South Bay Bistro (CLOSED)
Time Out says
This place suffers from the same thing many destination restaurants suffer from – great space, lack of taste. A small passageway into a basement leads you to a Southeast Asian-inspired dining room, with walls of glass looking out on a lush green patio littered with bed-sized loungers, potted plants and coconut lanterns. For anyone who’s been to House in the foodie neighborhood of Dempsey Road in Singapore, this place will seem like the mini-me version. It’s much prettier at night, when the lights go on, than it is in the afternoon. Though the space is decked out with comfortable modern outdoor furniture, the patio could use the help of soft lighting to disguise the unkempt look. For example, the lovely signs of nature’s debris can be found stained on the new furnishings. We opted for an inside table, away from the army of ants.
Overlooking the serene patio, we ordered spicy papaya salad loaded with prawns and capsicum ($68). While not spicy, it was very fresh, seemingly made to order rather than sat in a vat of sauce (as we know happens at many Thai places around town). However, the prawns were slightly rubbery and probably of the frozen variety. Overall though, the dish was non-offensive and great for people with unseasoned tongues – but certainly not for those who’ve ever been to Bangkok. The mixed satay platter ($68) was a great big plate of seared chicken and beef on sticks; the nutty satay sauce carried the dish, while a cooling side of carrot sticks in a coriander yogurt sauce made for a nice refresher.
Another 30 minutes went by before our mains arrived, a symptom of relaxed Southern living we guess. A mild laksa ($98) loaded with fish balls, fried tofu, prawns, bean sprouts and rice stick noodles was a pleasant surprise, though invite a Singaporean to dine here (which we did) and you’ll get naught but sneers. The thick soup was light and hardy at the same time; light on flavour, thick with coconut milk. While we’ve never seen rice stick noodles used in laksa before, it usually comes with flat noodles, what we were really missing was a kick, perhaps we would get that with the next dish. The pad thai ($88) was a mountain of flat rice noodles, eggs, torn up chicken thighs, and onion. The dressing of tiny dried shrimp was immediately noticed, both in fragrance and in physicality, but the dish was, again, mild in flavour with the exception of the shrimp overload.
We ended our meal with a sweet murtabak ($58), a layered crepe-like pie usually made with minced mutton and eaten with a curry dip. “This is a bastardised version,” our Singaporean friend said. “I’ve never seen it with coconut and nuts.” We could see what she meant; the pie was, after all, Jackson Pollocked with a chocolate squirter. The highlight of the meal was two cups of teh tarik, or pulled tea. Our Indian chef came around and frothed out sugary spiced tea made with condensed milk by pouring it between two tins at arm’s length. Great showmanship, which also serves the function of aerating the tea. The froth was killer but, in keeping with the overall theme, it was not too sweet and not too spicy. More taste please. Alan Wong
Lower Level, 2 South Bay Rd, Repulse Bay, 2803 1644. Meal for two: around $390. Tues-Thu, Sun noon-3pm, 6pm-10pm, Friday & Sat noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm.