist, savoury chunks of beef meat, or the thick, full-flavoured spice paste fragrant with kaffir lime leaves and coconut milk, which coats the meat lovingly and makes it even more delicious. This dish won an unanimous thumbs up from all of us, and when chef asked us for our favourite dish, we all mentioned this! Must order here, highly recommended!

Beef Rendang (SGD $20)



The Braised Hokkien Mee Singapore Style (SGD $18) was the weakest dish I had here. Yes, it looks similar in presentation to hawker style versions, but the noodles which lack wok hei / breath of the wok, drowning in a thick, near tasteless, too wet gravy, resulted in a big disappointment. Lacking slices of squid, even the generous garnishings of prawns, bean sprouts, fatty pork belly, and chives couldn't save the lack of flavour in this dish. Until it's improved, I cannot recommend this.

Braised Hokkien Mee Singapore Style (SGD $18)



Again with the eggs! The Fried Oyster Omelette (SGD $22) has a lot of eggs, stir fried together with sweet potato starch, vinegar, and somewhat small oysters, then garnished with spring onions. There is only a little crisp bits of starch around the edges of this dish, while the majority of it has the gooey, sticky, moist texture instead. Could be a hit or miss, depending on your personal preference, for me, this was a miss.

Fried Oyster Omelette (SGD $22)



The Pisang Goreng (SGD $9) features sweet, near caramelised banana fritters with a golden, crisp batter, coated in sweet maple syrup and served with vanilla ice cream on the side. The pairing of the warm, sweet bananas and the cool ice cream is excellent, completely delicious. Could have done without the maple syrup though, which I felt made this dessert overly sweet.

Pisang Goreng (SGD $9)



A decent, passable rendition of Yam Paste With Ginko Nuts (SGD $10). The thick, gooey yam paste is fragrant and smooth in texture, with good yam flavour. The coconut milk helps cut through some of the heavy thickness, while the ginko nuts lend a nutty taste. But it doesn't have that solid, punchy flavour of more traditional versions, which use a lot of pork lard. Still, it's slightly more healthy, and worth ordering if you're dining here.

Yam Paste With Ginko Nuts (SGD $10)



The warm Bubur Cha Cha (SGD $8) has a generous soup / broth of fragrant coconut milk filled with cubes of sweet potato, yam, and tapioca jelly. The ratio of ingredients is a little uneven, I would have wished for more sweet potato and tapioca jelly, as there are too many yam cubes within. Still, it's a decent, upsized version of the classic dessert. I think it's still lacking in potential for a premium dessert, they could have been more creative with it. Slightly underwhelming overall.

Bubur Cha Cha (SGD $8)



The Teh Tarik (SGD $6) is a decent rendition of the local pulled tea with milk beverage. At least I can see the froth when it was served! Not too sweet as well, and you can still taste the warm, tea flavour and aroma.

Teh Tarik (SGD $6)



Overall, dining at Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) is worthwhile if you order the "right" dishes, such as those you would get in a normal Zi Char (eg: fish head curry), instead of just local hawker fare. Communal dining is more value for money here. Ambience, service, and food at Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) are of acceptable quality for a hotel. I also think Kopi Tiam (Swissotel) has a good concept in terms of saving / curating our local Singaporean hawker dishes, by attempting to make them premium. This is 1 possible solution to prevent our traditional food recipes from being lost.


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Reserve a table now @ Kopi Tiam (Swissotel)









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