New Kid on the Block - Food Republic
The hottest mass foodbuzz on Orchard Road these days has got to be George Quek's latest venture, FOOD REPUBLIC, on Level 4 of Wisma Atria.
Unlike the usual shopping mall food-centre (i.e. boring food-stall counters, plastic chairs, bright flourescent lighting, no ambience whatsoever), Food Republic (which occupies at least 75% of this 4th floor) is modelled on a 60s thru' 70s theme with warm yellow lighting, lovely decor of old posters and 70's artifacts on the walls, wooden dimsum pushcarts, and foodstalls displaying names of dishes in the traditional form of vertical wooden tablets. There are also dedicated areas for specialty dining (Chutneys, north indian cuisine), Waan Waan (thai cuisine), teppanyaki counters, sushi bar... but the best news are the general open dining areas (wooden tables and chairs/benches - not a single plastic chair) scattered thru'out this floor, especially the tables next to the glass panels facing Orchard Road and the Orchard MRT station. This nostalgic concept creates a lovely ambience for the delicious food that is the focus of this particular republic!
Here's a sample of the fare to expect - be prepared to 'drool' all over your laptop / computer keyboard!
Sizzling char kway teow with lots of 'wok-hei' (wok-breath) - a must-try, queue with patience as the line can get quite long...
This rendition of kimchi pancake fried in eggs, is quite tasty with spicy undertones from the added kimchi and sliced chillies.
Sliced wheat handmade noodles, straight from the expert's hands (believe me, it takes skill to handle that knife and slice thin strips of noodle from that block of dough). The cooked broad strips of noodle are served in an aromatic hearty beef broth. I like.
These fried tofu had a wonderful crispy cover on the outside and meltingly silken tofu on the inside, served with fragrant peanut sweet, sour and spicy sauce on the side - want some? go to Bifengtang, the roast duck/meat diner onsite.
Platters of tandoori and spicy chicken piled sky-high, and don't forget the cheese prata and teh tarik offered by this stall.
The dessert offerings are just as varied, take a look at the greentea pudding with redbeans (in the background) and the mango and pomelo shaved ice (in the foreground).
Food Republic had its official opening today, and in keeping with its 60's theme, the take-home souvenirs for guests was an old-fashioned hot-water flask - creative, yes but would one expect less from the guy who gave us BreadTalk, and brought Din Tai Fung to our local shore?
Quite a memorable dining experience, especially for a 'food-centre', definitely a place for repeat visits (and I wasn't swayed by the red hot-water flask, which wasn't mine to keep in the first place). Food Republic has just issued a huge challenge to the likes of foodcentres in Orchard Road, especially the adjacent basement food-centre at Takashimaya SC. All I can say is - Let the battle begin!