12 September 2013

Lime House

I swear my eyes were blinking with excitement when I heard there is a new Caribbean restaurant near Chinatown.

After all, it's the first time we have a restaurant (and the one and only one so far) in Singapore that offers Carribean cuisine. Set up by a Trinidad native. I immediately googled where is Trinidad. The fastest air ticket from Singapore to Trinidad takes 30 hours *gasped*.

I was surprised to be able to get a reservation easily on a Friday night. The cosy restaurant is located at the last of the stretch of shophouses (same stretch as Esquina) along Jiak Chuan Road in Keong Saik/Chinatown area. I like the decor immediately even though it wasn't anything close to what I had imagined (I did have some fantasies that it will look like a movie set from Pirates of the Caribbean).The chill vibe and rustic decor offers a comforting respite from the hustle and bustle of a busy work week. 

There weren't a lot of items on the menu. A look at the drinks menu and Lychee Ooh Lala ($17, below) caught our attention immediately. A concoction of white rum, lychee liquer, lychee syrup, sugar syrup, lime juice, mint leaves and sprite, it did sound good. I liked that it wasn't very heavy on the bitterness and quite refreshing to drink.. Tasted some what like drinking a zesty lychee sprite. 

The food menu did not have any pictures of the dishes so we just went with what sounded nice. The sides ranged from $8 to $12 and the mains ranged from $24 to $34. 

We got Wings n' Tings ($12, below) as one of the sides. It's actually boneless chicken fillets which was a good thing otherwise it will be messy to eat. The chicken meat was a bit tough and it was accompanied by a slightly spicy salsa sauce that tasted very much like spiced barbecue sauce. Eating with my eyes closed confirmed that my palate was eating sweet barbecue chicken. I was hoping to find a more exotic taste hence it was a little disappointing that it tasted like chicken in smoky BBQ sauce. 3.5/5

The next side we got was the Slipper Lobster Cocktail ($15, below), which was avocado with marinated Slipper lobster served with mango and pineapple salsa. When the waiter served the plate, I actually asked, "What's this?". The lobster meat was in tiny pieces and mixed with cubes of mango and pineapple. In the centre was a big piece of avocado. Maybe I should have noted earlier that the description started with Avocado and the lobster was just a supporting role. 3.5/5

Moving on to the mains, we had the Caribbean Jerk chicken ($24, below) with textures of sweet potato and Jerk BBQ sauce. Jerk chicken which is native of Jamaican is done by dry-rubbing or wet-marinating the meat with a very hot spice mixture. The chicken was fork-tender and flavorful. However, we weren't very impressed with the Jerk BBQ sauce which tasted like normal smoky barbecue sauce. I can't fault them for this dish but it was just not within our expectations as we thought Jerk sauce should be spicy. 3.5/5

The last course The Catch of the Caribbean ($26, below) came with pan seared fish, coconut breaded prawns, pumpkin puree served with souscaille and Creole sauce. Visually impressive, it looks like a beach with a cave. The "beach sand" was actually the pumpkin puree.  The fish, again, tasted very familiar and after a while I thought it tasted like the steamed garoupa served during Chinese weddings. Again, there was nothing wrong with this dish. It was well executed but it was just that I was expecting a stronger, exotic and a more multi-dimensional taste. Somehow I felt the creamy pumpkin puree did not complement the fish well. I liked the prawns which had a subtle coconut taste. 3.75/5

Service could be faster and more attentive. Given that the place was quite empty on a Friday night, slow service is not exactly acceptable. My glass of water was never automatically refilled throughout the night. 

Overall, expect food that is cooked well but don't go there expecting exotic or unusual tastes. You won't get anything too crazy or mind-blowing. Caribbean cuisine is more familiar than I thought. For the record, I researched on what exactly is Carribean cuisine:
"Carribean cuisine is a fusion of African, Amerindian, European, East Indian and Chinese cuisine. These traditions were brought from the many homelands of this region's population. In addition, the population has created styles that are unique to the region. Traditional dishes include Caribbean goat stew, curries.(from Wikipedia)"
That probably explains the western and Asian traditional flavors of the dishes.

Although it didn't turn out as hyped as I initially thought it would be, the ambience of the restaurant is quite lovely for a "liming" session. Liming is a Caribbean urban term meaning hanging out with friends. They have a bar on the second level for some liming after dinner too. Personally, it was quite an eye opener to Caribbean cuisine. And I must count my blessings that I didn't have to fly for 30 hours to get to its hometown in order to try it. 

2 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089260 

Tel: 6222-3130

Website: http://www.limehouse.asia/

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