CreatureS of comfort food
The last place you would expect to find such an eateryis in the notorious red-light district, Desker Road.
Then again, Singapore's food culture is evolving as I write.
CreatureS is sort of like a cafe. It looks like a place that would offer something over waffles with truffles, and a salted egg yolk rendition of something or the other.
But their menu is traditional in many ways - with a fresh twist.
It arrived on the scene about a year ago. When you step in, you are hit by the aroma of lemongrass that perfumes the place.
I paused when the platter of Ngoh Hiang And Cuttlefish Kueh Pie Tie ($24) arrived. Firstly because it was served on a wooden platter and photogenic (which is important in the era of Snapchat and Instagram).
Then I took a bite. It is dense, packed with minced pork and prawns, with a freshly-made feel.
The kueh pie tee is stacked with stewed turnip and greens and had umami-laden strips of dried cuttlefish inside.
Dip it in the chilli and the sweet sauce, and it reminds me of home.
It was quickly followed by the Babi Pongteh on toasted baguette ($22). I scooped up the pork belly pieces slow cooked in bean paste onto the crispy toast and I was happy.
But the one dish that I will come back for and not share is the Miso Cod And Ulam Onigiri ($32).
It takes a lot of elbow grease to make this. Finely chop the carefully selected herbs and greens like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and wild betel leaves and toss them into rice with shredded fish and stock.
They roll the herbed rice into a ball, coat it with seroendeng (wok-tossed desiccated coconut) and serve it with the miso cod.
The trick is to mix the fish with the rice. The little chunks of Japanese cucumbers add a wicked twist to the texture.
The Ah Gong Fried Chicken And Ah Ma Noodles ($23) is a miss for me. It hit the right flavour notes, but I think the chef's Ah Gong must have liked chicken with a harder batter.
The shallot oil noodles are subtle and comforting, but the cincalok mayonnaise did not do it for me. Lime sambal would have been great for this.
And that sweet finale of their classic Durian Cake ($12 a slice) - which I've had a few times before - is a little lost on me as the durian used was not as in-your-face as I remembered.
They are at the mercy of the suppliers as far as this dish is concerned.
And oh yes, I think they have one of the prettiest toilets in that part of town.
120, Desker Road
- noon to 10.30pm (Tuesdays to Thursdays, Sundays)
- noon to 11.30pm (Fridays and Saturdays)
- closed on Mondays
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets, his own TV shows on cable, publishing food guides, consultancy and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.