Saturday, August 04, 2007

Whose House Is It Anyway?

Even before fusion food became trendy, the Japanese were putting a unique spin on everything. Anyone who has tried Japanese curry will attest to that. Of course, the Hainanese in Singapore have done much the same thing, with Hainanese pork chop and Hainanese-Singaporean borscht. Still, I think the Japanese are masters at the hyperreal, right down to the decor.

Ma Maison at Central is a good example of this. Styled like a traditional British inn, this self-proclaimed (in kanji or Chinese characters over the front entrance) Japanese-style Western food restaurant was intentionally twee*, from the furniture, to the crockery, to the use of "room keys" to number the tables.

* and, amazingly, without any sense of irony!

medieval torture implements?

We were there as part of HM's ongoing quest for the perfect burger. From experience, we have learnt that the Japanese who treat their food oh so seriously are more than likely to use good quality beef in their hamburgers. Sadly, Cafe Rosso in Holland Village which had our vote for best Japanese burger in Singapore closed down recently. And HM had unearthed a good review of Ma Maison's burgers on one of the local food blogs. Perhaps we would find a replacement for Cafe Rosso.

Here's what we ordered:

escargot (snails in butter)

large hamburger with brown sauce

beef stroganoff with omu (omelette) rice

In the end, we enjoyed the food and the experience much in the same way as we enjoy going to Sloane Court, Shashlik or any of the Hainanese Western food eateries, with more than a touch of amusement, a guilty pleasure really. Not that the food wasn't good - it was certainly good enough, but in a junk food sort of way. The beef stroganoff was a big hit. HM couldn't get enough of it, especially the omu rice (which she usually does not like) with the sauce. The hamburger though did not quite meet her stringent conditions. I quite liked the dish myself but she thought it was a tad mushy, preferring a little more bite to her burger patties. The much-vaunted brown sauce (brewed for 28 days, according to the menu) was also a little too salty for her liking. Still, it was the totality of the experience, more than any specific "ingredient" that made it a good night out.

P.S. The bill came up to $52 inclusive of all taxes.



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