CreatureS, the hipster restaurant at Desker Road

Address: 120 Desker Road

Opening Hours: Tue-Thu 12.00 pm to 10.30 pm, Fri-Sat 12.00 pm to 11.30 pm, Sun 12.00 pm to 10.30 pm, Closed on Mon

Introduction

CreatureS, a restaurant that is just opened 8 July 2015, is a restaurant situated at the most hipster location ever imagined – Desker Road. Desker Road had a little history of being the notorious red light district, but don’t worry, it’s pretty clean and safe nowadays.

From the menu, CreatureS’ dishes appear to be mainly western, but most of them has a local Singapore twist. Their Durian Cake is very reputable on social media and dishes like the 5-Spice Roast Pork and Crabmeat Croissant seem pretty interesting to try too.

This restaurant appears to be rather small from the outside, but it’s another haven upon stepping into it. The dining ambiance is set in a spa-like environment with a well-thought greenery placement at every corner of the restaurant with a lingering fragrance of essential oil. Seems like much thoughts had been put in to engage all our five senses at CreatureS and the relaxing dining environment is something that instantly appeals to me.

CreatureS Menu – Click to enlarge

Crabmeat Croissant ($26.00++)

Among the main courses, this is my favourite – Crab Meat Croissant. It’s actually more of a Crabmeat salad with Croissant though.  The portion of shredded crab meat is served cold in a Japanese Salad Dressing, Sasame Oil and Mayonaise with Coriander bits.

They are rather generous on the portion of the crab meat, however it comes at a price tag of $26.00++. The Croissant is served warm and crisp, baked in melted cheese, and the dish is complete by topping the dish with an egg benedict. As someone that likes coriander, i especially like the hint of coriander fragrance in the mix.

Ah Ma Chicken Ah Gong Noodle ($22.00++)

This dish has a rather interesting name, which suggested the dish to have a simple but homely taste. The noodle has a soft bouncy texture and the flavour comes from the simple shallot oil. It’s not exactly exciting when eaten by itself. As for the fried chicken, the portion is big, however I feel that it doesn’t justify it’s price tag of $22.

It tasted like a typical Taiwan chicken cutlet, crispy, juicy and satisfying, but my friend find that the portion is a little too big and cloying for his liking. It may be better to reduce the size of the cutlet, increase the portion of the noodle, and reduce the price tag by a little.

Zhu Burger ($23.00++)

Zhu actually means pig in mandarin so to put it simply,  this is a pork burger. It comes with a thick minced pork patty, a side salad and a good portion of fries. The salad dressing is too salty for my liking, although i pretty much like the taste of it.

The interesting part is they added Chinese Pickled Vegetable into the burger  patty and it reminded me of the steamed pork patty that we had at the mixed vegetable rice stall, but with a more sophisticated taste. The pork patty is well cooked, moist, however it is not exceptional and doesn’t leave an impression.

Durian Cake ($12.00++)

Although CreatureS has only started their operation a couple of months back, some on the social media had already branded this as the best Durian Cake in Singapore.  To be able to enjoy this highly sort after cake, it’s best to email them to make a reservation (for the cake) before making a trip down.

I can’t decide if this is the best Durian Cake in Singapore but i thought this cake is pretty well done up. Fresh Durian Meat is stacked between layers of lightly sweetened pandan sponge cake topped with a layer of luscious vanilla cream. This cake is not exactly a cake that is packed with nothing but chunks of Durian and Durian but more of a cake that is more balanced in term of cake and Durian ratio so do manage the expectation (although it appears otherwise on photo). If only the cake can be a little more moist.

Conclusion

The price of the dishes here is a little higher than average with their main courses offering from $22.00 to $32.00 before tax. Among the main courses that I tried, my vote goes to the Crab Croissant while the other two doesn’t impress as much. Some names of the dishes are actually more interesting than it taste but the Durian cake does leave an impression. Will i be back? Yes probably, to try out their five-spice roast pork and their Orh Nee Cake, which is unavailable during my visit. *sad*

Actually, the one thing that I like the most is in fact the dining ambiance, without the usual hustle and bustle of a busy and cramped cafe.  I enjoyed the dining ambiance than the food experience itself. My five cents worth of opinion – CreatureS has very good potential and stood out among the existing cafes, but maybe they just need to work on and tweak the menu a little bit to make it even better.

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Canteen 398 at Seletar, the disappearing piece of history of Singapore

Canteen 398 at Seletar, the disappearing piece of history of Singapore

Address: 398 Piccadilly

Opening hour: Mon to Fri 6.00am to 4.00pm, Sat 6.00am to 12.00pm, Closed on Sun

Food stall only opens till lunch time

Introduction

An army friend brought me to this canteen in Seletar Camp during my reservist period. It does not has a proper name and signboard, and people known this place as Canteen 398. I was very captivated by it’s ambience and atmosphere so I decided to write about it.

Went back to Canteen 398 in the morning to capture it’s morning glory

At a glance, you won’t be able to guess that it’s actually a functioning canteen

This canteen consist of three stalls – the drink stall, and a stall selling mixed vegetable rice and the third selling Malay food. I was there nearing to their closing time at about 4pm and only the drink stall is open so i didn’t have a chance to try out the food.

History of Canteen 398

Canteen 398 is a piece of vanishing history of Singapore. This place is situated in the vicinity of an army camp, Seletar Camp, but is open to public and is accessible by car without subjecting to any security check.

The history of this building goes all the way back to our post world war two era when Singapore is still under the colonisation of Britain. This building was used by the British army as their Corporal Mess. This building was subsequently converted to a Canteen in Year 1969 and the structure and interior of the canteen has been retained till now.

The Canteen

The interior design of Canteen 398 brings you back in time to a typical coffee shop in the early 1990s when solid wooden top table and red stackable chairs are still widely used. The old school mosaic tiles flooring and the unpolished wall and ceiling look are widely mimicked by our cafes nowadays. While exposed cable trunking and dangling cable is a big taboo for interior design nowadays, Canteen 398 serves us a reminder that such minor details do not matter back in those simpler days.

Even at a warm afternoon at 4pm, i felt a sense of serenity while I was seeping my Teh-C at the outdoor stone table. Sitting at the “al-fresco” area under a hundred years old tree, and away from the city and crowd gives an entire different meaning to the term “chilling”. I don’t think such a place like Canteen 398 can be found at anywhere else in Singapore.

Conclusion

The progress of Singapore is scarily fast and there is almost nothing to identify our childhood with. Yes, we do preserve the old, but only if it makes any commercial sense. Like our Kampong Buangkok, the last kampong in Singapore, eventually still has to make way for future development.

Coming here to Canteen 398 gives me a sense of closeness to this place although it’s only my first visit. It offers a glimpse of Singapore’s humble past when things are not as perfect and not as comfortable as today. However during then, everyone learnt to enjoy life’s simple pleasure.

If you are there, do have a chat with the drink stall owner Mr Toh. He’s really a friendly chap and i love his enthusiasm in introducing the Canteen’s history to us.

Given the current cafe hopping culture in a clean, air-conditioned environment, i like to highlight that Canteen 398 is definitely not the place for everyone. There is no fancy food menu to rave about and also no squeaky clean environment to talk about. However the experience at Canteen 398 is one of a kind in Singapore. You either hate it or you love it, and it’s definitely the later for me.

PS: I hope I don’t sound like an old man. I have readers who thought that I am in my late 40s. *faint* 

Direction 1 (by public transport)

Take bus 103 at Serangoon interchange and alight at After Baker Street, Seletar Aerospace Drive, 22 stops later.

Direction 2 (by public transport)

Take a train to Sengkang MRT and transfer to LRT and alight at Thanggam LRT. Take a short 5 minutes walk to Jalan Kayu shop house and board bus 103.  Alight at After Baker Street, Seletar Aerospace Drive, 4 stops later.