Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Roszy's Tiffin House
You've probably heard of Roszy's Tiffin House. They've been well featured in the press as one of the first to serve authentic nasi ambeng (pronounced "um-bng"). Nasi ambeng or "togetherness rice" is a Javanese dish, traditionally served at big family gatherings or kenduri (celebration feasts). Side dishes are piled high upon a mound of rice set upon a dulang (large serving tray). Usually a group of 4-5 people will share this communal dish, and pack home what they cannot inevitably finish.
I totally love the concept of communal dining. Food is so much more wonderful when shared and enjoyed in good company, don't you agree?
What I like even more are stories of dreams coming true. This restaurant has been a dream percolating for 18 years. Roszy and her husband Ian James were finally able to set up shop in January 2010. Her mother is the chef, and they use recipes from her grandfather who comes from Semarang, Java. Note that Javanese food is more gentle in flavours compared to Sumatran nasi padang.
The aim is to serve food that tastes like home-cooking, and they've succeeded. Over 20 dishes are available, and everything from sambal to gravies is made from scratch. There is no "jelak" feeling to plague you afterwards either, as they don't like the heavy use of oil and salt. Many restaurants use oil to seal the surface and keep food fresher longer. Here, they just cook smaller batches to keep things fresh.
I do have to apologise that when Keropokman, Momo and I were there, we kinda confused our orders. I'd thought one portion was the standard two-pax serving (S$36) since it's a communal dish, but apparently they do serve single person portions too (at S$18) - see above.
OK, I borrowed a photo to show you what the double portion looks like...
Yes, a majestic mountain enough to feed 3-4 persons! Thanks to this photo from Liverpool1965, I can finally show the dish in its full glory.
The ingredients stacked on top of the rice are:
- serunding (coconut floss)
- acar (cucumber pickles)
- sambal goreng (tofu, tempe and prawns)
- gareng asem (long beans, brinjals fried with dried prawns)
- tauhu and tempe (beancurd and fermented soybeans)
- bagedel (potato cutlet)
- ikan tenggiri (Spanish mackeral fish steaks)
plus you get a choice of beef rendang or a chicken or mutton dish.
I have to say it's a dish that scores on dramatic presentation. You tear the banana leaf holding the toppings and watch them collapse onto the rice. Sure, you can get nasi ambeng elsewhere but not like this. Elsewhere it is just served like economy rice.
We went for the beef rendang (available separately at S$6.50). You can tell how complex the spice base must be, just looking at the gravy. Roszy's mom makes the spice pastes fresh daily, and she used to pound all of it by hand. Only recently she acquiesced to using a blender to cope with the demand. But they still cook and serve small quantities at a time for freshness.
Sup Buntut - Oxtail Soup. A comforting stew with carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. Lightly spiced and not greasy at all.
What we were pleasantly surprised with was the Nasi Lemak set (they have daily sets that vary, this one about S$8+). The rice is very light despite the unmistakable coconut fragrance. They use basmati rice which is uncommon for nasi lemak, but gives a much better and fluffier texture. The sambal also goes really well with the basmati rice.
Ayam Masak Merah (S$5.50) - Red Chicken Gravy. We had this to go with the nasi lemak. Gently spicy and tangy.
Terung Sambal (S$3.50) - Chili Brinjal and Long Beans. So simple but very tasty. All three of us liked this very much.
This is probably the only dish that did not gel with our expectations. Assam Pedas (S$5.50) - Hot and Sour Fish in Chili. It was very mild. But that makes it perfect for the many Singaporeans and expats who cannot take spicy food. Most of the food here is not too spicy.
Roszy's is located near Novena MRT. You do have to walk a bit to the back of Goldhill Centre (it doesn't face the road).
We tried to pay for the meal but Roszy refused to accept. So, our hearty thanks to Roszy and Ian - it was a great pleasure meeting you, tasting the food and vicariously savouring your dream.
ROSZY'S TIFFIN HOUSE
51 Thomson Road
#01-203 Goldhill Centre
Tel: +65 6255 4788
11am – 3pm; 6.30pm – 10.30pm