It's past midnight but I'm just about game to start typing on this potentially long post about my recent dinner at It's All About Taste, an Asian-cuisine restaurant located at Ibis Hotel along Bencoolen Street. On quieter nights like these, it's my blog that keeps me company as my fingers race across the keyboard... Type, type, type. It does gets me hungry though.
It's All About Taste features some of the most popular local delights all under one roof, and if you're thinking where you can give your friends from overseas a quick run-through of the "must-eats" in Singapore, this could just be the place. Note that I'm not suggesting the food here is the standard, for I'm sure it would take you all around the island to find the "best" (subjective, subjective) rendition of each dish on It's All About Taste's menu.
So as the name and tagline of this place suggests, it's really more about "simply trying everything" that Singapore could offer. A good introduction surely, and especially one that is endorsed by celebrity food guru KF Seetoh of Makansutra. I heard he helped to develop the recipes and design the menu, so you can imagine that I had some measure of heightened expectations for dinner.
Just a shot of a small part of the dining area, which is quite large, well-lit and fairly comfortable as a mid-range restaurant would be. This is after all within the premises of a budget hotel (albeit part of a well-known international chain) so don't expect much fine-dining here. Service however is tops, you feel very welcomed here amidst the smiles and polite service crew.
A glimpse of the menu, recognise many local dishes yes? It's All About Taste goes by "set meals" where you choose three, four or five dishes for $15++, $18++ and $22++ respectively. I applied for the DBS Platinum Visa Card and got a one-for-one voucher, so it made a visit here all the more worthwhile. Do check your cards to see if there's any promotions.
Finally, food here is served "tapas" style, so don't be too alarmed about ordering three to five main courses in a single sitting. Smaller portions of course, but the larger the group you come with, the more variety you get :)
Char Kway Teow: 2.75/5
We'll start with the char kway teow since it's the first dish on the menu. This serving of fried noodles turned out to be a disappointment as it tasted quite bland, and even despite the rather generous amount of ingredients.
Chilli Crab: 4.25/5
Probably the best dish of the night, though I wished I didn't leave it to turn cold. It looked almost too simple, just a small mantou bread with a similarly small crab pincer, but underneath the thick, sweet gravy was an unexpected amount of yummy crabmeat. All there without having the need to pry open any shells. If there is a "full" version of this dish, I would love to come back for more.
Chicken Rice: 3.75/5
Yeap, chicken rice can definitely come cheaper elsewhere but I had a sudden craving for it then. It turned out better than expected, the rice was fragrant and flavourful while the chicken was tender and fresh. I liked this.
The springroll looked quite big when it arrived, but on closer look it was only because the popiah "skin" was wrapped around the fillings quite a number of times, making it a bit too thick for my friend's liking.
Carrot Cake: 2.5/5
This was edible, and so was... passable. Thing is, it was really just the radish cake with fried egg, and was devoid of the crunchy "chye poh" (salted radish) that is a quintessential ingredient to any decent carrot cake. Quite bland too.
Wok-Fried Beef: 3.5/5
Pretty tasty, tender slices of beef. Not the most filling dish to order though, but good as a side.
Sweet and Sour Prawns: 4.25/5
Very satisfying dish, and we really should have ordered more of these. Crunchy prawns in a crisp batter, cooked with a sweet lip-smacking sauce. Yums.
Nasi Lemak: 3.75/5
Here's a small sample of one of our favourite breakfast dishes. Delicious rice with delicious fried chicken. My friend enjoyed this more than she thought she would.
Barbecue Stingray: 2.25/5
Ah, the stingray, I've no idea where to start. This has got to be the worst barbecue sambal stingray that I've ever eaten. The meat was so tough and dry that I actually thought it was the cartilege, while the sambal chilli was too clumpy, cold and paste-like. Eeks.
Beef Hor Fun: 4/5
As you can tell, there's hits and misses at It's All about Taste, but at least hits like the beef hor fun here (or the chilli crab and sweet and sour prawns) still make it a fairly decent and filling dinner overall. The stir-fried noodles here had a slight "wok hei" flavour, which can be quite difficult for most hotel restaurant kitchens to achieve. I like the thickness of the gravy and how it went well with the soft noodles and tender beef.
And there you have it! Not the best pictures I know, they were all taken in record time, but I hope you enjoyed the review. It's 1.30am now and I'm hungry, hungry, hungry! More food posts lined up, stay tuned :)
$15++ for three dishes,
$18++ for four dishes,
$22++ for five dishes.
Ibis Hotel, Bencoolen Street.
Pictures taken with the Canon EOS 500D.