Shashlik is back and it's even better
Late last year, I sadly bid adieu when Shashlik Restaurant pulled down its shutters after more than 30 years of operation.
But the children of one of the previous owners bought the business and Shashlik is back.
Chef Derrick Tan and his brother Alan, children of the late Mr Tan Niap Hin, bought over the restaurant.
And together with another partner, Mr Lee Say Yeow, they won over the other seven partners.
"It was about family ties, continuity and that Hainanese bond," says chef Tan.
Seven of the previous eight workers also agreed to continue working.
Original owner Foo Sek Chuan, 76, and Madam Tan Kai Buay, 78, are still adept in the kitchen, specialising in their signature Egg Millionaire.
Chef Tan says the menu for now remains the same as before "as I need to perfect and improve it before we come up with new items in that vein" and "all prices remain the same".
During renovations in January, they converted an unused toilet that had been used as a storeroom into extra space for seats and a bar.
At a recent food tasting session, I compared what I ate with the old goods.
I paid particular attention to Shashlik's two most iconic dishes: Oxtail Stew ($32) and Borshch Soup ($7).
The beefy stew comes up tops, better than before with fork-soft, fall-off-bone meat in a thick wine-reduction beefy savoury sauce.
The soup is a tad less beefy than I like, although the texture and beef chunks with that dollop of sour cream is better than before.
Still, it lost me on the robustness. But I think that can be easily fixed.
The Egg Millionaire ($16) is still a winner. Chopped, boiled egg tossed in bacon bits, Parmesan and crispy bread crumbs, baked and stuffed back into the halved egg shell.
It now comes with a crunchy salad dressed in balsamic vinegar. Delightful.
The old-fashioned Deep Fried Spring Chicken ($22) comes uncut, with sides of fries and sweet corn cobs.
The chicken is moist and very well fried outside, unlike the dry leathery one before.
But I save my favourite for the last: the flambé Cherry Jubilee ($20) - fresh cherries pan-tossed with butter and flaming brandy, with a blob of vanilla ice cream next to it.
It is just like I remember - juicy, sweet, tangy, milky and buttery, with a hint of brandy.
Keep a lookout for the value-for-money set lunches every day.
Welcome back, Shashlik.
545, Orchard Road, Far East Shopping Centre, #06-19
- Noon to 2.15pm, 6pm to 9.15pm, closed on Mondays
Makansutra, founded by KF Seetoh, is a company that celebrates Asian food culture and lifestyle. It publishes food guides in and around the region, produces a food series, develops interactive mobile content and services, operates foodcourts and eateries, organises food tours and events, and consults on culinary concepts.