Ivins used to be one of my favourite Upper Thomson Road food jaunts whenever I was visiting Pops and/or the boys. It had awesome Peranakan cuisine that was relatively authentic, delicious and super value-for-money. Until it closed down. Although there's another outlet at Binjai Park, we somehow never really got around to visiting the Binjai Park branch. Methinks it's because it just seemed so very far away from the city.
Ivins @ Binjai Park caters really to its immediate hinterland. Because I cannot see how it'd attract foodies to travel from all over the island. The parking is awful (the summons auntie are damn xiao onz here!) and the food sub-par. But for the proximity to my current premises, I wouldn't travel all the way here to eat Peranakan food.
I don't understand why this Binjai Park one is still standing when the Upper Thomson Road one was closed down. The food at the latter was steps up from the mediocre fare at Binjai Park. Granted, it's dirt cheap. But we still found the lack of value hard to swallow. We don't think we'll be back. Unless they get the chef from the defunct Upper Thomson branch over.
Take the Egg Fuyong ($4.20) for example. It was rubbery and tasted like the different components were cooked separately then put together in a small bowl and overturned on a plate before serving. Nothing gelled.
The Fried Ngo Hiang ($3.80) had little texture - it was pulverised to a smooth mash. For the record, I like the textured dice and ground in my ngo hiang. Thank goodness for that sweet sambal. It (barely) saved this very average appetizer.
One look at the Nonya Chap Chye ($4.60) and we could tell that it wasn't going to be good. The gravy was too lightly coloured. It was so obvious that not enough taucheo was used in this. It was insipid, weak and bland when it should have been rich and sweet. Also, the claypots are purely decorative and serve no practical purpose, the food wasn't cooked in them and these weren't pre-heated to keep the heat in.
The Sayur Lodeh ($4.60) fared slightly better. Rich and lemak and the vegetables were wilted just enough. One of the few passable dishes.
The Babi Pongteh ($5.40) was one of the worst we've tried, the meat was dry and tough and chewy because they apparently don't use pork belly here. Are the people around the area such health fanatics that this outlet choses to serve only lean meat? Gimme the fatty laden artery-clogging triple layered fatty pork anyday!
The Penang Char Kway Teow ($4.20) was definitely the de facto hit dish. It was well fried, moist yet with a smoky charring that made it so delectable. The squid and prawn couples were swimmingly fresh and cooked perfectly.
The Chicken Macaroni ($3.50), although ordinary, evoked childhood memories of after-school lunches. It was simple homecooked standard stuff but for some inexplicable reason, we liked it. The soup base was comfortingly familiar, delicate and light, but the chicken morsels were rank with artificial tenderiser.
21 Binjai Park
Tel: 6468 3060
Open Fridays to Wednesdays from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch; and 5pm to 9pm for dinner
Closed on Thursdays