I suppose I could make an observation about Singaporean residents of today worshipping at F&B outlets as the new cathedrals of commercialism; I could claim that CHIJMES was a spiritual watering hole where people come to drink; and I could even mention that the place has never sounded like a great place to eat, to my ears, since its name recalls the word ‘chyme’, which is a distinctly un-appetising, thick semifluid mass of partially digested food and secretions that is formed in the stomach and intestine during digestion. I could make those comments and dwell on those things, but I won’t...
These days (April 2014), CHIJMES is undergoing a major refurbishment so - at least as far as I can tell, anyway, from wandering around the labyrinth of temporary walling in that place – only a handful of spots are open. The few I trotted past looked like achingly fashionable wine-bars and coffee places – and when I say ‘aching’, I mean that it’s your wallet that is going to hurt. My companion and I were looking for dinner and eventually found ourselves at Hog’s Breath Café. We’re down-to-earth sorts, so we gave it a try.
Confusingly, given the name of the place, their speciality is steak, not pork. And I’m not too sure that everyone will find the thought of the odour of a wild pig’s breath particularly appetising – I hear their dentists are terrible, you know. But anyway, I shouldn’t fault the franchisors for their ambition or marketing spiel. The important thing is the food, of course.
I had a pint of Tiger, which I thought was reasonable at S$ 10.50 (it’s less than, say, Muddy Murphy’s, my old watering hole on Orchard Road, would charge), and my companion a kiwi smoothie (the waitress challenged the existence of such a beverage until we talked her though the menu). My beer came with a beer koozie (should that be a ‘coolie’ since we were in Singapore, surrounded by 19th century architecture?), and I appreciated that on what was a sweaty evening.
Calamari is always a great test of a restaurant. Can your gnashers make it through the squid meat without cracking a crown? Does it need the Horace Fletcher treatment before the bolus can be swallowed safely? Does it actually taste of anything? So many places fail The Three Calamari Challenges, but I am pleased to report that the Hog’s Breath Café passed on all counts. I liked the salt and pepper breadcrumbs (the simplest ideas are often the best), and the inevitable garlic and chilli dip certainly helped. The salad garnish was fine (why do people so often eat round the garnish?). My only whinge would be the bed of sweet potato chips that the calamari were sitting on: they were chewy, cardboardy and tasteless (lady companion mistook them for carrot, actually). Maybe a bigger side salad would be a good replacement for those.
We were too full for any desserts, unfortunately, but they sound good to judge from the menu, and are doubtless served in massive portions that one could only call ischemic.
http://www.hogsbreath.com.sg/about_hogs_breath.htm - Hog's Breath's website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CHIJMES - about CHIJMES
http://www.tahlequahdailypress.com/x519324528/Drinkthink-Keeping-it-hot-and-cold?zc_p=1 - a koozie really can be called a ‘coolie’ sometimes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace_Fletcher - why you should chew your food 100 times per minute, according to The Great Masticator...
If you agree or disagree with what I said, why not leave a comment? It would be great to hear from you!