Wednesday, February 11, 2009
"Granny's Secret" at OG Albert Street
I was tickled when a couple of friends suggested this place. "Granny's Secret" cafe nestled within the OG Albert Street department store, near Bugis. Did they name this cafe after the store's target market? What kind of food would they serve? Food for grannies, by grannies?
Turns out it's an eatery run by Yikowei, which has a central kitchen supplying carbohydrate-heavy snacks to various foodcourts. I adjusted my expectations suitably. The "Granny" in the name is meant to evoke memories of grandmother's special recipes, cooked with love. The place looks simple but cosy and welcoming. In keeping with the Chinese heritage, you can sit on Oriental chairs that look like they're made of huang huali (a kind of rosewood). We had a chirpy young wait staff who did her best to be friendly and helpful.
We started with the Five-Fortuner (S$11.80) appetiser - glutinous rice, yam cake, pumpkin cake, carrot cake and kueh pie tee - just a sample of the carb-heavy specialties of the Yikowei chain. The glutinous rice was delightfully addictive. The rest were passable. The kueh pie tee was overly soaked by its fillings, but that could be because we waited too long to eat it.
Granny's "mei cai kou rou&" (梅菜扣肉) or Pork Belly Slices with Preserved Salted Vegetable/Mustard Greens (S$13.80). A new item on the menu, which turned out surprisingly good. Very tender layered pork belly atop preserved mustard greens that were not too salty or sweet - just right.
Braised pork trotters with mushrooms, peanuts, vegetables and tauhu pok or fried beancurd cubes (S$16.80). This is the first time I have seen pork trotters so colourfully presented. The meat was fairly lean, so parts of it seemed a bit dry. I didn't have an issue with that, but my dining companions did not like this dish as much.
My DSLR battery ran out at this most unfortunate juncture, so the rest of the photos are taken with the Sony Ericsson C905. Chicken soup with winter melon, scallops, aloe vera and red dates (S$22.80, serves four). A fairly robust broth with a distinctive bitter tinge. My friend speculated that it was from boiling the red dates with seeds intact. It makes the soup very "heaty", apparently. I'm no expert on Chinese herbal stuff, so I'm not sure.
We unanimously loved the Stir-fried Eight Treasure Vegetables (S$12.80), and found it most refreshing. White fungus, black wood ear fungus, carrots, broccoli, snowpeas, button mushrooms, baby corn and golden mushrooms - so many of my favourite vegetables in one dish!
We love the cute granny note-clip holder (but notice the discrepancy between photo of the Five-Fortuner and the real thing!). Our seats next to the floor-to-ceiling windows gave us a view overlooking Sim Lim Square.
Granny's Secret sure is a hidden find. The food in general is all right - hits and misses as with many places. It's not exactly cheap (service charge and GST can push the final bill further up). However, if you're looking for a quiet and cosy place to dine in comfort around the area, it's most certainly an option.
60 Albert Street
OG Albert Complex Level 2
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