Singapore may be small, but we are inundated with choice when it comes to eating out. Sometimes, this can lead to the first-world problem of CHOICE(!) ANXIETY(!!) If, like us, this leads you to becoming a sad creature of habit who keeps eating at the same old places, check out our bite-sized JUNK food reviews for what you should be eating next.
A few weeks ago, we needed a halal option for a meal and a friend suggested that we check out Yassin Kampung in Sunset Way. While that meal was entirely pleasant, we were really more focused on catching up that evening, leaving us with nagging thoughts about the whole experience that begged for a repeat visit.
One week later we were back – this time for review purposes. We ordered the Onion Omelette, Kangkung Belacan, Fragrant Mala Fish and the curious Kampung Durian Chicken. This last dish was of great importance. We really love a well-executed gimmick and we really wanted to be charmed.
The meal started out enthusiastically enough. We were hungry and the food arrived hot and fast. Everything was presentably plated and the portions looked generous. Make no mistake, we were putting the food away at an impressive rate. It was just so tasty.
But as the meal wore on and the food started to get cold, the cracks in the quality started to show and everything started to feel lumpen in our tummies.
It was the small things. Glassy, flavourless prawns in the fried rice, saltiness but no depth of flavour, overcooked vegetables. Of particular criticism was the mala fish. It arrived looking elaborately garnished with cinnamon sticks, shelled peanuts, and dried chillies... The whole shebang, but ultimately, the sauce had no ‘mala’ kick, the fried fish was middling in terms texture and flavour, and nothing worked together: it was just a prettily plated dish.
And what of the Kampung Durian Chicken? In the first 10 minutes of eating it, we had fun debating about whether or not it worked. What it tastes like: melted durian dodol over fried chicken pieces. We stuck to "maybe" but another friend loved it.
But by the end of the meal, the durian sauce had taken on a sickly, sticky, condensed milk quality, turning the dish into durian chicken candy. At that point, our friend took back her initial approval with a “No, cannot... This is gross. ”
Were we just being sensitive stomachs? Well, we do eat the point of bursting in this line of work, so being full is not an unfamiliar feeling. But this meal felt bad like how you would feel bad after a gluttonous, phlegm-inducing, fast food binge. It wasn't the "good full" of hearty home-cooking. Which was the thing that had been nagging us from the first meal we had there – despite the kampung aesthetics and homey (read: generous) portions, in the end there is an unloving "chain restaurant" quality to the food. A shame.
And the bill? Almost $50 bucks a head with drinks. A bit too much.