I would make that generalisation about both London and Singapore. And I’ve started to wonder if Thai restaurants are going the same way, with second-rate grub cynically and expensively served up to customers expecting some of the true quality that can be found in Thailand itself.
Anyway, fresh from a work function at Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare in Tras Street the previous evening (which was dreadful: rude waiters, gristly lamb chops, chocolate ice cream and lemon sorbet melting into each other disastrously, and as for the amuse bouche: well, I certainly wasn’t laughing), my companion and I headed out for dinner.
We had seen Aroy Dee many times before, situated in that interesting relic of the old Jewish Quarter, the David Elias Building. It was usually full with people queueing ravenously outside: so it must be a good place to eat, right…? On this occasion, there was space for us, so in we went.
As far as I could see, there was a weird sort of storage area at the back of the unit, next to the kitchen, with various bits of (I think) non-restaurant-related paraphernalia and other junk lying around there. I will pass over the fact that this wasn’t a very suitable thing to make visible to the customers if you happen to be running a restaurant, and will limit myself to suggesting this: why not expand the (minuscule) kitchen into this area and put some of the waiting staff to work in the kitchen? Less inefficiency on the waiting side, more efficiency on the food preparation side, less visibility of unattractive detritus from the dining area.
A quick word on the lemongrass drink: any lemongrass juice drink in Singapore has to duke it out with the super-sweet, super-delicious lemongrass juice you can get in the awesome chain Din Tai Fung. Aroy Dee’s feeble, diluted beverage pulled its punches, so it was a first-round knock-out for DTF. Thumbs down.
By contrast, the squid was a poor effort. I have mentioned The Three Calamari Challenges before, and this one failed on at least two counts. The flesh was rubber-band chewy, and didn’t taste of much. But I was at least able to choke it down my gullet. The sauce was unmemorable (I mean, I really can’t remember anything about it as I type this), and indeed weirdly demulsified (if that is the right word). It may just have been watered-down, but you can see from the photo how watery the sauce was (to say nothing of the alarming grubbiness of the plates, nicely highlighted by the flash on my iPhone).
Finally, the beef red curry. With the emphasis on the word ‘finally’… because we had already had all our other food for around 20 minutes before this dish arrived. The curry was pretty good, and unusually (in my experience) included a generous amount of cut green beans, but it would have made sense to eat it with all the other food and before our rice had gone cold…
If you agree or disagree with what I said, why not leave a comment? It would be great to hear from you!