Underwhelming Singaporean fare at PO, Singapore

We chose PO based on some really great reviews & recommendations. It is the main restaurant in the newly opened Warehouse Hotel, which underwent a full renovation in January 2017. It is a stunning, meticulously-restored heritage building right on the river front in the Robertson Quay area. It was the venue for our ninth Supper Club & given the impressive surroundings & reputation I went in with high hopes.

We arrived a little early & so enjoyed some great drinks in the main lobby bar, which is a beautiful space with a lovingly designed bar & some excellent cocktails. We moved through to PO at around 8pm & with our group of 14, we had 2 large tables to ourselves. We had, in advance, dealt with the team [who are excellent] & they recommended a set menu that we opted for. At 75++ & seemingly offering a good selection of dishes, it felt like a reasonably priced evening.

Sadly, with the odd exception, I found the food rather underwhelming. PO positions itself as a restaurant that elevates favourite Singaporean food to another level. Whilst the venue & decor certainly was impressive the food itself was not consistently good enough given this ambition.

We started out with what was the highlight & their signature dish. It was titled the Classic Popiah Platter. For those in the know, a Popiah is a favourite amongst Singaoreans & is essentially a soft dough pancake filled with all sorts of goodies, wrapped up & then enjoyed. In PO they present it beautifully, in stacked steaming bamboo boxes. There is a also a fun card that talks each guest how to go about compiling the little pancake. We filled ours with lettuce, an array of spices, garlic, hot sauce & chilli before topping it off with a stunning, heavily stewed julienned vegetable treat, which i’m convinced had some small prawns in. Once all is packed in, you have the job of rolling it before enjoying the end result. It was absolutely delicious, fun to make & a really lovely way to start the meal.

IMG_4233What then followed were a selection of small dishes. This included little Truffle & Duck Pie Tees, which are like little pastry shells filled with vegetables & in this instance duck pieces. It was really enjoyable finger food. Alongside it came another fabulous dish – Squid Ink Prawn with Salted Egg Sauce. Generous, juicy prawns blackened by the squid ink, sitting on a wonderfully rich egg yolk sauce with little bits of crispy something. It was IMG_4232delicious. The final nibble was PO’s version of Ngoh Hiang which is a bit like a spring roll, where traditionally meat or vegetable is rolled in bean curd skin & fried. To be honest i would have preferred that, but in PO the bean curd skin is deep fried on its own [lIMG_4235ooking a bit like chicken skin, just a lot less tasty] & accompanied with sauces & lotus flower. It was so, so.

After these small plates came the main courses & this is where in
my opinion things went downhill. One of the reasons for this was that every dish came out independent of one another meaning you never really felt you ever had a complete dish. I would have loved to enjoy the different dishes together.

We started with Cold Kailan & Kale which, as the name suggests, is

a cold vegetable dish. It was pretty small for a table of 7 hungry guests so it went quickly & as a stand alone dish was forgettable. Next up came the Spicy Tamarind Barramundi. This was a well spiced, tasty dish. My fish was cooked well but there was a majority vote that the barramundi had been overcooked. But again, it would have been so much more enjoyable with some lovely accompaniments rather than on its own. We then had Sambal Forest Mushrooms which was a rich, mushroom & onion dish with a soft poached egg that was beaten in. Again, lovely but a bit samey on its own. The final dish was what I assumed to be the big finale. Carabinero Prawns & Konbu Mee. It is an interpretation of the classic Hawker Food, Hokkien Char Mee [fried prawn noodles]. It had posher, bigger prawns & a more refined plate of friend noodles, but frankly it still tasted like the $2 dish at any Hawker.

IMG_4239The meal was finished with perhaps the weakest dish of the evening – pudding. It was a play on the classic Italian pud, called Halia PannaCotta. It lacked the lovely creaminess of the original, but was instead verging on rubbery & it had the familiar Singaporean Tarik tea flavour. I understand it was all about reinvented Singaporean classics but my god, I’d take a true Panna Cotta over that any time.

I would not rush back to PO. The hotel is stunning & the bar a real hit but sadly PO just didn’t deliver enough tasty dishes for me. Real shame.

PO, The Warehouse Hotel, 320 Havelock Road, Singapore


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