Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cilantro Modern Asia @ Marine Terrace

UPDATE SEPT 2009: THIS PLACE HAS CLOSED DOWN. It's been taken over by a vegetarian stall.

Tempura don
Modern Japanese cuisine at coffeeshop prices - that should be a hit with Singaporeans, given their love affair with Japanese food. Cilantro Modern Asia, formerly a restaurant at Purvis Street, aims to bring higher end Japanese fare to the heartlands, at my neighbourhood coffeeshop of all places!

We saw the signboard and menu put up but waited til they had a few weeks to settle into their operations here. You can read more about their background on ieat's blog. Today we came here to try them out.

The tempura don (S$6) comes generously with two prawns, carrot, pumpkin, okra and eggplant fried upon order and served sizzling hot. The tempura is well-executed by coffeeshop standards. The short-grain rice, however, is of inferior quality. That's lamentable as rice is a big part of the don (rice bowl) experience. But for S$6, you are not going to get those plump, glossy, chewy grains as you would from a reputable restaurant.

As with most tempura don, the sauce poured on top, along with the steam from the rice, tends to make the fried items soggy real fast. I shall remember to ask them to serve the tempura separately next time.

Wagyu beef don
We were curious about the vaunted beef wagyu don (S$9.80). Yes, the beef is "meltier" than what you get in usual beef bowls but I had to concentrate to tell the difference. The intense flavour of the sauce seemed to overwhelm any delicate fragrance of the beef. Still, it was pretty tasty, even if lacking in true wagyu wow factor (for that, you'll need Aburiya's wagyu karubi). Wagyu is still best eaten seared in portions at least 1cm thick, so they retain the delicious fat. Just my humble opinion.

Again, as with the tempura don, the rice is the letdown. Both the rice bowls come with miso soup that has tofu cubes and wakame (seaweed).

Banana chocolate mousse
There is a chilled display case in front of the stall, holding the desserts. We saw three kinds but chose the chocolate banana mousse (S$4.80). They sure didn't hold back on the chocolate. It's extremely decadent, rich and dense with a layer of caramelised banana pulp in the middle. The whole thing is a bit too sweet for my liking but I'm sure dessertaholics will rejoice while savouring this.

Cilantro Modern Asia at Marine Terrace
Service today was warm and friendly. They even use a restaurant-style order-taking machine and give out receipts. It'll be interesting to see if "heartlanders" will embrace Cilantro and make it a success.

Blk 59 Marine Terrace #01-71 (modern Japanese)
Opens 8.30am (but only breakfast items like mee siam at that hour) until 9pm

Two other outlets at:
Blk 51 Old Airport Road #01-37/38 (probably the restaurant's mainstay offering)
Blk 28 Bukit Merah #01-4476 (Western)
Contact Jackie at mobile 9795-0289


  1. I've been wanting to check it out. Perhaps next week. Will do report card! :)

  2. i long heard about cilantro opening up in the heartlands but despite that reviews have been mixed. i think i will wait a while for them to settle and adjust their food before visiting the bukit merah branch which is in the west side. haha!

    but i guess given the price we can't really complain. it is after all a case of whether you want to judge it with hawker centre food, or restaurant food.

    comparing with hawker centre food, it is definitely more expensive and critics will be sharpening their knifes. But if you think its closer to restaurant style, then its definitely cheap.

  3. wow japanese comfort food at its best ya...the tempura is soo tempting

  4. Update: The Cilantro outlet at Old Airport Road is already closed for good.

  5. Wow Cilantro at Airport Rd already gone bust? That's fast. I did think they expanded rather quickly to three outlets, this may have diluted their focus and resources.

    Yes, LIC, depends on which yardstick you want to use. Personally I feel they are just a bit better than coffeeshop standards but not restaurant quality. So I guess the prices are also befittingly midway.

  6. Oh really? Huh, I saw them open only couple of months ago and when saw your post, thought I could hop on down and try out the chocolate banana dessert. Too bad. :(

  7. Food rating 1/10 – a disappointing experience. Avoid at all costs

    Sunday 30 Nov Dinner

    This was my first visit to Cilantro so I asked the boss to recommend something good. She recommended the sausage with *mushroom sauce* ($8) so I went for it.

    Waiting time was very short and the food was delivered in 6 mins.
    Here’s what they delivered:
    Two warm sausages in Japanese curry sauce. I’m guessing one was spicy and one was normal based on the different color of the sausages. The center of the sausage was still cold and the meat tasted powdery. This was served with Chinese long grain rice with teriyaki sauce with shredded cabbage covered in Japanese mayonnaise on the side. There was also miso soup to accompany the main course.

    I took one bite of each to give it a try and pushed the plate away. Thinking of giving them some feedback on their lousy food, I looked for the staff of Cilantro to ask them about their mushroom sauce but there was no one at the stall. Overall it was a terrible experience and now I understand why the other Cilantro’s had to close down. I hope this one closes down soon so that other people won’t get to waste their money on this rubbish.


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