After walking past Coffee and Toast at CityLink just outside Singapore’s City Hall train station countless of times, I finally seized the opportunity to try their food for lunch. It constantly looks packed whenever I pass by, so I was curious as to what their food tastes like.
Coffee and Toast is a modern coffee shop that’s conveniently located near to the train station. It’s a relatively smaller establishment compared to the nearby restaurants – square footage-wise.
As I scanned through the menu, the Chicken Rendang caught my eye. As chicken rendang is one of my favorite Southeast Asian dishes, I decided to try it out.
Before taking a bite into my lunch, I had a feeling that it’ll be absolutely delicious when I first saw my plate. I was pleasantly surprised with the portions of all the elements on my plate. They looked absolutely delectable from first impressions – and they taste good too!
The chicken rendang isn’t reminiscent to a traditional rendang – it’s similar to Chinese herbs and spices, but it isn’t spicy and the flavors are very mild. The chicken itself tastes like it’s been cooked with Chinese spices. It’s very tender, that the meat falls right off the bone! To add a spicy kick, I combined the chicken, curry and sambal chili sauce. It is somewhat a fusion of Chinese and Southeast Asian flavors.
The sides are the achar, fried anchovies and peanuts, and a spicy sambal chili sauce.
Achar is an Asian pickled veggie salad, but I call it the ‘Asian coleslaw’ as it’s served cold. It’s a common accompaniment to Southeast Asian dishes. The achar adds a bit of acidity and a refreshing touch to the dish which I loved.
As for the anchovies and peanuts, they are fried very well. The anchovies aren’t overly salty – they complement the dish well by being the crunchy element. While anchovies are perceived to look and taste nasty by many people (I’m not too huge of a fan myself!), they are common in Asian food. They could be fried – like this instance – or they could be grinded and included in sauce pastes to elevate flavors in curries.
As every coffee shop and restaurant will have their own special rendang recipes, it’s not surprising that this rendang is different. Also, each region in Southeast Asia (specifically Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia) may possess their own versions of a rendang. A regular Southeast Asian chicken rendang comprises of ingredients including grated coconut, coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and chili.
In fact, this chicken rendang seems that it represents Singapore on a plate – where a myriad of cultures and tastes converge to create something new and unique. Singapore is home to a plethora of foods, cultures and shops from around the world.