I asked A to pick a dinner place at Marina Square tonight, but when he suggested Hippopotamus Grill, I thought he’d gone a bit loony. I was under the impression that this was another Malaysian chain restaurant, like Meatworks, so it was with some trepidation and very muted expectations that I approached the Hippo.
I’m ashamed to admit that I got it all wrong. Firstly, it’s a bona fide French chain, and more importantly, the food is actually pretty decent for the price. We started with the roasted bone marrow served with buttered toast. The marrow was well seasoned, but I think it was also roasted for a tad too long, because the marrow had started to render quite a bit of fat. Good effort, but I wouldn’t order it again.
We’d read some good things about their steak tartare, and I saw that they also had an option of a grilled tartare – their steak tartare already mixed with the egg, capers and other condiments, then very lightly seared on both sides. This is probably sacrilege to steak tartare connoisseurs, but for someone like me who still finds pure steak tartare a little too queasy, this is a perfect compromise.
The meat was roughly hand-minced so it still had some texture, it was well seasoned, and the beef itself was very flavourful. The grill added a nice smoky char, and also cooked the surface just enough to add some bite, yet still retaining the raw interior. Essentially, this was a very tasty, perfectly rare burger patty.
A ordered the Hippo burger, which had sautéed onions and gruyere cheese. The patty was a bit too thin to impart a whole lot of beefy flavour, and there wasn’t enough cheese either. Still, at $14.90 you can’t really ask for too much. The side salad had a kick-ass vinaigrette, but the potato gratin was a bit ordinary.
A was feeling quite retro, so we ordered the molten chocolate cake for dessert. I found this alright, but A was somewhat disappointed, mainly by the ice cream.
Because I came with absolutely no expectations, this turned out to be a pleasant surprise. They have a decent array of steaks here at fairly reasonable prices, and I’m quite keen to come back to try them. Maybe we’ll do a taste test of their premium vs non-premium steaks, to see if we can really taste the difference.
Unlike C, I had higher expectations for this place. But things started looking bleak when I arrived and saw the very open layout. Still for want of anywhere else as interesting in Marina Square, we decided to give it a try.
All things considered, it was a pretty good meal. The service was good. The seared steak tartare was great, but the Hippo burger disappointed for lack of cheesy flavour. The biggest disappointment was the rock hard ice cream with my molten chocolate cake.
Still, the steak selection looked very interesting so we’ll probably be back at least once to try them. I’ll reserve final judgement until then except to say that if ambience is a big thing for you, then maybe you should give this place a miss.
Hippopotamus Restaurant Grill
6 Raffles Boulevard
Open daily: 11 am to 10 pm