4 more days to Christmas! Well, if you are planning ahead for say, Valentine’s Day, we have just the place to recommend to you today. On our menu today (pardon the pun) is CreatureS, tucked in a corner diagonally from Jalan Berseh food centre, and along Desker Road, you won’t know what you’re missing out until you stop and notice this 4 – 5 month old eatery!
Located in a nondescript shophouse, CreatureS is somewhat of a hidden gem, nestled right next to a old-school metalworks shop in the conservation area of Desker Road, while being closed to the heartlands as well as HDBs stand by the side of it. Here, creature comfort is their main aim, so don’t let its surrounding deceive you – serving up a delightful array of scrumptious fusion food, including Ikan Bilis Caesar Salad and Italian Yong Tau Fu, CreatureS combines a east-meets-west cuisine to create something unique and utterly delightful.
We started our food journey with a Roast Duck and Pear salad; succulent roast duck and crisp Chinese pear combined with butterhead lettuce, and lightly drizzled with sweet plum dressing. Served with 2 pieces of crunchy prawn keropok, the trick is to crack the crackers ontop of the salad so as to prevent getting crumbs all over the place, and paired with a piece of duck, pear, and lettuce, all the elements combined together wonderfully, with the gamey duck being complemented by the thick, sticky sauce nicely and the lettuce, pear and keropok adding a lovely crunchiness to the whole thing. In all, this fresh, light salad was an excellent start to the meal.
With a quirky name as such, the fried chicken and noodles might not have been the most visually interesting of all the dishes that we tried, but that didn’t mean that it was a let down in any way. With a light spicy coating given to the succulent, crispy fried chicken, that went perfectly with the slightly salty chinchalok mayonnaise. To even out the taste of the rich flavours, the noodles that accompanied this dish were simply tossed in shallots and shallot oil, giving it a light taste, reminiscent of Sarawak’s Kolo mee or soba even. Generally, this grouping was a great mix of textures and flavours that worked brilliantly together.
From the Ah Gong Chicken and Ah Ma Noodles, we moved onto the cod – a rendition of the traditional nasi ulam with Japanese influence for the cod. Two herb rice balls, a piece of cod cooked to golden perfection, and a side of glazed cucumbers were beautifully presented before us, with the rice balls coated with lightly roasted grated coconuts. The fish was lightly coated in sweet miso overnight, which caused the sweetness of the cod to be enhanced greatly by it. Interestingly, the rice balls were mixed with lemongrass, bits of cucumber and belachan as well, which made quite an impression on us as the robust flavours melded well together, and especially so when you paired it with the moist and flaky fish as it softens the rice to be more palatable.
For those of you who fear fatty meat, you don’t know what you are missing with this dish then! A classic Peranakan dish, you can find this at Peranakan restaurants, although seldom do they cook it as well as CreatureS. Stewed to the point that the fat is soft and tender that a gentle tug from the fork was enough to pull them apart, it is surprisingly how to get this softness, the lean meat portion is not overdone till it gets stringy. Although the layer of oil in this dish might cause you to hesitate further, the gravy is so well-made that we are pretty certain that you would finish every last drop of it with the baguette or even on its own, because unlike the traditional version, the fermented soy bean paste isn’t as heavy and salty, so you can be sure you won’t be reaching out to down those glasses of water in the mean time!
A sharing platter for 2 or more, the home made ngoh hiang and cuttlefish kueh pie ti is certainly something not to be missed here. Coated with a salty beancurd skin, which can be pretty difficult to process, it is the generous filling inside the ngoh hiang that had us thinking about this dish even after a few days. Unlike certain places that tend to add flour to the filling to give it a starchy and much fuller fill, the rolls that we get here are truly filled with a mixture of minced pork and prawns, and minced to the point that you get bits of respective texture, rather than just as a paste.
For the kueh pie ti, the shredded radish filling were well-cooked – soft, moist and not overcooked nor causing the crispy shells to turn soggy and chewy. Hence, every bite retained a good flavour, peppered with the umami taste of finely shredded cuttlefish, and a fiery kick when eaten with the bright red chilli paste. Though the taste of the cuttlefish stands out and complemented the radish filling, we felt that it may not be a taste for everyone, particularly if you aren’t accustomed to the briny and strong taste of dried cuttlefish.
Other than the sharing platters, the sides here are great for just that purpose too, although some of us may end up polishing more than others. They are, however, a perfect example of fusion cuisine too, such as the above Asian herb fries, which can easily triumph over truffle fries any day. Coated in a sweet five-spice blend, which we detected nutmeg within, and served with excellent kaffir lime mayo for a tangy taste, it is truly a taste experience that is as unique as it is exciting.
Comprising of chilli, aubergine and okra that were stuffed with herb feta cheese, this seriously looked like yong tau fu when it was served, but on closer look, you would realise that there is no fish paste present. There is a slight hint of garlic and butter to the seared vegetables, which each gave off an individualistic flavour that balances nicely with the cheese. For a much robust taste and texture, do have them with the balsamic vingear that adorns the base of the dish, as we felt that without the tanginess, the taste may seem a little flat.
Moving away from the excellent savoury foods, we head on to the sweet desserts, which proved to be as delectable as everything else we had here. If you think you’ve tried durian cake before, the one here might just surprise you. Similar to the Peranakan Durian Pengat, which is cooked durian custard, the durian filling lovingly sandwiched in-between the light pandan sponge cake contained nary of the scent of essence which you may have encountered with cakes elsewhere. How do we know this? The fact that strands of durian fibre is evident, plus the fact that you get to taste what durian connoisseurs may say “bitterness” of the flesh goes to show just how much of the real thing there is!
We admit, our photo does no justice to this chocolate cake, but in reality, this was a real standout. Picture thick, dark bitter chocolate sponge cake soaking on a warm, homemade caramel and lightly salted with a pinch pink sea salt – in your mouth, this is a medley of saltiness, sweetness and bitterness, all coming together to form a somewhat familiar taste, akin to gula melaka or even kaya. This could have been due to the wonderful serving of coconut ice cream lending that all-too-familiar coconut flavour, as what you get really is a myriad of taste coming altogether in a single dessert! We sincerely love how the ice cream does a fantastic job of cleansing the palate after the gooey, sticky and downright decadent cake, and yes, it is as great as it sounds.
We were pleasantly surprised when this was served to us – Coconut Affogato, which isn’t found on the menu by the way. Topped with a shot of hot espresso, the roasted aroma hits you fully in every bite, mellowing out as you get to the coconut ice cream. Not too heavy on the tastebuds, it makes for a good end to the meal if that’s where you want to stop at.
Before you think you’ll end up being a mosquito repellent, this drink is far more sophisticated than that! Indeed, the scent of lemongrass greets you almost immediately, but at the same time, it drafts up the imagination of one being by the beach during the evenings. With a slight dry and tart aftertaste, it also bears hints of lemon and delicate ginger, which beautifully balances out a mild salty taste that you get on the tongue, sip after sip.
A rum-based drink whereby you are supposed to stir the foam with the sprig of rosemary, we had some difficulty doing so, and hence gave up. The base layer is a sweet concoction due to the rum, and the fragrance of the rosemary atop the cream froth adds a herbal feel to the drink. In a way, it felt like a deconstructed creamy rum drink, coming together in a matrimony that titillates the senses. However, if you do get the froth to mix well with the base, the interesting flavour that comes to (we aren’t kidding you) is something that taste like root beer – albeit with a Chinese herbal twist to it (think Jia Jia Liang Teh if you like).
The one and only drink which confused us for the night, this is a mixture of sake, umeshu, and yuzu juice, with bits of plum and pear inside. Despite giving this a good mix, we couldn’t really taste the sake nor umeshu, which would be good if these alcohol are something you do not fancy. There is a slight salty taste to this drink, which strangely doesn’t sit well, and in our opinion, perhaps the proportions could be adjusted slightly, with more sweet umeshu added, so at least the cocktail would be much more pleasant in taste.
The look of CreatureS seems completely at odds with its surroundings, nestled in an industrial looking area of Singapore.
With a grey exterior as the shop front, the interior of this restaurant is surprisingly a mix of both worlds – see-sawing between a very rustic, old timey feel, as well as classy and modernistic take with textures gracing the walls and wood grained counters and chairs for the first floor. Walk up to the second floor, and you will find soft lighting, comfortable chairs and dark wooden tables topped with flowers to add a dash of colour – enveloped in a pleasing aroma of lemongrass from the oils that sit on the corners of the floors, giving off a soft yellow glow. The entire atmosphere suits the food to a T; tasteful, soft and gorgeous. There is also an open-air alfresco area, which is great on a cooling evening – do take note though, this is a non-smoking establishment!
Sure, it’s not located in the CBD or even Orchard Road, and for the price, it may seem a little steep. We would, however, like to recommend this place for special occasions, as the ambience and the taste of food served is really something that we quite enjoyed. Over a candlelight or two, you can get to enjoy a cosy meal with your loved ones. On top of that, very rarely could you get fusion Peranakan cooking (as the Bibiks will most probably cobbler you for even the suggestion of it!), and there is a sense of homeliness to the establishment, noticeable not only in the food served, but also by the warmth and friendliness of the staff and the owners of the place whom we noticed went table to table to check about diner’s experience. The portions that are served are also pretty decent too, so in our opinion, the price is high, but they make it up for the quality, quantity and the overall experience!
We are giving away 5 x sets of CreatureS Chocolate Cake!
To win: 1. Like our Facebook post. 2. Tell us: What would you like to tryout at CreatureS? (It can be something that we didn’t have!)