Like Beng Hiang, Westlake is another one of those old-school places that my family used to dine at eons ago. We haven't been here in ages, but I thought we'd pop by to see how the old girl's been doing. Like its dated furnishings and retro decor, its allure has faded with the ages but it's definitely made fans of its long-time customers. We were here over the weekend and it was a full-house, with many multi-generational families seated on tables that spilled out onto the open-air common corridor area. If you're going to be dining with an extended family, be sure to make reservations. The fare served up here is Chinese, with a focus on Sichuan, Hokkien and Cantonese cuisines. Food here is a bit of a hit and miss affair, but in the overall scheme of things, it makes for an above-average cze char meal.
The Braised Pork with Pau ($13) was decent enough, but considering that Westlake is synonymous with kong ba bao, rather underwhelming. This needed a while more braising time, as it hadn't achieved that melt-in-your-mouth texture. Taste-wise, it was a little sweeter than I'd like, but it's a matter of preference really. A girlfriend, who prefers the sweet over savoury, liked this for its toasty sweetness. I prefer my meats savoury rather than sweet. The crisp lettuce was very helpful in cutting through the sweetness of the sauce.
The Westlake Steamed Beancurd ($10) was easily the highlight of dinner. Coins of smooth plain beancurd were topped with a shrimp ball, dotted with diced salted egg yolk, and finally, blanketed in a starchy egg-drop gravy. This was very nicely done and a real hit, delicate and light and clear.
The Chicken with Salt & Pepper ($10) was, despite the serving auntie's recommendation, a big fat red fail. This seriously lacked marination, and while the meat was moist and skin crisp, ended up being quite tasteless. Suffice it to say, this wasn't finished.
The Sambal Long Beans ($11) was pretty good. Nice wok hei, with a smoky, mildly spiced fragrance, and plentiful hae bee (dried shrimp). A minor grouse would be that the long beans were too long. I would have preferred this to be chopped up to a more manageable two and a half inch lengths.
The Black Pepper Crabs ($56) were pretty commendable too. The crabs, albeit small-ish, were fresh. The sticky sweet-ish black pepper sauce, similar to but a notch below Eng Seng's version, was a heady, spicy complement to the sweet crabmeat.
Blk 4 Queen's Road #02-139
Tel: 6474 7283
Open daily from 11am to 2.30pm for lunch and 6pm to 10pm for dinner