Friday, May 2

Ujong, Raffles Hotel

Shen Tan, chef and owner of the popular but now-closed Wok and Barrel, returns with restaurant Ujong at Raffles Hotel. Despite the fact that I never bought into the Mod Sin movement, I thought Ujong looked interesting when my younger sister suggested going there for our family lunch.

My mum hated the concept and she is rarely hypercritical about anything. Though I didn't have any issues with the East-meets-West confusion, the food - or rather, quality of ingredients - definitely fell short of expectations.

I rarely post prices on my blog because value, like taste, is rather subjective and it's not like whatever I consume on a weekly basis is potentially bankrupting anyway. However, in this case, I feel like it's my civil duty to remind you of what you are getting yourself into. I am not sure if it is the killer rent or killer labour cost, but using a complex algorithm formula (i.e. divide the menu price by four), I say, enter with your eyes wide open and your purse close to you.

One of the dishes I was looking forward to most was the Bak Chor Mee Pasta ($25.90) with chunks of pork confit atop with tagliatalle. This tasted nothing like something you could cross the street for and paled in comparison, in terms of tastes and texture. Seriously, I honestly hope this is the first and last time I describe anything "confit" as dry and stringy.

The Claypot Rice with 5-Spice Pork ($23.90) was tasty and I enjoyed the charred bottom. But the roasted pork was unforgivably sinewy and perhaps, a tad easier to swallow if we applied the algorithm formula.

The nasi lemak was pretty good but was it $19.90-good? I am afraid not. The lamb curry was again decidedly tough, which really made me questions the quality of meats used in their dishes. I am told their beef rending is fork-tender but if truth be told, my mum makes a kickass beef rending with beef shin so I will let you be the judge.

The only thing worth reminiscing about is the Fried Chicken Wings ($16.90) and I would consider returning just for this. It is also the only dish I would pay full price for. Cue the sound of jackpot.

Marinated in prawn paste with a delectable deep-fried crunchy batter to boot, it was gloriously delicious.

Though desserts sounded promising, we wanted to put my mum out of her misery and headed to Tiong Bahru Bakery for something sweet instead.


Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow said...

I went to Ujong last week too, and I agree with what you said. Good call.

By the way, what does "algorithm formula" mean?

yixiao said...


Algorithm - A formula or set of steps for solving a particular problem.

muchadoabouteating said...

Haven't been to Ujong but this place seems to share the similar issues as wok&barrel - their food descriptions simply don't reflect the food. I mean if they claim meat to be fork tender then it jolly well be fork tender, if they call something crispy pork chop then it better be crispy, if a pasta is named bcm pasta then it better taste like bcm and not 5-spice powder pasta. Finally, they claim their nasi lemak is soak and twice steamed over a ridiculous number of hours. I definitely can't tell and can only wonder why the grains didn't disintegrate.

yixiao said...

pow pow, PY!

Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow said...

haha, I know what "algorithm formula" means. I just didn't get it in the context of the sentence. I re-read it again, and must have missed out your elaboration on cost per person.

SG Food On Foot said...

I have been to Wok & Barrel once and while I applauded the concept, I find the price is too expensive for the portion that is served. Looks like Ujong is mirroring the same issue. Let see how long it can last.

yixiao said...

I would like to see local chefs and establishments succeed, but not on gimmicks or bells and whistles.

Anonymous said...

Apparently they use microwave food to put together each dish. Not much real cooking involved. And the chef doesn't really cook/step into the kitchen much. Of course, this is hearsay from an ex minion chef helper, but, going by the amount of bad reviews, no smoke without the fire.