I thought this place would bring back fond memories, because way before it became Rendezvous Hotel, this restaurant occupied the ground floor and I used to come here for Sunday lunch with my family almost every week. That was ages ago, but I remember that it had swinging wooden doors, like a Wild West saloon, and it serve one of the best chicken curries ever.
When M told me recently that the restaurant was still around and it had just moved to the second floor, I was pretty excited but alas, it was quite a disappointment when we were here on Saturday. The saloon door was gone, and although they tried to retain some old school tables and chairs, the food itself was a pale replica of its former self.
We ordered the sayur lodeh, chicken curry, beef rendang, curried chicken liver and some fried beans and tau kwa that was ambiguously called sambal goreng. Among these, only the rendang was good – it was tender and the rempah was quite flavourful. Everything else was lacklustre at best. The sayur lodeh was tasteless (the colour should’ve given me a clue), the sambal goreng was bland, and while the liver was quite creamy, the curry itself was quite flat.
I had high expectations for the chicken, but it was a letdown as well. I don’t know if the years have raised my standards, or whether time has dulled my memory, but I’m almost certain this can’t have been the curry that kept us going back week after week. The gravy was half-hearted, and the chicken hadn't absorbed much of the curry flavour. It almost tasted like plain boiled chicken with curry poured over it as an afterthought. I’ll take the chicken curry at River Valley Nasi Padang any day.
Actually, insipid is the word that springs to mind when I think about the food in general. It wasn’t bad, it was just…blah. The curries weren’t spicy, weren’t rich, weren’t anything really. It felt franchised, like the chef was just going through the motions and following a recipe, but there somehow wasn’t any soul or personality to the food.
Prices are far from reasonable as well – we paid a hefty $34 for lunch. I guess this place caters to tourists who want an “authentic” nasi padang, or families who want to dine in air-conditioned comfort. For me, I’m definitely not going back. In fact, now I need to go to River Valley soon to remind myself how good nasi padang can be.
Beef rendang was good, but everything else was very blah. So not worth it.
Rendezvous Restaurant Hock Lock Kee
#02-02/03 Hotel Rendezvous Gourmet Gallery
9 Bras Basah Road