Recently I’ve had a few batches of friends visit me in Singapore…and they all asked me the same question: Where can I get good local food? Honestly, I’m not much of a local fare girl. I’m not into laksa or chicken rice or mee siam, and the only local fare I like is probably bak kut teh. So it had been quite difficult for me to take friends to awesome places to have awesome Singaporean food. One day, I heard about Prince Coffee House, and thought it might be a hidden treasure where my friends could explore the supposedly wonderful Singporean fare. (I’m sorry if I reek of cynicism regarding local fare!)
Prince Coffee House was established decades ago…between the 60s and 70s. They started out at Beach Road, where Prince cinema was located…and thus their name. They then moved to Coronation Plaza, and since life always comes full circle, their address is now 249 Beach Road. It was a bitch to find; my friend and I walked up and down Haji Lane and Arab Street for a good twenty minutes, before we realized that it was not in either street, but in between Haji Lane and Arab Street. If you stand along the main road and stare at Park Royal Hotel in front of you, you’re probably right infront of Prince Coffee House. It’s right by the main road!
Ox Tail Stew
This dish was the in thing back in the day, but as my parents tell me, this is too much a hassle to make, and so it is pretty hard to find ox tail stew nowadays. This was my first ox tail stew (although I’ve had ox tail soup, which was as different from it as apples and pears), and I was impressed. The meat came off the ox tail just like that. So tender, so moist. As this was the tail of the ox, there was not much meat. So if you, like me, can’t appreciate muscles/tendons/fats, and don’t not know how to gnaw at the bone, you’d probably be eating only 1/8 of the dish. As for the gravy, it was thick and creamy (my guess is from the bone marrow) and laden with stock. To make this heavy dish wash down easier, the ox tail stew was served with broiled carrots and beans. The mash was nothing fancy.
Sweet and Sour Pork
We were impressed by the battered pork – so crisp on the outside without having too much flour, and so moist and tender on the inside, like a great katsu. However we found the sweet and sour sauce too sweet for our liking. This was served with chips, although they were nothing to rave about. Just your ordinary chips.
Beef Hor Fun
Next up was stir fried noodles with beef in thick gravy. I was hoping for more wok hei, you know, that wonderful burnt aroma you get if they fry their noodles right before adding on the gravy. Although the wok hei was minimal, I would say this was a pretty decent dish of hor fun, with gravy not too thick nor overly salty, and the beef was perfectly tenderized. Absolutely amazing with picked green chili!
These three are their most popular dishes. There’s also the chicken pie, which we were not impressed by. They took a chicken pie out of a foam box from the fridge to show us the size (about 7 inches), and although it is homemade, it did not look too impressive as it looked rather dry. We planned to order a yam cake, but decided three large dishes were good enough for two to share!
The food was pretty good, but as to whether this no frills, old school coffee house made me a changed woman regarding local fare, the answer is no, unfortunately.
My verdict: 3/5 spoonfuls