How I recently ended up having lunch at Madam Kwan’s at Vivocity was a bit of an accident, mainly because the waiting list at Jamie’s Italian was an hour fifteen minutes long and this happened to be nearby. But before this visit, I did see a write-up on this place at Hungrygowhere (though user reviews were less than favourable) and heard it was famous for its nasi lemak in Malaysia, so my colleague and I thought that we would give it a shot.
The two of us shared three dishes and a dessert, and had a drink each, which was enough to fill us both up quite well. We didn’t end up ordering nasi lemak though. Instead we had the Nasi Bojari (S$18.90), which was an exciting medley of ‘tri-coloured’ fried rice, fried chicken leg, assam prawns, beef rendang and half an egg.
The beef rendang was surprisingly delicious – super smooth, tender and rich tasting – even my French companion was impressed. The portion could have been a little bigger though. And upon cutting into the fried chicken leg with my fork and knife, a bit of steam actually came out, revealing the moist meat within. The skin was quite crispy too. This was rather nice.
The assam prawns had a lovely spicy kick to the sauce, but I found the two prawns given rather small, dry and tough.
Along with the Nasi Bojari, we also had the Otak Otak (S$15.90) and an Assorted Stir Fried Asparagus, Sweet Peas, Chestnuts and Lily Bulbs with Almond Flakes (S$12.90).
The former unfortunately, was a bit disappointing for me. To be fair, I much prefer the smooth, melt-in-your-mouth type (can anyone say Muar Otah?), with big chunks of fish and prawn in it. This one was a bit too flaky and coarse for me, and a little on the expensive side as well. Spice was moderate.
The stir fried vegetables were nice, not too oily or salty and was light on the palate. My only gripe was that they replaced the almond flakes stated in the menu with cashew nuts without telling us – what if we were allergic to or detested cashews?
Service in general was pretty so-so, had to wait quite a bit to be served and for plates to be cleared.
Also, we had to pay S$1 for refillable (filtered) water. Found this to be a tad much, as most restaurants charge around S$0.30 to S$0.50 for water, if at all.
And as for the Teh Tarik (S$3.50), it was alright – it was pretty light and not too sweet, which I didn’t mind, but I can see why some people might be dissatisfied with this – as it is simply not ‘gao’ (thick/rich) enough. Ended up with the cold version of this as they got my order wrong.
For dessert, we shared a Chendol (S$4.90). The serving was pretty big, and the two of us were unable to finish it. Or perhaps it was just a bit too rich and milky (though the coconut milk tasted good). I liked that they put the gula melaka in a separate jar for you to control the sugar input, though I think I probably should have put more to make it tastier. I kind of prefer the more fusion kind of chendol where there are more ingredients though, like durian chendol or the Thai Express version with red rubies and jackfruit instead of red bean, so my thoughts on this might be a bit biased.
Overall the food quality and taste was not too bad, but I do think that the prices are a tad high. The rental probably played a part in that (maybe the prices would be much lower if it were at Seah Im opposite the road?). Though I suppose if you appreciate having decent ambience (air conditioning, not too noisy, staff to serve you etc) and are happy to pay S$15-$20 for a plate of nasi lemak/bojari etc, then this shouldn’t be much of a problem for you.
I did see quite a number of tables having the Fish Head Curry as well – perhaps I will go back sometime to try this, and the other stir fried dishes. They do have noodles and other ‘one dish meals’ on the menu as well, perhaps they are worth a shot!
Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk
Tel: +65 6271 9989
Open daily from 10am to 10pm.