Written By G. Heavily edited by J. 😀
The Mall: The New Wing of Parkway Parade. The Restaurants: Ya Kun Kaya Toast, Mad Jack, Scoopz and Jollibean – chosen due to their covering of the four basic Singaporean mall restaurant stand-bys: Local, Western, Dessert and Fluorescent Soy Product To Go.
Restaurants are listed in the order we ate at them.
1. Ya Kun Kaya Toast
Probably one of the more iconic home-grown chains along with Old Chang Kee and uncles pushing ice cream carts, Ya Kun Kaya Toast calls itself: The Toast That Binds. Their food is pretty damn good.
The Kaya Balls are pretty wonderful; warm fluffy balls of dough filled with hot kaya inside that are extremely more-ish. I couldn’t stop myself from filling my mouth with ball after ball of kaya goodness until I resembled Marlon Brando in The Godfather Part One. They really are very good. The only thing I can think of to improve the Kaya Ball is to offer it unlimited. For a golden price of course.
Astonishingly, I somehow found room after eating about 17,000 of their delicious kaya balls to sample their Nasi Lemak and Mee Siam. I am anti-egg, regarding the oval white object as THE FOOD OF THE DARK ONE HIMSELF, so we ordered the local favourites sans the usual fried and boiled egg. They really are excellent interpretations of the Singapore classic dishes, plus only a couple of dollars more expensive then their hawker centre cousins, but of far superior quality. The coconut rice on the Nasi Lemak especially was creamy, pungent, and delicious.
Scoopz has been around for a long time, since 1996 in fact, which makes Scoopz the only remaining organisation in Marine Parade to still be around from that time with the exception of the PAP (Oooh, politics!). Evidently, Scoopz must be doing something right to have fought off competition from brash new-comers like Haagen Dazs and Swensens. Scoopz is the confident cougar of Singapore’s ice-cream world, effortlessly kicking the ass of the pretty but superficial upstarts with one well-aimed kick from its red stiletto. Their menu has a variety of exciting looking options – a chocolate lava cake looked at me seductively from behind the glass counter – but we stuck with the ice cream while Ya Kun’s Kaya Balls were still traveling through our system. The list of flavours available reads longer than the list of potential surcharges applicable from a CBD area taxi ride, but we focused on the Jackfruit flavour, Rum and Raisin and the newly introduced Sea Salted Caramel. All three of these were extremely good, but a special mention must go to the Salted Caramel flavour for being a pleasing blend of sweet and savoury, and to the Rum and Raisin flavour for happily containing a surprisingly strong alcohol content that kept us smiling until the mall security took us away.
3. Mad Jack
The manager of Mad Jack in Parkway Parade is neither mad, nor named Jack, which came as a relief since the mentally deficient have not required a reputation for culinary excellence – at least not outside of the United States. Instead, the manager is a nice young man called Arun who talked us through some of the options available on the menu and is the kind of man that you can imagine bringing home to meet your parents. We didn’t have the chance to introduce Arun to my mother (it was getting late), but we did gorge ourselves on not one, but two (!) courses from their extensive menu.
In actual fact, this was the second time I had dined at Mad Jack this week, after taking some colleagues to their Simpang Bedok branch just a few days ago. On that encounter I had ordered their famous Blue Mountain burger: a Tower of Babel made up of beef patties and buns. It’s truly an astonishing sight, although I don’t know how anybody could eat this 8-9 inch tall burger without surgically removing their lower jaw. At the time I removed the layers and split the Blue Mountain burger up into 2 more manageable halves, though even this makes so-called rivals like the “Big Mac” or “Whopper” look like the side salad of an anorexic’s mid-morning snack.
Unable to order a second Blue Mountain burger that week due to a fear of contracting Type Two Diabetes, I instead opted for the fish and chips which was a perfectly decent reproduction of the British favourite. My expectations have always been low in regards to Asian interpretations of fish and chips (normally the batter is all wrong or the “chips” are more like anaemic fries), but astonishingly this was probably the second-best fish and chips I have had in SIngapore outside specialist fish and chip eatery Smith’s. The batter was light and consistent, and the accompanying apple and peach salad actually worked in refreshing the palate in between stuffing my fat mouth full of chips. My dining companion’s black pepper rib steak also looked pleasing, and the mashed potato that I stole from her plate when she went to the bathroom was also very good (quite similar to the equally good mash at Kenny Roger’s Roasters).
Against all the possible laws of physics, I was even able to squeeze a dessert in after all of this food, which was equally humongous. The Pavlova arrived like a confectionary version of someone’s breats: huge, pink, bulging and full of cream. It was also covered in fruit. It was a dessert truly fit for a King, or at the least a landed Duke or Earl, and could easily feed two people – so God alone knows how we also ate a Banana Crumble that was also good but was overshadowed by the Pavlova.
After dining at three establishments we were beginning to look like slightly taller versions of the Oompa-Loompas from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. However, we did need something cooling in our hand to brave the non air-conditioned horrors of the world beyond the mall, so we grabbed a “J Special” – a green soya milk concoction. Soya milk drinks are not normally my forte (I prefer my Mr Bean on TV rather than in a plastic cup), but the Special J is one of the better soy drinks on offer and it mixes it up by a covering of red Japanese beans that look like they could create a beanstalk to another world if cast into the sea. Jollibean also have a number of fluffy bread products similar to the Ya Kun Kaya Balls that looked appetizing, but by now our stomachs were full. We left Parkway Parade and fell into the back of a cab where we fell into a sugar-induced coma – proud at our day’s stringent reviewing and ready to begin a week-long juice fast.